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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

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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

👋

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

 

 

Travelling by “Collectivo” (basically a van with bench seating),  north for an hour, for a  9 day stay in Puerto Morelos. I know very little about the place, other than the beaches are supposedly, nice. Our hostesses, Isabelle & Kelly are delightful, charming and very welcoming. One is a Phd student and the other a Marine Biologist with particular focus on Coral Reef atrophy.

18.08.18 Went down to the beach and was surprised and a little disappointed to see that though, the beach was pristine, huge quantities of seaweed are piled all along the beachfront. This phenomenon has been apparent for a year or two now and has impacted tourist numbers. The incidence of “sargasso” is also exacerbated by large quantities being pushed further north by outflow from the Amazon river further south.

The Collectivo back from town today had to be the worst ride yet. I counted 22 people squeezed into a vehicle akin to a Toyota Commuter with bench seats. “Up close & personal,” outside ambient temperature was in the C30’s, however inside had to be closer to C40. Faces, misshaped, distorted, were driven up against bulkheads, arms and legs squeezed into all kinds of weird shapes and perspiration dripped from everywhere. However, everyone, good natured & polite, with “long suffering” smiles.

Sad news from the UK. A friend is quite ill. Shocked and disconcerted. Lynn has altered her existing flight back to Blighty on the 20.11.18 to 23.08.18 in order to be close to Do at her challenging time. I’ll carry on to Guatemala and wait for her there in Antigua, a suburb in Guatemala city.

23.08.18 01:30 am Mexican time (10.30 22.08.18 UK time) sad news. Our friend Do has died.

Arrived Antigua (suburb of Guatemala City) after an hour & ten minute flight down from Cancun & an hour transfer from the airport. First impression are very positive. The highways are well maintained. The topography is amazing and bowling up at El Mirador accommodation with vues out on a volcanic landscape with El Fuego and Volcàn de Agua in the distance is, nothing short of sensational! My AirBnB host is called Adam. He’s a Polish guy that came over from a stint in Cambodia following his girlfriend Anna, and is now managing this business with her, for a period of seven months.

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

Today (Friday) I have been catching up on emails & sorting out paperwork. It has been cloudy most of the morning but warm, with the sun making an appearance late in the day. The volcanoes are swathed in cloud. There is noise of festivities filtering out from the San Jose Cathedral,so I’m guessing it’s some Saint’s day celebration or other.Went down to town late afternoon to orientate myself a little more. Saw a couple of churches devastated by either earthquake or volcanic activity. The central square (Plaça Mayor) is delightful, full of tree giving shade, the Mayors offices and administration buildings, a church, and artisan shops and cafés surrounding the gardens under a wooden canopied promenade giving shade to pedestrians.

 

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.

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.

img_6618

“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.

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