It’s good to be back in Mexico, where Corona is a beer, not a virus.
The Coronavirus, now officially renamed COVID-19 (I suppose so not to be confused with the beverage), has made a mess of my travel plans these last few weeks -- costing me some money -- while trying to make an orderly change in plans for a speedy exit from Southeast Asia.
I spent only two nights in Mexico City, mostly resting except for a brief bus ride into the Historic Center of the city, following several long flights in the jet-lag direction over the past eight days from Crete, Greece, to Mexico.
I've become very conscious of the air quality in my choice of destinations lately, and I was concerned about the air quality in Mexico City after I'd made my flight reservations. So I cut this leg of the trip to two nights, then realized I misread the reports and it was not as bad as I thought. I did see a faint brown layer under a bright blue sky Thursday and Friday but overall the Mexico City air was not too bad. Nevertheless, I wore a mask though not many people that I saw did, and then I took a 16-hour overnight bus trip north to Culiacan, Mexico, where I am currently, visiting good friends I'd made there early in my travels in 2017.
Not bad air here in Culiacan, either, and not even a discussion of the Coronavirus.
I did see lots of masked faces in Singapore during the four days I was there earlier in the week, before spending almost 20 hours airborne with layovers in San Francisco and Los Angeles while getting from Singapore to Mexico City. I was concerned more with the Coronavirus than bad air in Singapore, however, and since I left reports from there are getting worse.
Although I'm glad to be out of Southeast Asia now, I have many photos to post from that short but memorable trip to Singapore, and I'll get to them soon now that I have a little time to relax in Culiacan.
My travel schedule has picked up considerably after spending 11 weeks on the lovely isle of Crete, Greece, and the pace won't be slowing down much as this year rolls along.
Later this month I'm planning to return to Hawaii, then head back to the Americas, South and Central, for a few months exploring places I didn't get to on my first go-round.
Then in June I'm going to New Jersey for the 50-year celebration of my high school's graduating class in June.
I've got a lot to look forward to.
The Lighthouse of Chania, one of the world’s oldest lighthouses, was built during the Venetian era in the 16th century at the mouth of the Old Venetian Harbor in Chania, in the western part of Crete, the largest island in Greece. The lighthouse was modified during the Egyptian period in 1839, and again during the Turkish occupation of Crete in 1864. The 21-meter landmark (69 feet) is no longer operational and not open to visitors. Below are a couple more examples of Crete's rich history, both also located in the Apokoronas region of the island where I've been housesitting a villa since November.
One of 24 Venetian wells dating to the 11th century located about a kilometer above the village of Gavalochori. Peasant villagers traditionally watered their animals and socialized in the bucolic setting during the Venetian period of Crete occupation (13th to 17th century). More recently, some of the operating wells were closed to provide water for the village and are still in use.
This bridge over the Vrissianos River, near the rural village of Vrises, dates from the Roman era of Crete (approx. 300 BC to 300 AD) and is one of the island's oldest. Originally its arch was constructed precisely without mortar, and it is still a functional foot bridge while motor traffic moves along a modern highway bridge that is elevated and located just behind this one.
Now that I have my laptop back from the repair shop I can post again on my web site.
I’d planned for the interim to use my Weebly phone app to post but after several rounds with the Weebly support personnel, about why I couldn’t get a “new post” button which they kept insisting was there, I learned that I am in a “country or region” in which the Weebly app doesn’t work -- that is, Greece, a democratic nation and member of the European Union. Weebly didn’t tell me they had this limited level of service when I signed up.
On the advice of my Greek language instructor -- yes, I am studying Greek -- I visited the village of Vamos, about 6 kilometers from my villa in Vryses, and noted how one is still a rural village much as it has been for centuries, while neighboring Vamos has begun promoting its picturesque and historic features for visitors.
,Following is a series of photos taken with one hand while hanging onto the leash of my personal trainer and fitness master with the other, on our daily morning walk-and-run through the rural Cretan landscape.
The end of our walk.
Life is good!
“The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I am a devoutly religious man.”
-- Albert Einstein
My son Mackey recently sent this photo of me overlooking the grandeur of Colca Canyon, Peru. We hiked together there more than two years ago, but I'd never seen this photo until now. It reminded me of the above quotation from Einstein about religiousness, sentiments I truly felt in those unforgettably inspiring moments in Colca Canyon.
Thanks to Mackey, I'm sharing this warm remembrance with friends around the world on this chilly morning in Greece, the first day of December 2019.
Life is good, enjoy!
Day 3 (11/16/19)
I was a minute late for the planned 7a.m. walk and started out on my own to find Dimitrius, Christine and Tav the dog. It was a gorgeous, crisp, cool morning, sun rising through the trees and over the mountains. I got lost on the unfamiliar, winding roads, but eventually found my friends. Walked for an hour up and down the hills of the narrow, twisty rural roads among the olive trees and homes scattered about below the White Mountains peaks.
Came back and chatted with Christine over hot fresh home-brewed ginger tea on the sunny outdoor deck overlooking the valley before going to the neighbor’s house down the road where I helped Babis, harvest olives. It’s pretty hard work, the kind of work these hardy Greek men my age and older do regularly. The kind of work that persuaded me as a youth that my future lay somewhere other than agriculture.
We used hand-held mechanical harvesters that are like weedeaters with several flexible plastic rods that jerk back-and-forth to shake the olives safely from out of their trees to make olive oil.
We waded into the trees and indeed the small olives fell unharmed onto the large tarps that we placed on the ground. We’d remove the sticks and leaves, gather the olives together in a tarp, and pour them into 40kg (88lb) burlap bags.
They were ready for pressing at the factory in the nearby village of Vrisses.
More than two weeks ago I arrived at Chania airport on the island of Crete, the largest island in Greece, where I'm caretaking a villa.
I took a chance on this trip, not knowing what I was getting into when responding to a travel forum solicitation for someone to take care of the property, which includes a dog and a cat, for 11 weeks from mid-November through January.
I was thousands of miles away in Malaysia when I started corresponding with the owners, a young, American ex-pat couple. The photos they posted were gorgeous and we seemed to work well together online, so I was inclined to go for it after a lengthy stay in Southeast Asia, just for the change.
Still, you never know, right? They didn't know me either. But we played our hunches, struck a deal, and I booked my flights.
Now I'm so glad I did. What a wonderful place to be!
Quotes For A Good Life On The Road
"Smile a lot, talk to strangers, accept all invitations, eat everything offered.”
-- Sage advice from Rita Golden Gelman, author of Tales of a Female Nomad, an inspiring story of how a dramatic change of life led to her travels around the world, one of the first books I read on my journey. Now see my complete collection of travel quotes online by clicking "Quotes For The Road" under "More" in the menu above.
Solas "Best Travel Writing" Awards
Saysha: What Happened?
13th Annual Solas Awards for Best Travel Writing
(Read it here)
More About Me?
I'm a retired journalist from Hawaii who tired quickly of retirement and hit the road as a slow, solo world traveler in August 2016. I've spent time in 20 countries on four continents and this week I returned to Mexico on a long flight from Singapore, where I enjoyed a few days following 11 weeks in Greece. I've been interviewed about my travels by Nomadic Matt, and Expat Focus, and here's a great story by veteran Borneo newsman and prolific author James Ritchie about our meeting in Kuching, titled, A Confluence of Adventure Writers .
Also online ...
GARIFUNA SETTLEMENT DAY
Still the most authentic, lively and colorful local cultural festival I've seen on the road.
I found this Alternative Arts and Music Festival in the Amazon highlands of Peru. What a find!
Here's how I found a friend and discovered what's real in a Lima, Peru, neighborhood.
My partner and I were left high and dry in this Siem Reap Rip. Be careful!