Monday, 6 February 2017

And finally, Tepoztlan, Mexico – Days 137 to 145

Jackie at our usual market stall, run by a very friendly couple
We honestly, really, truly are going to start travelling through Central America again, this time we really, really are. We left our housesitting assignment for Louise here in Tepoztlan on 22nd January, but after only 6 days away in Central Mexico we returned for a final 11 days to allow Louise to take a trip to Ecuador to see her friends and to check out houses to decide if she wants to move there or not. 

She returns here tomorrow, Tuesday 7th February at the early hour of 7:00am and we leave here for the last time at around 11:30, to take a bus into Mexico City and then a flight to Cancun in the Yucatan peninsular to start a very busy three months of travelling, culminating in a 15 days cruise from Puerto Limon in Costa Rica to Lisbon in Portugal, followed by a flight back to the UK.

The dogs allow us to do daft things with them without complaining
Finding house and pet sitting as a way of travelling the world has been a revelation to us and a way of punctuating what sometimes seems to be the relentless pressure of planning where to go next, where we are going to stay, how we are going to get there, deciding if it be safe, what there is to see or do when we get there, packing, unpacking and organising the getting to bus stations, train stations or airports, often by communicating in a language we have either limited or no understanding.

Not only do we have the pleasure of looking after other people’s pets, but we stay in often lovely houses in places that are situated in interesting locations. By ‘interesting’ that doesn’t mean ‘touristy’ or places where there are many things to do, sometimes they are in what for locals may be ‘ordinary’ and reflect the way people in that particular region live out their everyday lives. That for us is the key as it allows us to get ‘under the skin’ of the area and experience the local culture, food, shops and markets and see a whole different way of life that we just don’t see as plain tourists staying in hotels or hostels. We had to shake hands with the greengrocer and wife at the stall we’ve used most in the market, after our last purchases. It seems quite normal here to buy one or two sticks of celery at a time, useful that. With pets to look after it also takes the pressure of feeling we need to be out and about seeing and doing things. A dog or a cat to stroke or parrots, chickens, goats, peacocks, rabbits or whatever we are caring for gives a reason to relax, stop, read a book, chill out and regroup our thoughts and plans. Sometimes there are interesting things to do locally, sometimes not and sometimes the pets we are caring for cannot be left unattended for long, so it varies as to what we can/want to do when in a particular location and that adds to the interest for us. The additional benefit for us is our low running costs while housesitting as we only have to buy our food. In Mexico for example we have spent an average of less than £10 per day (US$12) whilst here. It’s true we haven’t really been anywhere, but there are lots of surrounding mountains that we’ve hiked into, so we don’t feel deprived and we have eaten and drunk very well.

Some of the things we see in the town. That leaning post is carrying overhead power cables
So here we are on the last day of our longest housesit so far (technically two housesits). We arrived here on 9th December and will leave tomorrow on 7th February which, other than leaving for 6 days between owner Louise arriving back from her Christmas break in Ireland and going off again to Ecuador, is almost 2 months. We almost feel like locals and having got to know the three dogs, Maty, Luna and Cookie so well we are really going to miss them.

And here's another one close to the house. See that elecrtricity post on the left?
It’ll be the little things, like the huge greeting we get when we return after going shopping for an hour, anyone would think we’d been away all day. They bark, cry and gather at the glass sliding entrance door, their whole bodies wagging and all rush out together as the door opens to give us the biggest welcome. Any shopping has to be put aside while we accept licks, jumping up and excited leaping and running around. We’ll miss being a bed for them to lie on, not being able to move or turn the page of a book as that arm is being used to support a head. Any beds we subsequently stay in will seem huge without at least two and often three dogs sharing it with us and a whole pillow to myself, wow! I’ll miss turning over and being face to face with little Maty dog who has decided half of my pillow and half of Jackie’s is her bed. She does have ‘dog breath’ which has woken me up when I’ve turned over on occasions and I’ve opened my eyes to see her eyes very close to mine looking straight at me. They have just great little personalities and, after nearly two months we’ve got very used to each other and it’s going to be very different, it’s quite sad to be going. Whether we will ever see them again we don’t know and that adds to the sadness, we’ll miss their daft little dogs ways, we’ve got used to them and life here. Getting followed from living to bed rooms and back every time I wander about in the morning. They are quite happy with Brian, but they are definitely a ladies dogs which makes me feel very special.

Daytime in the lounge. No space for us then!
But they know the daily routine, awake at 7:00am, they are let out for wees and poos in the garden (we’ll clean that up later), coffee on, give Luna her thyroid pill hidden in dog food, dog treats for the others, back to bed for an hour with coffee and to catch up with emails and a read, with them on the bed again. 3:00pm they are fidgeting for their walk, same route every day, past ‘dog man’, he’s the old guy usually sitting on his step outside his house, who’s dog gave birth to 10 puppies a few weeks back. Always has a wave and we have a sort of chat in Spanish, understanding about 30% of what he says, but we recognise he wants us to come back without the dogs to feed the puppies upstairs on his roof patio (we’ll try and do that later and hopefully put some photos at the end of this entry). On a few more yards past ‘chicken man’, a really nice guy who used to be a construction worker he told us, but can’t any more after hurting his back. We’ve bought some very tasty, hand reared chickens from him and we always have a chat in Spanglish (he has a few English words). Back at the house the dogs know when it’s G&T time, around 5:30pm as that’s when we go out into the garden with our drinks and crisps to watch the sun go down over the town and then around 8:00pm it’s Luna’s second thyroid pill and dog treats and then we all gather on the bed to watch a film on the laptop, using Louise’s Netfix subscription. All very homely!

Teddy gets a bath and is left outside in the sun to dry (by the way, it's Jackies!)
We’ve even got used to the spiders and scorpions, we leave them alone and they leave us alone. We go into the garage every day to get the dogs leads, walking past the webs and black widow spiders not more than half a meter away, I saw another scorpion on the bathroom wall again one night and left it there, but I did have to take action an hour ago when Jackie moved one of the dogs beds to mop the floor and a scorpion ran out and quickly along the lounge floor towards safety under the sofa. It was dispatched with my shoe!

As from tomorrow night it’ll be back to finding our bearings in a new location, finding where the best place is to eat, where the busses go from and at what time etc, etc, very different, but I’m sure we’ll quickly get back into it. However, let’s face it, the Yucatan peninsular, Cancun and the blue Caribbean Sea will be a pretty good substitute so it’s not all bad. Add to that, we’ve arranged another housesit in Antigua, Guatemala with three cats for a week in mid-March, and all as we pass through on our way to Nicaragua and Costa Rica, so we’re very happy people!

Luna in the smallest bed meant for little Maty
One advantage of staying here for so long is that we’ve properly planned our onward trip for the first time in our four years of travelling. After Jackie convinced me of the advantages of taking a 16 day relocation cruise back to Europe and finishing our trip in May rather than the original September I had planned, we needed some pretty good planning to see all we wanted to. To fit it in without running ourselves ragged and spending more money than we wanted we decided to restrict our travels to Central America only and leave the rest of South America to a future trip. Even so, three months for Central America is pretty tight and we can’t see everything we wanted to, but our plan takes in 90% of all we wanted to see, hopefully keeping to a manageable pace with some relaxation stops in between.

Also used by middle sized Cookie
We decided to leave Honduras and El Salvador out of our itinerary as we balancing the sights to see against the safety risk were not worth it. El Salvador at nearly 100 murders per 100,000 people now has the highest murder rate outside a war zone, only just surpassing Honduras and its industrial city of San Pedro de Sula’s of 66 per 100,000. As most bus services in Honduras use San Pedro de Sula and the capital Tegucigalpa (almost as bad for crime) as the centre of its network it’s almost impossible to avoid these dangerous places, so instead we’re taking a flight over them to visit Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama and missing them altogether. Guatemala and Nicaragua also feature quite high on the crime rates and we are going to visit these countries as there are some fabulous things to see in them, so we’ll just have to be careful and hope that luck is on our side!

Maty looks on in a much more relaxed pose!
I’ve put our plan showing where we intend to be on specific dates onto the tab on our blog ‘Click here to check out our current trip: South and Central America’. If you click on it a new tab opens keeping this one open so you can tab between them easily.

So that’s about it from Tepoztlan, there will probably be more frequent entries after this as life will happen much quicker for us while we’re travelling, so see you again soon!
This is 'Dog Man' sitting outside his house as we went past
And this is his dog with 5 of her puppies up on his roof terrace

They are soooo cute, but the fact remains is that 'dog man' has no money, so whats going to happen to these adorable puppies? Out on the streets with so many others? It's very sad

They come to us readily

And he's not got a bad view from up here. Perhaps he should convert it to a rooftop cafe. But he'd have to employ someone to run up and down as he struggles to walk

Down there under that umbrella is 'Chicken Man'. He has a dog that we all think must be the father...

And there he is, our very jolly 'Chicken Man' selling his wares. And there's his dog, do you think the puppies look a bit like him?

He's a bit of a smooth dancer as well. We saw him at the street after Christmas party and he was getting all the ladies up onto the dancefloor (actually, the road!) and looked very cool in his hat and leather waistcoat.

We're all of the opinion he's the father, he's a lovely placid dog that enjoys a stroke

1 comment:

  1. Happy onward travelling. This post has such a relaxed feel about it. I can tell you have really enjoyed living in Louise's house with the dogglets. Sounds like you have a lots ahead of you, but with 4 months left to fill I reckon you should do it! A cruise at the end eh? Didn't think you were old enough yet for the floating care home! Hee, hee!
    Take care, lots of love from us three. Xxxx