Ambulance/Fire truck/Bus rally from CA to Honduras for charity

In 2011, 30-something-year-old Murray Johnson and some friends reached out to CouchSurfers to join them driving two donated ambulances down to Honduras to give them to Honduran hospitals. Johnson recently posted: “The experience was so amazing and the donation so needed that we have made the Charity Rally official and opened it up for others to join! You can mix travel, adventure and charity all in one for a good cause. How it works: You form your own team or join a “potluck” team. Your team can be comprised of any number of people. (I am guessing it is best if all of our team members fit in your vehicle though, of course.) Each team secures its own car/ambulance/fire truck/buse/whatever and drive down. The rally organizers work with you to get the vehicle, secure the donation and do the paperwork to have the vehicle imported into Honduras — or wherever […]

Chetumal, Mexico for 2 nights

I arrived, with Jesse, in Chetumal around midnight. We took a taxi (50 pesos because it was late) to the hostel and were greeted by Mike, the Portuguese manager. It was late so sleep was the main agenda at that point. The next day turned out quite different than we’d planned. I needed money because my credit card had been rejected in Tulum when I bought my snorkel so I had to use pesos, and now I needed cab fare, food, and to pay the hostel. (I should have paid the latter on line.) i’d expected the money would just work out, but cash machines, banks, and friends to lend you a few bucks are not everywhere, and were not in Bakalar, I was told. Jesse was still tired and wasn’t into going to the city center so I was only own. Getting Money I found my way to as […]

Grand Cenote, Tulume

Today’s plan: travel from Playa del Carmen to Tulum. Enjoy the Grand Cenote. Travel on to Chetamal, a town at the southern boarder, close to Belize. I am making my way to Belize, Honduras, and the sailboat. I write this on my iPad’s built-in keyboard at 8:34pm on a dark bus from Tulum to Chetamal. For the 1st time on this trip, I am not alone as the only English speaker on the bus. Jessie, with whom I took the hour-long comfy Collectivo from Playa del Carmen to Tulum (40 pesos, but locals may have paid only 20) sits beside me, resting. (He will likely travel with me at least into Belize.) We left the Happy Gecko hostel/hotel around 11am. The plan was to leave around 10 but heck, we’re traveller’s and not tight on any schedule. I’d gone to bed around 1am and woken up for good at 9:30, […]

The boat I was heading to.

Last day in Playa: GET TO THAT BOAT!

…but what about the boat, that this was a dream opportunity for me, that I had been wishing for a boat to sail exactly this course and allow me to join the crew.

No, take it slow, there will be another boat, God will provide, he said. I said something about maybe not getting to Panama and then to Colombia if I don’t have this opportunity again — and suddenly something, clicked. Sailing, the San Blass Islands!?, he exclaimed. Yes, I replied. “GO!” he replied. “Get out of here, get down this coast, get to that boat!”

Passover Seder in Cancun

About 150 people attended this Seder. Hebrew may have been the most spoke languages there. The rabbi had quite a challenge being heard and keeping the attention of the large room. Very different from the last 19 Seders of my (well, my brother’s) ever-growing family. I missed the family and learning there but also loved being at this one. One woman is starting a Kibbutz between Playa and Cancun!

On bus from Cancun to Playa

It is 12:21 and I am on an ADO air conditioned bus now a few blocks from the terminal, en route to Playa del Carmen. This is the first time there are others from outside of Mexico, but the bus was nearly full when I boarded so I am not within speaking distance of any of them. The man beside me kept the aisle seat, keeping me from any conversation. So, again, I watch the roads and I write. Only this time I write on the iPad keyboard on my lap rather than with my thumbs on the iPhone. My hand-carry bag is my lap desk.

Loving the iPad

I received “my” iPad two days ago, late in the evening, setting it up and starting to use it until 2am when the lights went out for the night on the Mondo Jovan hostel rooftop. After 2 weeks of the tiny iPhone for web browsing, text composition and everything else that could be done, this large bright screen and touch-type keyboard is dream! I do not exactly lay my fingersdown and touch-type, but close. Sort of half-hand touch and half touch-peck supplement. The case, folded back, enables me to have the same angle I had on my Mac for years with the CoolPad under it. I do have errors. I miss the space bar. But this is more a true keyboard. No deleting when attempting an “m” or typing a “c”I rather than a space. I will see how auto correct works with me as time and non-Engliswords ds continue. […]

Bus from Izamal to Cancun

Again, I am the only foreigner on the bus. In fact, the only tourists I saw today were the same couple from the pyramid. Izamal is a day trip for most people and a destination at which to stay resort style with a rented car for others. I wish I had picked up a book to read. The iPhone is useless for reading without Internet. 5 hours with nothing to read. What a waste that is because for 20 years I have mourned having time to read. The bus arrived at 2;40. I zipped up the backpack straps and carried my pack onto the bus taking the first seat on the non-driver’s side so i can have leg room and a view. My pack is on the floor in front of the seat beside me. Space permitting and with a stop in Villadolid I am more comfortable having it on […]

Izamal Evening & Day

After helping me find a hotel, Rob Mosser kindly drove me around a bit to get my bearings then dropped me on town and drove off. I had a couple of Panuchos at a small shop where a couple from Belgium were having beer. They left shortly and I dined alone at the outdoor table. Stomach full, I walked the 5 blocks or so to the pyramid Kinich Kak Mo built for the Maya Sun God. I started climbing it from street level and found myself on a plateau. I walked around to see the view and to my surprise saw a pyramid not far away. I had only climbed the base, and walked part of it’s over 2 acres (700,000 cubic meters.) I still had the actual pyramid to view and climb. I read the pyramid is 10 levels high but didn’t count. It was getting dark and I […]

Merida to Izamal

I write now as I wait in Merida’s second bus station, not ADO but for Noresta the 2:30 Occidente bus to leave from gate 4. The ticket was 23 pesos for the 1 1/2 hour ride. The outside of this nice looking plush-appearing bus promises air-conditioning. Getting to the bus was a challenge it should not have been. I easily followed Daniel’s directions from his home to the local bus 5 blocks away. The driver of the mini-van sized bus even stopped and asked me if I was going to Centro. When the bus emptied and a passenger got in front, I tried to ask if he happened to pass the bus station to drop me closer. Instead, the men discussed the terminal’s location and gave me directions to walk there. Only the 5 blocks straight ahead turned out to be 5 blocks too many as I found out after […]

Living on tacos; waiting for seafood

Living on Tacos in Merida, Mexico. In Cancun lived on Tacos and all other ready-made hot food at Chechrui, the local supermarket. Loving it. I expected seafood though, with the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean Coast. It was disappointing to learn from my friend Dalila that fishing wasn’t permitted on the coast in and near Cancun. It was also exciting to learn that in Chetumal there is seafood! I met a really nice guy (another CouchSurfing guy, friend of my host) who is from there and filled me in on his favorite restaurant. I’ll be dining there and posting about it for sure.

Deb's great travel sarong

Double Duty Packing – Bring a Sarong 1

When living out of just one bag, every item matters

For years, I have had a large black and white sarong that remained in my dresser drawer. I am not a sarong type of gal. But while packing up my home of many years and giving away my stuff, I recognized the value of this large, thin, fabric garment.

Some of the many uses for a sarong

This light-weight garment plays several roles.


A few hours ago, sitting with my iPhone at the dining room table of my CouchSurfing host, I read an email from an LA writer friend (I know through — and I jumped up saying Yeah! I literally jumped for joy and exclaimed “I am so lucky!” Funny how I found myself saying “I am so lucky” today.

iPhone as my only tool

I have loved the iPhone since the day it came out. Compared to the Palm Treo 700 I’d had, it was part miracle and part dream. I love all that the iPhone can do — but when that iPhone became my ONLY communication tool I started to truly feel its limitations. I am a professional writer. I need to write articles, to pen this blog (which is something that cannot be done in actual pen). I need to compose text for client websites. And I WANT to be able to write to friends. That’s a lot of thumb tying. 1) My thumbs are getting sprained. Seriously, after two weeks of this they hurt. 2) I cannot keep up with the thoughts in my head so I am losing words and ideas. 3) I am sick of typing the letter c instead of a space, thus (no, not this!) composing gibberish. […]

Worked the entire day; just like being in LA

[As posted on facebook] Today I spent the entire afternoon, until past 11pm working and never got outside. Even spoke to cousin Lisa and friend Mario. It’s just like being at home in, except that I am on a Spanish keyboard so I cannot use punctuation well and I wake and go to bed in a hammock. And that the speaking is via Skype since I no longer have a phone. The no phone is a PIA but the hammock part is cool. I am traveling!

Life without email was hard

After I was robbed, I immediately changed passwords — and for my email, even changed the username. That was a mistake though, starting a chain reaction that left me unable to filter spam and to delete emails for about 6 days. I could’t find or notice real messages under the weight of the unwanted. It was hard to give up my landline and physical address. It was harder to give up my AT&T cell number as that was my last phone line. But to lose access to my email, limited to wi-fi as it was, really cut me off.  It was so great to get to my Merida CouchSurfing host, Daniel, and have a fellow Mac/iPhone geek to help me figure out the problem. I was great to not be alone in the problem. I am so happy to have my email back these past few days!

Merida mall for a/c & work

Today Daniel and I took a bus to his favorite mall. First Chinese food in the food court that tasted just like LA. Prices were similar too. Then we sat is a couple of comfortable chairs (my first in a long time) and had coffee at Starbucks as we used the Wi-Fi. Daniel was noticed by a fellow CouchSurfing host, Manuel. He gave me some good info about a developer I was interested in meeting. (Update on that: I didn’t get to call him. Also Manuel and I missed one another a couple of times in the next week.)

Laundry in Merida

As I write this, over half my clothing is drying in the breeze on a Merida rooftop. By the time I arrived at Daniel’s, it was absolutly time to do laundry. Hand washing garments and hanging them to dry in my Cancun hotel rooms was not successful as 3 days later the items were still damp and smelled rancid. This morning after the other 4 guests headed out on their way, I showered, did some sewing, then did my laundry. Daniel showed me how to use the washing machine. Using a bucket, we scooped water from the rooftop cistern to partly fill the machine. Adding the clothes and a bit of detergent, I turned the dial at the bottom to 13 minutes and watched the agitation. After 2 minutes it was clear that my clothing was very dirty. However I didn’t want to mess with the dial. Instead I let […]

Arrived in Merida

I arrived in Merida while it was still light. While on the bus I realized I had not written down Daniel’s address so I’d need Internet. That turned out to be a very pleasant surprise! In the bus station I asked a man for help asking for a McDonalds or such for Internet. The woman who worked there replied in excellent English that there is no need to Burger King or MD because the downtown was all Internet – gratis. And it was only 4 blocks down and 4 blocks to the left. I enjoyed the walk, buying a real Mexican ice cream pop (paleta) to eat as I walked. I got chocolate this time, but the fruit pops are the true prize in Mexico. (Good thing I had my bottle of water to wash my hand after. I was covered in drips on this dry hot and humid day.) […]

Valladolid on to Merida Mexico

March 22, 2014

After waking in Vallodolid (va ya doulid) at 8:30 having a light hot shower and a leisurely morning that included doing my fingernails putting on makeup and Andrew’s bracelets as well as putting my hair up, I did some email.

I need to decide what to do about my work and writing. Can I really write on an iPhone? Get an iPad? Buy a new Air? I vacillate between the flexibility a new Mac brings me and the freedom of not having one. I have not yet released my upset over losing my Mac. Backpackers do travel with computers. I think everyone, save for a couple had one at last nights hostel.

There is a stylish church anchoring one side of the square but it locked up just as I touched the door. I walked through the small park, stopping to take a panoramic shot of it from church, past the fountain, to some of the regular buildings that are the style of this town. The town is Colonial, I am told. The buildings are right angles, deep golds and reds that are old world and elegant, simple, solid, honest, unpretentious, attractive.

Into Valladolid & its hostels

After the solstice at Chichen Itzá I considered spending the night in the immediate town, a small village called Piste (Pee sta). I’d been told while watching the sun, of a big backpacker party in a park nearby and my tour guide had recommended staying in the village. I also thought I might walk back to the structures in the morning. I walked back to the tour bus with my friends of the day, then said so long and donned my pack once again. The village was just a few blocks walk. Passing the ADO busses, I asked around and got one lead on a hostel like place. Walking about a mile I failed to come to it. I met 2 hitch-hiking Spanish-speaking gals along the way, enjoyed the sandwich they offered, then saw them off. I gave up on staying in this town. No one knew of the park […]