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20.04.18  Monday will be headed out of  town north for a change of domicile tomorrow. The Nilo Hotel, here in Acapulco has been an excellent place to relax since coming down from Mexico City. Roof top pool and bar, huge bed (8’x8′).

22.04.18 Surprise…Surprise….for my birthday! Lynn has arranged an upgrade to the Penthouse Apartment in Nilo Hotel.

Private elevator for ones exclusive use, with views over the rooftop pool and the city beyond. My oh my….enormous bed, self contained kitchen and dining room with vistas through a convex shaped plate glass window over to the other side of the city & a couple of bottles of Argentinian Merlot to be imbibed, at leisure. Later will be going out to a favourite restaurant, “Questa Pasta.”

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Questa Pasta….mmmmm.

22.04.18 Sunday: The elevator to our room made a mechanical click as it came to rest at 09:00am this morning. The maid came out apologising profusely as she had woken us both up from deep slumber with a Moet Chandon Champaign Breakfast tray and a mixture of cakes, cheeses, grapes & biscuits!

Late afternoon, took a taxi to Mondo Imperial Hotel about half an hour down the coast for afternoon Brunch. The Bucks Fizz kept flowing and the steaks were enormous rib eye specials. Came back stuffed and spent the rest of the evening in the roof top pool.

 

23.04.18 Will be headed north west of the city about 25 klm for a week Air BnB stay at Pie de la Cuesta on Monday. Then, subsequently headed south to a little town called Puerto Escondido.

25.04.18 This evening will be going to see the Cliff Divers at La Quebrada Acapulco. Their fame & notoriety spread worldwide following the 1963 Elvis Presley film Fun in Acapulco. However, it was in 1934 that Raoul Garcia, brought the phenomenon to local public attention. Apparently as evening draws in they take to diving with lit torches!

 

Boarded an overnight (semi Calma (almost flat bed)) coach from Sucre at 20:00 hrs and arrived in La Paz twelve hours later. First impressions waking from a fragmented nights sleep was of a multi layered conurbation descending down from precipitous slopes to the valleys below bathed in early morning sunlight. Used the time available during the first few hours to go to “Moon Valley”, an unusually eroded area that is evocative of what an active imagination would think that a moonscape would look like. Later took the opportunity to take a cable car ride over the city and up the heights at the level of the “Alti Plano”IMG_0639http://www.orangesmile.com/common/img_final_large/la-paz_sightseeing.

  1. La Paz, in Bolivia, is the highest administrative capital in the world, resting on the Andes’ Altiplano plateau at more than 3,500m above sea level. It stretches to El Alto city in the highlands, with snow-capped, 6,438m-high Mt. Illimani as its backdrop. The city’s dramatic setting can be taken in during rides on Mi Teleférico, the aerial cable car system.
    Thursday 02.07.15 Wandered up to Plaza Murillo and the offices of the President. The square is delightful, providing a forum for social interaction in the mid afternoon sunshine. Later wandered up to Calle Jaen a narrow lane that was full of interest from a historical perspective. Along its length it had a couple of museums and a number of artisan “bijou” retail outlets.
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    Calle Jaen…The ridge at El Alto can be seen in the distance.

The strange "otherworldlyness" of Moon Valley, La Paz

The strange “otherworldlyness” of Moon Valley, La Paz

Saturday 03.07.15 Yesterday met a delightful Dutch couple Rens & Francoise, completely by happen chance whilst out walking downtown. We had met them earlier when in Potosi visiting the Museum. We stood talking for almost an hour, exchanged e-mail addresses and hopefully we will remain in touch.
The weather seems to have drawn a lot of cloud today as the views over the city have disappeared which is a shame,but on the other hand it presents an opportunity to catch up on internet news over the Greek farago and blog writing.Tomorrow will be vacating our domicile here and taking a three hour coach trip up to Copacabana on the shoreline of lake Titicaca (alt.3812m.(12507ft). See you in Copacabana.

05.08.19

Sadly, time in the Galapagos had come to an end. We caught an early afternoon flight to the mainland, landing in Guayaquil late that same afternoon. We spent a fairly underwhelming week in the town, no doubt deflated because of our recent euphoric experience out on the islands.

Our experience here left a strongly positive impression which will live with us for a long time. Hopefully, we will return, perhaps with the grandchildren at some future, yet to be defined point.

Anyhow, onward and upward. We decided to catch the overland from Guayaquil to Cuenca. It lies 3500 meters altitude (10500 feet) in the mountains arriving Wednesday 07.08.19. The town is somewhat bigger that I had expected with a vibrancy and vigour that was pleasantly surprising. Our host Gary at “Mia Casa” suggested we try a meal out at a friend and Spanish tutor of his, downtown. A Pedir de Boca turned out to be a delightful recommendation in surroundings that paid homage to the artist Goya. Pillipé Vintemilliar turned out to be an interesting Maitre De, as was his family history. Being brought up in the area, he provided us with much background and history of Cuenca. On Thursday 09.08.19 we had a good long mouch down the byways, churches, Cathedral and small artisanal shops that suffuse the city scape. The walk, deep in the valley, was particularly pleasant in the dewy light of the late afternoon setting sun. Saturday 10.09.19 Have now changed domicile further out in the suburbs to reside with Hervé & Carol. He is a lawyer & he and his wife are expecting their first child. Sunday we walked into town along the Tomebamba river bank. Left Cuenca 17.09.19 for Alaisi and stopped at Kilawasi with Beatrice in order that we were able to arrange a trip on “The Devil’s Nose” train ride. The train ascends a precipitous climb up the Devil’s Nose mountain.

Cuenca Cathedral begun 1885 completed 1975

Cuenca is surprisingy vibrant and urbane. The catedral dominates the local city scape and is hugely proportioned. It was opened in 1975 having been in the process of construction for 90 years!

The Devils Nose

Headed north through the mountains to Alausi, it is the “jump off” point for the precarious train ride up the side of a mountain which involves switchbacks, heart stopping views and mountain village life.

The time came to catch a bus up to Quito, so we hightailed it up the valley side and flagged down a bus on the interstate after grabbing our luggage back at the hostel.

Made it into Quito six hours later in time to go out for a pleasant meal before bedding down for the night. A busy couple of days followed heading out to the true line of the Equator then catching a flight up to Panama to take a look at the Canal followed by a three day junket out to the San Blas islands off the Caribbean coast.

An idyllic sunset on the San Blas islands.

25.08.19

Got back into Panama City, packed and headed out to the airport for a 04:30 am check in for a flight out to LAX and a 22:00 pm Virgin Australia flight out to Sydney.

Got into Guayaquil on the Ecuador mainland. Transferred to a 737 for an hour and a half flight.

Landed San Cristobal late afternoon, cleared customs and immigration and got to our Airbnb and flopped for an hour or so. Then headed out to orientate ourselves. The harbour area was around fifteen minutes walk away and is a delightfully arrange promenade passing restaurants, chandeliers and small shops along the way. Celebrated our 45 anniversary with a meal and drink at the Golden Bay Hotel.

Took a fast ferry over to Santa Cruz (Indefatigable) island, passing Santa Fé (Barrington) island for a weeks layover whilst arranging a 5night/6day cruise around the western lying Isabella & Fernandina ( Albemarle & Narborough) islands on Wednesday 03.07.19. Stunning how bird life is not shy at all coming so close and “cheeky” with it.

Millenium Cruising Motor Yacht

Wednesday 03.07.19 Later this afternoon we will borde the Millenium for a cruising junket around the islands alluded to in the above description. Weather is overcast but am hoping that it will improve.

02.07.19 Playa Mansa Santa Cruz,Galapagos Islands
14:22pm Tuesday
It drizzled here early afternoon. So after sheltering under some bushes until it cleared Lynn laid the beach sheet out and had a doze. Just sitting here musing and listening to the waves breaking on the sandy shore line. Tomorrow we leave our accommodation with David and his family in Bella Vista and at the 19:30 bord the cruiser Millennium in Puerto Ayora for a 5 night 6 day junket around the islands of Isabella, Fernandina, Pinzon & then back to Santa Cruz. When we get back we have accommodation and passage booked to Floreana.

03.07.19 Boarded the Millenium last night and weighed anchor for Isabella at around 22:00. Unfortunately within half an hour of boarding Lynn fell ill with sea sickness and stayed up most of the night, heaving. 05.07.19 This morning she was no better. She wanted to stay on the beach today at Villamill whilst I along with the rest of the passengers take a trip up the volcano. She will decide during the course of today if she will continue or meet me back in Santa Cruz when the boat berths in 5 days time. 18:45 Had a 10 mile trek up Volcano Sierra Negra. 06.07.19 Woke early to a beautiful morning. Lynn had a better night with only a couple noughts of sea sickness interludes. She’s feeling much more positive. This morning all guests ventured on to the lava field at Punta Moreno. 11.00am went snorkelling with turtles and a variety of fish. After lunch, weighed anchor and sailed north, between Fernandina and Isabela islands headed for Puerto Mangle. 17:00 Went snorkelling again. This time we were joined by a group of playful sea lions. Early evening weighed anchor and headed further up the coast to Punta Espinoza in Fernandina. Saturday 06.07.19 Lynn borrowed my gear and went practicing snorkelling. She did really well. Sailed back across the straight to Tagus cove where we stopped for lunch. 13:00 will be a “dry landing” ( whatever that means) and then snorkelling later in the afternoon. The dry landing involved a hike up to Darwin’s Lake, a short way up the hill where we saw initials from one of the crew from the Beagle. Later more snorkel practice for Lynn, but in deeper water this time, in Tagus cove. Whilst headed north a large pod of Dolphin passed us by headed south. We were also joined by male frigate bird taking a breather. 17:45 started to round the north cape. Decided to take a bath! Really bizarre feeling, lying in a warm bath looking out the window at a couple of frigate birds flying alongside keeping abreast of the boat and occasionally glancing over at me with idle interest. Sunday 07.07.19 Cruised overnight and got to Santiago island at 06:00am. Calm crossing the northern cape, much to Lynn’s relief, no doubt. This morning after breakfast we are out for a “wet landing” which means we doubtless have to wade ashore. Punta Baquerizo on Santiago (island San Salvador o’ James). 11:30 Got back to the boat after a nice interlude on shore walking the coast and later doing some snorkelling. It has been a beautifully sunny day with warm balmy temperatures. Motored to the south side of Santiago and weighed anchor offshore from “Chinese Hat “ island. Took the Zodiac to the beach and walked for 3/4 of a klmtre. Later went snorkelling. Saw Parrot Fish, and a White tip Reef Shark. 18:20 Now headed SE toward Baltra Island. A short stay back at San Cristobal ensues and then we depart these shores.

To this man goes the final accolade. He published his tome “Origin of Species” subsequent to his visit here in Sept & Oct 1835.

On Sunday 10.03.19, we were given a joint birthday present treat to a concert Matiné of Classical Opera Music Favourites at Sydney Opera House.

Happy Birthday!

It was absolutely delightful. Nessun Dorma from Turandot, Puccini La Bohème, Massenet & Strauss. The compère provided a beautiful foil with comedic lines delivered with drôle understatement.

Will be headed up to Coomera on Thursday 14.03.18 for a short interlude with Amelie, Hannah & Yuya before taking off back to Mexico.

Landed Cancun 21.03.19 grabbed the ADO airport bus out to Puerto Morelos and then a “Collectivo” to meet our host Omar on “Avenida Delfines.” Will stay, probably a month, then move on down the coast to Playa del Carmen for another month.

For the second time MP’s voted against May’s reprehensible withdrawal agreement. It appears that the government of the UK is dead set against complying with the vote to leave the EU and are employing artifice to rob us of our democratic decision to leave.

However, on the 13.03.19, parliament voted to take “No Deal” off the tabe, thereby leaving us with absolutely no leverage against the EU. This decision will live in infamy.

Thursday 03.05.19 Today, I paid my £25 and joined the “Brexit Party.” From a position of being absolutely sick of the way May & the Conservative Party have conducted themselves with respect to our supposed exit from the EU, I decided to act. For too long now Theresa May, Gavin Barwell, Whitehall & it’s mandarins Mark Sedwill, Ollie Robbins have worked assiduously to water down & nullify our mandated vote to leave the EU, ECJ, CAP, CFP, CDF taking back control of our laws, borders, & money.

22.04.19 Well, had a surprise birthday treat planned for today. A trip out into the bay on a leaping, diving submersible. However, when we got there, the staff said that it had gone unserviceable. Disappointed, however, spent the rest of the afternoon harbourside restaurant downing cocktails. Hey Ho..!

Costa Rica Tree Iguana

25.05.19 The PM Theresa May has handed her resignation in after much pressure from the 1922 committee. However, I do think it’s too little, too late. The Conservatives got wiped out in the European Elections. Elections, I hasten to add that we should not have taken a part in, but for the PM’s prevarications. Flew down to Costa Rica for a few weeks. The weather doesn’t bode well, as it is “Rainy Season” here. San Jose, the capital is a “hodge podge” of shops, small stores and feverish economic activity, as store holders, customers and suppliers all choke the streets & thoroughfares with their wares and blandishments for “bargains” galore. Decided to head down to the coast & ended up in Villareal, a town close to Tamarindo on the Pacific coast. 04.06.19. Have now moved further along the Pacific seaboard to a town called Samara just south of Nicoya. It has a very “laid back” ambiance with a not insignificant presence of American, Italian, European expatricianers in evidence. The hostel El Dorado (US$125 for 7 nights), is run by Stephan an ex pat Italian and his son Christopher. Both delightfully engaging individuals. 13.06.19, will be headed back to San Jose for a couple of days prior to flying down to Guayaquil in Ecuador.

Unfortunately, plans have changed in quite a dramatic way.

I received news that my mother had taken a turn for the worse and sadly she passed away on 15.12.18. Cancelled existing flights. Booked flights through JFK and then Icelandair on to Reykjavik . Arrived Keflavik Tuesday 18.12.18 06:10 am where Sosh & Johan Kristin picked us up. Profound sense of loss.

Left Iceland on the 24.12.18.

Got into Newark early and left at 12:17pm on the 24.12.18 for LAX. Left in the early evening on a Virgin Australia flight getting into Brisbane a little over 11 hours later, where Georgina picked us up. She, Dom & Thor had come up to visit Hannah, Yuya & Amalie for the weekend. Having lost a day, as we were effectively flying backwards in time, we were shattered. We lost Christmas day and arrived the morning of the 26.12.18.

16.01.19 May’s Withdrawal Bill was voted down by Parliament. However, she has survived a “No confidence” motion by the opposition. Down in Mascot, Sydney. Renting an apartment, which gives us the opportunity to spend some time with Thor (grandson) during the day.

16.02.19 Serendipity turned and smiled benignly on us. Having been offered the opportunity by Claire, a friend of my daughters, to be guests at a Sail GP event that was to take place around Shark Island in Sydney Harbour straights. The augers were set well for the weekend. The catamarans are 40′ long and weigh in and around two tons. At speed, they elevate onto foils that divest themselves of the drag of the hull. In this condition they reach speeds upwards of 45 knots. Thank you Claire.

There are days when a number of elements conspire to slot into position to provide an idyllic setting with great ambiance and a sense of occasion. It just so happened that it was Lynn’s birthday yesterday!…which surely was providential.

Sunday 17.02.19  Moved accommodation to Bexley, Arncliffe with hosts Renaldo & Henni. It is further away from Bondi, but only marginally so. Headed up to Coomera on the Gold Coast 27.02.19. For a short break to see Amelie, Hannah & Yuya. Back Monday 04.03.19 and will be stopping for 3 nights in Waterloo with Don. Then back to Renaldo & Henni’s before flying back up to Gold Coast prior to a flight out to Mexico on the 13.03.19.

Got in to Keflavik International at 21:05 after an uneventful flight. The weather was abysmal. Driving rain and bad visibility on the Reykjanes peninsular. Sister Soffia & 3rd son Johan Kristin picked me up. This time of year, it starts to go dark at 16:00 pm. Called in to see mum at her care home in Hrafnista on the way in. She was sleeping but seemed to become more animated once she realized that we had come to visit. Didn’t stay long as we did not want to over tire her. Wednesday, Thursday & Friday saw steady, if slow improvements. By Saturday, the need for the nasal oxygen inserts had been obviated as she was managing to keep blood oxygen saturation at a nominal level. One hopes for continuous improvements as time passes.

Eyjarfjallajökull

Heard today that Fuego in Guatemala had erupted and people are being evacuated. We were there less than a month ago, were I took early morning photos of the volcano smoking into the early morning blue sky.

At the time it looked benign and unthreatening. How things can change in a heartbeat? 

Friday 23.11.18 Have been catching public transport regularly each day down to Hrafnista to see mum. I must admit to being impressed by how easy loading & using the Ap to buy & load travel credits. It is also very useful to track the progress of the relevant bus. One is able to time ones arrival at the bus stop, especially when temperatures are sub zero. 

25.11.18: Good to see the family gathered round for mum’s 90th birthday. She was rather tired, so we all repaired from her bedside to an adjoining lounge area, so that the noise and commotion would not unduly disturb & upset her.

Left Iceland on Wednesday 27.11.18. Hooked up with Lynn at Manchester airport, at the “The Airport Pub.”  She flew in from Faro Portugal earlier than I, having already picked up a hire car.  Drove to our Air BnB residence in Milnrow. It being after midnight, our host Liam had already gone to bed. Spent the next couple of days chasing round for Doctors, Dentistry and Eye tests. Spent the night back at Manchester Airport as the car had to be returned and “check in” was early, so it obviated any ensuing stress as a result of early morning traffic or delays. The 10 hour flight out to Cancun was uneventful, if not rather dull. Landed Cancun just after 10am Friday 31.11.18 to intermittent cloud and C30 temperatures.

Got to our AirBnB accommodation not far from the airport (host Isabel) at about 13:00 and just crashed out for the rest of the day. Stayed 2 days in Puerto Morelos and then moved off for a longer stay with host Liliana in Cancun. Will remain here until Tuesday 18.12.18 then go CUN-LAX then a 22:00 departure LAX-BNE, bizarrely landing 06:05 on the morning of Thursday December 20th in Brisbane! In effect, losing a day! 





Withdrawal agreement Tuesday 11.12.18




Things are getting a tad fraught as Tuesday 11.12.18 draws closer. I received a comment on Social Media:  “You put this post up so who do you think should be the Brexiter to sort out a “Candada style deal” or are you clueless like the rest of the Tories.”

(forgive the grammar, punctuation & spelling, it was non of my doing.)

To which, I responded:

Magnus Kwaszenko “I believe in this country and its ability to excel. I do note, that pejorative language seems to be common currency among “lefties,” devoid of a plan of their own. However, putting that to one side, after the Tories rid themselves of May, I would hope that a Brexiteer PM & Chancellor would be brought in to deliver the Brexit a majority of the electorate voted for. Who that may be, will be decided by the party process. Your supposition that I support a “Canada style deal” based on my posting of Steve Hilton’s opinion is bemusing, as I’ve never articulated that opinion. However, that being said, I would be in favour of a deal, that (#1) Takes back Parliamentary Sovereignty from the EU’s legislature. (2) Foregoes monetary disbursements to the EU. (3) Foregoes the overarching power of the ECJ. (4) Returns sovereignty over our fishing grounds (5) Returns legislative control over the integrity and functionality of our borders. (6) Demurs from subscribing to a conceived, but yet to be formed EU armed forces.(7) Gives us the opportunity to negotiate FTA’s.”

12.12.18  May decided to forego the presentation of “Withdrawal Agreement” to Parliament, because it became apparent that she would lose the vote. Subsequently a  “No Confidence” vote has taken place today as 48 letters of “No Confidence in Theresa May’s Leadership” by  Conservative MP’s had been received by Sir Graham Brady, Chairman of the 1922 Committee. She won it with 200 to 117  against. I guess, that we are stuck with her for the time being. Utterly disappointing.

Arrived back in Playa del Carmen last Friday 12.10.18. Looking forward to a period of RnR  up until the 30.10.18, when we will move further up the coast to Puerto Morelos for a short stay until the trip back to Manchester on 06.11.18.








Paradise Cream
best ice cream on 
San Pedro

The tragi-comedy of the UK’s departure from the 43 year old relationship with the EU trundles on….and….on. May’s latest declaration that a plan to extend the “transition period” has…..”emerged.” She does not say from whom, or from where. It has just “e m e r g e d.” (As if by magic).  This women has been less than useless as PM of the 6th biggest economy in the world. “Who would rid us of this infernal” woman?

Just bought more Victrex, great £2b company based in Cleveleys in Lancashire producing polymers for the automotive, biomaterial and aircraft industries. Really need to buy more Fever Tree (mixers). However, though the price appears to have bottomed out over this recent downturn, they are still a little too heavy for me.

31.10.18 Wednesday: Back in Puerto Morelos at a favourite Airbnb with Isabel. Arrived here on Tuesday after a quick transfer up the coast from Playa del Carmen. Unfortunately, Isabel’s father has taken ill. She went north to be with him. Thoughtfully, she had planted a key for us to gain access. Will spend a week here before flying out from Cancun on the 06.11.18.

On reflection, time in Mexico has been a revelation. In that the culture, country and topography have all been a surprise & pleasure to experience. There are, however, a number of quirks and anomalies that one becomes aware of. For instance, Kettles. For the purpose of boiling water to make a hot drink. There are none! Astounding!… Pedestrian pavements are a nightmare to negotiate. Random heights of paviours present a “clear & present danger” for pedestrians.  Generally speaking, the water is so high in calcium (one can see how “cloudy white” it is when viewing it in a clear glass), that it is inadvisable to drink without appropriate filtration.

Monday 05.11.18 Tomorrow, will be leaving Mexico from Cancun, getting back into Manchester early morning 07.11.18. Had some disquieting news from Iceland that mum has been taken into intensive care. However, news this morning is that she is responding positively and is slowly recovering. Will be travelling north to Reykjavik on 13.11.18






Into Belize & the islands

Checked out of San Miguel Hostel, Flores and took an overland through to the border crossing at Melchor Mencos. Headed east to Belize City port for an hours transfer by boat north to Caye Caulker. Belize City is fairly uninspiring, and we did well to just head on through to the ferry port and grab a boat out to Caye Caulker. Checked into Blue Wave. C27, so very pleasant and blue skies. Unfortunately, afternoons were characterised by  rain clouds gathering and dumping on Caye Caulker most afternoons. However (08.10.18), decided to move on north after three nights to San Pedro for a two night stop. San Pedro is a tad larger than Caye Caulker. It has little in the way of sandy beaches, more in the way of a sandy beachfront promenade with numerous wooden jetty’s leading out 30 metres or so to decks with two or three wooden seats to sit and contemplate. Early afternoon decided to have an early dinner at the oxymoronically named “Happy Lobster.” Paradise Cream is a must, for those seeking a nice cool homemade ice cream on Coconut Drive, San Pedro.

09.10.18 We’ve had a warning of Hurricane Michael forming in the Gulf of Mexico. Decided this morning to leave San Pedro on Wednesday morning 10.10.18 and get the fast boat over to Chetumal back in Mexico. However, this evening, out for a meal at Sandy Toes.

10.10.18 Leaving from San Pedro turned out to be  a rather tasteless affair. Sad to say it was the “Usual Suspects”….Immigration control… the officer a certain Senjōr Quan, took exception to us blanking pages in our passports from being stamped, with blue insulation tape with “please do not stamp” written on it. This, we have done for years whilst travelling to preclude stamping “all over the place” and not maximising the space in the passports that is available. One peels the tape off as needed. Renewing a passport is really quite expensive and one wants to preclude early replacements. Well, he took exception to this and demanded that all tapes be removed! So this, and getting bitten by myriad mossies on a jungle walk in Caye Caulker left one a little jaded. Shame, ’cause the two islands were excellent in every other respect.

The handsome chappi above was easily 3 feet long from nose to tail, and was just chillin’ in a tree on the way out from the ferry terminal. The ice cream at “Island Cream” is to die for. Seems a little odd being back in Mexico after first flying out from LAX on the 09.04.18. Such a long time was spent in Guatemala then into Belize. Checked in at the Casa Anaya in Chetumal. headed back up the east side of the  Yucatan peninsula now. Will leave Chetumal on Thursday 11.10.18 and head west over to Bacalar lake area, before going to the coast again at Mahahual.

Saturday 13.10.18……….. Or maybe not…….Decided to just head straight back north to Playa del Carmen. There’s a few reasons for this. Sauntering back north stopping at various beaches and domiciles along the way for two or three day blocks has lost a little of its attractiveness in view of the inconvenience  unpacking and repacking in short succession. The accommodation at Playa del Carmen with Julio is so comfortable, especially with the convenience of a swimming pool & deck area for artistic endeavour. Thirdly, it is only a “Cocks stride” up the road to get to Puerto Morelos,  airport, restaurants & shops in Cancun. 







Climbing out of the Atitlàn caldera

Started out from Lago Atitlàn catching the 08:00 am boat of over to Panajachel to pick up an overland bus. The transfer was to cover 190 klm. to Lanquin in ten hours. The bus climbed slowly out of the huge Atitlàn caldera and on to the agriculturally productive ravine riven foothills of Xeabej. The weather was overcast & C20.Got to Chichicastenango at around 09:35 after lots of hairpin bends got into heavily forested area of Beech and Fir trees. Got into Santa Cruz del Quish at 10:00am. About 2 miles out of town saw a guy pulling a two wheeled pallet truck transporting a fridge  accompanied by a pack of docks, as if it was the most normal thing in the world. The road began to degenerate markedly from here into little more than a pitted track, girded by huge palm fronds and forests. Passed through myriad small villages clinging to mountain sides as the vehicle negotiated and threaded its way along its tortuous track NW.

Now making fairly slow progress as the vehicle picks its way along the mountain tracks avoiding rock falls and washed out sections of the “road.”

One of those moments when one hopes that the driver’s wife hasn’t left him, taking the kids with her. Telling him that she hates him and never wants to see him again. Leaving him, feeling suicidal and wanting to end it all !!!

Perplexing,  how these hill communities survive. Were it not for the traffic picking its way along these ravines, ridges and rough tracks, supplies of basic commodities would be problematic. 

   Gradually the track started a tortuous descent down to the Lanquin river and a welcome forthcoming respite from the stomach churning track. The following morning, one woke to a fine day bathed in the soft morning glow of the rising sun. The river glistened and bubbled along and a group of ducks waddled up to investigate what was happening onshore.

Lanquin high street. Traffic calming measures tend towards being superfluous to requirements, at present.
Rio Lanquin
The jetty landing at The Sun Dog Cafe where one picks up a water taxi. 

There is something magical about a free flowing natural river environment. The air around vibrant, as it sizzles the accumulated night time dew in early morning sunshine. When one breathes it in, it’s like champagne corks going off in ones head. It is fresh and invigorating. Its microclimate is cool & refreshing. The trees provide nature’s perfume. Bird life is prolific and in abundance. At night the sounds are so haunting, disconcerting and just a little threatening, for some of those of an urban persuasion.

Sunday 30.09.18 Left Laquin at 08:30 for a five hour transfer on the “bum bouncer” to The Sun Dog Cafe at the eastern shoreline of Lago Izabal. Hopefully, to be picked up by water taxi for a short 15 minute transfer to Hotel Casa Perico is perched in a mangrove coppice. Our host Jonathan, greeted us and took us along fifty metres of duck boardwalk to show us the room. This was a good size with a large mosquito grilled window which gave out onto the forest beyond. Later I met Paul, a Swiss guy that had built the whole place from scratch, beginning when he had arrived in the area some seventeen years earlier. Having booked two nights, one contemplated perhaps staying longer. However, the arrival of a young family, who were domiciled in the adjacent room swiftly dissuaded us. Noise, travels really well through timber,…..and kids make a lot of noise. 

Hotel on the water

Duck board “highway” to the room
A Loo with a view

A Cruise up El Golfete to Livingston on the Caribbean coast

Monday 01.09.18. Taking advantage of the good weather, decided to take a cruise with the boat that shuttles along El Golfete, calling at various privately owned villas and small hotels along the way to Livingston, on the Caribbean coast. Life on the water is altogether much more languid and denuded of  shore based pressures. 

Tuesday 02.10.18  Lazy start today as the water taxi pick up wasn’t due until 14:00pm. Made it over the water and picked up the overland transport just before a huge deluge, which remained with us for a good portion of the three & a half hour trip north to Casa de Grethel, in Florez. On the outskirts of Florez, was unexpectedly met by a minivan that apparently was a transfer downtown. However, it quickly became evident that this was a choreographed opportunity for a “hard sell” for trips to the Mayan temple complex at Tikal & other “bargain basement priced trips.”!! Once it became clear to the enterprising opportunists that we were not interested. We were quickly marginalised, dismissed and even given a “bum steer” as to where the ferry over to our island accommodation in Lago Peten Itza lay. Self evidently we had returned to the world of, “Cynical Opportunism.” However, after having said all that, I am pleased to say that most Guatemalans are not hewn from the same medium as these chaps. They are by and large helpful, good humoured and a little shy.

Island life, Florez

👋

Hopefully, the next three days will be spent in quiet enjoyment of the lake, its environs & pleasant meals with views from the neo colonial style balcony over the straits, whilst contemplating a trip east to Belize. Now, where did I put that Panama chapeau?

The sound of Bob Marley and “We’re Jammin’ ” came drifting through the open door along with the morning sun. The previous night had been punctuated by the bangs & whooshes of fire-crackers and rockets exploding into the late evening air, as the village prepared for Independence Day celebrations over the impending weekend. The rain clouds that seemed to have had a propensity to roll in as afternoon marched on, have thankfully, fallen away to leave the lake bathed in a balmy golden glow.

Lago Atitlán

Lake Atitlán is situated in southern Guatemala Central America with a maximum depth of about 340 metres (1,120 ft)[1] with an average depth of 220 metres (720 ft).[4] Its surface area is 130.1 km2 (50.2 sq mi).[1] It is approximately 18 by 8 km with around 20 km3 of water. Atitlán is technically an endorheic lake, feeding into two nearby rivers rather than draining into the ocean. It is shaped by deep surrounding escarpments and three volcanoes on its southern flank. The lake basin is volcanic in origin, filling an enormous caldera formed by an eruption 84,000 years ago. The culture of the towns and villages surrounding Lake Atitlán is influenced by the Maya people. The lake is about 50 kilometres (31 mi) west-northwest of Antigua.

Night Sky Phenomenon

Appeared from nowhere….and then, just disappeared!

Several nights ago, though still cloudy, the matt and star studded backcloth of the night sky, viewed in my indolent gaze, was interrupted by something, quite…well… astounding. I saw a UFO!…High in the night sky, it had suddenly appeared, and hovered. It was most definitely not a helicopter or a drone. Circular in shape and studded around its edge with orange lights. It remained for about ten minutes, and then, as suddenly as it appeared, it disappeared. It left me bewildered and somewhat stunned.

Passing Ships

Something that granted, I had not been unaware of in the past, but nevertheless has been very noticeable here at Casa Mdera Hostel is, the sheer number and diversity of people that pass through, pass by, and linger. It is perhaps, a function of the length of time one stays in a place that dulls that awareness. However, Canadians, Israelis, Americans, Mexicans, Spanish, Germans, English and of course Guatemalans, all alight here at some time. Here of course, and in this environment, it tends to be people of a more youthful vintage, availing themselves of the bohemian lifestyle, music, artisanat produce, therapeutic offerings and a meditative environment. The conversation inevitably revolves around where one has been, where one is going and recommendations for this hostel or that food etcetera. Not dissimilar to Ubud in Fiji in many ways. A recommendation to try a “Real Ale” bar in Panajachel (about 10klms along the lago/crater rim) brought me into conversation with a retired German surgeon who, after a divorce in his homeland, came out here seven years ago to start a new life. He acquired some land, a new partner, and built himself a property in Jaibalito (a small township along the coast from San Marcos. I spent a delightful couple of hours talking with him over a range of subjects, from life here in Atitlàn, to politics back in Germany and western europe.

Jaibalito, Lago Atitlan

Local Colour

Once joy at discovery of a small, beguiling local environment embeds itself into consciousness, it tends to leech its caché, pretty though it may be. I suppose it is a function of the heat, pace of life and finding interesting things to do, that are much closer at hand. One thinks of a hammock or a nice easy chair, where one can lie/sit back, and ease into a state of torpor and ultimately drift off to sleep. However, today (monday 17.09.18) will be different. Decided to take the ferry over to Panajachel to take a look round. The transfer took 40 minutes and cost 25 Qts (£2.50).

Around Lago Atitlàn perimeter

The volcano perches on the southern rim of the Atitlán caldera, which contains Lake Atitlán. Since the major caldera-forming eruption 85 thousand years ago (ka), three stratovolcanoes—San Pedro, Tolimán, and Atitlán—have formed in and around the caldera. Atitlán is the youngest and most active of the three volcanoes.

Tomorrow, Thursday (20.09.18) will be changing domicile from here at Casa Mdera, San Marcos over the water to Posada Man, San Juan La Laguna.



Dire Straits ’79

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Saturday 25.08.18  

Left Cancun at 11:00 & got into Aurora airport Guatemala at 11:52 local time, (there’s an hour time disparity twixt Cancun & Guatemala city). Lynn left from Cancun in the afternoon back to the UK to support a friend who is quite ill at the moment. After clearing immigration, Customs & getting some cash (Quetzal,£1=10qtzl) grabbed a “Collectivo” for the 1 hours transfer to Antigua (80qtzl). Got to Colonia el Manchen locality of Antigua and was met by my host Adam at El Mirador Apartment. Adam is Polish and he came over from Cambodia about 7 months previously following his girlfriend Anna, to start life here in Guatemala.

Fuego killed 62 people on June 5th 2018. Pyroclastic flows travelling down the slopes and into the town completely outran them.

Antigua, is a small town, lies in the shadow of three huge volcanoes.  Volcan d’Agua, Fuego & Acatenango are all around the 2550m (8300ft) in height. Two of them are considered active whilst Volcan d’Agua has been dormant for some time.

Santa Catalina Arch in Antigua, Guatemala, sits in the shadow of Volcan de Agua.

The town of Antigua is delightful. A tad ramshackled with numerous shops, artisanat establishments and lots of restaurants ranging from local cuisines to Japanese & Lebanese establishments. The streets are for the most part cobbled which actually does a fine job in holding down the speed of vehicles that traverse the town. However, the longevity of vehicles is somewhat circumscribed by the pounding they take over the time of their utility. The market is a thriving “hotch potch” of clothing stalls, food stalls, vegetable, meat & fish stalls all cheek by jowel in a seemingly chaotic cacophony of confusion. However, it functions as the heartbeat of the town.

6.09.18 Sunday: Just sneezed, and a crown has popped out. Guess that I’m going in search of a dentist tomorrow. Earlier went down town and watched a bit of the sunday service and then spent the rest of the afternoon just mooching around in the balmy afternoon heat. Showers rolled in later though.

On Monday 10.09.18, will be headed out to the Lake Atitlan area. The first accommodation will be at San Juan Laguna for three days. Followed by a two day stay at Casa Madera Atitlan by the lake.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1pKm2siUIsM3zTs8YOLPwrYVmAanT24ke&usp=sharing

 

 

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