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solo traveller

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There are times this week when I would have preferred major dental surgery to my intensive ski course in Verbier. Not least of all on the first morning of the course. 28 ‘Super Skiers,’ plus me, lined up at the top of a steep run and we had to ski down, one by one, to be assessed by the 6 instructors standing at the bottom. This was probably one of the most humiliating experiences of my life. 28 skiers descended with perfect parallel turns, then it was my go… I zig zagged and slid down the slope like Bambi on skis and decided to make up for my ineptitude with a perfect stop in front of the line of instructors. Sadly I misjudged the timing of the critical last turn and collided with 2 unamused members of staff. This was not a great start to my week and, unsurprisingly, I was put…

So, I survived my intense Spanish course and intensive it was. I am now pretty confident at ordering an Uber and a Cappuccino in Spanish, but not much else. I did, however, make  some lovely friends. I tagged along with a group of ladies from Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden and Germany. They very kindly spoke in perfect English to me for the whole two weeks. Unfortunately, they all moaned at the end that their English had improved a lot more than their Spanish. Well, at least I provided a language service and helped post Brexit international relations. The one thing I really don’t understand is the Spanish obsession with tapas. To me, it is a very poor excuse for a meal. One evening  a crowd of us went to a tapas restaurant and were presented with plate after plate of miniature appetisers. I realised quickly that if you don’t like cheese…

Well, I must say Malaga has way exceeded my very low expectations of this city. I always thought it was a tatty place where Brits landed before heading off along the Costa del Sol to drink pints whilst wearing overly tight shorts with their bellies hanging out, and that was just the women… It is actually a beautiful ancient city of culture. It was the birthplace of Picasso and Flamenco dancing. The cathedral is a stunning vision of stained glass and carved masonry, with an interior so awe inspiring that I nearly converted to Catholicism for a few seconds. There is no wonder so many British people retire here. Even in November it is a glorious 25 degrees and the narrow streets are filled with al fresco dining and trendy cafes. I must not forget though that the reason I came here was to learn Spanish, which I do for…

You may recall that my autumnal adventure to Central America was abruptly curtailed in Guatemala by illness. On my return, I spent a very long morning at the The School for Tropical Diseases in London where they took more blood from me than an overly generous blood donor. The verdict was that I hadn’t got malaria or COVID but I may have caught some random disease that will take 5 weeks to get results for. Having spent 3 weeks recuperating and moping, I got bored. Much as I love life in Lingfield, I kept thinking that I really shouldn’t be here. Husband was very unenthusiastic about me heading off again but when I announced I was going to Malaga, not Mongolia, he breathed a (short) sigh of relief. As far as we are aware Zika, Ebola and Dengue Fever have not made it to the Costa del Sol. Why Malaga?…

In Merida, Mexico I stayed in the home of Miguel, the owner of the Spanish school where I went in the afternoons for lessons, after my voluntary work in the dog shelter. Oscar, who was the programme coordinator, also lived there. My first impression of Oscar was a highly intelligent, borderline autistic individual with strong Mexican features, cool glasses, and longish black hair. He seemed a very friendly and caring guy. The morning after my arrival Oscar was to take me into the city for a quick walking tour. I was somewhat taken aback when he glided down the stairs wearing a full length purple floral dress, glass floral earrings, which dangled past his shoulders, pink hair slides and flip-flops with socks. I completely ignored his surprise attire and we headed out on the bus. However as we wandered around the beautiful city, I was struck time and time again by…

Just in case… My journey from Havana to Merida, Mexico should have been pretty straightforward; a 21/2 hour direct flight. However when I walked out on to the Cuban runway, in the searing heat, I wasn’t entirely sure that I was going to make it. My transportation was the oldest plane, barring a Spitifre, I have ever seen. It had 2 dirty propellers and the fuselage looked like it had skidded along a runway on numerous occasions. Before boarding I took a quick selfie and sent it to my family, so that if I did disappear over the Gulf of Mexico they would know why. My concerns over flight safety were heightened when I noticed that the plane had ashtrays in the arm rests which, on inspection, had not been cleaned out. I was very relieved when, just over 2 hours later we made a bumpy, noisy but nonetheless safe…

My time in Cuba came to an end last weekend and I headed off to Mexico. Never has any country evoked in me such extreme emotions as Cuba. I had a love/hate relationship with the place. I struggled to comprehend how Cubans could be so warm, friendly and generous when they led such bleak lives. There is no question that Havana is a wondrous city full of colourful colonial buildings which are being painstakingly restored by the government, yet this is a government which cannot afford to feed its people. Havana is equally famous for its gleaming 1950s American cars, yet the reason why they are still in existence is that the importation of American cars has been banned since this time. Cars are wildly expensive, and beyond the reach of most. A 20 year old Merc with 200,000 miles on the clock sells for $100,000 dollars here. Highest paid…