Tag Archives: travel adventures

Thailand Part Four

4 Sep

Our trip to Thailand in 2005 was one of the most memorable experiences of our lives. However, those memories will have to live in our mind because we cannot locate any of our photos. I have searched everywhere.

While staying in northern Thailand we went on a three-day guided hike through a national park that is home to indigenous tribes. Locals housed and fed us as we explored a waterfall, enormous cave, and giant bamboo forest. The Hmong tribal villages survive by allowing foreigners to traipse through their world, sleeping on bamboo cots and waking with the roosters.

We left the mountains and high altitude to explore the coast. You can’t go to Thailand without going to the beach. Since we only had ten days total vacation, we hopped a flight to the coast. Our amazing vacation continued with kayaking in an ancient cave, wandering into another monastery and visiting some of the area devastated by the tsunami. There were families sitting in doorways of concrete box houses slapped together to provide a modicum of shelter. Everyone did their best to welcome back tourists but there was still a long way back to recovery at that time.

I understand why expats from all over the world move to Thailand. The people are kind and generous. The food is to die for and there are monks and temples on every corner. It truly should be on every world traveler’s bucket list.

DOS TORTAS

We Haven’t Been Arrested Yet Part 3

28 Aug

I have always said that the test of any relationship is to travel together. Managing the twists and turns of adventure can be fun and stressful. We rarely do scripted travel.

Chiang Dao Nest boutique hotel and restaurant.

Our overnight bus deposited us in the sleepy village of Chiang Dao with no taxis in sight. I left Lisa with the luggage and wandered in search of something, but I didn’t know what. I found a clothing store getting ready for the day and explained as best I could to the proprietor what we needed. With an old school phone call, two scooters appeared as if by magic. The drivers grabbed our duffles, loaded us as passengers behind them and off we went careening down the road, hopefully, to our hotel.

Since the day was still quite young, we dropped off our luggage and set about on foot to explore the tropical environment. Unfortunately we forgot to bring a camera.

We passed this temple while walking.

Taking a right out of the hotel entrance, we began a lovely, early morning stroll down a country road in Thailand. The air was fresh and the birds loud. We were in heaven.

The road narrowed to a trail which turned into a rickety stair. There was a sign that we couldn’t read. Whenever we travel, Lisa always poses the question, “Are we allowed to do this?” My attitude is a shrug. What could go wrong? We haven’t been arrested yet.

We climbed, and climbed and climbed over 500 steps, eventually figuring out that we were entering a monastery. Bald men in orange robes were going about their morning routine. Laundry was hung about and incense floating through the air. No one paid us any mind as we continued to climb the stairs.

500 and some up and down.

Eventually we discovered the main attraction. With eyes wide and mouths agog we entered a huge cave filled with gold Buddhas and flickering candles. We certainly weren’t in Kansas anymore. I can close my eyes and still feel that rarified holy environment. I don’t think they let women be Buddhist monks, but I was ready to move in.

It took months before I realized that the Golden Buddha cave was where our friends got married! They didn’t leave a lot of breadcrumbs so I was completely surprised when the lightbulb went off. What a trip! And we weren’t done yet.

DOS TORTAS

The Road Less Traveled

7 Jan

I recently read that dogs need two thirty minute walks daily. As a result, I am now doing for the dogs what I haven’t been doing for myself, exercising.

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Hurry Mom lets go!

The road in front of our house runs parallel to the Laguna and is sparsely traveled. Luna and Frida can run off-leash and have a blast sniffing and peeing to their hearts content. Luna is afraid of strangers which makes her act all crazy and aggressive toward anyone we meet. Frida gets stupid around vehicles, so our little Mexican country lane is perfect.

 

 

Lately there’s been holiday guests at the hotelitos up the road and more construction. As a result, walking became less fun. So when I found a trail through the jungle which avoided both, off we went to explore. I do not know who cut this wonderful path or why. Perhaps the nearby campground thought its guests might use it. I have not met another hiker in the two weeks we’ve been walking and the dogs are safe chasing squirrels, agouti, or wherever their nose takes them.

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Entrance to the trail. Luna knows the way.

For me the hike is a chance to be in the moment and relish the beauty of my surroundings. I hear birdsong, my dogs and quiet. Some days I amble, others I walk hard, using my trekking poles to avoid a twisted ankle. The dogs sleep better and so do I.

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Jungle selfies.

Here’s hoping you have a place of peace and renewal and visit it often. If it’s outside and gives a sense of adventure, that’s icing on the cake. On the other hand, if you’re huddled indoors trying to stay warm, you have my blessing. Come to Bacalar.

DOS TORTAS 

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Mexican Expat Life

18 Dec

Sometimes adventure is not WHAT you visit, pyramids, churches, mercados, etc. but WHO you meet along the way. Join the TORTAS as we venture out from our home in Bacalar along the Costa Maya to explore parts unknown (at least to us).

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To celebrate a Torta birthday this week, we visited the pueblo of Puerto Morelos nestled between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Little did we know that this cozy fishing village is an exploding tourist town and expatriate destination.

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Guatemalan boys walking the beach looking for tourist pesos.

Something lacking in the far reaches of southern Mexico that we call home, is an English language bookstore. What a surprise to find Alma Libre Bookstore. 

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Rob and Joanne Birce

Not only are Rob and Joanne long time residents of this sleepy little town, Rob went to school with our friend and fellow Bacalar resident, Mitch! We were immediately family and Joanne told us all the best places to eat in Puerto Morelos.

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Visit their website for all things Puerto Morelos.

At Joanne’s recommendation we dined at La Sirena and met the owner Anthony Chalas from my home state of New Jersey. Greek food in Mexico, yum!

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Great artwork for a photo op.

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Caribbean sea turtle mural.

On our two day tour of Puerto Morelos, we got to visit the local mercado and meet Ann Trépanier, French Canadian and artist extraordinaire.

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Making art from recycled plastic. My kinda gal!

Ann makes “fabric” from heating together layered plastic bags. She is passionate about the environment and the changes she sees in her precious little town due to unregulated tourism.

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I wish I’d bought all her bags. Contact her at welovepuertomorelos@yahoo.com

There was one more astonishing encounter with a restaurant manager, but that is a story for another day. Travel in Mexico is full of opportunities. Do venture out of the all-inclusive hotel compounds. Not only will you meet lovely Mexican people and fellow fearless travelers but expats from around the world who live, love and fight to protect Mexico’s resources. Do tell them “hello” from

DOS TORTAS

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Go Directly To Jail – Do Not Pass Go – Do Not Collect $200

27 Nov

This week The Tortas traveled from Mexico to Florida to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with  family. Passing through US customs should be a snap right? It can be, unless you forget to eat the apple.

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“Where’s the woman with the apple?”

The sign at the Miami airport said to be sure to declare any food in our bags. They made it sound so friendly that we told the agent, rather than act surprised if our wayward apple got discovered during inspection. We were surprised alright, just not in the way we expected.

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Stock photo but it looks just like this.

What followed taught us a huge lesson. NEVER leave food in your bag while crossing into the US from anywhere. Stay calm, do not get angry or indignant. Insert “yes sir or yes ma’m” into the conversation at every opportunity. Oh, and stay calm.

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The issue was resolved thanks to the “Washington” agricultural sticker on the apple and a bit of groveling on Lisa’s part. There were many people who weren’t so lucky.

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The TORTAS hanging out with our son.

The rest of our vacation has gone without incident. Key Largo looks a lot like Bacalar. The weather was perfect. It’s always a joy to visit with family. We’ll be home tomorrow. Gratitude, blessings and happy holidays to all.

DOS TORTAS 

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Belize – Amazing Race Style

5 Jun

Lisa and I are big Amazing Race fans. We even applied once with a stellar video, but never got the call. On Thursday we crossed the border from Mexico into Belize. It’s a good thing we held onto the taxi. They wouldn’t let us in!

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Our Belizian taxi driver who helped us get from the border to Belize City.

Lisa’s mom is visiting Mexico on a 180 day tourist visa which is about to expire. We decided that a vacation to Belize would allow her to leave the country and start another 180 days ticking. We hired a dog sitter to stay with Luna. Off we went.

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Pick up point, a lovely hostel in Bacalar.

After boarding a bus in Bacalar, we settled in for the drive to Chetumal and then across the border to Belize City, where we would catch a water taxi to Caye Caulker for some island snorkeling. Sounded like a plan.

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Adios” from Lulu at the Quetzal Hostel

We arrived at the Belizean border and hit a snafu. They wouldn’t let us in! We went round and round with the woman wearing the badge behind the glass box. She refused us entry into Belize because we didn’t have confirmed hotel reservations (hotels are always cheaper when booked in person). Our bus driver tried to help, but eventually left us at the border.

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Lisa and her mom about to board the water taxi to Caye Caulker, BZ

A supervisor looked at our passports and confirmed that we could NOT enter Belize with Alice’s soon-to-expire visa. He directed us to return immediately to Mexico to get an extension.

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Boat ride to Caye Caulker off the coast of Belize in the Caribbean.

In true Amazing Race style, Lisa ignored his directive and went back to the original agent and apologized. We would get the hotel reservation she requested, which we did. AND SHE LET US THROUGH! Apparently there is no communication at the border, surprise, surprise.

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View from our hotel balcony. You can see the Caribbean in the distance.

As I write this we are still in Belize. To our knowledge, no All Points Bulletin has been issued for three “older women” trying to overthrow the government. No security risk here. The trick of course is to get Alice BACK into Mexico. I guess we’ll cross that border when we come to it. To be continued…DOS TORTAS

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