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Friday the 13th has, up to now, conspired to validate its malevolent auguries . Water has ceased to flow to the toilet, sink & shower. Dogs howling at night & our host (Roberto) unable to attend to the problems until later in the day! So your ablution deficient host will attempt some descriptive prose in spite of these handicaps.

Finally, good news. The water is back on. It appears that the gardener had inadvertently switched off the supply, and subsequently the pump tripped out on the resurgent current. Ah well, it’s resolved.

At least one can rest easy.

Monday 16.07.18 will be headed east over the Yucatan Peninsula to Playa del Carmen. It’s a four and a half hour road trip, so not so bad.

16:40 Arrived after a fairly boring, though comfortable trip. The bus was a relatively new Swedish Scania, so all “Ship shape & Bristol Fashion.” Checked in with host Julio & wife. Although, she wasn’t there, having left for Europe on a research sabbatical.

30.07.18 Monday  Visit to the local Doctors surgery today. My GP back in the UK is restricting my prescription tablets as a precursor to an examination ( which I am of course unable to attend due to travelling.) However, if I can provide satisfactory blood tests, liver & kidney function test results locally, he will enable the proscription. So now engaged in a search for a local clinic and blood test facilities in order to provide the necessary information. Tedious, but thankfully do-able, which would obviate an early return back to the UK.

The weather here has turned a tad changeable this past couple of days with cloudy skies and occasional rain. It has a propensity to flatten ones mood and put a less than rosey veil of grey over the environment. The political diaspora back in Blighty is no less grey and foreboding as May & Parliament break for Recess. Why on earth they would take a holiday during the course of crucial Brexit negotiations and the still ill defined British position is astounding.

Notional route around the Yucatan.

A couple of other things, in the form of random observations about day to day life in Mexico follows a slightly more critical path. For instance, the plumbing. The flushing process in Mexican toilet bowls are by and large abysmal, even in newer properties. It is a completely hit and miss, a “cliff hanger” as to whether everything is discharged from the bowl, leading to embarrassing extra time hanging around waiting for the cistern to refill at an extraordinary slow rate as the pressure is so low. The second imponderable, are addresses. I mean proper meaningfully exact addresses. The existence of road names, house numbers appear to be a complete mystery wrapped in an enigma . Sometimes they are apparent, and often times not. When one is completely bereft of hope, along totters someone with local knowledge to “snatch victory from the jaws of defeat,” by saying “Oh, it’s over there.” The third thing is “sleeping policeman.” It’s like a politician had gone on holiday somewhere, saw some examples of the said “sleeping policemen,” returned home and stuck them,….. everywhere. They are, for all practical purposes, everywhere; Motorways, A roads, B roads….you name it..and there’s an infernal “sleeping policeman.”  Finally, pavements…….there is absolutely no conformity or consistency. One definitely needs to keep one’s eyes on where one is stepping or suffer a broken ankle.

Tomorrow (Thursday 09.08.18) headed north for a weeklong stay in Puerto Morelos.

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Arrived Campeche 10:30 am, fairly bedraggled, after what turned out to be a 15 hour road trip from San Cristobal de las Casas. From the coach terminal took a cab, who’s driver turned a tad tetchy, when we paid him that which was agreed at the terminal, to which he showed “open mouthed” amazement when he got said amount, and no more! Bizarre.

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“Why so serious?….just give me the fare.”

 

I have long since developed a thick skin with respect to taxi drivers. They are masters at “sweating their transient asset.”

Hit the hay at two in the afternoon.

Next thing I knew it was Tuesday morning, bright sunshine, blue skies. Having had a damn good sleep, headed off out to investigate the town. Ambled along to the centre to where the church and public square was to be found, encompassing covered seating area/snack bar, and just watched life pass by for a while. The buildings around the centre are colourfully painted and well maintained.img_6686img_6683

The waterfront is a fairly anodyne affair. True, it had a concrete promenade. However, there is no seating to take in the view or relax. No trees or parasols for shade and nothing to engage ones interest.

However, this brief period of calm provides an opportunity for Lynn to engage with her recently acquired proclivity for gathering stones of varying size & shape, and painting them in vividly coloured acrylic. I met this newly acquired passion with a certain amount of trepidation as I suspected that we would be dragging these stones (extra weight)  around the country in our luggage!!

 

It seems that the UK Cabinet are due to meet this Friday (06.07.18) for yet another crucial meeting over the terms of our Brexit departure. Apparently May is going to try to sell them some kind of fudge concocted by Olly Robbins et al, that will leave us tied, in some Machiavellian way to the EU.

The next planned port of call will be MeridaMérida, the vibrant capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán, has a rich Mayan and colonial heritage. The city’s focal point is Plaza de la Independencia, bordered by the fortresslike Mérida Cathedral and white limestone Iglesia de la Tercera Orden, both colonial-era churches built using relics from ancient Mayan temples. The Casa de Montejo, a 16th-century mansion, is a landmark of colonial plateresque architecture.It also has a population of 770,000, so should be interesting to visit.

Thursday 21.06.18 Arrived at 07:15 this morning after a 10 hour overland from Oaxaca. Managed to catch some snatches of sleep. However, still zonked most of Thursday. Stopping at  Hub guesthouse with our host James, a Liverpudlian guy that came out to Mexico & this area in 2016 and decided to stay.

“You wanna get there!…Well I sure wouldn’t start from here.”

San Cristobal has a strange kind of existence. I guess that it has, over the years, developed slowly from a mountain township that has supported, since the ’60’s  fragmented & variegated waves of dropouts, bohemians, artists, chancers & charlatans. One saunters by them, sat on the sidewalks on the main tourist thoroughfares beating out rhythms on bongos, weaving intricate stringed beads, strumming guitars and just chillin’ out & getting by in good natured indolence.img_6613 I’ve been frequenting El Cipres restaurant fairly regularly & got familiar with the owner Hernandez. He used to work in the US as a Chef however, after a marriage failure and a couple of other problems he came back south. Another Xpat called Tim from Canada, wound up here after he rejected “normal” life in Vancouver and came down south, married and settled down. Met a lady who had sold her trailer in California because the cost of living had become so burdensome that she had decided to move down to Mexico, where she could get by on a smaller budget.

The weather patterns experienced here in the mountains are curious, in that mornings tend to be clear blue skies, sunny & warm. However, as the afternoon comes around, the clouds roll in and squalls of rain take over, sometimes accompanied by thunder storms. However,  in the afternoon, it settles again through until later in the evening. During the night, showers come in again. Then the cycle is repeated.

The foothills around the Sierra Madre mountain range.

Will be leaving San Cristobal Sunday  01.07.18 19:00. It’s going to be a 12 hour road trip. First north to Villahermosa and then east to Palenque and again north, getting into Campeche on the Gulf of Mexico coast at 09:00 am Monday morning. Will not be seeing much in the way of vistas or landscapes as the night trip precludes that. Our ever sardonic & black humoured Liverpudlian host kindly related a couple of anecdotes describing how in recent months, an overland bus had been stopped by armed bandits and the people on board relieved of the contents of their wallets, passports & luggage; also a couple of Swiss cyclists touring the mountains had been run off the road. One killed outright and the other severely injured, which I thought a tad unhelpful of him to relate.

 

 

Friday 15.06.18 Left Puerto Escondido for a 8 hour road trip and a climb in altitude to 1555 meters to Oaxaca (pronounced Wa-haka)?! Lying on a fertile plain in the southern Serra Madre del Sur has a population of 255,000 people. Stopping at the Naba Nandoo hostel is ideal, as it is fairly central and a shortish walk to the various places of interest and restaurants.

Aztecs arrived from the Mexico City area to the elevated volcanic plains on which Oaxaca was founded in AD 1250. After the Spanish conquistadors Hernán Cortés de Monroy & Pizarro Altamirano, Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca took posession, the indigenous population was sublimated by the Spaniards & Negro slaves brought from Africa.

Monday 18.06.18 Caught a taxi for a 40 minute drive out to SE  Oaxaca. We’d heard of a petrified waterfall that was worth seeing. The waters that bubbled up from the earth around this area are also quite warm due to geothermal activity. That seems bizarre, considering that Oaxaca lies 1555m above sea level. Heading back into town, stopped at the site in Tule of an enormous tree called a Montezuma Cyprus Tree, reputed to be 2000 years old! It has a circumference of 42m or 137.8 ft!

Wednesday 20.06.18  Will be travelling 10 hours & 350 miles overland, dropping down in altitude from 1555m to 700m, then up again to 2200m (7,260ft) to a place called San Cristobal de las casas in the state of Chiapas. It is renowned for Spanish colonial architecture, its Cathedral, a recent 8.5 magnitude Richter  earthquake &  beautiful Sumidero Canyon.

Tonight (Sunday20.05.18) will be the last in Acapulco. Have quite mixed feelings. The three locations that we stayed at were very different. From an initial domicile at the Nilo Hotel, being central, well maintained and in the last two days rather opulent. To fairly challenged accommodation at Pie de la Cuesta, but lovely attitude of our hostess. To a final domicile,  relatively close to Diamante Beach which was an environment, one would say was a little “controlled”, in that we were not give a key to the front gate & some limitations in the use of the air con were in efficacy. The expectation was also that we left the property during the day. One thing was for sure. We spent far too long in Acapulco. One week would have been fine.

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Twin en suite at Casa de Pemaroche run by Marina & Roman a Swiss couple who with their respective partners have engaged with a new project…….in the sun!

Got on the road to Puerto Escondido at 22:00pm. Arrived at 06:00am the following day Monday 22.05.18. The bus termini, are largely well maintained and orderly. Took a taxi out to our Airbnb accommodation at Casa de Pemaroche in Brisas de Zicatela run by a Swiss couple, Marina & partner Peter. Marina & her brother (Roman back in Switzerland) had decided to purchase and refurbish the property along with their respective partners. The accommodation here is so peaceful & the owners, so welcoming that we’re extending another week. The well maintained swimming pool is also a huge “pull” as are the loungers in this sun soaked part of the country.

On UK news, I have become increasingly more pessimistic of us ever divesting ourselves of the infernal EU & its unelected arrogant apparatchiks. May & Hammond continue to disappoint. The “shadowy” Olly Robbins also does not inspire confidence, and of course all three of those aforementioned individuals are “dyed in the wool” Remainers. The Civil Service appears to be patently “underperforming” and engaged in “foot dragging” like recalcitrant “Sir Humphrey’s.”

Always smiling, always happy.

Lying by the pool yesterday, a lizard about a foot and a half long fell from the roof gutter of the property at Pemaroche with a thump. Obviously, had dozed off,  rolled out, and plummeted 15 feet to the pathway below. It got up, looking a little dazed & bewildered, then just ambled off. Meanwhile, our “Mr. Happy,” eternally good natured & enigmatic pool ball, floats around, a slave to the capricious whims of the surface breeze.

“Casa de Pemaroche” in Puerto Escondido. Pool, Shade, Shower, Mr Happy Pool ball & a couple of Garden Lizards that visit occasionally.

Have now extended a further week here, which is indicative of how comfortable we deem the accommodation & our hosts to be. The Brisas de Zicatela coastline & beaches are simply wonderful though bathing in the sea can be challenging along this section as the waves are “heavy.”

We’ve kind of made a prospective idealised route from Mexico through to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua which we may / may not stick to. I guess we will be guided by what opportunities present themselves.

Proposed route down through central America.

Sadly we were only issued with a 90 day visa at the immigration counter in Mexico City, (although the immigration officer did scrawl 120 days on the card.) It’s doubtful whether that would hold up to scrutiny should immigration choose to become pernickety. Unless we extend, we need to be out of Mexico and into Belize by the 09.07.18.

We were fairly ambivalent about visiting the Yucatan peninsula as that would imply going through Cancun, which holds no attraction. Oaxaca  lies inland, and promises to be a culturally satisfying experience. Disconcertingly, a volcano in Guatemala called Fuego exploded into fiery action a couple of days ago. Sadly 62 have lost their lives in the pyroclastic flow that engulfed them.

 

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!

 

Just “Chillin” with Rhyme Time.

13.01.18 Finally got here (Coomera), after what seemed an interminable journey. Got a 10:30 am flight out of Colombo and landed late afternoon in Kuala Lumpur. Had a five and a half hour wait for a 10:25 pm  connection from KL to Melbourne. A one and a half hour connecting flight, got us to Sydney to see and get introduced to our brand new “Grandson.” Early evening, got a connection up to Coomera and collapsed into a long overdue sleep.

21.01.18 Came down to Sydney to spend a few days with grandson (Thor) & parents.

Sleepless nights…..just go on, and on…..and on.

Time has been idling by in quiet enjoyment, watching grandchildren grow and mature. Grand daughter (Amelie) has taken her first faltering steps, in the time that we have been here and she improves every day. She spends some time leaning over at the kitchen gate/barrier with her legs crossed as if  “chewing the cud” with a neighbour over a fence. Whilst grandson (in Sydney) has just acquired his first designer dinner suite.

04.04.18 Number two daughter is coming up from Sydney with grandson Thor for a days visit. Really looking forward to seeing them as on Sunday 08.04.18, will be headed out to Mexico City. 

09.04.18 What a trip that turned out to be! The first leg (Sydney to Los Angeles) went well. But unfortunately missed our transfer and had to spend 23 hours on LAX benches to catch an early morning to Mexico City. I, really am getting too old for this kind of  “malarky” these days!!

Left Negombo (suburb of Colombo) at 09:00 am and quickly got into the hinterland and lush green forests bush of the Sri Lankan low country. Travelling ENE to a place called Kandy, where lies the site of Bhudda’s Tooth Temple. On the way we stopped at an elephant sanctuary where a herd happened to be in the river Ma Oya for their daily paddle. Later, drove onwards to a Spice gardens, Botanical gardens and subsequently a gemstone museum. After arriving at  Kandy and settling in to the accommodation, went out for an evening at the heritage centre where, an ethnic dance production took place. 20.12.17 Headed south to Nuwaraeliya district and tea country.Temperatures are now considerably warmer with the drop in altitude from 1868m down to the coast. Lush green landscapes now give way to coastal scrub redzina plateau.25.12.17 Mirissa Beach Christmas Day and it’s clear blue sky & C32. Christmas Eve had a meal at Mirrisa Eye beach restaurant and were treated to a beautiful sunset.There is something quite magical about a Bermuda rigged vessel appearing from around a headland in the evening light when the shadows are long and the sun sparkles on the waves.

This shot I guess, is about feet doing what feet do on a beachfront.

Will be headed north back to the capital Colombo on Monday 08.01.18. Will pick up a flight to Kuala Lumpur 11.01.18, then a connection on to Australia.

Thursday 07.12.17 Arrived Budapest from Iceland  at 20:10 and got into Airbnb accommodation lying just a couple of hundred metres from the Danube river at about 22.00. Nora, our young hostess was there to greet us, provided keys and ran through her protocols before we got our heads down after a tiring day. However, the evening views of the floodlit castle, church and turrets on the Buda side of the Danube were just glorious. The primary reason for this third visit to the Hungarian capital was for further dental work, as the prices here are very competitive compared to the UK.Wednesday 13.12.17 caught the 100e out of Town and to Liszt Ferenc Airport. Got to Qatar at 16:05 on the 13.12.17 and hung around waiting for an Qatar Airways transfer to Colombo, Sri Lanka. Arrived Colombo 16:04…The ensuing three hours could best be described as analogous to spending time in a washing machine. Interminable time wasted at being processed by immigration, the luggage conveyor belt breaking down, causing further delay. Then the wait for our shuttle transfer picking us from the mêlée outside the airport.Finally got to bed at 21:30 and sank into a twelve hour blissful sleep.

Chari our host at Sun Star City hostel (never knowingly undersold) in Negombo is a delightful guy. Courteous and ever so accommodating, is knowledgeable and diligent in his determination to facilitate our enjoyment of our time in Sri Lanka.

16.12.17 Out and about today. Small tour around town, a boat ride around part of the huge lagoon, visit to the Dutch C18th canal lined by rustic fishermen’s cottages, then the rest of the afternoon sunbathing on Negombo beach.Negombo lagoonCaught a local bus back from the coast and was entertained by a group of youths beating out a rhythm and singing at the back of the bus.Decided to eat at a local “restaurant” on my walk back to the Guest House.Have never had the experience of eating a meal with two spoons before! The waiter, assured me with a broad smile that, “No sir, this is no mistake, this is normal” rocking his head vigorously from side to side, in traditional Indo/Sri Lankan fashion.
Have decided to take a private tour around the island.Will travel north to Kandi and spend 2 nights,then over to Nawarallia for a further 2 nights followed by 1 night each at Ella and Yala. The plan then is to have some beach time on the south coast at Merissa and getting back to Negombo around the 08.01.18

Landed to a grey Manchester morning at 11:55 14.11.17. Picked up a hire car and got to Middleton, where my sister in law kindly put us up. The wedding, to which we had been invited was to take place on Sunday 19.11.17

Got to Iceland on the evening of 21.11.17.Came out for a walk along the coastal path. Sub zero temperature (C-1) but wind chill took it down to -6. Got round the headland and into the relative shelter of the bay and then made it to a cafe selling warm “Pulser” and cold beer. Pricey though, the bill came to £16.00p. The beer alone was £6.50!

Mums birthday Saturday 25.11.17, so we are off out for a celebration lunch at Gardskàlinn in Kopavogur.

Will be heading out to Budapest on the 05.12.17 where I’ve got a dental appointment not far from the banks of the Danube.

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