Things to see and do

London that won’t break the bank

 

Magnificent Nunhead Cemetery

London may be known for being one of the most expensive cities in the world but what a lot of people don’t know is that there are loads of totally free activities to fill your days and nights, leaving you with more pennies to save for your next trip. London’s museum and galleries have been free for some time now but there are lots of other cheap, cheerful and less-well known attractions just waiting to be discovered. So here it is: an insider’s top five tip-off to get you started (and when you’ve got through these, pick up one of the many free newspapers given out on the underground to give you even more ideas).

Great ideas for a bank holiday in London

 

The UK has so few national holidays that we treasure those 8 bank-holiday Mondays sprinkled throughout the year; and, with May having a greedy 2, you have to make sure you make the most of your long weekends – even if it typically rains, as we all know it will!

As the Spring bank holiday is only few days away here’s what we did on the last May Day bank holiday to give you a few ideas for what you can do with yours:

‘Painting a brighter future for the endangered Asian elephant’

 

Elephant Parade is a conservation campaign that shines a multi-coloured spotlight on the urgent crisis faced by the endangered Asian elephant. Conceived and organised  by www.elephantfamily.org, the event sees over 250 brightly painted life-size elephants located around central London this summer from May to July 2010.

Belize Cayes to Antigua to Lago de Atitlán to Volcán Pacaya

 
Zapotilla Cayes, Belize

Zapotilla Cayes, Belize

To round off our time in the Caribbean we took a day trip snorkelling around the Cayes of Belize. If you ever got the chance to do this I thoroughly recommend it. Crystal turquoise waters, white sand, beautiful fish and what’s more, whale sharks. Unfortunately, the island we stopped on also had some vicious sand flies so I returned to Antigua with a golden tan but covered in red welts.

Livingston Guatemala – my office …

 
Working hard

Working hard

on the beach; what more needs to be said. We are in La Buga – Livingston, a town accessible only by boat on Guatemala’s short 74-km Caribbean coastline. Here Latin meets Black Carib, this being focal point of the Garifuna people – a culture born out of Africans meeting Caribbeans on the island of St Vincent during the days of European colonial rule.

Garifuna - Guatemalan Caribbean

Garifuna - Guatemalan Caribbean

A black Christ, Mayan ruins and coco locos in Guatemala’s Orient

 

Esquipulas FaithOn the road for work I have seen some remarkable sights over the past few days. In Esquipulas I saw the ancient caving of a black Jesus Christ, the site of a mega pilgrimage every year on January 15th.

 

 

 

 

 

Holidaying along the Ruta del Sol

 
Yorkshire pack horse - with style

Yorkshire pack horse - with style

We left peaceful Finca Punta Ayampe yesterday and headed to Montañita, hedonistic surfer town, for some fun fun fun. Last night we had a big night out, hitting up cocktail row – a lane full of wooden stall after wooden stall, a line of about 20 on each side, serving up delicious fresh fruit strong liquor refreshment. It’s a place with a single high-end hotel but it’s great for backpackers’ hostels with hammocks on the beach, cheerful bars and tasty cheap seafood. I ate five plates of king prawns in less than two days.

Unapologetically real

 
Undeveloped charm

Undeveloped charm

We also had spent a day sipping fresh fruit cocktails and eating seafood on the beach in Puerto Lopez. This working beach-town has definitely not been spoilt by tourism. The only travellers here are backpackers, happy to stay in very basic hostels, ignore the rubbish on the streets and eat at plastic tables, knowing that as soon as a swanky resort hotel is built all the authenticity will disappear. And you can’t get it back.

Poor man’s Galápagos

 
The ultimate in footwear

The ultimate in footwear

Having decided it costs far too much money to get to the Gálapagos Islands and do a tour ($1000), it was well worth the $55 for the boat trip to Isla de la Plata to see humpback whales, blue and red footed boobies, red-billed frigatas and turtles .

So better than Baños

 
Playing with fire

Playing with fire

Known as Mass of Fire in Quechua and depicted in many Tigua paintings due its cultural significance, Cotopaxi holds a special place in the heart of most serranos (Ecuadorians from the sierra). And after having just gazed at the peak of Cotopaxi for almost 3 months from the comfort of my terrace, it was truly life-reaffirming to be tearing up the flanks of Ecuador’s second highest volcano at 5789m above sea level (19,347 ft), last eruption in 1940.