Sunday Special – Kauai, USA 


The small American archipelago of Hawaii boasts some beautiful landscape in its Pacific Ocean location. The oldest of the 8 main islands is Kauai, it is the fourth largest and is located northwest of the island of Oahu. 

Referred to as the “Garden Isle”, its lush and jungle-like terrain offers beauty like no other. Having myself only visited Oahu and enamored by its beauty I imagine that Kauai would wow me.  In addition to its lush green canopy, Kauai boasts serene beaches, impressive surfs and waves, and good hiking up a few mountains. Kawaikini is the highest point on the island (1598 m / 5243 ft) with Mount Waiʻaleʻale following at 1569 m / 5148 ft. With peaks such as these it is no surprise that one of the US’s most dangerous yet spectacular hikes is found on this small isle. The Kalalau Trail is an 18 km / 11 mile hike (double that for round trip) through rugged coasts, deep valleys and uneven terrain. Permits are required and is only for prepared, seasoned hikers. The mountains are not the only topography to impress. Waimea Canyon is waiting to take your breath away. There are couple of lookout points to see its size and the red-hued rock formation. Or take in Nā Pali Coast State Park. The craggy and rocky coast is popular for boat tours, kayaking, and snorkeling among the fishes. And of course, surfing is always in fashion in Kauai. With numerous beaches and great waves there is something from the novice to the expert. Though, should you prefer a bit more “R & R” then Kauai offers that too. As mentioned, there are plenty of beaches. And the low-key vibe of the small towns allows for a leisurely paced getaway. Aloha!

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Secret Beach, Kauai – Photo credit: Bryce Edwards from San Jose, CA, USA, Secret Beach (HDR) (522900051)CC BY 2.0

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Glass Beach, Kauai – Photo credit: Jason PopeskuGlass Beach in KauaiCC BY-SA 2.0

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Waimea Canyon, Kauai – Photo credit: Kyle PearceWaimea Canyon HDRCC BY-SA 2.0

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Sunday Special – Joya de Cerén Archaeological Park, El Salvador


The Central American country of El Salvador is home to a significant archaeological site that some call ‘the Pompeii of the Americas’. Joya de Cerén was a pre-Hispanic farming village of approximately 200 people that had been buried under volcanic ash since the 600s C.E. It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 though it was discovered in 1976 during a government agricultural project, quite by accident. When the volcano named Loma Caldera erupted around 590 CE the villagers of this Mayan village escaped (no bodies have been located there) yet the town was left as is under blankets of ash. Homes and the wares inside were intact as well as various vegetation of the time.  It is believed that an earthquake prior to the eruption was what prompted the small amount of villagers to flee and therefore avoiding the flow of lava and blackened smoke pouring out of Loma Caldera.  Because of the ash covering the village it was preserved remarkably well allowing archaeologists to learn and understand about Mesoamerican life during that era. 

Located 36 km / 22 miles outside of the capital city  of  San Salvador, Joya de Cerén offers visitors a glimpse of how the life of these humble farmers was before nature drove them from their homes. Tours of the site and the 10 exposed buildings are available. Well preserved housewares such as furniture, clay pots, kitchen items, and food storage are showcased in the park’s modest museum.  This area would certainly be of interest to history buffs  along with El Salvador’s other archaeological sites. It would be like stepping back in time.  Imagine that.

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Preserved structure at Joya de Cerén Archaeological Park – Photo credit: Mariordo (Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz), ES Estructura 1 Area 1 Joya Ceren 05 2012 1513, CC BY-SA 3.0

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Housewares at Joya de Cerén Museum, El Salvador – Photo credit: Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz), ES Joya Ceren Museum 05 2012 1519, CC BY-SA 3.0

 

 

Sunday Special – Iceland


One of the hottest countries to visit these days is actually rather cool. Iceland is possibly one of the most popular European destinations right about now. It certainly is on my list. After seeing The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, starring Ben Stiller I was awed by the scenery the film showcased about this small northern European island nation. Then seeing photos several friends had posted on social media it has quickly moved up my bucket list.

The landscape has been described as rough, rugged and barren yet holds a beauty all its own. Mountainous volcanoes, sheets of glacial ice, lava fields and geothermal waters can all be found here. And it is said the warmest of all are Iceland’s people, which I suspect is true. Along with nature one can expect great food, amazing music (Of Monsters and Men hail from Iceland!), art,  and literature. When I go here I hope to see much of the country, perhaps even by car so that I can wander about at my leisure.  Here are some ideas.

  • Route 1 – Ring Road – The main highway that links the country together spans 1,330km / 830 miles. A road trip of epic scenery. Do prepare for any road trips and plan accordingly.
  • Northern Lights – Iceland’s location on the planet makes it a fitting place to see the night skies dance with colour. September to April are the best times for viewing.
  • Geothermal Waters – Naturally heated spring waters are plentiful. Many places have created pools and spas where you can enjoy the hot waters in the crisp air. The Blue Lagoon; Myvatn Natural Baths; and Laugarvatn Fontana are a few.
  • Festivals – Every season brings festivals and events to celebrate music, art, sport, and food.
  • Creatures Big and Small – Iceland may be a small country yet there is bountiful wildlife. Arctic Foxes, Icelandic Horses (don’t call them ponies!), varied and beautiful bird populations, and of course whales swimming in the North Atlantic waters.
  • Natural Beauty – a land of volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, caves, natural springs and geysers, and a rugged coastline I suspect this is how this island country wows most everyone.
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Iceland’s southern Ring Road – Photo via rheins, Southern Ring Road of Iceland – 2013.08 – panoramio (4)CC BY 3.0

 

Islenskir_hestar Icelandic horse

Icelandic Horses – Photo is Public Domain