Stela 5 at Takalik Abaj. Photo © Simon Burchell (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

The Ruins of Takalik Abaj, Guatemala

The archeological site of Takalik Abaj, meaning “standing stones,” is particularly interesting because it reveals elements of Olmec influence in early Mayan culture. Learn about the ruins and how to get there in preparation for your visit, along with recommendations for where to stay to explore the surrounding landscape.

A mother and daughter standing on their porch in Nicaragua. Photo © Robert Lerich/123rf.

Nicaraguan Customs and Etiquette

Nicaraguans are generally open, talkative, and hospitable. In most areas of the country, Nicaraguans are accustomed to seeing foreigners, but they are still curious and not very discreet. Learning what to expect from your host country’s people, what they expect from you, and the the ins and outs of daily life when it comes to customs and etiquette will go a long way in making your travels smoother.

Colorful peppers for sale at a farmer's market in Chiapas, Mexico. Photo © John Cumbow/123rf.

An Introduction to Mexican Food

One of the world’s great cuisines, Mexican food is diverse, delicious, and profoundly omnivorous, both simple and sophisticated. Food is essential to Mexican culture, and eating well is something enjoyed throughout Mexico, at every price point and in every type of establishment—from food stalls, bakeries, and markets to cafés, cantinas, and restaurants.

Explore verdant valleys in Colombia's coffee region.

Colombia’s Economy

Colombia has a thriving market economy based primarily on oil, mining, agriculture, and manufacturing. Growth over the past decade has been a robust, placing it solidly as a middle-income country. Here’s a brief look at the country’s economic history, with a more in-depth focus on developments and policies in the last two decades.

Lake Shasta. Photo © Maislam/Dreamstime.

What to See at Shasta Lake

Shasta Lake doesn’t look like most lakes. Rather than a bowl shape, the lake is fed by three major rivers; to create this sprawling artificial lake, five towns were drowned. The remains are still down there, most sunk so deep that even scuba divers cannot explore them. A tour of the amazing Lake Shasta Caverns is a welcome respite from summer heat, and even if you’re not fascinated by engineering statistics and superlatives, a tour of the Shasta Dam is a great experience.

Coqui tree frogs. Photo © Panachai Cherdchucheep/123rf.

Puerto Rico’s Coqui Tree Frog

There is one sweet sound unlike any other that you can hear throughout the island of Puerto Rico at night, and that is the song of the coqui tree frog. Rarely seen but often heard, these tiny translucent amphibians are the beloved mascot of the island.

Arco de Santa Catalina. Photo © Al Argueta.

Religious Sights in Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua is fascinating and easily manageable for a day of sight-seeing, as most everything you might want to see and do lies within a radius of a few miles. These churches and convents provide a great look into Antigua’s history.

Currasow. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Explore La Garita, Costa Rica

La Garita is an excellent stop for nature lovers, boasting a botanical orchid garden and a wildlife rescue center that welcomes visitors to explore its expansive grounds. There are also two lovely places to stay–one modestly appointed but wonderfully comfortable and the other a far more lavish, luxurious property–that make the trip especially pleasant.

Statue at Chankanaab National Park. Photo © Bridgette Parent/123rf.

Parks on Isla Cozumel

Isla Cozumel is a small, mostly undeveloped island with a lot going for it. Both families and independent travelers can experience a day at the park here that fits their itineraries and interests, whether that be a full day exploring nature, relaxing on the beach, or some interactive fun for the kids.

A statue of Nobel Prize laureate Miguel Ángel Asturias on Avenida La Reforma. Photo © Al Argueta.

Sights in Guatemala City’s Zona 10

Zona 10 is home to Guatemala City’s most pleasant commercial district, a beautiful example of 19th century architecture, and two excellent historical museums–one a definite must-see for anyone with even a passing interest in Mayan culture.