11th August, 2017

Oxygen, oh how I love you. At last we are at sea level in a place called Playa Del Carmen in Mexico; our gateway to Cuba. It is impossible to go to Cuba from the US as a tourist because of an incident nearly 50 years ago. Although it seems, in the Bay of Pigs affair, that the other party has been completely exonerated (welcome home Russia, and why not have a seat in the oval office too…).

And on to Colorado we go; the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Majestic mountains, pristine rivers and as green as Ireland. Yet, in some places, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in the Northern Territory. Gorges (often called gulches) a thousand feet high, red and ragged as the Alice. Hundreds of national parks (thank you Teddy Roosevelt) and thousands of campers, hikers and bikers all enjoying this beautiful state.

The Native American culture here is particularly fascinating and diverse. Near Colorado Springs is the remnants of Hillside cave dwellings of the Pueblo Indians that are three stories deep. Like our indigenous people, they were pretty smart to survive thousands of years in such hostile conditions.

As beautiful as the country is, my favourite thing to do is having chat to people, finding out what they do and how they think. And the best place I find to do that is in little country towns. So we get off the main roads and meander. The trade-, though, is some very budget accommodation. Mostly cleanish, but the people you meet are worth it (and they are as interested in us as we are in them). For many of the people we meet at the accommodation we stay in, these places are their permanent homes. Tough when you have kids and there is only a microwave and a small fridge. Seems “trickle down’ economics doesn’t trickle down far enough.

And on to Santa Fe, capital of New Mexico. I was thinking this would be desert country, how wrong I was. The city is stunning; full of adobe buildings sitting no more than three stories high. You could be in the Middle East, Yemen or Jordan. The city of art and culture, with either the bleeding heart of Jesus or a Madonna and child on every corner. The city is laid out like many Spanish towns – houses and shops around a square called the plaza.  We loved it so much we decided to stay 4 days. Under the huge verandahs surrounding the plazas sit Native Americans selling their hand painted trinkets, woolen rugs and jewellery (incredibly expensive). Hundreds of art galleries too, definitely catering to the tourist. The food, for a change, was fabulous and more to our palate than the typical American stuff. I’ve written before about the food here and, suffice it to say, it hasn’t changed.  And I really miss our coffee.

Albuquerque is only an hour way. This is the country of Breaking Bad, so I’ve got my eyes peeled for face and neck tattoos ‘cos those hombres are definitely up to no good. Alas, the only thing I saw was a carwash that featured in the series. Pretty town too, particularly the old town that has been here since the early 1500’s when the Spanish arrived. Amazing.

I’ve been keeping up with the Australian news with this internet thing….so what’s with politicians trying to stop gay people marrying? Religion and individuals thinking they know the will of God is rife all over the world. None more than here. Every 3rd radio station is touting the benefits of sending money to their own churches to save their souls. And wouldn’t you know it, the more money you send, the greater your saving it seems. Yep, knowing the mind of God has been used to subjugate women, keep slaves, incite terrorism, and hate those who think differently than you. Enough.

Speaking of news, we may be lucky to be heading to Cuba as ‘my hands are bigger than yours’ Trump and Kim Jong Un (AKA The Dim Sim) will surely be too busy rattling their sabres and threatening nuclear strikes to worry about little ol’ Cuba.

The next 4 days will be lovely – we even have ourselves a pool. On Saturday, we are off to Cuba on an airline that no-one has ever heard of. I have it on good authority that the pilots have very spiffy uniforms with lots of brass buttons and gold tassles, always a positive sign of greatness. So I’m thinking lots of chickens on board – that makes me feel so secure. Only an hour and a bit flight.

I don’t know how good the internet will be there, or even if they have it. But hey, they’ve got 100% literacy and that’s a wonderful thing

Looking forward to a cigar or two and I’ll definitely be up for some salsa dancing now I’ve had my altitude training.

Talk later.

Photo’s attached are:

  • Ray playing a piano in the mall in Denver (such a great vibe in this city)
  • Street view of a pretty little western town in Colorado
  • A shop front in Albuquerque
  • A typical Santa Fe building
  • Hill dwellings