January 5th 2022: Went to Ventanilla Nature Reserve which is mostly swamp and crocodiles but has some other wildlife thrown in for good measure.
January 7th 2022: Went on a boat trip to see whales and dolphins. Saw a few dolphins and turtles but no whales.
January 9th 2022: Oh how the mighty can fall.
For so long on my travels I have grown accustomed to staying in 3 and 4 star hotels or complete apartments, mostly complying to my pre-requisite requirement of air conditioning, flat screen TV, wi-fi, swimming pool, hot water in the bathroom, safe and clean. My current accommodation only adheres to the last two but it is on the beach so it could be said I have the largest swimming pool in the world if you count the Pacific Ocean as a pool. However, upon return after watching the sunset I was offered a different room, next door to mine, basically the same layout but it had a table. Changing rooms for a table! I feel like a backpacker.
January 16th 2022: Late afternoon a 5.3 magnitude earthquake hit.
I was sitting in a beach chair in Zipolite and thought somebody was fooling around by shaking my chair but when I turned around nobody was there. As earthquakes go I've been in much bigger.
Over the previous week I've been contemplating my future travels quite a lot and come to the realisation that Vancouver is still under partial lockdown so a no go, Iceland is open to essential visitors only, Thailand has too many lockdown restrictions and Bali is simply off limits to UK subjects at the moment. I didn't realise that in 2021, with the airport being closed to international flights, Bali only had 45 international visitors compared to over a million in 2020 and over six million in 2019.
Following a trip to Jersey in mid-May I will probably return here. Maybe have a trip to the USA at some point too. We'll see.
January 24th 2022: Home cooked food at last. I buy a small cooker and accessories for my room.
January 26th 2022: Half past midnight, as I lay in bed there was a shaking.
Another earthquake. It was hardly mentioned on the news but seemingly measured 5.4 on the richter scale. The world, as I, am getting used to them by now.
January 30th 2022: Saw a whale close to the shore at Zipolite.
We'd seen a whale at Mazunte about a month ago but not nearly as close as this one.
February 3rd 2022: Again another whale splashing around at Zipolite.
November to February are the months that whales migrate and the best time to see them. To be honest, I expected to see more.
February 4th 2022: I start Spanish lessons.
I said from day one that I would enjoy this place a lot more if I spoke the lingo. Given that at this time there is no indication when or if the tourism situation will improve in India I have to have some kind of base somewhere and Mexico is as good a place as any, so, I'm learning the language to make the transition as comfortable as possible.
February 7th 2022: Rain.
With the exception one a big storm about a month ago in the middle of the night this is the first rain I've actually seen since arriving.
February 23rd 2022: We were treated to the most spectacular exhibition of whale diving yet in Zipolite.
February 25th 2022: Construction work commences on the property I stay at.
With the addition of a kitchen my place could be one of the most desirable budget properties on the beach but without a fridge it's simply "a room with a view".
February 28th 2022: I move into my new place at the other end of town.
March 1st 2022: An earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter Scale hits mid afternoon.
Being in Oaxaca state it wasn't too far from us but fives and sixes I pretty much take for granted now.
March 3rd 2022: Another earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter Scale hits at 08:40.
Whilst being felt a lot more than the effort of two days ago the epicentre of this one was in Veracruz state over 700 kilometres away.
March 5th 2022: And another earthquake at 21:30, this time measuring 5.5 on the Richter Scale.
The epicentre was about 200km North West so whilst it wasn't so big it's the closest one yet.
March 7th 2022: Bali opens it's borders with virtually no restrictions.
No Covid test or quarantine. This is definitely good news for me along with many others. Already I'm considering using Bali as a second base at the end of the year with Mexico on the sideline as first reserve.
March 10th 2022: Another sighting of a whale splashing around off Zipolite Beach.
I'm guessing that will be it for a while as the whale migrating season (which is the best time to see them) is November to February.
March 22nd 2022: Another sighting of a whale antics off Zipolite Beach.
I was wrong about our last sighting being "the last sighting". This time it was two adults and a baby.
April 25th 2022: Went to Puerto Escondido to check it out.
April 27th 2022: A small earthquake.
A mere 5.4 on the Richter scale but the epicencre was only 20 kilometres away so we really felt it.
April 29th 2022: I am notified that my forthcoming 11th June flight from London Heathrow to Reykjavik has been cancelled. I reschedule to the same flight next day.
May 2nd 2022: Go to Pochutla.
May 18th 2022: Take the late morning flight for my 23:00 onward flight from Mexico City to London's Heathrow.
Whilst in Mexico City I leave my hold luggage at the Ibis Mexico Alameda hotel to await my return at the end on June. The next six weeks I will be travelling with hand luggage only.
May 19th 2022: I arrive mid afternoon and make my way to a friend in Sussex who I'll be staying with for three nights.
May 20th 2022. We go to Goodwood Races.
Not the best day's racing I've had in my life but I made good on the day with a double stake bet on the very last race.
We went for a nice traditional pub dinner in the evening.
May 21st 2022: We return to Goodwood Races.
A stomach bug seemed to appear from nowhere and within fifteen minutes I went from being as fit as a fiddle to I really ill with crippling stomach pains.
We left after the second race but not before getting my banker bet on which doubled my stake money in returns. Despite it all, financially it was a good few days racing for me.
Following an afternoon nap we went out to dinner at another local country pub.
May 22nd 2022: I take the late morning train into the city where I am staying at the Montcalm at the Brewery Hotel in the Barbican area.
Evening meal in the Jugged Hare which is next door to my hotel. It is reputedly one of the best game food restaurants in England. www.juggedhare.com
Whilst in town I go to the visa office to get an Indian Visa ready for my return in December.
May 23rd 2022: Take an early evening flight to Jersey.
May 25th 2022: I receive notification that my passport has been despatched.
May 28th 2022: Go to Leeroy's stag do at The Court House.
June 3rd 2022: The Queen's Platinum Anniversary.
June 4th 2022: Go to Leeroy and Chris' wedding knees up at the Radisson.
Unfortunately I fell foul to the influences of a few former work accomplices which in turn left me falling over and either cracking or badly bruising my ribs.
June 7th 2022: Naked Hotel in Zipolite and around ten local businesses caught fire in a bad way.
Even though I wasn't there I mention it only because Naked Hotel was next door to where I was staying before I left.
June 8th 2022: Take an early morning flight to Gatwick then a train onward to Peterborough in Lincolnshire.
June 11th 2022: Take a train to London and spend the afternoon in Camden Town with Brixton Bob.
June12th 2022: Take an early morning flight to Reykjavik in Iceland.
The flight was supposed to be at 07:35 but we had to change planes due to a technical fault.
June 13th 2022: A day of sightseeing.
In the morning I went on a trip to the Lava Cave. The most interesting part of the tour was Inga our guide who was a chirpy, full of life fun person.
In the afternoon I took a trip to the Golden Circle which included Gulfoss Waterfall, Geysir geothermal springs and Pingvellir National Park.
June 24th 2022: Went whale watching in the morning and saw a few.
In the afternoon I went to the Aurora Reykjavik Northern Lights Centre.
June 15th 2022: Walk around town to get a feel for the place.
June16th 2022: Set out to go to the Blue Lagoon to bathe in the hot springs.
The plan was to ease the pain in my ribs, the result of a fall on the 4th of June but unfortunately it was fully booked so I had another lazy day instead. I thought along the positive lines that the following week I'm booked into a spa lodge for five nights in Banff so no great loss.
June 17th 2022: Lazy day.
A few of the day trips overlap and if you go on them all you get to see some places twice. I was satisfied that I'd seen as much as I wanted so relaxed in a local pub.
June 18th 2022: I take a morning flight to Vancouver via a four hour stopover at Seattle.
No calamities along the way. I eventually checked into the Century Plaza Hotel after midnight.
June 19th 2022: Lazy day in Vancouver just finding my way around the city.
My 22nd floor apartment in a 3 star hotel was pretty excellent with the added bonus of being slap bang in the the downtown area and overlooking the harbour.
June 20th 2022: Went to Stanley Park in the morning before hitting a local bar in the afternoon.
At this point I have come to the conclusion that other than there being little more than mountains, lakes and nature, in general in Canada, there's not so much to do here. This comment sparked a reaction from one of my friends of "if you don't like mountains, lakes and nature why did you go to Canada"? Me and my big mouth!
June 21st 2022: Take the ferry to Granville Island followed by a walk to Yalestown then downtown to the Granville Street area which was only two blocks from my hotel.
In the afternoon I head for a bar in Davie Street that seems to have become my local
June 22nd 2022: Up bright and early for a thirteen and a half hour coach trip to Banff in the heart of The Rockies.
My original plan to take The Rocky Mountaineer glass top carriage train ride was thwarted by COVID-19. The train trip that takes basically the same route as the coach takes three days with two hotel stops on route. The coach takes thirteen and a half hours. I guess the train stops for quality time in Jasper, Lake Louis and Banff but I get five days of quality time in the heart of The Rockies doing it my way.
There was a remarkable change of temperature from fifteen degrees in Vancouver to twenty-seven in Salmon Arm. I arrive at Banff Caribou Spa and Lodge around 22:30. I didn't realise until I got there that it's the same hotel used by the Rocky Mountaineer train tour. All it's passengers seemed to be retired couples and not my kind of people so I'm glad I didn't take the train.
June 23rd 2022: Take the day getting to know Banff which isn't hard as it's only a twenty minute walk from side to side.
June 24th 2022: My pre-booked full day Mountains, Lakes and Waterfalls tour didn't pick me up.
After playing hell in the tour operators office, I was rebooked for the same trip the next day. Sooner than waste the day I took a local bus to Johnston Canyon where there are two waterfalls.
One blessing was that in the morning it was raining and low clouds caused a lack of visibility so it's debatable as to what I would have seen on the tour had I gone. Other than that morning I had glorious sunshine for the whole trip.
June 25th 2022: Go on the Mountains, Lakes and Waterfalls tour
The weather was definitely shorts and shirts weather. The itinerary was Lake Louis, Moraine Lake, then over the Alberta/BC border into Yoho National Park which included, Kicking Horse River and Wapta Lake, Emerald Lake, Spiral Tunnels, Natural Bridge and finally Takakkaw Falls. Along the way we saw a moose, an elk, a mother black bear with a cub and a grizzly bear. We arrived back in Banff around 18:30.
June 26th 2022: I went to Lake Minnewanka in the morning taking in Johnson Lake and Two Jack Lake along the way.
In the afternoon I went to Cave and Basin which is of local historical significance but as it happened not to me. I went straight back downtown for a few drinks.
June 27th 2022: Another beautiful sunny day for my return to Vancouver.
I eventually got back to my hotel around 22:30 when the weather was still warm. Seemingly the hot spell I'd experienced in Banff was all over Western Canada. The temperature in the day was 32 degrees.
June 28th 2022: I spend the morning in the lower East corner of Stanley Park.
Stanley Park is too big to see on foot in a day so I did it in sections. Mid afternoon I head for my local in Davie Street a short walk from my hotel.
June 29th 2022: Lazy day.
June 30th 2022: I take an afternoon flight to Mexico City.
I check into the Ibis Mexico Alameda, the hotel I stayed at on my previous trips
July 1st 2022: Lazy day around Zocalo Square and drinks at the hotel in the evening.
July 2nd 2022: I take a mid-day flight to Puerto Vallarta
I check into a medium priced hotel five hundred metres from Playa Los Muertos.
July 3rd 2022: Check the place out and put the feelers out for a long stay apartment.
As it happens the top floor of the hotel I'm staying at has private rental apartments too so I check the situation out.
July 4th 2022: Lazy day so I use it to look at the apartment upstairs and pay up front for a month before somebody else nabs it.
July 5th 2022: I take a bus into town with the poor people in an attempt to get my MacBook fixed.
The service agent had little interest in helping and fed me a load of BS to try to get my money.
July 6th 2022: I order a renewed MacBook on Amazon at a fraction of the price being asked for the repair of my existing one.
July 7th 2022: I move into an apartment on the top floor of Hotel Villa del Mar where I've had a room for the last five nights.
By this time The Salty Caesar bar half a block from my place has become my local.
July 10th 2022: We get our first real taste of monsoon rain.
July 12th 2022: I rethink my future.
I have fallen in love with this place to the extent of (almost) considering swopping Goa for here. This place is certainly cleaner, being Western is more civilized to Westerners, has a better selection of food including restaurants (despite everything being as spicy as hell), has a good public transport system, is as safe, if not safer than Goa, has basically the same high season weather as Goa but the monsoons aren't as harsh and for whatever reason the monsoon rains come mostly at night, Puerto Vallarta has virtually no flies, mosquitoes or cockroaches, money can be transferred into any currency and taken out of the country, visas are not required for UK citizens and it's not much more expensive than Goa to socialise in.
The only negative that comes to mind is that I own property in Goa and therefor have no noticeable outgoing expenses there.
I could choose to choose to live in season in Goa and monsoon in Puerto Vallarta but they couldn't be physically further away from one another. We'll see.
July 14th 2022: My new computer arrives.
After playing with it for a few hours I again go to my local, The Salty Caesar and during the course of the evening the sky opened. My first real introduction to the Mexican monsoon. The weather here is a strange phenomenon. The days are almost all rain free and the in the evenings the sky opens. That was to change a few weeks later on the 6th of August.
July 19th 2022: Went to Apple Mac shop to sort out problems with access to my account.
No joy but I sorted it out myself later.
July 20th 2022: Went to a local hospital to get a top-up of medication and to have a general check up. All OK.
July 21st 2022: I booked a flight with Air Canada for the 29th of November. Puerto Vallarta - Toronto - Mumbai
I'll wait until closer to the day to book onward to Goa in case there are any changes of schedule.
July 24th 2022: Afternoon rain for the first time since I arrived but it wasn't too much.
There was a big thunder storm the night before but like I said, that was in the night.
August 1st 2022: I take a walk to Casa Kimberley to check it out.
Casa Kimberley was the house bought by Richard Burton for Elizabeth Taylor on her 32nd birthday. Full details on the website linked above.
August 6th 2022: The skies open big time mid-day.
August 17th 2022: I booked a ticket to see Roger Waters on October 15th in Mexico City.
This is to be the final date of the tour and who knows? He could even end up by doing another free concert in Zocalo Square and if he does, I'll be there waiting.
August 20th 2022: I ordered a ticket online to see Guns'n'Roses in Guadalajara on October the 18th.
September 12th 2022: nothing to report.
After a few weeks of watching the US Open tennis I've contemplated my future and came upon the realisation that a part of the reason why I love this place so much is it's similarities with my former home of Jersey. Clean, safe, friendly, relaxed, reasonably priced medical care, easy to come and go, central for international flights and finally, the only similarity (albeit a negative one) is it's not so cheap to leave here. One big deciding factor to influence my flight or otherwise is the food. Everything here is so damn spicy.
The obvious main alternative is Bali which has great food and is as equally civilised as Mexico but red tape means a maximum of eight weeks stay there whereas in Mexico it's six months with no questions asked.
So at the end of the day next year could all hinge on where is the easiest to obtain an Indian Tourist Visa for my return as at the moment e-visas are not available for UK and Canadian citizens.
September 16th 2022: Mexican Independence Day came and went with no noticeable celebrations.
There was supposed to be a firework display the previous night to see it in but rain stopped play for me and I stayed in. I did hear a few fizzes and bangs from my apartment but nothing big time.
September 19th 2022: A 7.6 magnitude earthquake rocks Mexico's Pacific Coast and Mexico City.
Around mid-day, throughout the country there were earthquake drills on the anniversary of two previous major earthquakes (1985 which resulted in over 10,000 deaths & over 200 in 2017). The drills on this day had been an annual occurrence since 1985. By a strange coincidence, 90 minutes after the drill the real thing happened a few hundred miles South. I was four floors up in my apartment and knew exactly what it was so went to the patio area where nothing could fall on me. As I opened the door my maid Carmen arrived in tears to warn me, as if I didn't know already.
All else aside it was a good dry run to test out my so called survival kit. Ever since the Bali quakes I have slept with a back pack within arms reach. It includes, credit cards, money, passport and any other travelling essentials plus a few valuables like camera and laptop and three fully charged mobile phones.
September 22nd 2022: A 6.8 magnitude hits at one in the morning
Being in the same area, it was reported as an after shock from the bigger quake three days earlier.
(now available to read on-line in it's entirety).