Ecuador, Mexico, Texas – The disastrous trip

My room is the whole of the ground floor with patio doors leading onto the pool.

I am a seasoned traveler but even I could hardly believe the series of unfortunate events that befell my latest trip.  Just before I stopped taking estrogen (which was making me ‘high’), I decided that I wanted one last really adventurous trip.  After checking the State Department’s website, I noted that Quito in Ecuador was now much safer for tourists.  Done!  Before I could blink a manic eye, the flight was booked and the ‘authentic’ hotel in old town Quito.  I excitedly started sharing my forthcoming trip with friends who expressed concern about the dangers and pointed out that I look very fair.  As the estrogen started leaving my body, I realized that even though Quito was safer than it had been, I might feel restricted using my camera.  Then there was the weather…Quito is cold!  It is 9000 feet above sea level which might affect the cyst in my chest.

I was able to cancel the hotel easily and was sad because the owner seemed charming and helpful.  Then I paid a change fee for United Airlines to screw me some more and give me a credit.  Almost immediately I decided to go to the safest city in Mexico – Mérida.  Mérida is in the north of the Yucatán region and very popular with expats with the cost of living, safety and good health care.  I booked the hotel through a well-known internet company.  It was another hacienda boutique hotel, close to the old part of the city.  The day before my departure, I woke up to find an email saying my hotel was not available and would I like to stay in the Ibis? “Hell no!” was my response and for the Americans, Ibis is a cheap motel chain from Europe popular with backpackers visiting the Maya ruins.  I phoned and explained that I wanted a boutique hotel.  Long story short, I cancelled everything and started with another travel company.

Hurrah! I found another lovely hotel, pictured above, and even phoned the hotel directly to explain that I was arriving on a late flight from Houston (so please don’t give my room away).  They were delightful and I was happy…briefly.  It was a full flight from Houston and the ground staff delayed our boarding because the AIR CONDITIONING WASN’T WORKING… WTF???  It was almost 100 degrees in Houston but none of us wanted to miss the one flight per day to Mérida.  Babies were screaming, we were all severely over-heated but no one said anything because the staff looked as though they were going to expire.  Finally we got off the runway and up high enough for the air-conditioning to work.  Thank goodness the flight is only 1hr and 40 minutes.

Mérida airport was wonderful!  Clean, new and friendly – including the immigration officers.  I went straight outside to the very well organized taxi service where you pay a small fee in advance to your destination – mine was about $10.  I breathed a sigh of relief as we drove from the airport.  Mérida is a beautiful city and women were walking alone on dark streets.  We shortly arrived at my hotel that had that beautiful layout of Spanish or Moroccan buildings with an interior atrium.  They offered me a gratefully received alcoholic drink and took me to my beautiful bedroom.  I was so happy…

I will continue with the series of disastrous events in future posts.

Mexico – take two…

A pod of pelicans

Just after Thanksgiving last year, Teddy and I went on a lovely trip to Puerto Vallarta…except it wasn’t. What I didn’t reveal is what really transpired. We have been seriously considering a retirement move to Mexico because of the cost of health care in the US. Our first trip was to Baja – wonderful but some current cartel problems in the state. Puerto Vallarta always seemed like a low possibility because it is a tourism town but it also has very good medical facilities and is safe. Nonetheless we were looking forward to a vacation. The first problem was at customs where the officers wanted to look inside the Pelican case containing photography equipment. Silly Teddy had locked it but didn’t tell Bunny the combination… One was a little brusque but generally they were just doing their job. When we left Customs the timeshare people attacked… sigh.

Art at the beach

Our driver from the hotel was waiting for us (wondering why there was a delay) and things got much better. We arrived at the Hacienda which was utterly beautiful in the heart of the old town. It was surprisingly ‘real’, busy with buses taking workers in and out of the city. The cobbled streets amplified the noise of the traffic, open market and other businesses. It was a short walk to a beautiful beach and we had a lovely lunch with perhaps too many margaritas. There was a water feature running into the pool next to our room (the noise was making me anxious) and something just clicked in my brain. A panic attack was starting and Teddy had gone off for a couple of hours. By the time he came back it was fully fledged panic attack and I HAD TO GO HOME! This happened once before in Scotland and I seem to have no control over it.

Balloon

After much reflection, I think there was just too much riding on this trip and I would really prefer to stay at our home in Texas if we can afford it (and we likely can). In February I had the opportunity to visit Puerto Vallarta on a solo trip and this time it was so much better – Mexico, take two. I could even envision a partial retirement there, if needs must. I stayed at the same Hacienda where I made some new friends and got to know my host a little better. They have many repeat guests who enjoy the familiarity of a real home from home. Within moments of entering my guest room, I tripped and twisted my ankle. WTF? Are the Gods out to get me??? Fortunately, I had been practicing my Farmacia Spanish and I strapped it up. More posts to come with some wonderful photographs.

Hacienda flowers and butterflies

black-beauty2

Black Beauty

Her real name is Polydamus Swallowtail – not a variety we see in Texas. We were intrigued that most of the flowers and bushes were the same as we have in the sub-tropics but much more lush. I buy my plants from a nursery and the owners come from Guadalajara and for some reason, they never die. It helps that they are actually grown just a few miles from my home.

striped-butterfly

Band celled sister

Isn’t this one a beauty. We get a similar zebra stripe in Texas but it is so exciting to see new varieties.

poinsettias

Poinsettia

red-blossom

Gladioli

I had to put in a shot of a Ponsettia – it was Mexico and Feliz Navidad! The chili peppers below were just so tempting…

Chili Peppers

Chili Peppers

yellow-butterfly

Julia Heliconian

One final shot of Miss Julia Heliconian, wearing a beautiful yellow outfit. I have that little coral bush in my garden but it very rarely flowers.