June 2018: Travel update

June 2018: Travel update

It’s hard to believe we’re already at the end of June and our Mexico adventure is nearly done.

Almost, but not quite. More on that in a moment!

From now on, we want to start keeping these monthly travel updates so A. we’re not constantly repeating ourselves to interested friends and family and B. as much as we love writing detailed blog posts about everything we’ve seen or done, we just don’t have the time. Hopefully, these updates will serve as an interesting summary of what we’ve been up to each month and we will also share our plans for what’s coming next. Because we’ve got big plans for what’s next!

Anyway, back to what we’ve been up to in June. We started the month in the vibrant Guadalajara, Mexico’s second most populous city, where we enjoyed all the benefits of big city life over the small coastal towns where we had been for the previous two months. We stayed in two different hostels, one good, one really not good, plus a last minute night in a lovely hotel when we decided we couldn’t stay in the ‘not so good’ hostel for another night.

Sometimes you just have to accept you’re not going to get the shot all to yourself

Initially we enjoyed the lower temperatures and humidity that being inland offered. Until an uncharacteristic heatwave struck and we were back to melting and taking several showers a day. We tried local delicacies such as ‘pozole’ (pork broth with cabbage) and ‘Birria’ (spicy goat stew) and of course sampled the tequila that Guadalajara is probably most famous for. We even got to see the annual tequila festival where local distilleries proudly display their best agave plants and everyone generally celebrates the wonder that is tequila. We checked out cathedrals and impressive colonial buildings, went to a VIP cinema and mall as well as sampling the local craft markets.

Venturing a bit further afield we spent a day visiting the beautiful city of Tlaquepaque and mourned our inability to stockpile the gorgeous arts and crafts due to traveling with just 40 litre backpacks that now barely contain our clothes.

friends in Guadalajara

Goofing around in Guadalajara

Easily the highlight of our stay in Guadalajara was meeting up and spending time with our friends Pablo and Eva who made us feel so welcome and shared their city with us. Without doubt, no matter where we go and irrespective of how amazing or beautiful a place is, it’s always the people you meet that make a place really special and cement it in your heart. Pablo and Eva did that for us in Guadalajara.

We reluctantly moved on from Guadalajara to discover the highly acclaimed cities of Guanajuato and San Miguel De Allende. Both of these cultural gems, so rich in colour and history lived up to expectation and, despite sore legs from walking up and down the steep hillsides, we thoroughly enjoyed exploring them. Apart from the ‘mummies museum’ that is. We really can’t say we enjoyed that experience.

The views worth the climb

We then headed south, via Mexico City, to the state of Oaxaca (pronounced Wuh-haa-ka), celebrated for it’s bio-diversity, indigenous people and food. Our cosy Air bnb had excellent wifi which meant that we were finally able to take a breath and focus on some work projects, as well as watch the start of the football World Cup.

With over two weeks to delve into all that the capital Oaxaca City had to offer, we didn’t need to rush and took our time exploring the ‘must dos’. Petrified waterfalls and swimming in natural infinity pools in the jungle, climbing up 2000 year old pyramids, sampling locally made artesianal mezcal and all seven types of ‘mole’ sauce were just some of the highlights. We’ve learned that Mexico really isn’t the place to come to if you’re trying to lose weight.

hierve agua in Oaxaca, Mexico

Hierve el Agua, one of only two petrified waterfalls in the world and utterly enchanting

It’s also worth mentioning that not for one moment have we felt unsafe anywhere we’ve stayed. If we had to choose the place we felt the least comfortable in, it would be the tourist trap town of Puerto Vallarta, and that’s only because we stood out as visitors and therefore couldn’t avoid attention from anyone trying to make a living from tourists. In Guadalajara particularly, which surprised us with it’s diversity of appearance, we blended in, and were often mistaken for locals. At least until we unleashed our broken Spanish, which always gave us away.

Our experience so far has been that this is an incredible country, with it’s friendly and hard working people undeserving of the sweeping generalisations made against it. Beware believing all that you see in the media! You’d be forgiven for thinking, as we did, that the U.S is anti Mexico with all the hype about walls and immigration camps. We’ve been amazed to find that more than two million North Americans live here and that number is on the rise. What an extraordinary thing then that there is so much anti Mexico hype – and that it doesn’t appear to be reciprocated.

 

What next?

 

So where do we go from here? Well, for the last two weeks of our 5 month trip, we have decided to move to the Oaxacan coast and the town of Puerto Escondido for some beach time. I’m hoping to try surfing again, although PE is famed for it’s ‘pipeline’ and 30ft waves so I’m not sure how well that will go. July is also the start of the egg laying season for the Olive Ridley sea turtles and we want to help in the conservation efforts and protect the females as they clambor ashore to lay their eggs on the beach.

Our final few days in Mexico will see us exploring Mexico City, with it’s esteemed museums, the Teotihuacan pyramids and lucha libre (mexican wrestling) all on the itinary, before flying to Toronto, Canada for a few days and then finally on to the UK. We are both ready to spend a few weeks at home and looking forward to catching up with friends and family, doing all the ‘stuff’ that needs taking care of and can’t be done easily from abroad.

Beyond that we have one other trip booked that we’re VERY excited about! As it’s my birthday in September we wanted to do something different and a bit special so we’re going to…. Iceland! Yes, we’ll be leaving our Mexican wardrobe behind, packing the snow gear and heading north for a short visit to see if Iceland really lives up to the hype and the hefty price tag. Let us know in the comments if you’ve ever been and have any suggestions or reccommendations? We already know some of the things we’ll be doing but are always keen to hear other’s idea.

We plan to return to Mexico for the end of the year and continue our exploration on the east side of the country then travel south down into Central and ultimately South America. The time scales on this are still flexible and we may fit some more of Europe in before we leave if we can.

Cappadocia anyone?

5 reasons you need to visit San Miguel De Allende, Mexico

5 reasons you need to visit San Miguel De Allende, Mexico

Whether you go for a day or a month, the UNESCO World Heritage site of San Miguel De Allende should definitely be high on your list of places to visit in Mexico. With a climate often described as perfect, and beautiful colonial architecture thanks to its importance as a silver mining city during the 1700’s, San Miguel is a tasteful mixture of both Mexican and the Canadian/American residents who have chosen to settle here. Rich in history, the city also played an important role during the revolution, as the first city in Mexico to declare independence from Spain.

Still not convinced you need to visit this cultural gem? After a day spent investigating the city, hopefully you’ll be convinced by our 5 top reasons you should definitely go to San Miguel De Allende:

 

1) It was voted the Best Small City in the World

 

If you’ve never heard of Mexico’s San Miguel De Allende, don’t worry, neither had we until last year when it was picked as 2017’s best small city in the world by Condé Nast voters. Intrigued, we immediately put it on our list of ‘must visit’ places in Mexico to see if it lived up to the hype. 

So you don’t just need to take our word for it!

2017’s best Small City in the World. Fact.

 

 

2) It’s picture perfect

 

San Miguel is absolutely stuffed full of gorgeous little cobbled streets and plazas and it’s colonial style buildings maintain a consistent, tasteful theme of terracotta hues. There’s a romantic, unspoiled charm about the city, partly thanks to the laws that were passed to safeguard it from modernisation, meaning you won’t find any traffic lights or neon signs, for example.

At an altitude of around 6000ft what you will find are plenty of views out over the mountains. So, whether you’re into finding the best Insta-worthy spots for a killer picture or simply prefer to find a shady plaza to just sit and take in all the scenery, you’re going to be spoilt for choice in San Miguel De Allende.

We enjoyed just wandering around some of the streets to the south of the centre, finding tucked away boutique shops and soaking up the ambiance.

Exploring the streets in San Miguel De Allende

 

 

3) It’s foodie heaven

 

You’re not going to find it hard to find great places to eat or drink in San Miguel. We highly recommend trying brunch at Néctar . This utterly charming little restaurant offers an organic veggie/vegan menu and also has a great tea and coffee selection. Steve particularly loved the Vietnamese iced coffee, the perfect way to cool down after wandering the lanes. The food and service are top notch but what really sets this restaurant apart are the many nectar feeders decorating the courtyard which attract multitudes of hummingbirds. Who wouldn’t want to watch these adorable little birds flitting about over tea?

Have some tea at Néctar, you won’t regret it!

Later on, when you’re in need of refreshment, you can enjoy cocktails and tapas at Luna rooftop bar, located in the Rosewood building. As well as top notch food and drinks, you get the best view in the city. This restaurant isn’t the cheapest option in town but it’s worth the splurge and a memorable way to finish the day.

Views over San Miguel De Allende from Luna Rooftop Bar

 

 

4) Marvel at the beautiful churches

 

We thought we’d seen enough baroque/gothic churches during our journeying around Mexico and San Miguel has it’s fair share, but we couldn’t help but be particularly awed by the pastel pink La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel which lies adjacent to the main square ‘El Jardin.’ It even reminded us a bit of a mini Sagrada Familia. The plaza itself is the perfect place to rest out of the sun and admire the church since ornate benches lie under the dense shade provided by huge square pruned Indian Laurel trees. This is the perfect place to sit and people watch.

 

Beautifully ornate and so pretty in pink La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel

 

 

5) Shopping at the ‘Mercados’

 

I’m a sucker for hand crafted jewellery and love perusing the little market stalls that usually fill the plazas in Mexico. San Miguel De Allende has a mix of both these kinds of souvenir item, plus high end boutique clothing and art if that’s more your thing. The markets (or ‘mercados’) themselves form part of everyday life here rather than being a novelty for tourists, since locals will shop at them too. As such, there’s a strong emphasis on local ingredients and artisan crafts. Two of the principle markets you can easily check out are Mercado de Artisanias and Mercado San Juan de Dios. Both have locally made, traditional craft and food items and are open daily. They are just a five minute walk from the main square and provide a great chance to interact with the locals, as well as shop.

 

We had a fantastic day exploring San Miguel and can honestly say that it probably is worth all the hype. Whilst the sizeable ex pat community means you are more likely to hear English spoken than Spanish in some parts, something we generally try to avoid, don’t let that put you off! If we’ve managed to convince you that you really do need to go visit and you’re wondering how to get there, here are some tips to help plan your visit:

 

Getting to San Miguel De Allende

 

Because we were staying close by in Guanajuato (and running out of days), we decided to do a day trip rather then stay in San Miguel De Allende. As a small city, you can see most of the sights fairly easily in a day. That said, we could happily have spent more time there and plan on returning another time to do the things we didn’t have time to do, like visit some of the museums.

Getting to San Miguel De Allende from Guanajuato is an easy 1.5hr bus ride from the main bus station, costing around £10 per person. We used Primera Plus and got a luxury bus with comfy reclining seats, air con, movies and a loo. When you arrive in San Miguel, come out the bus station and hop onto any of the local buses that say ‘Centro’ on them and head towards the main plaza ‘El Jardin.’ It takes about 10 mins and costs around 50p. We would usually use Uber but the buses in San Miguel De Allende were so easy it was worth saving a few pounds. There are also plenty of bright green taxi’s if you prefer to go that route.

Have we convinced you to visit San Miguel De Allende? Maybe you’ve already been; did we miss anything off our list? We’d love to know what you think so tell us know in the comments.

Day Trip to Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Day Trip to Vallarta Botanical Gardens

I love a good garden. Maybe it’s a sign of my age (shhh!) but I can’t think of a nicer way to spend a day than wandering around looking at beautiful plants and flowers. Unless it’s a day that involves birds too, then I’m really in heaven! So you can imagine how excited I was when Steve agreed with me that a trip to visit the Vallarta Botanical Gardens was in order. Having read rave reviews about it we had high expectations, and we weren’t disappointed.

Having gotten used to the Mexican buses we decided to get up early and catch the one that should take us all the way there in 45 mins. I’d read several reliable sources that said the bus runs every 30 mins from the corner of Aguacate and Carranza so we grabbed some tea to go from a cafe and made our way there. The lack of any discernible sign of a bus stop doesn’t seem to be an issue here and after a few minutes anxious waiting the bus duly appeared and stopped to let us on. For 25 pesos each (£1) plus seats together that weren’t even broken, it was definitely the way to go.

We got off right outside the entrance to the gardens, made our way in and discovered that we had the place pretty much to ourselves. Even better! After the gong show noisiness of the tourist zones of PV, the peace and quiet of the gardens were like a tonic. I could already hear the exotic calls of birds that I didn’t recognise and was dying to start spotting! Ok, ok, so I’m a bit of a birder. It’s not that strange, honest!

The entrance to Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Anyway, we made our way down to the entrance and paid the 200 pesos each to get in (about £8). We were ready for breakfast by this stage and having read lots of glowing reviews about the restaurant we made our way to the main building. The restaurant is upstairs and has a fantastic view of the jungle valley. There are humming bird feeders thoughtfully placed along the terrace (although we only saw one as it’s not humming bird season) plus a feeding station within easy view. This was attracting a large variety of brightly coloured birds and we sat and had a magnificent breakfast whilst enjoying spotting these beautiful creatures. I was even able to hire some binoculars. Which was just as well or Steve would have been stoping me climbing over the rail trying to get even closer!

A tasty breakfast at Vallarta Botanical Gardens

We identified some of the birds as: San Blas Jay, Green Jay and the striking yellow-winged Cacique. Not having the photography equipment to get good pictures ourselves, the pics below are for reference only (all credit to the photographers)

Honestly I probably could have sat there happily all day. But we knew there was the rest of the gardens to explore so we set off and wandered around the some of the paths admiring the plants and more birds and just enjoying the peace and nature at it’s best.

We decided to hike one of the long trails that led down to the river and had planned on potentially swimming as it’s safe to do so at this time of the year while the river is low. The path there was great fun. Not as challenging as our hike to ‘Las Animas’ but steep and twisty in places and we hardly saw any other people either. After about forty five minutes we arrived at the end of the trail and discovered a stunning natural pool in between little waterfalls where it looked safe to have a dip. The water looked so invitingly cool after our hike, and having reassured Steve that I didn’t think there were any crocodiles around, we jumped in.

Hiking the jungle trails along the river at Vallarta Botanical Gardens

a refreshing swim in the river at Vallarta Botanical Gardens

I don’t even know how long we spent splashing around in the river. Time kind of stands still here and being able to just kick back and not worry about anything is an amazing feeling. There wasn’t any phone signal, or wifi, so no distractions. It was utterly perfect.

In the end though we did have to leave and head back to the hacienda. We choose a different trail back and again enjoyed the feeling of being explorers in the jungle and spotting more birds. When we did get back we decided to stay and have some lunch as breakfast had been so good. So we got to repeat the experience of enjoying great Mexican food whilst watching the birds enjoying theirs on the feeding station.

I know we keep banging on about how amazing everything is here but seriously, it is! We totally recommend visiting the Botanical Gardens if you get the chance. Just remember to take your swimwear too!

 

 

 

 

Becoming Digital Nomads

Becoming Digital Nomads

‘You do what?’ is a question we get asked A LOT. I remember very clearly people’s expressions when I told them I was quitting my career to go traveling and work remotely. Surprise, confusion, ‘wow’ and a bit of ‘you’re bonkers’ thrown in for good measure. Even now, after we have tried to explain it and several months into the journey, I think people get the ‘why’ but we are still regularly asked ‘how?’ I’m writing this blog post from my perspective to try and clear up any confusion but if you still have any questions at the end of it, just ask.

Let’s start with the ‘why’

We have met lots of people on this journey so far and they all have their own reasons for leaving their home country. Whether it’s for a month, a year or a lifetime. Sometimes they’re searching for something, sometimes they’re running away from something but in the end it all boils down to the pursuit of happiness. Of course, wise people know that happiness is a choice, not a destination – but I find that choice easier to make on a warm beach with a margarita in my hand.

For me it was always more about the ‘why not’.’ When I first met Steve in Valencia and he told me about his plans to travel around Central and South America it was like a light bulb turning on in my brain and it set me on the path that would ultimately lead us to fulfilling this dream together. Once I started to research the possibilities I quickly realised two things.

Firstly that my perceptions of the world (especially those countries) was vastly out of kilter with reality. My mental images were of coffee, drugs and llama’s and that to visit such countries would require either backpacking in hostels or being restricted to the expensive tourist hotel zones. What I discovered is that there is a diverse range of safe, cosmopolitan towns and cities as well as well trodden tourist routes.

Secondly, I discovered that it’s not only totally possible to live a digital nomad lifestyle but that many people are already doing it! It’s nothing new. My dominant logic truths blown to pieces, I came to realise that whilst it seems impossible to make such a drastic lifestyle change, it all comes down to mindset. You only have to make a decision to do something, the rest is just details.

Take the wider view with the lifestyle of a digital nomad

Digital Nomad?

Digital Nomad, remote worker, call it what you like. Basically it’s just a term for someone that works online, independently of location. It doesn’t matter what the work is or how much you earn, just that you can make money from anywhere (with internet connection – hence the ‘digital’ bit).

For some people it’s about being able to work from home so they can spend more time with the kids, for others the ability to combine travel and work. Balancing life and work is a goal most people want to do better. Even at home in the UK we are seeing the remote working trend increase as the desire to balance work with life becomes ever more important. Why sit in traffic to get to an office desk to work 9-5 when modern technology facilities the ability to work from any suitable location? Having had a field based sales job most of my career, the concept of remote working is nothing new to me. I’ve just stretched out my horizons a bit.

Cheap airfares, the low cost of living plus access to decent WiFi have opened up a world of opportunity for combining travel with work. If you don’t believe me, try searching on Airbnb for a place to rent in Medellín (Columbia) or Playa Del Carmen in Mexico. You can rent an entire apartment (sometimes with a pool/gym etc) for £10-£15 per night and there are often discounts for weekly or monthly stays. Of course, your budget is only restricted by how much income you have coming in. The point is that you can choose how luxurious you want to go depending on your earnings. Travelling is no longer restricted to holidays, sabbaticals or gap years.

There are loads of reasons becoming a DN is desirable. For me it’s become about wanting to combine and achieve three things; spending quality time with Steve, getting out and seeing the world and learning new skills to grow a business. Three very different reasons! But how fantastic that we live in a world where it’s possible to do them. I’m humbled whenever I think about how lucky we are that we live in an era and own the right passport that we can make our dreams a reality.

And the ‘How?’

So hopefully that gives you a bit of a background and idea on the why, so on to the crux of it and the ‘how.’ There are some well established ways that DNs make money online. The first is what I did in Valencia and what Steve does primarily and that’s teaching English.

English Teacher

I had no idea until I started researching just how high the demand for English teachers is globally. For much of the world, the ability to speak English opens up opportunities to better jobs and higher incomes and is therefore highly desirable. The demand in China, for example, is so high that there are schools that will pay you a good salary (by their standards,) cover your airfare and include a large bonus if you stay the academic year. But if China isn’t on your list of places to visit, another popular alternative is teaching online using video platforms similar to Skype.

Steve does this for a company in Vietnam. He chooses his own hours, logs into his computer and can have up to six adult business students per 45 minute lesson. The lesson is scripted so there’s no lesson prep, he guides them through it and there is opportunity for the students to both listen and speak doing role plays and questions. And there are many companies that offer a similar service. Basically, if you are a native English speaker you can get a job anywhere in the world. Pay is dependent on experience and qualifications (you don’t need either but it helps!) and typically averages 10-15 $US per hour/lesson. While that won’t make you rich in the UK or US by any stretch, it goes a long way in parts of SE Asia and S America!

Digital Marketing

My preferred method to earn an online income stems from my previous job as a business consultant. I found that my clients were all facing similar challenges when it came to digital marketing. As a consultant I felt limited in that while I could advise on areas like planning and strategy, I didn’t know enough about the actual nitty gritty of running things like Facebook Ads or understanding Google Analytics. Because these are things that ALL businesses need and most struggle with, I decided to focus on up-skilling myself and set up my own digital marketing agency. All of my services are online and I can have web meetings with clients so it fits perfectly with the remote work lifestyle.

It’s still early days for me with this but I already have clients who pay me to manage their social media accounts. That means I create and schedule content (content just means the ‘stuff’ you see on Facebook, Instagram etc) create and manage paid ad campaigns as well as offering marketing consultancy. I can also design and build websites. This is the area that excites me the most because I love the design side of it and I get to put my consultancy advice into action. I’ve still got tons to learn and the nature of this business means that it’s constantly changing too. It’s a challenge, but that’s part of what draws me to it and the valuable skills I’m learning will help me whether I scale my own business or go back into the corporate world in the future.

Other stuff

So those are the ways we make money whilst traveling but there are a load of other ways people do it. Anything from setting up e comms businesses like drop shipping, freelance writing to the more traditional travel blogging. There genuinely are people making large incomes sitting next to a pool in Bali. I’m not saying it’s easy! But it is possible for the entrepreneurially minded. What you choose to do and how much time you want to spend doing it comes down to your personal objectives, no different than any job.

There are some other useful tips for maximising your budget when it comes to being a DN. If you’re flexible on your travel dates, or destinations, there are some great deals on flights using websites like SkyScanner. For example, when we flew to Mexico we just searched ‘Mexico’ for the month of March. We were astonished to find a direct flight (12 hours) London Gatwick to Puerto Vallarta, on the TUI Dreamliner, for just £190 each. Tickets for the same flight a week later were £1000.

view flying into Puerto Vallarta

For accomodation we generally use Booking.com for hotels, ask in local Facebook groups for recomendations or our preferred method, Airbnb. We love Airbnb because of the huge range of options, from having a entire place to ourselves to sharing in someones home, it’s a great way to meet local people and quickly learn about an area. It helps remove some of the safety concerns if you’re someone’s guest and we love to practice our spanish if we can too.

When it comes to working, if you don’t want to stay in your accomodation and work, DNs often migrate to places with decent WiFi like cafe’s, Starbucks or Coworking spaces. We’ve really enjoyed using the coworking space in Puerto Vallarta. It gives you all the benefits of being in an office but with the added advantages of hammocks for when you want a break, an ocean view and like minded people around to network or socialise with. You pay by the day or week and there’s access 24/7 (helpful when you’re in different time zones to your customers) with an electronic lock on the door controlled by an app.

Vallarta cowork is a great space to get some work done

Another option that we will be doing in a few weeks and are very excited about is Workaway. In a nutshell, workaway is a volunteer program where you exchange a few hours of work for accomodation and (sometimes) food. Whether it’s helping build an eco-retreat in Belize, caring for huskies in Finland or building clay houses in Lithuania the options are mind bogglingly varied. I strongly urge you to have a look at the site and prepare to be amazed! Steve has already done a workaway in Spain and loved it so we have high expectations about our upcoming adventure. More to follow on this though as I feel like I’ve rambled on long enough for one blog post.

workaway

So there you go. Hopefully this blog post has shed some light on what we are doing and how we are doing it. Like I said at the start, if you have any questions feel free to comment or send us a message. Carpe Diem.

Mexico’s Fawlty Towers?

Mexico’s Fawlty Towers?

Our first few days in Mexico have passed quickly and without incident, well, apart from the first time we decided to take the bus and a man with clown face paint got on and started shouting in Spanish. My heart literally stopped until I realised he was just a performer looking for tips! Apparently this is normal here. But apart from that I’m happy to report we haven’t had any problems or even felt unsafe at any time. Except on the buses. Which are pretty scary and don’t really slow down when you get on or off…

mexican bus

The plan for the first couple of weeks has been to stay in hotels, acclimatise ourselves and make the most of being tourists before heading to an airbnb and knuckling down to some serious work. And tourists we certainly feel. Central Puerto Vallarta is like a cross between Blackpool and Skegness but with (much!) better weather and lots of Canadians. Steve gets grumpy because we aren’t speaking enough spanish or meeting ‘real’ mexicans, but for this short period at least we decided to just go with the flow. We have even booked ourselves on some tours too; humpback whale watching, jungle zip lining and a snorkelling beach trip. Happy days.

Mexico beach

Aside from the obvious things like sun and spicy food, we’ve discovered there are some interesting differences between Mexico and Spain (or the UK) that take some getting used to. Throwing your toilet paper in the bin instead of flushing it is very weird to start off with. As is the fact that you don’t take your laundry to the ‘lavadorias’ and do it yourself (like in Spain). For a few peso’s a nice señora washes, dries and even folds your clothes for you on the same day! Magic! I don’t mean to sound like a total girl stereotype but getting clothes washed and dried is something we take for granted at home and can be a major pain when travelling.

The pretty cobbled streets in the ‘romantic zone’ look nice but they aren’t fun to drive on, although, we’ve been amazed by how considerate drivers are to pedestrians. Waiting to cross the streets we’ve found cars will generally just stop and wave you past (there don’t appear to be any actual crossings). Unlike in Valencia where you take your life into your own hands every time you want to cross the road.

cobbled streets

One of the first days after we arrived we decided to walk the couple of miles to the new shopping centre ‘La Isla,’ to have a look around and get some essentials like sun cream and to buy Steve some new shorts since he only brought one pair with him.

La isla mall

On the way we were happy to find a small mall with a TelCel desk in it so I could buy a local SIM card. Generous as Vodaphone’s ‘roam further’ for only £6 a day is, it doesn’t beat a local SIM card which gets you a months worth of data for less that 100 peso’s (about £3.85). Excitedly I rushed up to the assistant, at which point all spanish disappeared from my memory and all the came out was ‘hablas ingles?’ ‘No.’ Ah. Luckily Steve was on hand and was able to converse effectively so that 10 minutes later I was the proud owner of my first Mexican SIM card and back in the land of social media again. Qué algería!

We had a lovely afternoon mooching around the shops and got the shorts for Steve. Unfortunately, the next day while we were stepping up a particularly high curb, I heard a yelp and turned around to find him looking sheepishly embarrassed. Turns out the seams in the shorts weren’t of the best quality and had given way. Luckily, the aforementioned señora at the laundry is also a dab hand at sewing and very reasonable, so I don’t feel quite so daft for scoffing at my mum’s suggestion bringing a sewing kit!

hotel Yasmin

Our home for the next few days also takes a bit of getting used to. We picked it because it looked quirky and Mexican and it certainly is. We arrived yesterday to check in to be asked how much we should be paying. Given that I had booked it through booking.com I was a little surprised to be asked this but it turns out the hotel only takes cash. I’m not convinced they have any computers either. After a bit of haggling, showing the señora the booking confirmation to avoid over paying and having to dash to an ATM to withdraw enough cash to cover the stay we were finally shown to our room by one of the maids. I say maid, but she must have been in her 80’s and could barely climb the stairs. She smiled her toothless smile at us and let us into our room. She even showed us how to work the air-con and tv remotes; press here for ‘on’ and ‘off.’ Despite all this (or because of it) we love the hotel and its ‘Frida’ character. Plus we pretty much have the beautiful pool area to ourselves and have taken to it as our office for the week since the wifi doesn’t extend to the bedrooms. There are definitely worse places to work.

hotel lobby

pool area

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