Mexico

Boats Through My Lens

I came across this picture recently when I was going through my photo collection looking for a photo to submit to a contest. And I realized, I had so many pictures of boats!

Surat, India

Taken on one early Sunday morning on ONGC bridge, Surat. The full post here.

The picture above and the one below were the first pictures of boats I took (with a simple point and shoot camera. In fact, they were one of the first pictures I ever took for the purpose of blogging). I used to look at these boats everyday while going to and coming back from work. They captivated me. Somehow. I thought they looked lonely, desolate and sad floating all by themselves.

2 red boats tapi river

Two very red boats tied on Tapi River, Surat

Over the years, I clicked a lot of boats. I have no particular attachment to boats or the ocean or boating. It’s just that they make good photography subjects.

So let me show off my boat collection.

These ones were taken at Allepey, Kerala. Allepey was all about boats. There were houseboats, of course. And then there were these fishermen boats that would silently, confidently stroll by the huge houseboats, totally oblivious to their own littleness.

Allepey backwaters

fishermen allepey kerala

One place I have visited a lot in the last one year is Monterey Bay. Monterey is a merry place where families pour in on weekends and feed on clam chowder soup and crab. I have been there several times and am never bored of that place. It is a coastal place and there are all kinds of boats all around. The first picture is my favourite. It is currently my screen wallpaper.

Boat at Monterey

Monterey bay

Yacht parking Monterey

Another coastal place I visit a lot is San Francisco. SFO is always cold and windy. Like Monterey, SFO’s Pier 39 is flocked by families for clam chowder, chips (pigeons flock here for the same reason), street shows and boat rides. The boat in this picture is probably nothing special but the background is. The pier has a lot of history like the rest of SFO. From the pier, one can see (on a clear day) the Alcatraz Jail island and the Golden Gate bridge. This pier is one of the old retained buildings of the city.

SFO pier

My first experience of being surrounded by boats was during Christmas of 2012, 10 days after I landed in the US. This was at Two Harbours, Catalina (near Los Angeles). It is a beautiful, sparsely crowded island with just 1 restaurant and a couple of lodges. It is an adorable place. I should be writing about it soon.

Catalina Island

The next 3 pictures have been taken in Tulum, Mexico. Mexico… ah. Pure ecstasy! The tropical climate soothed my senses and allowed me to take a dip in all its offerings – exotic fruit juices, summer clothes and beautiful blue beaches. I gasped when I had got the first glance of Tulum beach. Its waters are in the prettiest of blues. Take a look yourself.

boat and a man mexico

Boat at Tulum beach

Neon boat mexico

I loved the color combination of this one. I wish I had better zoom lenses.

And this last one was taken at Hume Lake in Sequoia National Park. The lake enthralled me completely. 4th of July long break crowds were all over the place – swimming, jumping off rocks, picnicking – and yet the lake made the atmosphere look so serene. i could have sat there for hours watching the calm waters and people frolicking around.

Hume lake boating

After looking at the effect of this picture, I am happy for once that I do not have high zoom lenses. The enormousness of the mountains and minuteness of the boats would not have been so apparent.

If you look through your archives, you may discover that you take too many pictures of a particular subject like food or flowers. Or clocks, maybe?!

Share with me!

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Categories: Bay Area, California, India, Mexico, Photography, South India, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Ik Kil Cenote

Ik kil cenote (3)

View from inside.

A cenote (a Mexican Spanish word) literally means a deep natural well formed by collapse of surface limestone that exposes the groundwater underneath. A lot of cenotes are found in Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. Historically, it is said that cenotes were used by Mayans to make sacrifices.

ik kil cenote (2)

Stairs that bring you to the base. Does this remind anyone else of Hogwarts?

Ik Kil cenote

Looking up.

Today, a cenote is a natural wonder that amazes tourists visiting Mexico. I was astounded by this beautiful natural creation. It was almost surreal. We visited Ik Kil cenote located very close to Chichen Itza. The cenote is located in a private complex that has a restaurant, shop, cottages for rent and some Mayan ruins.

Cenote mexico

The swimming platform. On busy days, there is a long line of people waiting for their dive

Cenote mexico (2)

Lots of vines and creepers

It is cool inside. The water is in its pure, natural form and is full of black catfish. You swim with them. There are vines all the way from the opening of the cave at the top till the surface water. A platform has also been built from where people can jump and dive into water. Swimming is a totally unique experience here. I badly regretted not being able to swim as I stayed out of water and watched everyone have fun.

ikkilcenotecatfish.jpg

Swim with black catfish

Yucatan cenote

Looking down into the cave

If you visit Chichen Itza, Ik Kil cenote must not be missed. I read that there is a cenote in Valladolid too but it must not be this big.

These kinds of cenotes are totally unique to Mexico. It must be on your Things To See/Do list while planning a visit.

Categories: Mexico, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

Snorkelling at Cozumel, Mexico

When you come to a seaside place like Cancun, you cannot avoid water activities. Of course you can. But that would be a sin. It would be a sin to ignore the beautiful green-blue coloured water that is so comfortably warm and soothing. There are all kinds of water activities offered here – snorkelling, scuba diving, swimming with dolphins and even submarine rides.

There are several snorkelling spots near Cancun / Playa, natural and artificial, but we chose Cozumel because of natural coral reefs there. Cozumel is an island less than an hour away from Playa. There are hourly ferry rides till there. One can also decide to stay there for a day or so.

You will be bombarded with snorkelling photos and tour guides the moment you exit the ferry. You can haggle and get a decent deal. We paid USD 22 per person. The trip was for 2 hours and involved 3 spots. There was also a guide or captain with us on the boat all the time. This made the whole thing very comfortable for a non swimmer like me.

I had failed at snorkelling three years back in Whitsundays, Australia. I was too scared and intimidated by the rough, salty ocean. This time, I was determined to crack it. There were some other people also in our boat and we ended up becoming friends. They were so encouraging! I was the baby of the group. Last one to jump into the water. The one given most attention. In fact, I hung on to a tube (despite wearing a life jacket) and the captain pulled it (and me) along with him all the time!

Of course I was scared. Not of the water, but of failing. I really want to do it this time. So I jumped. I sputtered, choked and panicked a couple of times but eventually sailed through. The first sighting of underwater world was unbelievable. It was magical. White sand was glimmering below crystal clear water. The warm bright sun made the whole scene glitter. The sounds I could hear were my own breathing and bubbling sound of water. Everything else was shut off.

I left the whole world behind me and let the underwater world hypnotize me. When you see such beauty – pure magnificence in its purest form – and come to an understanding that the natural world is very huge, of which you are one tiny part, a change runs through you. Everything else in the materialistic, fake world seems so insignificant, so small.

Cozumel is a popular tourist destination. It has several restaurants, shops and souvenir shops to entertain tourists. You can spend at the maximum 2 days there, relaxing and indulging in water activities.

Some views of Cozumel…

cozumel

Usual Mexican style facade

cozumel main plaza

A large souvenir store at Main Plaza

cozumel main plaza 1

Street surrounding Main Plaza Square

cozumel restaurant

A duo band playing lovely rock music at a restaurant

cozumel shops

An artisan store

cozumel souvinier seller

One of many souvenir sellers in Cozumel

cozumel sunset

Sunset on our way back

Categories: Mexico, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

Postcards From Mexico

valladolid architecture

If you are near Chichen Itza, Tumul or Ek Balam, try to make time for Valladolid. It is a small town with 16th century style buildings. The buildings are tall, flat, colored with huge ceilings and wooden doors. Many of these buildings have now been converted into shops, restaurants and art boutiques. This town has transformed into yet another tourist destination which is quite sad because that takes away the real feel of a place. Still, you will find enough locals around dining at restaurants or relaxing in Francisco Cantón Rosado Park (the main center park) that lies right in the middle of the busiest intersection and also opposite San Servacio o Gervasio Church.

Servacio o Gervasio valladolid

valladolid 1

valladolid 2

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valladolid 4

Notice how the building is a bit lopsided

While strolling through the park, heavenly smell of something being baked dragged me to a tiny stall selling fresh Marquesitas. A little man was baking fresh crispy pancakes on a hot, round griddle and filling them up with meat, cheese, fruits, marmalades or chocolate depending on people’s demands. I chose banana, Nutella and walnuts filling. It was amazing.

We did not have enough time to explore much of this little town. We walked around the whole main square, gazing up at the colourful buildings and searching for a good restaurant. Several people guided us to a corner restaurant, done up in a real vintage style, named Las Campanas. We ate there, totally tired from our Chichen Itza and Ik Kil trip, and decided to call it a day when gongs sounded at the Cathedral.

las campanas valladolid

valladolid 5

valladolid 6

valladolid 7

valladolid 8

Intending to go back to our resort in Playa Del Carmen, we kept getting lost. Valladolid has numerous tiny lanes, many of which are one way. The GPS device kept getting confused. We reached dead-ends, roamed around in circles and asked people who couldn’t communicate in English. That way, we got to explore the non-touristy portions of the city. These sections of the city would remind you of any old city of India – the same haphazard traffic, small box shaped row houses, cars and motorcycles parked here and there, grocery, shoes and clothes local stores. I would squeal once in a while when an old colourful vintage building would come to sight.

I found out later on that Valladolid also has a few historic buildings and a cenote (meaning, a water cave). It would be a good idea to stay here if you intend to visit Chichen Itza, Ek Balam and Ik Kil. You can visit these places and also explore this little town without having to travel long distances from Cancun or Playa. Strolling or getting lost in pretty lanes of Valladolid in evenings would be such a bliss.

Categories: Mexico, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

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