Page 4 of Weir travels Travel Blog Posts

“No entiendo,” I smiled apologetically at the unshaven, be-vested skinny man in front of me. He looked at me blankly. “Momentito…” I had had an idea. I pulled out my Mexican Spanish phrasebook (originally acquired for a swine-’flu-kyboshed trip to that part of Central America two years’ earlier) and turned the pages looking for the “Accommodation” section. “Umm… ¿Puedo verla?” I looked up hopefully. “Si, si,” he replied (somewhat to my astonishment – he’d understood me!) and led me down the path. I peered into the room he pointed out, and finally understood what he’d been trying to tell me at the outset. Yes, they did have a room, but it hadn’t been cleaned yet. Then, rightly doubting my understanding of Spanish numbers, he pointed to a handwritten notice on the back of the door: this ... read more
the man behind it all, Augusto Sandino
looking towards Volcán Momotombo

Central America Caribbean » Nicaragua » Chontales January 25th 2011

Nicaragua: Sandinistas… Contras… civil war… Iran-gate… Reagan... For me, those would have been the limited word-associations for “Nicaragua” until only a few years’ ago if I’d really stretched my brain cells. I knew it was in Central America (give the girl a medal!), but, much more than that, and I would have been struggling. I didn’t even know which ocean or sea lapped at its shores. (In fact, it straddles the fragile little wiggle of land that separates the behemoths of North and South America, the Pacific coast being a surfers’ paradise, and the Caribbean side of the country remote and autonomous with little by way of infrastructure or common culture to link it to the political capital of Managua in the west; a dramatic range of volcanoes – Nicaragua’s share of the Pacific “ring of ... read more
caiman petroglyph
the Serranías Amerrique from Juigalpa
"where the rivers are made of milk, and the rocks of cheese"

Asia » India » Maharashtra » Mumbai October 26th 2010

This blog describes a particularly eventful night in Mumbai nearly eighteen months’ ago. I don’t usually blog about events so far in the past, but, in writing up this volume of my journal recently, I realised that it demonstrated so many of the contradictions and frustrations and fascinations of India that it might just entertain, despite its length… A couple of names have been changed to protect the innocent. The photographs are unrelated to the evening, but are included for decoration. Ten days earlier, on my way through Mumbai en route to southern Karnataka, I had met Anna, the cousin of a friend back home. She was working in Mumbai for an international fashion magazine that had newly launched in India (we’ll call it Fashionzine). We chatted over a delicious but sanitised Western salad lunch, and ... read more
the Gateway to India
the University of Mumbai
Jain Temple ceiling

Oceania » Australia » New South Wales » Tibooburra October 3rd 2010

“If anyone wants a killer, come and see me after,” called the compere as we waited for the first of the afternoon’s activities to begin. “Saves ’em being taken back to Dubbo. Get yourselves a killer,” he urged. My ears did a double-take, rewinding the last few seconds. And then remembered. Welcome to the bush. Where men are men, and sheep are afraid. Or, more accurately, in the mutton-bustin’ event we were about to watch, kids ride sheep and the sheep then head for the pot. Less “kill-ers” than “kill-ees”. I took a break from the events in the ring to wander over and top up our drinks. The motherly lady on the other side of the bar looked up with an all-enveloping smile as I approached. “How’re you goin’ today?” “Good, thanks. And you?” “Aaaw… ... read more
Sturt desert peas
a field of Darling peas
wild flowers near Cobar

Middle East » Lebanon » Baalbek June 1st 2010

“You would have kicked yourself had you not got to Baalbek (or I'd have kicked you!!),” promised Nick who lives in the Middle East. For anyone with any knowledge of Roman ruins and/or the Middle Eastern history, Baalbek is a must-see. For me, ignorant of Classical remains despite the best efforts of two Classicist parents, this was my first “real live Roman ruin” and, quite literally, it took my breath away. Relatively few man-made creations have that effect on me. The natural world, scenery and wildlife: yes; man’s efforts, generally no. Maybe it’s because the impact and scale of impressive scenery cannot be conveyed by even the best television cameras. Maybe it’s because our relatively higher exposure to the world’s great monuments makes them familiar long before we see them for ourselves: a film scene set ... read more
Baalbek's not that exciting...
roof detail of one of the circular exedra in the Great Courtyard
Baalbek's Propylaea

Middle East » Lebanon May 31st 2010

I tried very hard with Lebanon. I really did. And I’m not used to having to try at all: brand new territory for me mentally as well as geographically. But I never quite got there. And somehow that conclusion - reluctant as I have been since my return to voice it even to myself - makes me feel as if I failed. The history is mind-blowing, I’ll readily admit: from fossils millions of years old to the most incredible Stone Age, Greek, Roman, Phoenician, Arab and Crusader ruins, often all piled on top of each other like a giant four-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. The wine is delicious, the beer perfectly palatable, and I never quite managed to tire of hummus and tabbouleh. But something didn’t click for me. Maybe I never quite got over the traffic, and ... read more
the Corniche, Beirut
the well-shelled monument of the Place des Martyrs
the remains of the winter snow through the cedars

With A difference? With a HUGE difference, more like. Make that a multitude of differences. For starters, I was, with one exception, entirely without family or friends of more than a few days’ acquaintance. For another, I was in the Tropics. On a Caribbean island. In 24/7 five-star luxury. Oh, and I started the day with a yoga class. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Having reluctantly resigned myself to a summer of that nasty w-o-r-k stuff, by the end of April I was finding that it wasn’t all going quite to plan. Yes, I was lucky enough to have been taken on by a City firm’s innovative locum-lawyer programme, but the paperwork was dragging its heels and the initial apparent plethora of opportunities seemed to be drying up. So, when Kate mentioned over pizza and ... read more
no tee-ing off today
view from our room
caught with my mouth full

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Lincolnshire May 3rd 2010

The groundsman nodded at the pilot and made a rotating motion with his right arm, gesturing at the inner of the two propellers on the right wing. Slowly it began to turn. Whop…. whop... whop… whirr…. and the blades were suddenly a blur. He moved closer to the roped-off crowd and gestured likewise at the outer propeller. The pilot acknowledged, touching his forehead, an informal salute. Whop… whop… whop… whirr…. On the other side, the inner propeller seemed a little more reluctant. Whop… whop… whop… whop… pause… whop… whop… whop… Like a car engine on a chill morning, it seemed to reluctant to kick in. I could sympathise. It was knife-edge bitter in the northerly wind, notwithstanding the May sunshine. I already had my hood up, anchoring my cap in place, and was regretting I hadn’t ... read more
formation flying
"oooh what big wings you've got"
face on

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Varanasi April 3rd 2010

I returned to the UK in mid-February for a friend’s 40th, the penultimate snowfall of what had been, to all accounts, a dreadful winter, and the rueful acknowledgement that I should really be sensible and think about Doing Something to top up the “war chest” of my travel funds. But I’m a 1970 baby, and this is my generation’s year, so when I was reminded by a Delhi friend’s wife of my promise at his 39th last year to re-materialise in time for his 40th this year, it was a no-brainer. Happily, I postponed progressing the w-o-r-k thing for the time being, and hopped on a plane to Delhi for a week. With each trip I’ve made to India since I jettisoned the rat-race I have tried to explore another part of this vast, hypnotic, tantalising ... read more
view from my guest house window
my first sight of Ganga Ma
some protection against the dust, pollution and "aroma"

Oceania » Australia » New South Wales » Broken Hill February 9th 2010

After a week of uncharacteristic luxury in Fiji for a cousin’s wedding in mid-January - what I do in the name of representing my branch of the family! - I headed off to the distant reaches of western New South Wales to see how an erstwhile elephant scientist was adapting to life with marsupials for company. Sadly the elephants of Namibia’s Kaokoland had not weathered the global financial crisis well, and a lack of funding had driven the principal scientist to look for a “real job” back in his native Australia. Mind you, the “real job” he found involves running a research station in the middle of serious amounts of nowhere north of Broken Hill for the University of New South Wales - not exactly a nine-to-five desk job, and one in a landscape not dissimilar ... read more
grooming mum
dust storm and thunderstorm approaching

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