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Latin Distractions: Escapes, Experiences and Events

A Natural Selection: Semilla Verde Galapagos

April 26th, 2011

Marine Iguana | photo by: © flickr: mtchm

While visiting the Galapagos Islands, consider Semilla Verde, a twelve acre forest highland estate found at the intersection of cottage amenities and nature enthusiasm. Serving no more than eight visitors at any one time, this authentic guesthouse offers custom trip designs and a local viewpoint of the truly enchanting Santa Cruz Island. Situated three hundred meters above see level, with majestic views above the tree canopy, Semilla Verde provides nature trails and a myriad of flora and fauna discoveries. For an affordable yet fantastic nature tourism experience within the heart of the Galapagos archipelago, we suggest that you allow them to tailor a truly unique itinerary, whether for individual, family or group needs.

by: Jason Z. Guest

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Playa Vik: Structural Masterpiece upon José Ignacio, Uruguay

April 23rd, 2011

Playa Vik | photo by: Vik Retreats Public Photos

Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott’s oceanfront creation, Playa Vik, forms a distinctive style of contemporary architecture and natural elements, providing guests with a quiet, world-class boutique enclave. Established in 2010 upon the beaches of José Ignacio, Uruguay, minimalist structure and a prominent style elevate this private resort within the small constellation of amazing destinations in this country. Gaze across its cantilevered swimming pool, a work of art against a crimson setting sun. Six casas adjacent to an enchanting pavilion provide individual homesteads upon on exceptional private experience.

Driving directions can be found here: directions
Telephone: +598.94.605212

by: Jason Z. Guest

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Semana Santa: Cuzco, Peru

April 20th, 2011

Semana Santa in Cuzco | photo by © Sean Knoflick

Travelers throughout most parts of Latin America this week will likely find themselves in the middle of a widely celebrated Catholic holday, Semana Santa. Today we focus upon Peru, a South American country which consecrates this period of Holy Week heavily within Ayacucho, Cuzco, Huaraz and Tarma. Above, American photographer Sean Knoflick captures Blue Dancers, a fervent whirl of festive textiles upon the streets of Cuzco. Should you visit this capital of the Inca Empire, be sure to ask locals about Cristo de los Temblores, a revered statue of Christ that apparently became blackened following the earthquake of 1650.

by: Jason Z. Guest

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Glass-floor Hotel on Private Island: Belize

April 19th, 2011

photo by: © Cayo Espanto

I couldn’t resist sharing this photo from Cayo Espanto, a private island for rent on the back side of Ambergris Caye in Belize. This is the glass floor in their Over Water Villa. “At bedtime, we recommend counting fish rather than counting sheep,” they say. The high end in Belize really is high-end. Every villa comes with iPad 2s, so you can call your butler (”facetime your houseman! surf the web in your star bed”)–or film and broadcast those fish in your floor.

by Joshua Berman

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Bahía de Cochinos: Half A Century Ago in Cuba

April 17th, 2011

Playa Girón | © Zé Valdi

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs Invasion, a defeated attempt by Cuban exiles to invade the Latin American island-nation of Cuba. Today’s photo shows Playa Girón (Blue Beach), the centerpiece of action upon the southern shores of this Cuban bay. Poor translation of cochinos to pigs erroneously named this historical landmark, since the triggerfish is called cochino in Cuba. It makes sense.

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Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

April 15th, 2011

Atitlán | photo by: Guillermo Ramírez, Xela, Guatemala

English writer Aldus Huxley, famed author of classic novel Brave New World, once visited Guatemala and upon traversing the highlands discovered for himself Lake Atitlán. In his own words, drawing comparison to Italy’s Lake Como, he stated:

Lake Como, it seems to me, touches on the limit of permissibly picturesque, but Atitlán is Como with additional embellishments of several immense volcanoes. It really is too much of a good thing.

Arrestingly deep and blue, an enormous caldera lays shape to the shoreline within an endoheic basin. This geolocical formation, framed by ten thousand foot conical sprouts of the stratovolcanoes Tolimán, Atitlán and San Pedro, provides visitors with breathtaking panoramas. Lakeside communities rich in amalgamated heritage speckle the shoreline, with some locations accessible only by boat. Today’s culture, an anomalous product of Maya and Catholicism, was founded in vis-à-vis’ encounter with Dutch and Spanish conquistadors. Many unique, enlightening and serene options are available here for the world traveler, allowing one to secure both a stimulating and relaxing experience in the presence of this natural wonder.

Atitlán Village | photo by: Pedro Szekely

by: Jason Z. Guest

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Kaieteur Falls, Guyana

April 12th, 2011

Unrestrained, a South American monster thunders deep within the lesser-known country of Guyana (formerlly British Guiana). Welcome to the single largest plunge of high-volume water on Earth. At 370 feet across her exit, Kaieteur Falls blows out a monumental 663 cubic meters per second, immediately dropping 741 feet – a height twice that of Africa’s Victoria Falls; five times that of Niagara Falls. She pours with fury.

Kaieteur Falls | photo by: Soren Riise

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Featured Photographer: Federico R. Grosso

April 9th, 2011

Our correspondence began via e-mail – a chance discovery, lead by my stumbling into the time-lapse trance of an aerial Argentine snowboarder. Instantly I perused, tumbling into a trove of animal imagery and foreign places. One study in particular, “burro”, evoked the austerity and loneliness of its character, deep within the arid lands of Payunia, Mendoza.

Burro | © Federico R. Grosso

More was not enough as I marveled over landscapes, products and sports moments, all captured through the lens of Federico R. Grosso. It struck me, the loss of time; like driving for miles along a highway without any recollection of experience. Yes, guilty. My eyes were off the road, captivated, and I think yours will be, too.

© All rights reserved by Federico R. Grosso, Villa La Angostura, Argentina. Also found on Flickr.

by: Jason Z. Guest

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Siete de Abril de 1928

April 7th, 2011

William Faulkner

American author William Faulkner pens a stream of consciousness technique, the title of which is taken from a soliloquy within one of Shakespeare’s biggest masterpieces. Can you name that playwright, which produced title of the casual reading material for one of our staff today?

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Budget Boutique Getaway in Nicaragua: Hotel Brio

April 6th, 2011

When a friend of mine who owns one of the coolest coffee shops in Austin needed a quick, several-day getaway, I should have known it would be unique. What I wouldn’t have guessed is that her destination, Hotel Brio, located in Playa Gigante in Southwestern Nicaragua, is actually owned by someone from Austin. This budget, boutique hotel boasts a small number of reasonably priced rooms and easy access to surfing, fishing and snorkeling in spectacular waters. For those who want to combine sun and sea activities with language study, a nearby school, Escuela Bigfoot, offers one-on-one Spanish language instruction. What’s more, the hotel partners with the local community to help foster economic sustainability and environmental preservation. Though somewhat remote, depending on your point of arrival, hotel staff can pick you up from the airport and deliver you to the front door of the hotel for an additional fee. For the budget-minded, eco-adventurer looking for a unique experience, Hotel Brio may be the perfect getaway.

U.S. Phone: 512.535.5386 (call here first for reservations; talk to Rob)
Brio Nica Phone: 011.505.433.9737
Brio Nica VOIP phone: 512-377-9808

by: Laurie Winfield

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