I've developed a fascination with cemeteries and have visited many in my travels over the past few years, but I've never seen one like this.
Cementerio General in Merida, Mexico, is a historic and colorful array of vaults, ossuaries and mausoleums, and unique for a number of reasons among the dozens of cemeteries I’ve seen.
It’s been quite a travel slog these past six weeks since I left the seductive White Mountain foothills of the island of Crete, Greece, where vineyards and olive trees grow and shepherds tend sheep and goats as their ancestors have done for ages.
I was house-sitting a lovely villa, caring for a friendly, mischievous young dog and his little kitten friend, during alternating periods of warm, Mediterranean sunshine and wintry cold rainstorms.
Now I write from another side of the world in the city of Merida, located in the perennially sunny, warm and dry Mexican state of Yucatan, where I’ve found welcome respite from the travails of travel in this nerve-jarring age of coronavirus.
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!
Quotes For A Good Life On The Road
“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.”
-- Anthony Bourdain
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. Currently I'm in sunny Merida, Mexico, waiting out developments in the coronavirus crisis before moving on. Meanwhile, learn more about me and my travels at Nomadic Matt, and Expat Focus, and in a great story by veteran Borneo newsman and prolific author James Ritchie about our meeting in Kuching, Malaysia, 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!
How I found a friend and discovered what's real in Lima, Peru.
My partner and I were left high and dry in this Siem Reap Rip. Be careful!