28th October 2017

Well, here we are then. Saturday 28h October, 2017 and I am heading off to Mexico via Houston Texas. On this occasion I am not accompanied by the lovely Keith, but instead my companion is my old travelling chum Monica who wanted another adventure together as part of her 70th birthday celebrations.  
Over the years Monica and I have travelled many miles, seen many wonderful things, laughed a thousand laughs and got into more than a few scrapes. And got out of them. Luckily……. however, we have not travelled far together for some time. We are a little more creaky now, but the spirit of ‘It is out there, so let’s do it’ does not fade, even the if the vision of what we will see is less clear!
All will be revealed in time, but we are heading for a brief tour of the ancient sites of Mexico, Guatemala and Belize and to experience the famous Celebration of the Dead.  From what I now understand our involvement with Guatemala and Belize will be merely glancing as we pass. Interestingly, until recently I did not realise we would have even a passing acquaintance with these places – my eye for detail having not noticed their association with Mexico at all. But there, neither detail nor geography has ever been my strong point.  
So, having introduced the activity and hastily (at the check in desk!) become the proud possessor of an ESTA to allow me to sit in Houston airport for a few hours, courtesy of Mr Trump and having parted with a few dollars for the privilege, I am settling down to a few hours of rather noisy flight. I will return to report on the ‘adventure’ as it unfolds…… 
The flight turned out to be very good. It was not full, so we had room to spread out and the ten hours or so passed uneventfully. We glided into Houston on a sunny early afternoon, coming in over the large Houston lake and a very different but busy urban landscape. It was quite flat and, although in places forested, had a desert look about it.     
We spent four hours there, with further security checks as we moved through the terminals to prepare for our flight to Mexico City. After an interesting interaction with a computerised cafe -we did manage to get some food under the close supervision of someone who could probably have more easily taken our order – and a sneaky gate change, we boarded a very packed flight to our final destination.  
The Mexico City flight was in stark contrast to our earlier experience. The ‘plane was full to the gunnels and both Monica and I were wedged in the middle of two banks of three seats. However it did not matter for the two hours it took to fly to Mexico City and at about 8.00 we touched down on Mexican soil with a display of fireworks on the horizon. Not, I hasten to add, that these pyrotechnics were anything to do with our arrival on the shores, but more to do with the ‘warming up’ of the celebratio of the dead, of which more later. I hope. 
We were met by a rather silent young woman who collected us and the other five people on the flight who were also on our tour and herded us onto a very dark minibus. Then, with a brief .’goodnight’, closed the door on us and was gone. Interesting we thought. Not an overwhelming welcome. No instructions re the hotel or guidance on meeting times. Where was the notice drinks on arrival, those additional cost outings that usually occur?  Our driver continued the silent approach by announcing that he was Miguel and did not speak anything but Spanish. After this, apart from ensuring that the air conditioning was ok, nothing was said in the whole of the three quarter of an hour journey to our Hotel.   
Despite the lack of social interaction, the journey was interesting as we were, upon leaving the airport, immediately immersed in the city. It was obviously dark, but there were a lot of people about and the traffic was brisk. Police cars wove in and out of the lanes of cars with great purpose and wailing sirens. I counted six lanes of traffic in the same direction at one point and then we turned off into dark narrow streets with pedestrians well represented as dark shadows moving along the side of the roads. Occasionally there was a light showing through the hessian drape of a roadside market stall or a group of people chatting on a corner.  
The hotel was serviceable but battle scarred with evidence of the ravages of the recent earthquake clearly showing on cracked plasterwork and holes in the ceiling at various points of the building. Our ‘wing’ looked as if it might break away from the rest of the building as it had a gash all the way around the entry into our corridor. Hey ho! (When we got to our room there was a useful notice about how to act in the event of an earthquake, giving the helpful first piece of advice of ‘Stay Calm’. Could be tricky on the the 4th floor or having breakfast on the 10th…….) Another, this time positive, excitement was that the clocks went back in Mexico as well as the UK on the 28th October. This was welcome news when we found out that breakfast was to be at 7.00 am ready for an early start…….
Our baggage was helpfully transported to the room by a young man who pointed out the fairly obvious bathroom and air conditioning and then proceeded to turn the television on – not to a programme but to a musical loop that incorporated Elvis Presley warbling about Acapulco……. fine on the first hearing. When we came to retire we found we had not noticed where he turned it on. There seemed to be no hand control. We eventually turned it off by standing on a chair and stabbing all around the device until we found the off switch. Silence. We adjourned to bed nearly 24 hours after leaving London. What a difference a day makes…….
Tomorrow Mexico City.  

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