It was New Year’s Eve last night. I didn’t do much, really — certainly less than in previous years. I’m not big on this particular celebration as it is, and it’s cold here in Guanajuato at the moment. The thought of shivering in city plazas while not understanding the drunken Spanish flowing around me just wasn’t enough to drag me out of the house. Things might have been different if I’d had a warm jacket.
I didn’t have a warm jacket.
So instead, I stayed at home with Lauren. We gorged ourselves on cheese and ham, drank one bottle of wine, then another. We watched New Zealand play an epic game of cricket half a world away, one of us caring rather more than the other. As midnight struck we went up to stand on the roof, kissing in the darkness as church bells tolled nearby and fireworks exploded overhead.
And I had an epiphany.
The change of year is supposed to invoke reflection as well as hangovers. We should always be thinking about what the future looks like, but New Year’s Eve forces the issue.
It certainly forced it for me.Continue Reading →
It’s the time of year when everything slows down. People are on holiday, still trying to digest the last of the Christmas leftovers. The television is full of re-runs and bad movies, the papers are full of feel-good pieces about cats stuck in trees and the internet is full of ‘year in review’ posts in the absence of any ground-breaking stories.
I’d hate to disappoint.Continue Reading →
Before I came to Guanajuato a few days ago, every person I spoke to, every article I read, every guide book I flicked through all said exactly the same thing.
Guanajuato is beautiful.
Now, I’ve heard this kind of thing before, about several different places around the world, and I’ve often left wondering what all the fuss was about. Just how gorgeous could Guanajuato actually be, I wondered. Is it really worth all the praise that’s lavished upon it?
The short answer? Yes.
It’s absolutely stunning, one of the most attractive, ridiculously photogenic cities that I’ve ever visited. The ramshackle riot of colourful buildings, the crisp mountain air, the energy of this student town all combine to make me very glad I’ll be here for the next few weeks.
Add it to your travel plans already.Continue Reading →
The clock is ticking.
On Sunday I’ll be leaving Sayulita, my home for the last three months. There have been a lot of things to like about this little town – the beach, the cobbled streets, the laid back pace of life, the Bulldogs.
Wait, the what now?
One of the local bars, Monchis, has a particular drink that it’s infamous for. Take one enormous glass. Fill it almost to the brim with blended margarita. Insert, upside-down, a small bottle of local beer. Add a straw.
Hey presto, you’ve got a Bulldog.
With a prime position on the town square and happy hour pricing that runs for most of the night, it’s perhaps no surprise that I’ve ended up at this bar more often than I might care to admit.
Oh Bulldogs, I’ll miss you.Continue Reading →
The morning starts with an explosion. I don’t need to look at my phone to know it’s 4am.
The sound echoes through streets and off buildings, setting off the dogs, chicken and geese over the road in a raucous farmyard chorus.
The blasts continue for several more minutes, but I’m not concerned. These unwelcome interruptions to my slumber are just fireworks. They’ve been going off every morning for a week now, calling the faithful to church in Sayulita’s town square. There will be a huge celebration on December 12 for Our Lady of Guadalupe, and this is just the beginning.
I leave the pious to their prayers, roll over and drift back to sleep.Continue Reading →
On the way home from breakfast the other day here in Sayulita, I heard the distant sound of sirens. That’s an uncommon occurrence in this part of Mexico – contrary to what the media would have you believe – so I went to take a look.
I’m very glad that I did.
It was Revolution Day, and the town was out in celebration. Unbearably cute kids were everywhere, the girls in their best dresses, the boys with painted mustaches and wooden guns. The smoke from makeshift cannons drifted across the main street as a group of tiny cheerleaders paraded past, young and old alike reveling in the moment.
Towards the end of the parade came this group of young women on horses, their white dresses shining brilliantly in the sun. Even the horses were perfectly groomed, plaited manes and leg warmers included.
It was the perfect way to start the morning.Continue Reading →
I didn’t spend all of my time in Yelapa lying in a hammock or playing with my new friend Mr Toad (although to be honest it did kind of feel like it).
Before breakfast one morning I strapped on my walking shoes and headed off to find the closer of two waterfalls that are well-known around those parts. As it turned out, it was even closer than I’d expected – it’s pretty much on one edge of town, just a few minutes from the main pier along a mostly-paved path. Too easy, really – there were even signposts pointing out the right way to go. Not that there were really too many choices.
Despite it being so easy to get to, Lauren and I had the waterfall to ourselves the entire time we were there. Birds chirped as the spray covered us in a light mist, while other, larger animals rustled around anonymously nearby. It was only when the rumbling of our stomachs drowned them all out that we finally decided to move on…Continue Reading →
Big Bend National Park is an anomaly really. Buried in remote southwest Texas and forming the border with Mexico for nearly 250 miles, it’s simultaneously one of the largest and least-visited national parks in the United States. While somewhere like Yellowstone sees three million people per year through its gates, Big Bend is nine times the size yet gets less than ten percent of the visitors.
The reason, I guess, is that it just isn’t really on the way to anywhere. We were staying in Alpine, the only town of any size in the vicinity… and even that only had 6000 residents and was around a hundred miles away.
Populated this part of the country is not… and that, of course, is exactly why we went there.Continue Reading →