Rudd On The Road
By Steve Rudd
Part Ten: Sun, Sand, Sea ... and a Man on a Mission.
In terms of beaches, visitors to Mexico genuinely are spoilt for choice. World-class stretches of sand are to be found on both The Pacific Coast and The Gulf of Mexico, with old favourites in the ridiculously commercialised forms of Acapulco and Cancun still managing to draw in huge crowds with ease.
However, some of the country's lesser-known beaches are now proving to be just as attractive to foreign tourists and travellers, with small yet infinitely charming places such as Melaque and Barra de Navidad - both of which languish just a short distance apart from one another on The Pacific Coast - pulling in punters like no tomorrow.
On the back of a night spent in Mexico's sprawling second city, Guadalajara, I hopped on a bus bound for Manzanillo, a six-hour ride in a rough south-westerly direction from the traffic-choked madness of Guad.
As always, it felt good to be on the move, not least because the scenery was stunning, Mexico once again dishing out surprise after surprise in terms of the types of landscape that grace the country. For starters, it's far more fertile, not to mention mountainous, than I ever dared imagine it could be.
I could have saved myself a lot of hassle if I'd had the foresight to ask where my bus was scheduled to judder to a no-nonsense halt; its final destination was Barra de Navidad, just a few kilometres shy of Melaque where I intended to stay.
As it was, I got off at Manzanillo, where I picked up a beat-up 'chicken bus' to transfer me the rest of the way up the coast.
Given that it was a local bus, it unsurprisingly kept stopping and starting like no man's business, with so-called 'bus-stops' haunting the coast road at annoyingly regular intervals. Thus, progress north was slower than a paralysed snail, but so long as we were moving forward I refused to complain.
I simply glued my eyes to the window, watching our wonderful world go by as hundreds of road-side vendors, selling everything from hot and spicy tacos to ice cold lollies, did all they could to off-load as much of whatever they had for sale to anybody who might have been within shouting distance.
Indeed, many of the vendors went so far as to temporarily jump on our already-cramped bus at many stops, bustling along the gangway at high-speed whilst relaying details of what they had to offer, tagging dirt cheap prices to their fevered product descriptions.
I eventually arrived into the stupendously sleepy town of Melaque just after four in the afternoon. As much as I wanted to indulge in 'the beach-life' for a few days, the main reason I'd dragged myself across to Melaque was to meet a fellow Yorkshireman.
However, because I was unsure about what time I was going to arrive, I'd not let him know my plans.
As luck had it though, he was kicking back in a cafe little more than fifty yards from the bus station.
'Hey Steve!' he called as I passed him by. Basking in a world of my own, I'd not clocked him hard at work on his laptop in the cafe entrance.
I'd not as yet met any other folk from Yorkshire during my time in Mexico and it was good to hear a familiar accent. It was even better that such an accent was dispensed by none other than former Hull resident Karl Bushy, the ex-paratrooper who is currently in the throes of walking home to England, having already walked from the tip of South America all the way up to Alaska - and then some.
Even if Karl had called it a day there, and hung up his boots in Fairbanks or Nome, he could still have been assured of his status as 'explorer extraordinaire.' But Karl never does things by halves. As a result, he then conspired to make history by crossing The Bering Straits, prior to rumbling into Russia and unfortunately falling foul of the country's legendary bureaucracy.
So why is Karl Bushby down in Mexico when he should be trekking across the wilds of Siberia you might wonder?
Well, he was in Melaque when I met him for a bundle of good reasons, one of which boiled down to the fact that he needs to wait for precisely the right 'time window' in the Russian winter, when conditions underfoot are at their most favourable in terms of them facilitating efficient forward motion, before he can push further into the country.
While he did initially encounter severe problems in obtaining the relevant authorisation which enabled him to penetrate Russia's boundaries, he is currently being 'awarded' three-month visas at a time.
Hence, once those three months are up, he has to leave the country in order to be able to renew his visa, an infuriating task which doesn't come cheap by any stretch of the imagination.
Karl is also currently seeking a new sponsor, something which is proving annoyingly difficult in today's global economic climate.
Karl and I wasted no time in discussing his many and varied adventures to date, with focus soon falling on the time he spent hacking his way through the notoriously dangerous Darien Gap, an experience which sounded to be exhilarating and terrifying in equal measure.
After a couple of hours of chatting, Karl helped me find a hotel for my three day stay in town, with the Hidalgo serving my needs perfectly. In light of the fact that it was at the tail-end of the high season, the kind proprietors seemed more than pleased to have my custom.
As soon as I was adequately settled in, we hooked up with some of the friends he's made while he's been in Melaque. Because of the town's size, the vast majority of people who we passed as we made our way to his friend's apartment acknowledged Karl. Then, once acquainted with his friends, we all swept into what was widely regarded to be the only place to hang out after dark in Melaque: Surfo's Bar.
Even for a Tuesday night it was fairly busy, the good times proceeding to roll long before our first shot of tequila threatened to knock us for six. I am rarely one for drinking spirits, so it was with a sore head that I fell into bed come one in the morning. Naturally, it was with an even sorer head that I awoke eight hours later. But that's another story entirely. Moreover, it's one that's likely to never be told.
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part Nine: A Perfect Demonstration of How to Protest. By Steve Rudd
Fans of folk who like to voice their opinions can't go wrong in Mexico. I mean, barely a day goes by without some demonstration or protest taking to the streets, and those in its favour tend to come out in such force that it's only a matter of time before the 'rally' passes you by.
You certainly don't need to make the effort to seek out such rallies
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road Part Eight: All Aboard 'The Nerve-Shredder' to Puebla! By Steve Rudd
I really couldn't blame the lady at the ticket counter for giving me such a puzzled look. After all, I had just asked for a ticket counter instead of a ticket.
I was at the main bus station in Oaxaca City, Mexico, intent on buying a ticket north to Puebla. Having clocked numerous signs emblazoned with the world Taquiller, I wrongly assumed that such a word was the Spanish for Tickets. In truth,
Places to Visit - Cusco, Peru - La Ultima Cena Con Cuy By Ruth
The flight from Puerto Maldonado was uneventful. The flight attendant served coca tea, Inca Cola, and Cusqueno beer to interested passengers. The city of Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire, sits in the Andes Mountains. The elevation is roughly 11,000 feet. The updrafts buffeted the plane a bit during landing.
At the airport, old women peddling bags of coca leaves crowded towards the passengers.
Places to Visit - Rudd On The Road - Catching up with Steve Rudd as he hits America in style ... Part 1 By Steve Rudd
The flight from London to LA was a long haul to say the least, yet it was made more tolerable by the company. I'd barely got settled when the guy beside me introduced himself as Jim Becket, a film director and documentary producer who lived in a place called Ojai, a little north of Los Angeles. He'd just returned from working in Athens where he'd sold the rights of his latest documentary to
Places to Visit - Playing Chicken In Turkey Part 1 By Steve Rudd
It wasn't the best welcome to Turkey. It was the dead of night, we'd just crossed the border, yet there I was, beside a Mancunian called Liam, being frog marched back to the tiny hut that issued visas. Upon crossing the border, us English lads had been issued the correct visa, but the official had inexplicably neglected to stamp the visas with our entry date.
Places to Visit - Roaming Around Romania By Steve Rudd
I was worried. It was four a.m., I was on a train bound for Bucharest, and somebody was tugging at my bed sheets from below. Coming around from a bout of deep sleep, I urged my weary eyes to focus. They were having none of it though, refusing point blank to reveal the person before me.
'Is there a problem?' I asked, hoping that a response might bowl my way in English.
Places to Visit - Gibraltar and La Linea, Spain By Mo
Recently I went on a week long trip to Gibraltar and La LÍnea, Spain staying with my mum and dad in their La Linea flat. My twin sister and her boyfriend were also at the flat on holiday for a week and had rented a small car booked online for only 60 quid for the week. I think that included car insurance too so a pretty good deal.
They all met me at Gibraltar airport and we walked across the border with Spain
Places to Visit - The London, Bath and Bristol Chronicles By Steve Rudd
I knew I should have taken the train. Being stuck behind a combine harvester is never fun in a car. In a coach, it's murder. The battalion of towering power-line supports that stoically marched across the dead level Lincolnshire landscape didn't help. From their indifferent vantage point, they simply taunted.
'Technology is overtaking everything,' said the woman in front, Read more...
Places to Visit - Kate Langan's Travel Journal - Thailand
Tonight we ate at a Thai Taverna, there was a baby elephant going by so Becky took my photo. We are staying in Phuket also as we have found a really nice basic room that's really cheap. It's clean and got 4 stone walls - not like the wood hut! I loved the wood hut but was bitten to death by the mozzies. No mozzies here - yey! And I'm not a huge fan of the cockroaches!
Places to Visit - The Three Peaks Of Yorkshire Challenge 10th June 2006 By Steve Rudd
'Good morning gentlemen - rise and shine!' As I slowly came to my senses I couldn't
help but glance at my watch. I'd been warned the previous night that we would be
woken up at 4:15am sharp, and barely a second later.
Unfortunately, that really was the case, and as exhausted as I was, there
was a mammoth 25 mile walk ahead...
It's a shame that I'd only managed
Places to Visit - A Weekend in Amsterdam By Dave F
Amsterdam is a city of freedom which instantly appeals on a lot of levels.
What's the point of a holiday if you don't have the freedom to go and do what you want, when you want?
If, like me, you want to wander aimlessly from coffee shop to coffee shop getting as
stoned as humanly possible whilst ogling half-naked women through dirty windows
and snacking heavily along the way,
Places to Visit - Christmas in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka By Dave F
I hate Christmas for too many reasons to mention and the chance to get away from it
all this year it was an opportunity too good to pass up. Knowing someone with a
house in Sri Lanka which stands empty for 9 months every year definitely has its benefits.
I'm travelling with a mate and his daughter who've been here several times before
so I get some insight
Places to Visit - Skiing In Bulgaria - Part Two By Steve Rudd
Giant Christmas trees loomed as far as the eye could see below, as I marvelled
at the extraordinary engineering it must take to make a gondola a reality.
After the thirty-minute ride to the top we were immediately greeted by a
stunning panorama of the surrounding countryside which was beautiful beyond words.
So pristine and so serene.
Well, serene if you can discount the
Places to Visit - Skiing In Bulgaria - Part One By Steve Rudd
I could have thought of worst places to be, seeing in the New Year, as the last
second of 2005 ticked over into 2006. Happy New Year indeed.
For the best part of the past ten years myself and my friends have contented
ourselves with heading into the town centre of Driffield every December 31st
for one of the few nights of the year when it genuinely hustles and bustles.
Places to Visit - Walking The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path - Part One By Steve Rudd
Get out of the city and into the country, sooner rather than later.
A great many people genuinely have no idea how scenically diverse and breathtaking some
swathes of countryside are in the UK, and such a fact is a great shame,
because while they might be spending all their spare time in dirty and cramped
urban environments, there's often fresh air and inspirational
Places to Visit - Thailand By Rich Mills
Expressing the experience of being here in Thailand is difficult to put into words.
The sensorial experience is so mind blowing that you begin to feel overloaded.
However it is the smallest of things that grab your attention, and stick in the mind.
We are waiting for a taxi to take us down to the ferry, so that we can go
over to the small island of Koh Maak.
This is where we will get the full
Places to Visit - Ostend Weekend By John Allbones
I needed a break. Well, you just do sometimes don't you?
The constant day to day drudge of the nine to five erodes your spirit until a
change of scene is all you crave. Nothing fancy, just a few days will do.
Preferably abroad, it just seems more of a break when you're on foreign soil.
I managed to grab a late deal on a long weekend in Ostend.
So desperate was I to get away,
Places to Visit - Eight Feet and Two Weeks On Crete Part 2 by Steve Rudd
One of the best ways of exploring the huge island of Crete is by car: in your own time, at
your own speed and in your own style.
Without the stress and cost of embarking on guided tours.
Head into any of Crete's major cities such as
Hania, Rethymno or Iraklion and you'll be bombarded by rent-a-vehicle establishments, all
of which are fiercely trying to