Trader Joe's Fan - Latin American Inspiration

toucan.jpgIn celebration of our partnership with Caravan Tours this month, and their very generous, exclusive to 2009 TRIP FOR TWO GIVEAWAY, we reflect on the rich cultures, flavors and spices of Latin America and show you how you can experience some of the dishes and tastes here at home from Trader Joes.

Caravan Tours, Inc. is in it's 56th year of providing high-quality, affordable, professionally escorted, all inclusive-tours. Even though Caravan does have superb tours of Canada and the US, let's talk about exploring the rich cultures, ancient civilizations, historic ruins, lush tropical rain forests and other amazing sights of Latin America.

Costa Rica: A Natural Paradise

costa_rica_lake.jpgLiterally meaning "Rich Coast", Costa Rica is a country filled with volcanos, jungle rainforests and exotic animals. Caravan's 10 day tour starts in San José where you can visit the Plaza de la Cultura and the National Museum or see the Poás Volcano (dormant since 1991.) Next, your tour takes you into the heart of a rainforest to experience one of the country's top attractions: the rainforest aerial tram. Then you head off to Tortuguero Park for a nature cruise and visit the Green Turtle Research Station to learn about the local turtle habitat. For a break, your tour stops at Caño Negro where you can enjoy the hot springs and possibly see nearby Arenal Volcano's softly glowing lava flow. From there, you travel through the Monteverde Cloud Forest region, the beaches of the pacific coast, visit a coffee plantation and finally return to San José.

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Guatamala with Tikal and Copán

guatemala_lake.jpgThis 11 day Caravan tour takes you through the land of beautiful lakes, volcanos and ancient Mayan culture. You start in Guatemala City and head off to Chichicastenango to experience the country's largest markeplace. Next is the famous Lake Atitlán, 5,000 feet above sea level. You will see three volcanos towering over what some people consider the world's most beautiful lake when you take a magical morning cruise across the deep, blue water. The trip then takes you down to Guatemala's central valley and into Copán, Honduras. This city is home to the best preserved ruins of the Mayan world, long protected by the jungle in a remote mountain valley. Next is an unforgettable visit to Tikal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and what was once the grandest of all Mayan cities. There you will see pyramids and temples jutting out of the rainforest canopy. You will then continue on to Antigua, stopping at a coffee plantation. where your journey ends.

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Mexico's Ancient and Colonial Cities

mexican_ruins.jpgCaravan's 8 day tour of Mexico begins in Mexico City where you visit Mexico's grandest archaeological site, Teotihuacán, buily by the Nahua and the sixth largest city in the world in 400 AD. After you explore the temples, palaces and pyramids, you can stroll through Mexico City and visit its incredible museums, before you head off to Puebla, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its hundreds of churches. There you will experience romantic mariachis in the oldest plaza in Mexico. On the way to your next stop, Palenque, you will pass mango orchards, pineapple fields and tropical flowers, stopping to see the gigantic Olmec head carvings in Villa Hermosa. Palenque is a magical place of Mayan ruins and jungle foliage. Next is a visit to ancient Uxmal to see the Pyramid of Magicians. Then onto Mérida and a trip to Chichén Itzá and the famous Castle Pyramid. Your trip ends in Cancún, a vacation paradise of white sand beaches and magnificent resorts.

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Bring the Flavors Home
From Trader Joe's
Below are some items you might want to pick up from Trader Joes for a sampling of Latin American flavors and ingredients.

  Carne or Pollo Asada
  Fresh Mango Salsa
  Black Beans
  Roasted Plantain Chips

And don't forget fresh avocados, limes, green onions, cilantro and tortillas!

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