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We were under the volcano, in the town of Baos, Ecuador. On the days agenda? Watch it erupt, have lunch for a dollar, hike to waterfalls and dance all night.

Under The Volcano

Under The VolcanoThe town sits at the base or "under the volcano" named Tungurahua. We wanted to see it erupt, so we paid the $3 each for a two-hour trip to a hill overlooking the town. The top of the volcano was visible from there, and sure enough, it coughed up a bit of lava on cue. I had another rum drink and helped to push-start the vehicle that brought us there.My wife Ana and I spent a week there in Baos, Ecuador, in June of 2004. The hotel, with cable TV, cost $6 per night. The usual rate was $12, but we're good negotiators. Lunch was just $1 each day, or $2.25 total for both, with tip. Typically, it was chicken, rice, beans, salad and juice. Every other day we splurged and paid $1.50 at a nicer place.Hot Springs Of BaosThe town really is right "under the volcano" , which has caused problems for the residents over the years. The upside is that it also causes an abundance of hot water. Baos has two hot spring facilities, and two with cold water. They are some of the best mineral springs in Ecuador. The most popular is at the base of a waterfall that tumbles from the mountain above. It is a short walk from anywhere in town, and it costs just a dollar, or a little more if you want to enjoy the mineral-rich waters under the stars each evening. Thre is a sign that documents the various minerals found in the water, and many come to alleviate their arthritis or other illnesses.A trip to one of the hot springs became a daily ritual. Afternoons Ana shopped. I played chess in the open market in the center of town, with Manolo or Rene, or other locals. At all times, we enjoyed the scenery. Just look up and you see lush hills and classic colonial architecture all around.Evenings are for dancing. Santo Pecado ("saint/sinner") was usually our first stop. The owner was always ready to trade stories. Tuparina was our favorite disco, perhaps due to the huayusa, a drink made of a psychadelic plant collected by the family of the owner. Under The Volcano TungurahuaSeveral of the dozens of volcanos in Ecuador are active. Tungurahua, which overlooks Banos, is one of the most active. You need to get out of town to see it, because Baos is set deep in the surrounding lush, green mountains, which block the view. A great way to get a good look is on a "volcano tour." Several operations in Banos take you on tours to see an eruption. Just flag down one of the "chivas" circling town and blasting loud music in the evening. A chiva is an open-sided bus of sorts, with seating inside or on the roof.Ana rode inside, and I had to try the roof. My advice? Watch out for branches! We toured the city with party music playing the whole time, then headed into the mountains. There were fire-juggling entertainers on top of the hill, and free hot rum drinks. We looked down on the lights of Banos, and even saw Tungurahua spit up some lava. A two-hour experience, drinks and the honor of helping push-start the chiva. Not bad for $3 each.Other Activities in BanosThere is a great zoo (bears, birds, tortoises and more). You can rent an ATV, bicycle to nearby waterfalls or tunnels, party in dozens of bars, buy avocados for 20 cents, see a recent movie in your own private viewing room for $1.50 per person (bring all the food and drinks you want) - and almost everything is within a few blocks of any hotel. Banos is beautiful, with a perfect climate year-round.The real name of the town is Baos de Agua Santa, but it is usually just called Baos. It is in the Andes Mountains, at the foot of the volcano Tungurahua, in Ecuador, South America. Any of the busses from Quito, eighty miles to the north, will cost you less than five dollars. Ready for a vacation under the volcano?

North America: A World of Travel

North America: A World of Travel

Spanning over 25 countries, islands and territories from the Arctic Circle to the Tropics, no other continental region is as uniquely diverse as North America. There are as many snowy retreats as there are beachside utopias; an abundance of modern metropolitan centers as well as a multitude of inspiring historic sites. Canada, Mexico and the United States comprise the majority of "North America" , but the smaller nations of Central America and the Caribbean are also considered part of the enormous continent. Wilderness to Go Wild ForMany of the worlds most spectacular National Parks and protected wilderness areas are scattered about North America, as it was one of the last regions to be colonized by Europeans. Death Valley National Park, located in Californias Mojave and Colorado Deserts, is the hottest, driest and lowest (282 feet below sea level) place in North America, with summer temperatures averaging over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and annual rainfall under 2 inches. The best time to visit is mid-Spring when the weather is mild and the wildflowers are blooming. The soaring geysers and vibrant blue-green geothermal pools of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, make it the ultimate destination for the nature lover. Herds of the once endangered North American Bison graze the rolling grasslands and the mythic Grizzly Bear forages through pristine mountain forests. Travel North Americas expansive protected lands and discover why this region is synonymous with the modern definition of wilderness.Sandy Beaches, Cascading PeaksBaja California is one of Mexicos most beautiful resort destinations. The peninsula divides the tranquil waters of the Sea of Cortes to the East and the deep Pacific Ocean to the West. Bajas subtropical tip is dotted with the popular vacation spots of La Paz and Cabo San Lucas. To the East, the Gulf of Mexico draws northerners and foreigners to the tantalizing white sand beaches and turquoise waters of Cancun, the Bahamas and southern Florida. North America also boasts an incredible collection of winter ski and snow resorts. For the thrill-seeker in you, the two top-ranked destinations are the ferocious pinnacles of Whistler, Canada and the intimidating jagged crest of the Grand Tetons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.Enticing International CitiesTravel North American cities for an intensely multicultural atmosphere, which blossomed from the tumultuous history of the region. The diverse ethnic makeup of cities like Montreal, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles has created profoundly rich art and music cultures as well as unparalleled international cuisine. Other cities like Mazatlan, Mexico and Washington D.C. tell a more intimate history of their specific regions through extensive museums, archeological sites and monuments.North America is a bastion of fascinating cultural heritages, historic dramas and pristine wilderness. Nearly 40 million people inhabited the continent by the time Europeans arrived and there is evidence to suggest humans have been present for over 15,000 years and potentially as far back as 50,000 years. The blending and clashing of indigenous populations with sea-farers, explorers, slaves and religious refugees from the Old World has created the dynamic and wondrous landscape of modern travel to North America

Bali Vacation: Discover A Breathtaking Panorama Of Jatiluwih

Bali Vacation: Discover A Breathtaking Panorama Of Jatiluwih

Most people come to Bali to experience the marvelously rich culture heritage; some come for the beaches and the waves; some come for meeting and convention; others for pure relaxation. But if you are a nature lover dont miss Jatiluwih, is a breathtaking panorama of genuine and fertile rice fields stretch from the foothills of Batukaru volcano to the south coast. It is located at the western district of Tabanan. This western uplands of Batukaru are famed for magnificent landscapes. The view from the mountain village, Jatiluwih, takes in the whole of South Bali. Perched on a high terraced slope, Jatiluwih deserves its name, which means Truly Marvelous. A wonder of the world. Its worth a venture. You can initiate your trip in the morning leaving the hotel at 09.00. A.M. There are many ways to see Bali and each serves its own purpose well. Motorcycles are a pleasant (but extremely risky) way to see the countryside and cooler than ride in a car. Jeep and minivans are also available for hire with or without a driver. It is advisable to settle the price with the driver before starting on a journey.After passing the town of Tabanan the road takes you to the north through the villages of Wanasari, Jegu, Buruan and Wangaya Gede. On the route you will be amazed by the wonderful rural ambience; farmhouses, characteristically, a little shrine to place offerings dedicated to Dewi Sri the Goddess of rice, plowing, flocks of ducks that are brought to bathe and feed all day in the flooded paddies, and harvesting, that one pictures when remembering Bali. The cascading terraces of rice fields are the most striking features of the landscape.If you see farmers are working the rice, planting or harvesting, and if you are interested in experience it, you can stop and joint them, you will be welcomed gladly. Alo turis, alo turis! followed by giggles is the standard greeting from children everywhere on Bali. Older people will be more sedate but their curious eyes will follow you, as will their more modest greeting of mau kemana (where are you going). Traveling in Bali can be exhilarating and getting off the beaten track can take you right to the heart of Balinese life, although you dont have to stray far to feel it.On the route at the village of Wanasari there is a butterflies park, you can stop and watch various kinds of colorful tropical butterflies. And then nearby the temple Pura Luhur is the holy spring of Air Panas, where hot water surges from the river bank. All strange, natural phenomena are believed to be frequented by spirits. Thus, Air Panas is graced by a small temple where people make their prayers with offerings.The journey continues up the road until it dead ends at Pura Luhur Batukaru (2,278 m / 7,474 ft). Being one of Balis most venerated temples, every West Balinese temple has a shrine dedicated to it; it is isolated within its solitary clearing far above the populated farmlands. The dense rainforest of this upland would invite every adventurer to explore it. Wild orchids, healing herbs, fragrant spices and exotic trees could be discovered in this mystical heart and soul of this amazing island.Then, the last destination (the goal of the journey) is the mountain village Jatiluwih, a breathtaking panorama of genuine and the most fertile terraces rice fields on the island. It is said as the granary of the whole Bali. Perched on a high terraced slope, Jatiluwih deserves its name, which means Truly Marvelous. The cascading terraces of rice fields are the most striking features of the landscape. Stretch from the foothill of Batukaru volcano to the south coast. The cool western uplands, overlooking half the island, offer magnificent views.On the route to Jatiluwih you can observe many kinds of tropical vegetation; coffee, coconuts, cacaos, cloves, jack fruits, bananas, papayas, sirsaks, an extremely juicy fruit, rambutans, mangoes, durians the smelly fruit, etc. The western upland is the most interesting area to hike. If you love hiking (dont forget your picnic basket). A true journey to the secret soul of Bali. But if you want to have your meals at a restaurant, continue your travel to the east till you arrive at Pacung, there is a good restaurant offers delicious buffet lunch with its wonderful sight of terraces rice field and the sacred volcano Batukaru in the distance.Waka Land Cruise a reputable company has been organizing a sacred adventure to the secret soul of Bali. Travel by legendary luxury Land Rover, on tiny country roads and tracks, through terraced rice fields and untouched rainforest to the real heart of Bali.So keep in mind the beautiful Bali for your holiday, because it would be worth to venture there.Thank you readers and have a nice day.

New Orleans Earns a Spot On Your Holiday Wish List

New Orleans Earns a Spot On Your Holiday Wish List

Traveling for the holidays? With low hotel rates, special culinary offerings, cultural and family events and unique shopping, New Orleans makes the perfect destination.In December, New Orleans comes alive with music, food and decorations - all with the sounds, scents and sights of the season. Food lovers will revel in the free daily cooking demonstrations given by the city's top chefs and have the special opportunity to savor a traditional Creole dinner, the Reveillon, offered in many of New Orleans' best restaurants. These fixed-price menus include a minimum of four courses and feature such delicacies as Louisiana sweet potato risotto, pecan-crusted venison tenderloin and eggnog creme brulee.Music afficionados can enjoy free nightly concerts in the magnificent 18th-century St. Louis Cathedral in the historic French Quarter as some of the city's top jazz, gospel and contemporary musicians perform in full holiday splendor. Visitors can even sing along at the "Caroling in Jackson Square" on Dec. 19, where the songs of the season are sung by candlelight in one of the country's most historic and picturesque settings.Ethnic holiday events also abound as a Celtic Christmas celebration, a Kwanzaa festival, two public Chanukah observances and others add to the unique melting pot of the city's heritage. To help visitors stuff their loved ones' stockings with one-of-a-kind gifts, New Orleans offers limitless shopping opportunities in the historic French Quarter, and the six miles of Magazine Street shops feature everything from antiques and boutiques to auction houses and curiosity shops.Majestic City Park's "Celebration in the Oaks" is unique as visitors can walk, drive or ride a horse-drawn carriage through a dazzling display of 2 million lights strung through draping, centuries-old oak trees.The holiday fun continues after Dec. 25 with a New Year's Eve celebration only New Orleans could host. As a giant, lighted king cake baby drops from Jax Brewery at midnight, top local bands play for the crowds as fireworks ignite the darkened skies above the Mississippi River.On Jan. 3, sports fans can enjoy the Nokia Sugar Bowl in the Louisiana Superdome, which will host two of the country's best collegiate football teams.

Visit Puerto Vallarta

The best benefit of my job as a journalist is that I often get to travel to write for magazines and travel websites. I love nothing more than packing a suitcase and heading off to somewhere unknown with the goal being to explore and learn about the location and the culture. In the past year, I have traveled to a fair number of places, but none have matched the beauty of Puerto Vallarta.If you have ever been to Puerto Vallarta, then you know the beauty that I am talking about. There is nothing that compares to the white sand beaches and the crystal clear blue- green waters of Puerto Vallarta. It was a pleasure to go there and write about reasons why travelers would enjoy vacationing there.So, let me share with you some great reasons to visit Puerto Vallarta. First is the reason that I mentioned before: the sheer beauty of the place. If you are anything like me, then you are hugely affected by the look and feel of whatever environment you are in. When I am surrounded by amazing beauty my entire perspective changes. I loved visiting Puerto Vallarta for the simple fact that I felt better about life when I was there. If you're looking for a great place to gain some perspective and to do some deep thinking, then look no further than the beaches of Puerto Vallarta.Another thing I was surprised to find in Puerto Vallarta was a great mixture of places filled with people and places where I could enjoy solitude. That flexibility of environment is an element that I need in a vacation but can rarely find. I love knowing that I can head to a crowded beach or that I can find a more isolated beach if I so choose. So whether you are looking for a crowded and crazy trip or if you are looking for a place of escape, Puerto Vallarta can be a great place to stay.Puerto Vallarta offers a ton of things to do. This can be important on a vacation. Sometimes laying on a beach all day is the way you need to unwind, but other times it is nice to have some nearby and reasonable activities to choose from. If you are looking into vacationing in Puerto Vallarta, the best value is to stay at an all-inclusive resort. This will include your room, meals and often various activities as well. Start planning a trip to Puerto Vallarta today. You'll never regret it.

Discover Mijares Mexican Restaurant In Pasadena California

Mijares Mexican Restaurant in Pasadena, California is extremely well known for two things, their margaritas and their all you can eat Sunday champaign buffet brunch, both of which are excellent. This restaurant has been around for what seems like forever and has developed a crowd of very loyal patrons.

Although it is justly well known for it's Sunday buffet, this is a good place to dine in at any time. Their food is always fresh and well prepared and their service is usually above average. The atmosphere is casual, relaxed and friendly and their prices are very reasonable.

Every once in a while someone will tell me that the food here is not authentic Mexican cuisine (most of these people, by the way, are not Mexican or Hispanic and have never been to Mexico). When I ask them why they feel that the food is not authentic, they say that the food is not spicy or hot enough. They say that Mexican food is very hot because of all the chili that is added during cooking. Well, I have news for those people, not all Mexicans like their food extra spicy and many that do enjoy it hot like to add their chili while they are eating. Every Mexican that I know who has eaten here likes the way the food is prepared and likes the chilis and salses that are served with the food. My son, who is one half Mexican, likes his food hot, the hotter the better, yet this is one of his favorite Mexican restaurants. He says that neither the food nor the salsas can compare with those prepared by his mother or grandmother but they are better those served in most Mexican restaurants that he has been to. I have been a fan of Mexican cuisine since I met my wife in 1966. I do not like hot or very spicey food but I do like well prepared food with good flavor. I do not think that anyone can cook better than my wife, however we both like to go out to eat and we both enjoy good Mexican restaurants. While there are some Mexican restaurants that I prefer over Mijares, none of them are in Pasadena.

The Sunday brunch at Mijares is very good and at $16.95 per person is very cheap. Some people I know drink that much in free champaign and mimosas. If you are not that much into Mexican food the buffet also has eggs, hash browns, bacon, ham and delicious ribs. Their omelet chef makes excellent omelets and definitely doesn't stint on the ingredients. If you are into Mexican food they serve menudo, fajitas, various types of tacos, enchiladas, carnitas, rice, beans and more. They have a nice variety of desserts including flan and plenty of fruit.

Mijares has a fairly small but well stocked bar. It seems, however that almost everyone goes there for the margaritas which are inexpensive, generously proportioned and made with good quality tequila. The bartenders are friendly and the patrons at the bar always seem to be part of one big party.

Mijares Mexican Restaurant is a family owned restaurant and is located in it's own hacienda style building at 145 Palmetto Drive, Pasadena, California. It has plenty of free and valet parking except on Friday and Saturday nights when it seems as if almost everybody in the San Gabriel Valley is there partying, eating, drinking margaritas and listening to mariachi music.

Reservations are not required but they are a good idea. The telephone number for Mijares is 626-792-2763.

For a directory of restaurants and restaurant reviews in the city of Pasadena, California see http://pasadena.usacitydirectories.com/restaurants.html, a directory listing Pasadena restaurants alphabetically and by category or type with reviews written by restaurant customers.

Summary

We were under the volcano, in the town of Baos, Ecuador. On the days agenda? Watch it erupt, have lunch for a dollar, hike to waterfalls and dance all night.