Monday, May 28, 2012

Back to Mexico... And Hi, Erica!

Ten days on the beach in Belize... They fly by in a lazy late afternoon haze... Sharks, bed bugs, gorgeous sunsets, the KY Derby at the Barefoot Bar, a Belikin Stout most nights, a few longer boat and bus rides than you'd expect in a country this small, and finally, here I was, back in Mexico. Actually, I found myself standing on the dock outside of Chetumal, Mexico, along with the other 20 passengers of our speed boat from Caye Caulker, as we watched a Mexican police dog come up and eagerly sniff all of our luggage. I quickly rolled through all the places my backpack had been over the years and what scents it may have picked up along the way... and decided there shouldn't be much for a drug-sniffing dog to get too excited about. The dog agreed, and we proceeded down the dock and into Mexico - certainly a scenic way to arrive.

The following morning, I was back at the Cancun airport, welcoming Erica to Central America

Hi Erica! I've missed you - welcome to the tropics!

We proceeded back to Tulum, home for the three nights to come... and by home, I mean an idyllic beach-front cabana - a quick reminder of my feelings on Tulum in general and Play Azul in particular from my previous visit here, in case you'd forgotten. We wasted no time beginning to settle into the harsh realities of life on the beach in Mexico

Why yes, Cabana #2 does come with a hammock

Unfortunately, Erica only had three days for Mexico, so we eventually had to leave the hammock behind to go off and explore! By 3 o'clock that afternoon, we were nearing the Centro Ecologico Sian Ka'an, an enormous biosphere reserve just South of Tulum, filled with magroves, narrow boatways among the mangroves, and lots of interesting wildlife all over. Oh, and an occasional Mayan ruin. The manatees are the star attraction, so that's where our guide headed - I worried a bit that the manatees may be a little hard to spot, given that they live underwater and all (and us being above it), but these sea cows are mammals after all, so they have to come up to breathe every few minutes... so we settled in over the middle of the lagoon for some twenty minutes and got to watch as the local group of manatees (20 or strong) kept poking their snouts out of the water every few minutes for a fresh breath of air (Hmm... I wonder how they sleep?). They don't hang around long enough to pose for a good picture, but it is ever so cute to watch them poke their noses up through the surface. Certainly helps that Sian Ka'an is the antithesis of some over-developed tourist Mexican tourist resort - the bioreserve is just hard enough to access that you get the show all to yourself. Not another boat, or soul in sight - just us, the small boat, the guide, the mangroves all around, and the manatees poking through the water every few minutes.

Sadly, I wasn't quick enough to get any good shots of the manatees, but the rest of the reserve wasn't quite so shy:

Our boat speeding through the mangroves

Flowers at the spot where fresh and salt water meet at the edge of the bio reserve

An eagle surveying his property from high up in a tree

Day 2, we decided to go for some "active lounging" - we weren't going to stay on the beach in Tulum, but weren't going all that far off either - a mere 30km North to the beaches in Akumal, for a snorkeling adventure. And it is an adventure as these clear, warm waters are home to a population of sting rays and turtles... in addition to an assortment of coral and other fish. And you don't have to pay an arm and a leg to go into a lagoon reserve or go on a dive trip to see these guys - just wade in some 50 to 70 feet off shore on a public beach here in Akumal, and...

Well, first and foremost, there was the two of us living under the sea at Akumal. I'm told I was looking very intense here...

A little sting ray swimming through the waters

And a turtle showing no fear of us snorkelers whatsoever. Note the cleaner fish swimming alongside him.

Simply snorkeling for an entire afternoon is much too much hard work for being on the Mexican Riviera though, so after a couple of hours in the water, we found ourselves at one of Akumal's ever-so-convenient beach-front bars, enjoying a fresh ceviche and a couple of beverages:

Erica with her Coco Loco... A Coco Loco is, of course, a coconut filled with a volatile mixture of Tequila, Rum, Vodka, Gin, and a little bit of fruit juice... Good stuff - brings back memories of college.

It was up to me to attack the coconut's empty shell after all the liquor was gone.

And thus we transitioned to Day 3 - there was some souvenir (funny hats!) shopping, biking around Tulum, dining, and visiting a local grocery store involved in between, but I'll spare you those details, on to Chichen Itza and Day 3! In the interests of time, we decided to try out being proper tourists in Mexico - spending a full day on a tour bus, in the company of our tour guide, visiting Chichen Itza, as well as a couple of other stops of note along the way. Admittedly, a bus full of American tourists isn't normally my favorite way to explore foreign lands, but this was a good trip - Chichen Itza certainly feels like one of those place that you must see while down here, and this was certainly the best way to do so, especially given our time constraints. And, we even got a helpful tour guide...

El Castillo - Chichen Itza's famous main Pyramid (even if it's not technically a pyramid, really)

No trespassing sign, Mayan style, circa 1,000 years ago

Compared to the other Mayan sites I'd seen down here, Chicen Itza definitely had some interesting and unusual things going for it - it's actually relatively small, there's but a handful of buildings, the archaeologists estimate that at its height, the city was only home to some 60,000 people. Tikal and Caracoral (in today's Belize) were each home to several hundred thousand. However, unlike Tikal, Palenque, and Coba, there's a lot more of Chichen Itza to see. It isn't buried in nearly as dense of a jungle, instead, it's near Cancun, so it's been 'discovered' for a while now, and attracts thousands of visitors every day. It also means that the Mexican government has invested in some significant restoration efforts. Bottom line, Chichen Itza has comparatively few structures to see, but they are the best preserved/restored/exposed of any of the ones I'd seen on the trip. As for the visitor floods, there's no comparing Chichen Itza and any of the other sites down here - the crowds of tourists (and purveyors of local crafts for sale) are simply overwhelming here, as is the number of tour buses in the parking lot. Tikal may have had the more striking features, but it's just so difficult to get to that there's not anywhere near the number of people appreciating said features. As for Chichen Itza having been named one of the 'New Seven Wonders of the World?' Eh, that sure seems like a product of the Chichen Itza Pyramids being the easiest to access from the Cancun airport... (But, hey it looks like Chichen Itza had been the last of the Seven that I hadn't seen yet prior to this day!)

But! We weren't done... our tour guide had a few more stops under his sleeve before turning back - starting with a dip in the chilly waters of a nearby Cenote

The cenote didn't quite have the intimacy of 'The Pit', where I'd gone diving a couple of weeks ago (and there wasn't another soul about while we were there), but was most impressive in the size of the cave it occupied and the stalactites and stalagmites growing in its depths... It was quite the refreshing swim too!

Next stop, the nearby colonial town of Valladolid, reminding us once more that it's not just turtles and Pyramids out here. The Spanish came here too... and conquered, and converted, and built Cathedrals: Catedral De San Gervasio presides over Valladolid

Also in Valladolid, a perfectly friendly and photogenic little skeleton

And finally back in Tulum, for a fun little dinner at a local taco/quesadilla shop, featuring juice cups of ginormous proportions! (but no rodents of unusual size, as far as I could tell)

And that, sadly, was it for Mexico. The following morning, we were back to the Cancun airport, boarding our flights, and heading in the general direction of home. Well, not quite home yet - a stop in San Diego was scheduled along the way for my dad's birthday; Erica was flying straight to San Diego... I was taking a more adventurous route (if less circuitous, technically), and boarding a Mexican plane bound for Tijuana. Adventure to be continued from Tijuana!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Don't feed the fishes!

But if you do... the way the guys who run the snorkeling trips here in Caye Caulker, Belize do it is definitely the way to go. Whatever is is that they put in the water seems to attract just about everything that these waters have to offer - from sharks, to sting rays, to other fish swarming the place. They say the sharks can't actually see the food being thrown in, they mostly just follow the commotion. Anyway, feeding the fish is bad - it screws up the natural habitat and feeding cycle, and all that. But holy crap, this is why they do it anyway:

Lots of fish come - note the long reddish-brown shape of a shark in the middle of them all

Nurse sharks and sting rays follow in

We were literally swimming in the same spot with some 20-30 sting rays of varying sizes, and about as many Nurse Sharks. And other assorted fishes...

Just for good measure, there was even a turtle not too far off

How did all this come about? Well, after a week down on the beach in Placencia, I finally made my way up to Caye Caulker in the North of Belize. Caye Caulker is Belize's backpacker island - meaning you spend your busy, busy days lounging in the hammocks at the water front, reading a book, watching the sunsets, and drinking various rum concoctions (including one named the 'Panty Ripper...'). Life in paradise really is quite hard - I debated quite a bit whether or not the whale sharks had actually been worth it, or if I would've been better off coming up here for a week as I had originally planned... Deep philosophical questions such as that one are not easily resolved in a hammock however, so instead I went for a snorkeling trip at the nearby coral reefs, where we saw all the stuff above. And the feeding questions aside, that had to have been more spectacular of a collection of marine life than anything I'd even ever seen scuba diving.

As for the rest of time in Caye Caulker? (sadly it was only two and a half days anyway):

Water front hammocks to lounge and read a book in

The daily sunset viewing from 'The Split' - Belize Trvia: The Split is where a hurricane had split this little island in two some forty years ago

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sharkus Maximus

That's Latin for Whale Shark, right? No? Well, it would be appropriate - they're are astoundingly ginormous creatures... (it's actually Rhincodon typus, if you were curious). Turns out, they can also be fairly elusive creatures - you'd think it might be hard to hide when you are 40+ foot shark swimming slowly and lazily through the waters, but it seems they rather like to dive... to depths of over 1,200 meters. (I'm certified to 30... I'm no whale shark - sigh...). But the whale sharks like to eat too, and their favorite snack lives (and spawns... the whale sharks actually eat the eggs of the fish - caviar!?) a little closer to the surface. Which is [naturally] where we, the divers, come in.

Backtracking just a little bit... I had no idea I'd try and go see whale sharks on this trip. In fact, I didn't even know they were any down here, but one conversation led to another, and the internet confirmed... and there I was in the sleepy town of Placencia in the South of Belize just in time for this month's Full Moon. As it turns out, the fish spawn at the Full Moon, which draws the sharks to the surface, so that's the time to go see them. Between April and June anyway - they're finicky creatures. Getting to Placencia for the Full Moon (which turned out to be the Supermoon) wasn't actually in any way part of my plan, so I had to rearrange a few things, but there I was, lazing on the beach in Southern Belize, waiting for the sharks.

Life was pretty hard down here

As I did a lot of this for two and a half days

The full moon was Saturday night; Monday was deemed a good day to go whale shark hunting, and off we went! I pretty quickly realized that there were a few minor downsides to the whole chasing whale sharks thing - it's a long, bumpy boat ride to get out to Gladden Spit where they like to hang out (over an hour), and once you are there, it's really whale shark or bust; there's not a whole lot else to look at. Either you spot a whale shark, or you see a lot of blue:

And some divers swimming through the blue... But not much else.

And on our first dive, that's basically what we got - a whole lotta nothin'! Lots of blue water all around, no whale sharks, no coral, not even any fish around... I did see three teeny little jelly fish ... pretty underwhelming. We were underwater a long time though - 57 minutes, one of the longest dives I had done, not one of the more interesting ones though. Lunch came about, we ate, we lazed about for a couple of hours until our next time slot, and back in the water... towards lots more blue in all directions. But, all of a sudden, some 30 minutes into the dive, the action started to pick up - first, a little bull shark swam past us, then groups of the feeder fish began showing up and milling about, and our guide was darting all over the place, looking for things... so it all felt like we were just on the verge of something! Time kept ticking away - I kept nervously glancing at my gauges, still a good amount of air left in the tank, but it is slowly running out... This feels so much like something's about to happen though! Just gotta hold out a little longer... Alas, at 400psi left in the tank, I had to admit that it was probably time to call it a day, whale shark or not, and surface. Safety stop, up to the surface, untangling the equipment while bopping up and down in the waves, and all of a sudden, there's the excited call: whale shark! Our guide, also on the surface by now, confirms! Mask back on, regulator in, and back under water - must find the shark! A few minute of thrashing and darting about down there followed, but, sadly, the whale shark seemed to have come and gone... so back to the surface. Running up to 73 minutes on the dive, I was well past my longest dive time ever, but was also running out of air.

So, on the hour long ride back to Placencia, I got to reflect and re-evaluate - it seems whale shark diving is not quite so black and white after all. Even though I didn't actually see the shark, four people in the group did see him, so there's reason to believe they are not entirely made-up creatures... (Underwater unicorns?) And besides, between the bull shark sighting and all the anticipation and excitement of the feeder fish, the dive had did not feel anything like a total loss, even if I didn't actually see what I had come for. So, rationalizing or not, getting back to Placencia, I felt ok - sort of a calm feeling of 'that's just the way things go with nature'. Besides, the next day was to be more diving - Glover's Reef, which is one of the best dive sites in the Caribbean (if not the world!). And, if really need be, this is just good reason to come down here again, for the whale sharks...

So, with the thoughts in my head more or less sorted out like that, I was back at the dive shop the following morning (and I do mean morning - 5:45AM!!! Belize really needs to be in a different time zone...) to head over to Glover's Reef. This involved another long boat ride, and a long day of diving - three dives, but whale sharks were not even on the schedule, the reef was pretty spectacular, and much unlike open blue water, quite full of fish and other marine life:

A funky fish swimming through the waters

One of several big turtles we saw swimming gracefully about

Getting up close and personal with the fishes

There was a shark that I'd caught swimming away from us too and a couple of crazy looking lobsters, so it was definitely a good day of diving. I wouldn't say it's one of the best in the world - personally, I think the South Pacific/SE Asia sites are far more spectacular, but the reefs off of Belize can definitely be in the conversation. And, really, who cares about that conversation - if you are in Belize, you've got to dive the Barrier Reef!

So, back to Placencia one more time, strategizing on how to head up North the next morning ... when we arrive at the dive shop, and there's a buzz around! I'm talking to Hank, our whale shark dive master from the day before, and yeah, the whale sharks are coming up! They saw several, the sharks got pretty close to the divers - people have pictures and everything. And, there is a general theory about that, while [obviously] nothing in nature can ever be guaranteed, generally, once the whale sharks start to come up, they tend to stay up for a few days. So, all of a sudden, I've a bit of a dilemma - I'd been planning to leave Placencia the following morning, having come to terms that nature is just stupid and unpredictable, and that if you want to be guaranteed to see an animal, you should go to the zoo (and naturally, the Japanese do have some whale sharks in captivity....), but, but, but, whale sharks!

So, clearly, I stayed another day. Securing a 10% discount on my third dive helped make me feel a little better, and my hotel had my room available for exactly one more night ... so it clearly was meant to be. Besides, it's only money, right? So, finally, Day 3! Back to Splash (the dive shop), where I feel like I know everyone by now, back on the boat and back out to Gladden Spit. Let's make it happen, nature, or I'll be seriously pissed at you... Back in the water for the first dive - lots more blue again... but also some fish start to show up, so it's a little exciting... no whale sharks to report still, and we're out after a mere 45 minutes. In fact, the radio chatter confirms that none of the boats around had seen any whale sharks in the morning.

Fourth time is the charm, right? Back into the water in the afternoon for one last dive... Some twenty minutes go by, and we really haven't seen anything... I'm going through some rather dark thoughts in my head... But then, things brighten - we start seeing fish, and another group of divers, and the intense energy of anticipation and excitement from the second dive the other day is back!

Pretty soon, we could see a LOT of fish all around us

When a whale shark might be nearby, this is a fun trick the guides use - get everybody in a tight group, and blowing bubbles. The whale sharks tend to mistake the bubbles for the eggs that the fish product

And, this time, we didn't have to wait long! A whale shark was out to join us!

Is there a whale shark in this picture!? Well, yes there is - just look for the spotted shape going horizontally across the middle of the picture

So, as you can probably tell, my pictures didn't come out so well on this day - this was the best one, and this is after doing a lot of post-processing on it. We actually had three sightings (no idea if it was the same shark, or different ones), and each time the shark hung around, circling slowly and leisurely for a few minutes. Unfortunately, they were circling at a depth of some 20-30 feet below us still (and our guides and dive masters were very insistent that we stay safe and not all start diving down to 120 feet to get closer to them... which is admittedly for the best), but worst of all, the zoom on my under water camera picked a terrible time to temporarily stop working. So... the moral of the story, if you want to get a good look at the whale sharks, you'll really just have to come down here yourself, because the mental image I got of those giant shapes calmly making their way through the seas was perfectly clear and quite impressive, even if the photographs were not. So, all in all, a very good day indeed!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Belize, where the caves just got real!

There's a whole bunchg of caves out there. As a tourist, you can actually visit a lot of them - even good'ol Kentucky's got a rather impressive one its very own: Mammoth Cave was one of the very tourist destinations I remember visiting after coming to the States. And there's Halong Bay caves in Vietnam, India's Ajanta caves, New Zealand, the Philippines, the silver an salt mines of Bolivia and Colombia... the list goes on. Safe to say, none are like the caves in Belize. Because here in Belize, the caves just got real! As in, you are no longer being carefully shepherded along through walkways and handicapped accessible stairways - no, no, here, the caves are still pretty wild. And thankfully, the lawyers are ignorant of all this wildness - 'cause they sure aren't very safe!

What these caves are, however, is long, windy, twisty, and dark. They are also filled with Mayan artifacts, and have water rushing through them. The artifacts first - the Mayans believed that the cave systems were the underworld, which in their mythology was merely the path the souls took on the way to the heavens (not some sort of a Christian-like Hell). This, of course, made the caves important, spiritual places ... and, naturally, an ideal place for an occasional human sacrifice. Because when the weather patterns got a bit rough late in the first millennium, the Gods had to be appeased. And the Gods, it was felt, may well be appeased by some human sacrifices... (the Gods, incidentally were underwhelmed - the droughts continued, and are generally believed to have led to the pre-Colombian decline of the Maya civilization). Back to the artifacts - the caves are home to some fifteen skeletons, an several thousand pieces of pottery. Because you want to send the guys you are sacrificing off to the next world with something tasty! Or, at times, you just want to share something awesome and delicious with your local deity.

Now bear with me - say, you are Belize... you are a fairly poor country, tourism is already your major source of income, and all of a sudden, archaeologists have discovered this touristic gold mine in the hills. What do you do? Naturally, you send the tourists in there! And charge them for the privilege. What happens when you let tourists into tiny, narrow, unlit caves filled with [extremely fragile] thousand year old artifacts? That's right - they break shit! Apparently, a little while ago somebody had dropped a lens cap onto a skull and knocked some teeth out... then, fairly recently, another tourist dropped an entire camera onto another skull, puncturing a camera-sized hole in said skull. Naturally, this was not well received. National archaeological treasure and all... people were scrambled, discussions were held, a hasty conclusion was reached! As of May 3rd, no more cameras in the ATM (Actun Tunichil Muknal, but ATM really is a better name for it) cave! May 3rd happened to be the day I was going to see the cave, so I wasn't really amused... but this is why you get to read so much of my prose in this post instead of looking at pretty pictures - sadly, I have no pictures from this day of adventure... As to what's going to happen to the precious artifacts when some clumsy tourist simply stumbles and steps on one (with no cameras involved)? We're just going to hope that never happens! What I actually suspect is going to happen is that tourists are going to complain about doing the tour without cameras, and will become a little more reluctant to pay for said tours. At which point, the tourist agencies will start losing money, will panic, and the cameras will be right back in the cave! But we'll see - maybe I'm just a skeptic... but I will be royally pissed about not having any pictures from that day if they do reverse themselves in a month!

Anyway, so that's the Mayans - both the ancient ones, with their artifacts, and their present day descendants who are trying to figure out how to make money off of said artifacts, hopefully without destroying too many of them. Honestly, I thought the pottery was sort of cool, and the sacrifice stories fairly interesting, but wasn't all that impressed. The cave itself, now that was a lot of fun! And it was specifically fun because there was no coddling and hand holding - the first thing you do when you enter the cave is get in the water an swim for a good fifteen meters. From there, you proceed through the dark, narrow caves, navigating by the power of the head lamp (everyone in the group gets one), and walking through water levels ranging from about ankle deep to "you've gotsta swim again!" They recommended back in town to wear closed-toe shoes... in a very Belizean way, they didn't exactly insist, so I promptly ignored this recommendation. After an hour of wading, swimming, and wondering if there will be anything left of my leather sandals by the time we're done, we arrived at the elevated (and dry, but still pitch black dark) portion of the cave, where the Mayans had had their stuff. Also worth considering - the Mayans didn't have head lamps, they had crappy torches. They were scrappy like that (just like, Bing - just for you, Erica!) So getting through the water-filled cave, without putting the torch out, must've been quite an undertaking. The dry portion of the cave wasn't without its adventures either - some narrow passages to shimmy through, ledges to climb up and over (then climb back down as you return), and finally a rather rickety ladder leading to the final resting place of a Mayan princess. I thought the rickety ladder was a little sketchy, but I apparently this was the new and improved, metal ladder, taking the place of the old, even more rickety, wooden one... Oh, Belize, how I love thee! And your adventurous spirit!

As for the pictures that I don't have... I doubt there would've been all that many from the river, or the pottery. I'd probably get a few of the skeletons, but the best parts were the huge stalactites and stalagmites growing in the caves! And they are growing all over the place - in another few million years, the cave will most likely have closed back up again because of them. My favorite were the stalagmites (these are the ones growing up from the ground) which the Mayans had placed pieces of pottery on top of. Naturally, they've continued growing over the past 1000 years (~1/2 inch per year), and some have actually joined in with the corresponding stalactites coming down from the top to form a column... with the piece of Mayan pottery still stuck in the middle of it! Just a fun illustration of the passage of time... and of just how much time has passed since people last visited these caves on a regular basis. The locals apparently have always known of them, and would occasionally come in, but without exploring much. It wasn't until the late 80's when modern archaeologists (with the help of our guide, incidentally) had come down to thoroughly explore and map the caves and catalog the artifacts therein. Then turned the tourists loose on what they had discovered. Which continues to seem bad for the safety of the artifacts, but, I've got to admit, it was pretty awesome to just be struggling through this cave, much the same way that the first archaeologists would have been doing 25 years ago!

Ok, that was a lot of reading without the reward of any pictures so far... So, I can offer you the wikipedia entry on the ATM cave - I guess you could still bring in cameras when they had come by.

Other adventures in San Ignacio, Belize, which I could take pictures of(!), involved meeting more Russian tourists. Which was astounding enough, since normally I only run into Russian tourists on the beach. But here they were - Lena and Mishka, first at the ATM just as I had arrived, then trying to bargain with our eventual tour operator in town right as I had walked up. (we ended up doing the tour together. Nazeem, of Lebanese descent!?, would not budge on his price though...). But that wasn't the only noteworthy thing about these guys (from New York, originally Moscow and Riga, Latvia) - I may not have gone to the same school with either of them (unlike Anna from Seattle via Palenque, Mexico), instead we had something else in common - these guys had both been to Burning Man, and she's in fact enough of Burner free spirit that she travels with her hula hoop, to which she can attach points of fire. I don't know how to explain it better, but let's just say that after we had run into Fernando doing a fire show on the street, they got talking and soon thereafter were putting on a fire show together:

They are both quite good at their fire shows too... but I can't believe she travels with the stuff!

Mishka is a kindred traveling spirit, having roamed the world over, after also leaving a software job some five years ago... Apparently his last trip had been to Ethiopia, so he's got me beat on the sub-Saharan Africa bit. On this trip, they were both traveling around Central America with some vague notion of coming back before the end of May, but without an actual ticket back to New York as of yet. So, you know, we got along. My Russian connections seem to be becoming slightly less well tuned though - I started with Anna, who was not only from Moscow, but from the very same neighborhood as me. Mishka is from Moscow, but a completely different part of the city. Lena came from Latvia, a good ways West of Moscow. The closest I've come since has been running into a couple from Finland on the bus from San Ignacio, and a guy from Poland here in Placencia. So, I'm moving West, I suppose - Denmark next maybe?

And we'll leave you with this, as a parting shot of the inland Mayan lands (as I've made my way back to the beach by now):

A random Mayan decoration in the middle of San Ignacio

San Ignacio really is a tiny, tiny outpost of a town - much like every town in Belize actually, so this is just about all I got to see and do there!

Saturday, May 5, 2012


I'm hanging out here in Placencia, waiting for the whale sharks. The whale sharks apparently come out to feed (and for us to dive with) right after the Full Moon, so I've needed to learn all about the current phases of the Full Moon is coming - and the next Full Moon is tonight! And lo and behold, Erica points out that this particular Full Moon is apparently quite special: So naturally, I grabbed my camera and headed off to try and photograph this 14% larger than normal moon. (If you haven't clicked the linky, the gist of is that the moon orbits the Earth in an elliptical orbit, and currently it's at its closest point to us. And the Moon actually enters the properly full stage at almost the exact same time as it is at its closest orbital position to us, which happens virtually, never(!) - hooray for astronomy!). Anyway, I tried to take some pictures:

Honestly, I don't see a whole lot of a difference from normal - but apparently, the Moon will appear about 14 percent larger tonight

I tried to get creative with the palm trees out front, but night time photography remains quite hard

Be it because of the extra proximity or [most likely] not, the Moon was shedding enough light, that you could actually get a pretty clear shot of the water too