Author: jjl11160227

Weekend Unexplored: Ometepe, Nicaragua

“Mono! Mono!” We rolled down our windows, peering up at the trees to see a whole family of howler monkeys climbing from branch to branch.  They are found all over Ometepe, the majestic twin-peaked, volcanic island, and we could hear them early in the mornings, awaking us from sleep.  My friend J.G, her sister, her mother, and I were on our way to see the land that they had purchased years ago near San Ramon, on the southeast side of the island.  That morning we took a ferry from San Jorge, loading our car on the bottom level and then situating ourselves at the top to catch the cool breezes coming off Lake Cocibolca, one of the great fresh water lakes of Nicaragua.  Straight ahead, we could see Volcan Concepcion and Volcan Maderas.  Photographing these volcanoes would only increase as we drove between and around them on the island. Long after passing through the port town of Moyogalpa, the paved road soon turned to dirt as we traveled further southeast of the island, closer to …

Weekend Unexplored: Big Corn Island, Nicaragua

Big Corn Island, situated off the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua on the Caribbean Sea, has historically been influenced more by the English than the Spanish.  The locals are descendants from Miskito Indians, European pirates, British settlers, and freed slaves.  Over the years, Nicaraguans from the mainland have moved to the island as well.  My friends and I spent a couple of days there in March, hoping to explore the local beaches and dive sites.  Listening to people speak Creole upon arrival was interesting; the language slides so easily in and out of English and Spanish with blends of words and phrases.  Of course, everyone on the island understands both English and Spanish perfectly.  Most have earned their income from lobster fishing, but now many are turning to tourism to bring new job opportunities. Approximately six square miles, the island has a paved road that runs along its entire perimeter.  For only 20 cordobas, or $0.70, we explored the full length of Big Corn Island by taxi cooperatives, sharing the fare with other passengers going the …

Weekend Unexplored: Bakewell, England

As a weekend excursion from London, I traveled with my family to Bakewell, a small town in Derbyshire in the heart of Peak District National Park.  It was their first trip to the United Kingdom, and my parents were eager to see the countryside of this region as well as the grand estate of Chatsworth House, the setting of Pemberly in Joe Wright’s 2005 film adaptation, Pride and Prejudice (also my mother’s favorite Jane Austen novel).      Getting there: We took to our destination by public transportation, setting off at London’s St. Pancras to catch the East Midlands train to Chesterfield.  From there, a 12 minute walk through town brought us to the 170 Hulleys of Baslow bus stop to Rutland Square in Bakewell.  In total, the trip from London took about four hours.   Where to stay: Although tired, we were met with warm hospitality by our Bed and Breakfast hosts, John and Marie, of Melbourne House. The rate for a double room is 70 GBP/night. A short distance from the town’s center, the …

Weekend Unexplored: Gatsby Afternoon

Held annually on the second Sunday of September, the Gatsby Afternoon picnic attracts hundreds of American 1920 and 1930 enthusiasts to the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate in Oakland, California.  From approximately 1 pm until 5 pm, revelers can immerse themselves back to the time of flapper dresses, the foxtrot, and fashionable hats.  New York may have its own version of this event on Governors Island but it pales in comparison to the event hosted by the Art Deco Society of California and its East Bay residents. All guests must be in vintage-style attire.  It’s required, meaning there are no spectators.  Only participants are allowed on the grounds.  Maintaining the vintage atmosphere is indeed enforced:  no jeans, shorts, sneakers, polo/tee-shirts, baseball hats, pantsuits.  If an attendee arrives without appropriate attire, he or she is directed to the Costume Closet, a vintage rental/sale station on-site.   I arrived early before the gates opened to grab one of the front spots in line at the entrance.  Wearing a printed vintage style dress, I dressed it up with white …