Tikal

Tikal Guatemala


 After spending the first night of our journey in Belize City at the Fort Street Hotel, dining on Red Snapper in Banana leaf, and drinking 32 oz. Margaritas ,it was time for the five of us, along with our Maya driver and guide to make the long drive to Tikal in Guatemala.
 
As we neared the border to Guatemala I couldn’t help but notice that it resembled something out of a James Bond movie, khaki uniformed solders  with semi-automatic weapons standing guard over a lonely deserted guard shack out in the middle of nowhere.

After checking our passports,we were detained for quite a while, no reason,they did not check  anything, it just seemed that when they became tired of looking at us, they let us into the country.

After we entered the country, we drove past an army base, complete with barbed wire fence and angry looking guards, I began wondering if I had done something REALLY stupid. There were no freeways here, just a mud road with a gazillion potholes,and this was the main road. I can only imagine what the back roads were like!

Upon arriving at Tikal, I was amazed as to how crowded it was,most people come to Tikal from Guatemala City, we had entered through the back door. There seemed to be people coming out of the wood work!

It was then that we were informed that we had no room at the  Jaguar Inn, the local hotel. As we were planning to observe Tikal under a full moon that evening, this meant that we would be traveling in Guatemala after dark, not a good thing.

Tikal is very old , being occupied between 200-800 AD.

  The temple complex has been restored and is actually in very good condition,only royalty and the wealthy lived in the temple area, everyone else lived in villages surrounding the temple.
 
It was fascinating to be standing in the courtyard where games resembling basketball and racquetball  were played. There were even holes in the wall where the ball had to be thrown or kicked through! They were not very large and looked to be higher than our present day basketball rims, which are ten feet from the floor.

It probably wasn’t hard to make the pros in those days,as the losers, and sometimes even the winners were beheaded!

Having lived my life in basketball crazy Indiana,I realized that maybe the reason basketball is so popular in Indiana is that there must be a large number of reincarnated Mayas living in there!

 At least we don’t behead the losers any more, we come close, but that isn’t actually done, well maybe in our minds!  

While climbing the Pyramid of Death at Tikal, I fell on my left side twice and also stubbed my left toe, which was a reminder to me to watch my step on the spiritual side of life, I felt constantly bombarded with negative spiritual energy while in Central America and I felt a constant need to protect myself from whatever forces were out there.

I couldn’t help but notice the view from the top of the pyramid and couldn’t wait for the full moon to rise above the temple.

 I wasn’t disappointed, the sky cleared and the moon rose right above the temple as planned! It was a spectacular sight, one that can’t really be captured on film!

After viewing the full moon rise above Tikal,it was off to our Hotel in Flores, a 45 minute drive through the jungle. We had been warned (repeatedly) not to travel at night, as the banditos made a habit of robbing tourists and leaving them tied up in the jungle. The tour company we were traveling was extremely cautious as one of their groups had been kidnapped just two week earlier.

Everyone was nervous as we boarded the van for our journey, no one said a word. I was seated near the back door, with the idea of bailing out if we got attacked and helping the others escape, good idea, but the back door would probably have been guarded to prevent that from happening.

After traveling for some time on these disastrous roads it became apparent that our biggest fear would not be banditos, but getting stuck in the mud out in the middle of nowhere.

The road leading to the hotel was extremely hazardous, traveling in a Ford van, with brush rubbing both sides of the vehicle,we just barely made it through some of the mud  puddles and holes in the road.However, we finally reached our final destination, the  Villa Maya Hotel in Flores.

It was well worth the journey!
 
The hotel was new,and very nice.It was due to open the next week with a dedication ceremony featuring the Governor. We had the place to ourselves! The courteous staff had dinner waiting for us, fried chicken with all the fixins, Gallo beer and desert.

After dinner we enjoyed a well deserved swim in the large pyramid shaped pool, sitting under the waterfall watching the large moon lite lake in the background,it was hard to imagine that there could be any place any nicer than this paradise resort!

Fully refreshed, it was off to a relaxing nights rest in our individual open air  room.

Waking up to the sounds of parakeets and Toucans in the trees next to the hotel, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast on the patio, then it was time to board the van for our trip back to Belize.

Gary is a travel writer and photographer living in Sarasota, Florida. He maintains a website featuring some of his travel photos and markets a line of products featuring many of his photos.

Now you can share my adventure in Belize

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Economics

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It’s amazing how many people don’t understand basic economics, especially when it comes to how the government raises money, and how little the economy of the country normally affects the individual.

There are many things that affect an individual’s income besides the state of the economy.  It’s all about a person’s position in life, if they have a career or job that is in a growth industry, and there is a downturn in the economy, their income  might not be affected. I had my best years during the Carter Administration when the country was seeing high inflation, high interest rates, and high unemployment. It was because I was employed by a company that was enjoying high growth and I was getting record union wage increases every year.However, the company I was working for experienced many difficulties because of soaring fuel prices and high interest rates. Management personnel received stock as part of their bonuses, as a result of the economic problems that the country was facing, they couldn’t buy back the stock that had been purchased by managers, thus the managers had to wait to retire.
 

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The company probably couldn’t have survived much longer if tax cuts hadn’t been initiated during the Reagan administration. The end result would have been that I would have lost my good job if taxes hadn’t been reduced and inflation and interest rates had not been gotten under control.
Also, people don’t understand how lowering taxes actually increases the government’s ability to collect more in taxes.

When tax cuts occur, people have more money to spend, thus more products and services are purchased, thereby increasing the GNP, which in turn increases the amount of tax money collected.

The Federal Government is currently collecting more tax revenue than it ever has, the problem is not the tax cuts that have been implemented by President Bush, they have been a great stimulus to jump-start the economy after the downturn in 2000, as well as the after effects from Sept. 11.

The reason for the deficit, which is becoming less and less every year, is that we have a congress that spends money like it is going out of style. Until congress learns to curb needless and wasteful spending we will always have a deficit.

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 The author has been a writer/ photographer for over 20 years, specializing in nature, landscapes and studying native cultures. Besides visiting most of the United States, he has traveled to such places as Egypt, the Canary Islands, much of the Caribbean. He has studied  the Mayan Cultures in Central America and the Australian Aboriginal way of life.Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in many different parts of the world!

He has published several books about the various cultures he has observed.

For more information and a link to his hardcover and Ebooks, and contact information: please check his website, http://www.journeysthrulife.com.

Your comments appreciated

 

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baby boomers

Each generation from the beginning of our country has contributed to what our country has become. By the same token, no one is perfect. Consequently, each generation has done and will continue to perform acts that it would have been better if some other course of action was taken.
The baby boomers have contributed much and have been blamed for the decline of America. What is the true story?

Social Security

SOCIAL SECURITY



 

My advice to anyone that wants to retire in comfort,forget about social security and save a little each week. Even $20 a week over a period of 40 years, compounded at a conservative interest rate like 6-10% would yield far more than you would ever receive from social security.
 I find it hard to believe anything a politician says after they tell us that there isn’t anything wrong with social security and that it is secure. It is nothing but a Ponzi scheme. If someone in the private sector came up with the idea, they would be prosecuted.

I am a professional nature and landscape photographer, to see some of my photos, please visit my website, www.garywonningphoto.com

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Joe Lieberman

Time for Choosing

Editors note: This is the text of a speech Senator Joe Lieberman (I., Conn.) delivered today to a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Thank you so much for that kind introduction. It is a pleasure to be here among so many friends.

Now, I know there are some who are probably wondering – what is a nice Independent Democrat from Connecticut doing at a Republican event like this?

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to reelection last year And as Rabbi Hillel said, the rest is commentary.

In all seriousness, many of you in this room stood with me last year through the long journey up a winding road that was my 2006 reelection campaign. You came to my side without regard for party affiliation, and you stayed there even after I ran as an Independent but said I would caucus with the Democrats. Your non-partisanship in my race is a model for what our politics should be. I thank you personally and deeply for it. I could not have won without it.

And I pledge to you that I will do everything I can to vindicate your confidence.

We gather at a critical time for the future of our country. The war in Iraq has now become the defining issue for this Congress and for this presidency – although the decisions we will make in the weeks and months ahead about Iraq will have consequences that reach far beyond the terms of anyone now in office.

Part of the disagreement we face over Iraq comes down to a genuine difference of opinion.

On the one hand, there are those who believe, as I do, that the struggle against Islamist extremism really is the central challenge of our time, and that, as General David Petraeus – our commander in Iraq – recently said, Iraq is now the central front of the war against Islamist extremism.

On the other hand, there are those who reject this view – who genuinely believe that the threat of Islamist extremism is overstated, or that Iraq is a distraction from the “real” war on terror, or that the war there is lost, or not worth fighting to win.

It is my deeply held conviction that these people are not only wrong, they are disastrously wrong – and that the withdrawal they demand would be a moral and security catastrophe for the United States, for Iraq, and for the entire Middle East, including Israel and our moderate Arab allies.

Let there be no doubt – an American defeat in Iraq would be a victory for Al Qaeda and Iran the two most threatening enemies we face in the world today. It would vindicate the hope of our enemies that America is weak and that we can be driven to retreat by terrorism, and it would confirm the fear of our friends – not only in Iraq, but throughout the world – that we are unreliable allies who will abandon them in the face of danger.

The fact of the matter is, you cannot claim to be tough on terrorism while demanding that our military withdraw from Iraq, because it is the terrorists – particular Al Qaeda – that our military is fighting in Iraq.

You cannot claim to be committed to defeating Al Qaeda, while demanding that we abandon the heart of the Middle East to Al Qaeda.

And you cannot claim to be tough on Iran, while demanding the very thing that the mullahs want most of all – the retreat of the American military from the Middle East in defeat, leaving a vacuum that Iran will rush to fill.

I recognize that this war has been controversial, and there are those who oppose it on principle. I respect that.

But too much of the debate we are having today about withdrawal from Iraq has little or nothing to do with principle, or with reality in Iraq.

It is about politics and partisanship here in Washington.

For many Democrats, if President Bush is for it, they must be against it. If the war is going badly, it is bad for Republicans and it is good for Democrats. It is as simple as that, and it is as wrong as that.

For many Republicans, the unpopularity of this war and this President has begun to shake their will. They say that they have no choice but to abandon General Petraeus and his strategy because the American people tell the pollsters they want out. If previous generations of American leaders had allowed their conduct of war to be shaped by partisanship or public opinion polls, we would not be the strong and free nation we are blessed to be today.

Republicans in Congress delude themselves if they think they will be helping either themselves, their party, or their country if they now attempt to wash their hands of Iraq, out of a sudden sense of political anxiety.

Democrats in Congress delude themselves if they think they will not be held accountable for the bloody consequences of the retreat from
Iraq they seek.

The fact is, a loss to Al Qaeda and Iran in Iraq would be devastating to our security. These are fateful days and critical decisions we are making about Iraq. We must make them with our eye on the safety of Americas next generation, not the outcome of Americas next election.

It is to the everlasting credit of President Bush that in the war against Islamist extremism he has shown the courage and steadfastness to stand against the political passions of the moment.

I have never hesitated to express disagreement with the President on any issue when I felt he was wrong – and I have criticized his administration many times for the serious mistakes I believe it made in prosecuting the war in Iraq.

But let me tell you this: I believe that each of us should be grateful that we have a commander-in-chief who does not believe that decisions about war should be driven by poll numbers. And each of us should be grateful that we have a commander-in-chief who does not confuse what is popular with what is right for our security as a nation. The public opinion polls may not reflect this today, but I believe history will tomorrow.

My friends, as Ronald Reagan once said, now is the time for choosing.

If we stand united through the months ahead, if we stand firm against the terrorists who want to drive us to retreat, the war in Iraq can be won and the lives of millions of people can be saved.

But if we surrender to the barbarism of suicide bombers and abandon the heart of the Middle East to fanatics and killers, to Al Qaeda and Iran, then all that our men and women in uniform have fought, and died for, will be lost, and we will be left a much less secure and free nation.

That is the choice we in Washington will make this summer and this fall. It is a choice not just about our foreign policy and our national security and our interests in the Middle East. It is about what our political leaders in both parties are prepared to stand for. It is about our very soul as a nation. It is about who we are, and who we want to be.

Will this be the moment in history when America gives up – when Al Qaeda breaks our will, when our enemies surge forward, when we turn our backs on our friends and begin a long retreat from our principles and promise as a nation?

Or will this be the moment when America steps forward, when we pull together, when we hold fast to the courage of our convictions, when – with a new strategy, and a new commander on the ground – we begin to turn the tide toward victory in this long and difficult war?

I know that we can rise above the anger and sm
allness of our politics. I know we can rise to the greatness that this moment demands of us.

The question is – will we choose to do so?

I would like to close today by sharing with you a story from my last visit to Iraq a few months ago. It was in Anbar province in western Iraq – the center of the insurgency – a part of the country that conventional wisdom last year dismissed as hopeless.

In fact, on September 11, 2006, the Washington Post ran a front-page story reporting that even the chief of Marine Corps intelligence in Iraq had concluded that Anbar was “lost,” and our position there was “beyond repair.”

I was in Anbar last December, on a forward operating base just outside Ramadi, the capital of the province. As one of the briefings with our military commanders ended, a colonel who had been sitting in the back of the room came up to me. He said something that I carry with me to this day – something that I hope you will carry with you as well.

He said: “Sir, I want you to know on behalf of the soldiers in my unit and myself that we believe in why we are fighting here, we want to finish this fight. And we know we can win it.”

Today, five months later, Anbar has been dramatically transformed. Thanks to the bravery, ingenuity, and commitment of our men and women in uniform, shops and schools have reopened, Al Qaeda is on the run, thousands of Iraqis have joined the local police, and – yes – no less than the New York Times reports that we have turned the corner there.

My friends, now is not the time for despair. Now is the time for resolve.

Now is not the time for reflexive partisanship and pandering to public opinion. Now is the time for the kind of patriotism and principle Americas voters have always honored.

I ask you to plead with every member of Congress you can in the days and weeks ahead –

Do not surrender to hopelessness.

Do not succumb to defeat.

Do not give in to fear.

Rise above the political pressures of the moment to do what is right for America.

Believe, like that colonel, in why we are fighting in Iraq, and know, as he and his soldiers know, that we can and must win there.” 



 

Xunantunich built 1000 Years ago

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Towering one hundred thirty feet above the landscape this ancient temple dominates the area. However, the trip to this temple can be quite eventful.

Our day started as we five adventurers from the U.S., with our Maya driver and  guide, boarded our Ford van for the trip to Xunantunich. As we passed through the town of San Ignacio we came to the river crossing.

Needless to say, it wasn’t what I had expected. The only way to cross the river was on a small, one vehicle ferry. As we entered the ferry I noticed that it wasn’t tied securely to the bank and it moved out towards the river as we drove on to it. It was then that I noticed that it was powered by a hand crank that was operated by the ferry boat captain. The river crossing was exciting but uneventful, having crossed to the other side we proceeded up the river bank and drove to the top of the hill and  the temple.

It was quite impressive sitting  on the top of the mountain, the view from the top was rather impressive, being high above the jungle we could see for miles.
The site was  cleared with a small picnic shelter nearby.

It being nearly 1 PM, and we hadn’t had lunch we boarded the van for a trip into town to find the closest restaurant, as we approached the river, we noticed that there might be  a problem as traffic was backed up on both sides of the river.

A pick-up truck had tried to board the ferry, but when they drove onto the boat, it started to moved, which spooked them. They did exactly  the wrong thing as they applied the brakes, that action caused the ferry to move from the bank which resulted in the truck dropping off the edge of the boat, window deep into the river.

The locals were having little success trying to pull the pickup out of the water by trying a chain to a truck that was parked on the road above the river.

As this was all happening, suddenly there came the sound of two cars racing down the street towards the Saturday afternoon crowd that had gathered to watch.

As they came racing towards the 100 or so people, some of them began to scatter, however, one of the cars plowed into the crowd with bodies flying everywhere. It actually hit the chain that was attached to the pick-up truck, flipped over on top of a child. After the car had rolled over the child, he got up and ran off without a scratch.

A couple other boys weren’t so lucky as they lay silent on the road. Our tour guide stripped down to her underwear and dove into the water to help.

The next thing we knew she was helping put one of the boys onto a piece of metal roofing that was being used a a stretcher and off they weren’t to a hospital in Guatemala. No clothes and no passport.

It all turned out well as they boys survived and no one was killed. Our tour guide made it back safely wrapped in a bed sheet.

Half starved, we finally had lunch at about 5:30 PM.

 The author has been a writer/ photographer for over 20 years, specializing in nature, landscapes and studying native cultures. Besides visiting most of the United States, he has traveled to such places as Egypt, the Canary Islands, much of the Caribbean. He has studied  the Mayan Cultures in Central America and the Australian Aboriginal way of life.Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in many different parts of the world!

He has published several books about the various cultures he has observed.

For more information and a link to his hardcover and Ebooks, and contact information: please check his website, www.journeysthrulife.com.

Your comments appreciated

Mayan book

It doesn’t take long to discover that Belize is a land of contrasts. From the poverty and disarray of the cities to the quiet countryside, many differences are soon found. With poverty and crime running rampant in cities such as Belize City and Belmopan, the traveler has to be constantly aware of his surroundings and protect whatever is being carried. Remember, that camera hanging around your neck is worth more than the average Belizean earns in a year. All that aside, the Mayan people are wonderfully warm people many of whom go out of their way to please visitors. Traveling into the countryside one discovers thatch roof homes with no doors or windows. Because of the warm climate  they can live comfortably all year with a gentle breeze flowing through the open windows and doors. I was struck with the concept that although no utility lines were visible, a lot of homes had a satellite dish in the front yard.

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