Things That Matter

These Stunning Photos Come From Actual Places In Latin America That Are Totally Easy To Visit This Summer

One of the most incredible experiences I have ever had in my life is visiting a cenote in the Riviera Maya in Mexico. I remember so vividly paddling in a little boat on top of an underground river, surrounded by the natural cave and being in awe of everything. In fact, it was one of the most surreal experiences of my life — which totally makes sense since Latin America is absolutely full of surreal, beautiful places to visit.

From Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia to the Marble Caves in Chile/Argentina to the Cave of Crystals in Mexico to the Viñales Valley in Cuba, there is incredible, natural beauty all over the Americas and the Caribbean. You’ll never believe all of the different things you can see, from deserts to glaciers to incredible valleys filled with so much greenery. And there’s even a rainbow river! If you want to travel to some of the most obscenely incredible sites in the world, then check out these 21 most surreal places in Latin America.

1. Cenote Samula, Valladolid, Mexico

CREDIT: vagando_por_mexico/Instagram

The Mexican cenote is a beautiful thing and, in case you didn’t know, it is a natural sinkhole that exposes the groundwater underneath — and has become a wonderful place to swim, particularly in the Yucatán Peninsula. This one is one of the majestic ones that you’ll definitely want to see.

2. Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

CREDIT: torresdelpaine/Instagram

This gorgeous national park, located in Chile’s Patagonia region, is well-known for the beautiful soaring mountains and bright blue icebergs, plus grasslands that house wildlife such as the llama-like guanacos. There are seemingly endless places to go, and you’ll want to stay here forever.

3. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

CREDIT: dudewheresmypassport/Instagram

When you go to Bolivia, you absolutely must stop by the southwest part of the country to visit the Andes mountains and Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. This is the result of a prehistoric lake that went dry and left us with a desert-like landscape of bright-white salt and rock formations… And it’s beautiful, no?

4. Mount Roraima, Venezuela

CREDIT: conocevenezuela/Instagram

Nestled safely in Venezuela, though also touching Brazil and Guayana, is this beautiful and unique “floating island” plateau that actually sits 1,2000 feet above the forest floor. This natural wonder is very much worth visiting on your next trip to South America. It’s surreal and will surely take your breath away to stare up at this gorgeous mount.

5. Marble Caves, General Carrera Lake, Chile-Argentina

CREDIT: passionpassport/Instagram

This lake, located in Patagonia, is deep and beautiful… and has a glacial origin since it is surrounded by the Andes mountains. Meanwhile, the Marble Caves, which are here, were actually formed by wave action over the last 6,2000 years and are one of the most wonderful parts to see at this lake… But don’t worry, there’s plenty more here, too. 

6. Cueva Ventana, Puerto Rico

CREDIT: g.sullivan97/Instagram

If you’re still heartbroken over the devastation of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, then you should know that so are we… But the good thing is that we can do something about it, like travel to Puerto Rico and support the country with volunteer efforts and our tourism dollars. Of course, if you’re there, you will want to head to the limestone cliff in Arecibo, where you can find this large cave that overlooks the Río Grande de Arecibo valley. Isn’t it gorgeous?

7. Perito Moreno Glacier, Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina

CREDIT: lucaspereiraphoto/Instagram

Los Glaciares National Park is one of the most beautiful places you can visit in Argentina, and I highly encourage you to go there ASAP. But you’ll want to know where to go, right? Well, the Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the most impressive to see and likely one of the most important (and surreal!) tourist attractions in the country. You’ll definitely be impressed.

8. Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Brazil

CREDIT: brunoferrucio/Instagram

Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is located in the northeastern area of Brazil, and a splendor to see. This area, which is roughly 580 square miles, is full of low, flat, and occasionally flooded land, along with plenty of sand dunes. And, get this: There is abundant rain but almost no vegetation! Heading there to take a dip in some of the waters might be one of the most memorable experiences of your life.

9. Laguna Colorada, Bolivia

CREDIT: elisepoiffaut/Instagram

This shallow salt lake is a wonder to see, mainly because the white color of the borax islands contrasts with the reddish color of its waters (which is caused by red sediments and pigmentation of some algae). It’s a wonder to see, and you will absolutely love your time there. The colors, the views, all of it… So surreal!

10. Valley of the Moon, Atacama Desert, Chile

CREDIT: nick.bailey360/Instagram

Located west of the Andes mountains and primarily in Chile, this desert plateau is actually the driest desert in the world and home to many beautiful views such as this one from the Valley of the Moon. Beyond that, there is plenty of stony terrain, tons of salt lakes, salad, and felsic lava that flows towards the Andes and catches my breath every single time. Wow. Just wow!

11. Rio Secreto, Riveira Maya, Mexico

CREDIT: riosecreto/Instagram

As I mentioned earlier, the Riviera Maya has a lot of beautiful, natural caves with rivers — such as the Rio Secreto that is one of the most spectacular underground rivers around. There are tons of hiking and swimming excursions, too, where you can marvel at the splendor while surrounded by stalactites and stalagmites. And the river itself, of course.

12. Colca Canyon, Peru

CREDIT: mlodzinskiphoto/Instagram

This river canyon, located in southern Peru, is one of the world’s deepest and also a well-known trekking destination. The landscape has green valleys and remote traditional villages, and you can even head down to the Colca River for rafting. Just don’t forget to be ready for R&R because you will surely be relaxed and rested after a trip here. Just look at those breathtaking views!

13. Altos de Chavón, Dominican Republic

CREDIT: 7xijosdavid/Instagram

The Altos de Chavón is actually a re-created Mediterranean-style European village that is located atop the Chavón River in the Dominican Republic, but you’ll want to head here not only to see the adorable little town but also the nature that surrounds it. Just look at this gorgeous river, and tell me you don’t want to stare at it forever… 

14. Iguazu Falls, Argentina-Brazil

CREDIT: iguazufalls/Instagram

Bordering both Argentina and Brazil, these waterfalls are known to be one of the most beautiful in the world and with good reason. The magic seen here is impossible to describe and you will feel as if you stepped into a surreal world of incredible beauty. Trust me, you’ll want to come here and breathe in all of the fresh air and just marvel in how incredibly special all of this is.

15. Cave of Crystals, Naica, Chihuahua, Mexico

CREDIT: acrisiomelo/Instagram

If you’ve ever dreamed of stepping into a crystal cave (and who hasn’t, amirite?), then your wishes can come true in the Chihuahua region of Mexico. The main cave chamber actually contains giant selenite crystals, which are some of the largest natural crystals ever found. Surprisingly, the cave is also extremely hot and is relatively unexplored because of the heat and humidity. If you go, make sure that you have proper protection… and probably only stay for about 10 minutes.

16. Caño Cristales River, Meta, Colombia

CREDIT: neotropicexpeditions/Instagram

This Colombian river is a beautiful place to go on your search for the surreal beauty that you can only find in South America. This river is often called the “River of Five Colors” or the “Liquid Rainbow” because it is, indeed, the most beautiful river in the world thanks to the variously colored plants that make the bed of the river light up with yellow, green, blue, black, and especially red from July to November. 

17. Catatumbo Lightning, Venezuela

CREDIT: earth_timeline/Instagram

Prepare to be completely amazing: The Catatumbo Lightning is an atmospheric phenomenon that happens in Venezuela, and it occurs only over the mouth of the Catatumbo River where it emboss into Lake Maracaibo. Basically, about 140-160 nights of the year, a mass of storm clouds originates over the lake and lightning strikes for up to 10 hours a day and up to 180 times per hour. Although it differs year to year, it is absolutely AH-mazing to see.

18. Semuc Champey, Guatemala

CREDIT: leelooledoux/Instagram

You will never believe how surreal this beautiful, natural moment in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, is when you visit. Consisting of a natural limestone bridge, plenty of turquoise pools, and many more other things. You’ll be in plenty of splendor here, and with plenty of time to relax and enjoy yourself. 

19. Underwater River, Cenote Angelita, Mexico

CREDIT: msoceantw/Instagram

As I said, checking out some of Mexico’s many cenotes should definitely be on your Must Do List if you plan to visit some of the most surreal places in Latin America. But, if you want to see one of the most amazing ones, then you absolutely need to go to the underwater one in Cenote Angelita. It’s an incredible sight to behold and you won’t believe your eyes as you swim through this gorgeous place.

20. Viñales Valley, Cuba

CREDIT: abbeywel/Instagram

This valley in Cuba is definitely one of the places you’ll want to visit ASAP. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and located in a beautiful part of the island (not that there is a non-beautiful part, that is). If you’re looking for some natural beauty here, then look no further. There is a lot of hiking to be done here, so head here for a full day of beauty before taking the next day off to lay on a beach. Trust me on this one.

21. Santa Ana Volcano, El Salvador

CREDIT: noorasusann/Instagram

The highest volcano in El Salvador is also where you can find one of the most beautiful views in the country, and with good reason. You can hike this baby and is definitely made for the serious backpacker. There’s so many gorgeous things to see here, and especially the stunning turquoise lake that is at the bottom of the volcano’s crater. Talk about surreal beauty, huh?

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Summer Is Here And Here’s How You Are Enjoying It Considering Everything Else Going On

Culture

Summer Is Here And Here’s How You Are Enjoying It Considering Everything Else Going On

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

There is no denying that COVID-19 is definitely changing a lot of our summer plans. However, there are a lot of plans this summer that we can still enjoy to the fullest, no matter what is happening in the world. Here are some of the ways you are making summer fun at home.

Nothing like a visit from the paletero.

Credit: yasislas / Giphy

There is nothing more summer than the paletero, according to @kclovesgg. He is the first person many of us fell in love with because he represented pure joy and always made us happy. Hearing that little bell clanking in the distance is enough to still make our hearts race.

On the other end, mami’s unending caldo is a summer staple.

Credit: Campbell’s

Our moms have this theory that it is beneficial for us to eat soup when it is hot outside. It isn’t to boot our immune systems or make us healthier. It is low key a way for them to save on the A/C. While Instagram users like @lulu_hern might remember it fondly, it is important to know that mom thought you would not feel as hot after eating such a hot meal. Therefore, she wouldn’t have to turn on the A/C.

There is something so important about the first carne asada of summer.

Credit: RobertRBlackmon / Giphy

We all know that papi, tío, abuelo, and every Latino man loves to be the carne asada house every summer. Fortunately, this summer, because of *waves frantically* everything, he can be the carne asada house every day. You better buckle up, @carmabelle91. Get ready to eat your family’s cooking all summer.

Some of you think margaritas are a summer drink when they are really acceptable at any time of year.

Literally, there is never a wrong time of year for a refreshing margarita because: tequila. While the freshness of lime juice and the blended ice to make for an exceptionally refreshing beverage for summer, don’t limit yourself. Enjoy your margaritas all year and make a special mix for those hot summer months, @cagirl_72.

The ability to go outdoor got a mention from you all because it’s the little things some times.

Credit: Partizan / Giphy

Being able to walk around outside is just one of the many joys we can enjoy without spending money. Being able to walk around your neighborhood or through nature is vital right now. We have been isolated at home for months and we have had to roll back openings because of spiking cases. Don’t let yourself go stir crazy. Walk around and breathe. @reynadelamiche knows what’s up.

Who doesn’t love a little baseball right now?

Credit: mlb / Giphy

The sporting world was one of the first to respond to COVID-19. All professional sports suspended their seasons when COVID-19 started to spread in the U.S. However, baseball is on its way back in the U.S. Despite the pandemic, the MLB will be restarting the season and taking actions to keep players safe, @riossr.alonso.

A big thing you want, according to IG comments, is justice for Breonna Taylor.

Several of you commented that you want to see justice for Breonna Taylor who was killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky. Her case has drawn a lot of attention because the police officers executed a no-knock warrant and entered the wrong address.

Taylor was shot and killed in her home and the police who killed the innocent woman have not been arrested. People have demonstrated across the country demanding justice for Breonna Taylor. Though the police have not been arrested, Breonna’s Law was passed by Louisville eliminating no-knock warrants.

READ: LGBTQ+ Swimwear To Rock This Summer If You’re Sick Of Being Constrained To One Look

Mexico Plans To Reopen Cancun To International Tourists But It’s Not At All Prepared For Visitors

Things That Matter

Mexico Plans To Reopen Cancun To International Tourists But It’s Not At All Prepared For Visitors

Omgitsjustintime/ Instagram

There are millions of people just itching for a vacation right now, and Cancun wants to welcome visitors with open arms. However, there’s a huge problem with their plan. Most of the country is still in a severe phase of the pandemic – with all 32 states reporting daily increases in confirmed Covid-19 cases.

In cities such as Guadalajara and Mexico City, even locals aren’t allowed to venture far from their homes and restrictions on shopping, dining, and exercising are still in full force.

However, the country’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), has resumed his cross-country travels and is trying to portray a ‘new normal’ – the problem is little has changed to prevent further outbreaks.

Cancun is aiming to open its doors to tourists from June 10 – but it makes zero sense given the actual situation on the ground.

Quintana Roo, home to the famed beaches of Cancun and Tulum, will resume activities next week – according to the governor, Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez. The state, which depends heavily on tourism, has lost over 83,000 jobs in the last few months due to the pandemic, and with reopening the state could see an economic rebound. However, that entirely depends on the success and implementation of safety measures.

In a press conference, the governor said that tourists could start arriving in the Caribbean destination as soon as June 8th. He added that tourism is an essential activity and that there is no other of greater importance in Quintana Roo “and we are going to fight for it to be considered that way.”

He stressed during the public address that for the opening to happen by June 10th, protocols and hygiene measures must be followed to protect workers and tourists from Covid-19.

And he has good reason to reopen. According to a new survey by Expedia, ‘Cancun flights’ is one of the top 5 searches on the platform. In the same survey, Playa del Carmen, Cancun and Isla Mujeres (all located in Quintana Roo) were announced as three of the most internationally sought after destinations.

Meanwhile, AMLO has launched a cross-country tour touting the lifting of Coronavirus restrictions.

Credit: Rebecca Blackwell / Getty

President AMLO also held his daily press conference from the state of Quintana Roo to mark the beginning of Mexico’s economic reopening and resume his tours across the country.

But this too makes zero sense. Yes, the government has mandated that states can begin lifting restrictions – if they’re no longer declared ‘red zones.’ However, every state in the country is still in the red, with many seeing peak infection numbers.

It’s just the most recent example of confusing messaging from the president.

Credit: thatgaygringo / Instagram

While AMLO is eager to get the country reopened and put Mexicans back to work, Coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country. Mexico has now recorded the seventh-highest number of Covid-19 deaths in the world, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker, with nearly 10,000 virus-related fatalities and almost 100,000 confirmed cases. Testing in the country is low and health officials acknowledge that the numbers are likely much higher.

The federal government unveiled a red-light/green-light system to implement reopening procedures state by state. But currently every state is still in ‘red-light’ phase – meaning stay-at-home orders are still in full effect – making AMLO’s messaging extremely confusing.

Time and time again, the president has downplayed the virus outbreak and has criticized stay-at-home orders for harming the economy.

Keep in mind, however, that non-essential travel between the U.S. and Mexico is still largely banned.

Since March, all non-essential travel has been banned between the U.S. and Mexico. However, that ban is currently set to expire on June 22. It’s possible both sides could extend the travel ban, but given AMLO’s rhetoric it isn’t likely he’ll keep the country closed to tourists for much longer.

However, it’s important to point that out even if you technically can travel – right now you really shouldn’t. In much of Mexico, confirmed Covid-19 cases are on the rise with many cities across the country just now entering it’s worst phase.