“That’s Life” in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Long-time /regular readers of this blog will know that I put editions out now a lot less frequently than I once did. In fact one might say that when the build of our house here on Ambergris Caye was taking place I was quite prolific. Some days I put two editions out !

With the completion of the build (and maybe the fact that I’m a couple more years older) I’ve slowed down considerably. When I started the blog I was, perhaps, somewhat like the hare. Now ? Decidedly more like the tortoise!

I now tend to put out an edition or two when Rose and I take a trip away from the island but even that doesn’t always whet the creative juices (creative juices ! Who do I think I’m kidding ?) .

We went to Nashville (yep, there again ) a few weeks ago and when we got back I fully intended to ‘knock out ‘ an edition or two but I never quite got around to it . Until now !

So what brought about this seismic change (well it’s seismic in my little world ) you’re wondering. You are, aren’t you ?

Well, two things actually but I’ll get to them in more detail eventually. .

Just before we departed for our trip we noticed that Ziggy ( if you’re a first time reader , Ziggy is the four legged, furry member of our family) had a little spot on his nose.

We thought no more about the spot, packed our suitcases, dropped Ziggy off at his chosen holiday hotel, Pampered Paws and made our way to Nashville. Yee-haw (did I really just type that ????).

We only spent six nights there but managed to cram in quite a lot . We ‘hit’ loads of music bars

and we did some shopping (when you are away from the island you just HAVE TO ) .

We ate at some nice restaurants .

We found, and frequented, a British themed pub.

And we got to see Patrick Mahomes live when we went to watch the Tennessee Titans play the Kansas City Chiefs .

The Nissan Stadium (home of the ‘Titans) in the background.

Found our seats.

Game on.

Billy Ray Cyrus proving the half-time entertainment.

Game over. Victory for the ‘Titans following an intentional grounding by the ‘Chiefs (see how effortlessly the terminology rolls off my keypad ) .

I felt sorry for the ‘Chiefs’ fans. We’d seen and spoke to a good number of them during the days leading up to the game. They’d virtually ‘taken over’ Downtown Nashville which became a sea of red.

All too soon our six night stay in Nashville was over and it was time to head home. We are luckier than most though so it’s never a major disappointment when a holiday (vacation for non-UK readers ) ends and we have to head home.

Our joy of returning to Ambergris Caye was brought to sudden jolt when we collected Ziggy. The little spot was a discoloured bump .

The next morning after breakfast at Estel’s Dine By the Sea (is there anywhere else !) I ‘phoned the San Pedro Animal Hospital to find out if the new Veterinarian Surgeon had joined the practice. She had, so I booked an appointment for the next day for Ziggy to be examined by Doctor Amber Hinson. ‘Tomorrow’ couldn’t come soon enough for Rose and I .

Ziggy seemed edgier than normal when we entered the waiting room. He is always somewhat restless when we go to the Hospital. I suppose because his visits invariably result in an injection eg vaccination time, teeth cleaning, etc But this time he seemed more anxious.

A quick examination by the Doctor and unfortunately we got the news we didn’t want. Ziggy had a tumour and for him to have a chance of survival he needed surgery. So we booked him in for three days later. And while he was in there we were going to have the lipoma on his leg removed. It had been irritating him for some while and he was constantly chewing his leg .

He was there all day and when we collected him he looked pretty beaten up.

The patient resting .

We then had a very anxious eight days during which we researched veterinary chemotherapy clinics in Houston whilst we waited for the results of the biopsy. When the call came from Doctor Amber I answered it with trepidation. She obviously sensed this and virtually immediately stated ” We’ve got the results. It’s benign “.

The second really nice thing (remember all that time ago I mentioned that two things occurred that encouraged me to write this edition ) that happened to me took place a few days before we got the result of the biopsy.

I arrived at Estel’s expecting to see my normal sight.

No, not that, but this .

MY table awaiting me.

The reserved sign was on the table but there was someone sitting there at MY table with a mug of coffee in front of him . I was about to sit at an adjacent table when the guy got up. “John ?” he exclaimed . “Yes”, I replied. “Hi, I’m Anton from Toronto, I’ve been reading your blog for years. You’re the reason I’m here now”. Whilst he was saying all of this he was picking up his mug, milk, spoon and serviette from the table, My table that is.

He then walked to the table I was about to sit down at and placed the mug, etc on it. “Please take your table ” he said. So I did. Normality resumed !

We spent some time talking and most of the conversation centered around Anton’s visit and his plans to acquire land and build on it. Anton eventually bade me goodbye and he went on his way. I eventually ordered (I don’t really need to order it, they know what I want) my breakfast and ate it. I got a really nice surprise, however, when I went to pay. ” No need “, said Sam, “The gentleman you were talking to paid “.

Anton did the same thing a few days later. Thank you Anton.

Last week we had Ziggy’s stitches removed.

Healing very nicely.

And the scar on the nose is barely discernible.

Well now you know what the catalysts were to ‘encourage’ me to write this edition.

That’s life in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

The headline for this eagerly awaited edition (smell the coffee John, no one has missed you ) is based upon the single released in 1966 by Frank Sinatra which reached number 44 on the UK Singles Chart and number 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Under Pressure “ in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

With out trip to Buenos Aries, Argentina and Montevideo,Uruguay nearing its conclusion we still had a few more things to do from my list.

I obviously (what true football fan – and I mean FOOTBALL – wouldn’t ) wanted to visit the Estadio Alberto J. Armando, otherwise known as La Bombonera . And Rose did too, which helped !

But first we spent a little time wandering around Caminito the area where the Italian immigrants lived when they first moved to Buenos Aries.

Have your photo taken with the dogs and make a donation to the local dog shelter!

Bored watching the tango ? Watch a grill master at work instead.

And a pair of doors that have seen much better days.

The aroma eventually got to us. Our resolve weakened. And then it just disappeared. We just had to have a choripán (a sausage sandwich, if you must know ).

Caminito is the area in which La Bombonera is located so we didn’t have far to walk although it took a little while to get there because we met celebrities on the way.

With the greatest talent in the world at one time (in my opinion ) Juan Román Riquelme .

And the current little Maestro.

No, not me, I mean Messi !

“Oh please Mr Messi can I have your autograph?”.

And then we saw it, La Bombonera.

So we joined the queue (they do love a queue in Argentina)paid the entrance fee, got our wristband

and waited for the tour to start.

And we’re off.

In the words of Marquinhos (he plays for Paris Saint Germain and Brazil) “You can’t play, it’s a pressure cooker “. When you walk around the place and soak up the atmosphere and see the signs and trophies you just know that opposing teams know that they are going to be under pressure.

The Away team changing room

The Maradona Wall.

Statue of Maradona.

For our final night I had planned ahead and made a reservation at a restaurant I’d come across when researching our trip, Crizia had received rave reviews . And we found out why. The food was good, very good.

We chose oysters to start

followed by

Pappardelle and scallops for Rose and

Patagonian braised lamb for me.

I still had a little room so I followed up with

Rose did though find room for these – yes, both of them!

One down,one to go.

And she’s done it.

The next day after a little walk around and a couple of

it was time to take our taxi ride to the airport .

Goodbye Buenos Aires. Thank you for a great time.

The headline for this edition, the last one in the series , is based upon the single released in 1989 by Queen which reached number 1 on the UK Singles Chart and number 29 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

“My List” in Buenos Aries, Argentina.

Those of you that have been reading this series of blogs about the visit Rose and I recently made to Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo,Uruguay have probably surmised that there are lots of things to do. So much so that you wonder if you can fit them all in. We didn’t but we came very close.

Obviously we had Café Tortoni on our list and knew that it would be popular but we didn’t expect to see this

when we got there. But hey, we joined the queue and in just over thirty minutes we were at our table.

While I was checking the menu out Rose did a bit of exploring (or more impolitely described as snooping ) and ‘found’ herself in a room adjoining the restaurant! She just happened to have her iPhone with her.

But back to the restaurant. I chose toasted pita bread with ham and cheese.

Washed down with a pint of Quilmes.

Café Tortoni, Argentina’s equivalent of London’s Hotel Café Royal .

I’m the one in the tan jacket.

Rose is the pretty one !

Next was a little walk around a supermarket. This is always on my list !

Loads of virtually ready to eat stuff.

Look at the prices. US$ 1 = 42 Argentina Pesos . The steak above at just below US$ 6!

Next on my list (and Rose’s for that matter) was a night of tango. Watching it, not doing it. Bad foot and all that!

I researched online but didn’t find anything that convinced me I should book so in the end we asked Ignur, the hotel’s Concierge. La Ventana she said. So we asked her to book for us . She did. And we went. It was fantastic.

A really, really good mojito . Nearly as good as when in Cuba. Or when Ernie (he of Carlo & Ernie’s Runway Bar fame – now that should get me a free drink. Or three !) makes one.

Considering the number of people to serve it wasn’t a bad menu.

And the food

And to ‘”wash it down” a half bottle of wine each.

With the plates cleared away we just had time for a photo

before the show began .

A really entertaining show and at US$ 100 each it is great value .

The headline for this edition, the penultimate one in this series , is based on the single released in 2002 by Toby Keith which reached number 1 on US Hot Country Songs and Number 26 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

“A Kind of Magic “ in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

After the previous day’s Brush with the ‘wild’ we elected to go for a more sedate almost ethereal day. And we started off by visiting the Museo de Arte Latinamericano .

We obviously weren’t alone in thinking this would be an interesting way to spend some time because when we got there we were ‘greeted’ by a long queue.

Being British I’m used to queuing (it’s a ‘skill’ , just like riding a bike, that you apparently never lose) so we stood in line and shuffled forward every five or so minutes.

We shuffled along for quite awhile but eventually got to the ticket desk, paid the entrance fee and put my backpack in storage. We were ready to go!

And then the ‘star’ of the exhibition, a Frida Kahlo self-portrait .

And one by her husband, Diego Rivera .

We then took the escalator

up to the Leandro Erlich exhibition. You see this guy’s ‘stuff’ and your mouth drops open. It’s a kind of magic !

The famous Swimming Pool.

So we ‘jumped in’ too.

And how about these for selfies ?

Continuing in the arty vein our next stop was Teatro Cólon .

Very grand exterior but the interior took it to another level .

A mosaic floor that took twenty years to complete. And Rose thinks I’m slow !

Cupid whispering a secret to his mother Venus in the Salon de Bustos (Hall of Busts).

Franz Liszt.

And then in to the theater.

Behind the grating widows would watch and listen to performances during their mourning period.

For the evening I’d tried to book a reservation online for a table for two for dinner at the highly recommended Don Julio . I was unsuccessful instead I was requested to just “turn up at the restaurant”. So around 19.00 hours that evening that is exactly what Rose and I did. Only to be advised that there was a three hour wait for a table! I knew it was popular but …

So we walked down the road for a few minutes and found La Choza de Gasgon

which was very busy too but we managed to grab two seats at the bar from where we were able to see our dinner being cooked.

A perfect end to a magical day .

The headline for this edition is based on the single released in 1986 by Queen which reached number 3 on the UK Singles Chart and number 42 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Rose Garden “ in Buenos Aries, Argentina.

After our little excursion to Montevideo, Uruguay we had a refreshing night’s sleep back out our hotel in Buenos Aires and following breakfast were ready to pound the streets. On this day we were going back to nature !

But before that I have to own up that I forgot to mention that when we were in Montevideo Rose met Carlos Gardel (he of tango fame ) .

A bit too familiar if you ask me.

Anyway, back to Buenos Aires and our first stop was Jardín Botánico Carlos Thays .

Next stop was Ecoparque

A lovely setting but what was really neat was to see the animals wandering around freely.

The Patagonian Mara .

Next stop was Paseo El Rosedal (Rose Garden ).

And then we saw it. The roses were being pruned in readiness for Spring.

Rose turned and looked at me dejectedly. I looked at her and said (you know what’s coming ,don’t you ) “Oh come on Rose, I never promised you a rose garden ” (probably my worst link ever – you decide).

Before we left the garden we did manage to see a few roses I’m pleased to say. Nothing like they would be in the Spring and Summer but …

Free hot water for the mate drinkers.

Our walk was brought to a sudden halt when the rain came tumbling down. We managed though to find a dry haven !

Well nearly dry.

Two pints of Quilmes , an indigenous beer, on a promotional day. US$ 2.50 for them both !

This scintillating series continues with our further adventures in Buenos Aires. I’m getting excited just thinking about it !

The headline for this edition is based on the single released in 1970 by Lynn Anderson which reached number 3 on both the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100.

“Red Red Wine” in Montevideo ,Uruguay.

In the last few editions I’ve blathered on about making a trip from Buenos Aires to Montevideo, Uruguay. Well in this edition “we” do get to go!

As I’ve already told you, when I made arrangements for our accommodation in Buenos Aires I also booked our stay at the Crystal Tower Hotel in Montevideo .

Now we were in Argentina all I had to decide with Rose was what route we would take to get there and we had three options that I was aware of :

  • We could fly there (45 minute flight time) from either of Buenos Aires’ airports for between US$ 215 to 260 return per person . The available flight times remains were not particularly good though.
  • We could take the Buquebus direct ferry (2 hours and 30 minutes crossing time) for around US$ 575 return per person or
  • Take the Colonia Express ferry to Colonia and by coach to Montevideo (total journey time of 4 hours and 45 minutes) for US$ 93 return per person.
  • We elected to take the least expensive option and I made the booking online for the ferry departing at 08.5 hours.
  • We then made arrangements with hotel to store our suitcases while we were away, a taxi to pick us up and take us to the port (you gave to arrive at least 90 minutes before ferry departure ) and an early morning call.

    We both woke up well in advance of the wake-up call and after showering and dressing ate a very early breakfast which the hotel had kindly organised for us and were in our way by 06.00 hours for the twenty minute taxi ride

    all the taxis are yellow and black and all operate with meters

    to the Colonia Express terminal.

    As soon as the check in desk opened (we were early) we very quickly got our tickets, passed through Immigration and Customs and boarded the boat.

    Like being at the cinema !

    And we were off crossing the Rio de la Plata .

    After an uneventful crossing we caught our coach. Oh, and you can get Uruguayan currency on the boat.

    to Montevideo’s Terminal Tres Cruces (it’s large bus station) from where we caught a taxi to our hotel.

    When we got to the Reception there was a problem. They had no record of our booking. They asked me when I made the booking. Months ago, I explained whilst frantically locating the confirmation email. Profuse apologies followed along with an upgrade !

    Better than we expected.

    After a quick freshen up we were ready to explore making use of the map they gave us when we checked in.

    It was cold though. Very cold for our bodies that are now so used to a tropical climate. We found it difficult to get warm . I bought a woolen scarf and Rose got herself a woolen hat and they helped a lot but we needed to be warmer. Warm food. That was what was needed. So we headed to the Mercado del Puerto which, according to my research, is famous for the quality of its steaks.

    Once in the building we immediately warm up. It was cooking in there !

    We chose a restaurant

    And a little while later got one of the best steaks I have ever had. Cooked just the way I had requested.

    And a very reasonably priced bottle of Malbec helped it go down. I do like a good red, red wine.

    The next morning after a leisurely breakfast at the hotel we had a final walk (well to be factual Rose walked and I limped along beside her ) around the streets of Montevideo and then hailed a taxi to take us back to the bus station. We had the coach to catch at 13.00 hours which (along with the ferry )would eventually get us back to Buenos Aries around 17.45 hours.

    All in all we think it was a worthwhile trip to make.

    In the next installment we pound the streets (calles) of Buenos Aries again but also get to smell the roses !

    The headline for today’s edition is based upon the single released in 1983 by UB40 which reached number 1 on both the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100.

    “The Cemetery “ in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    Now if you’ve read the two editions I’ve put out you’ll know from the last one that we intended to visit Argentina’s near neighbour Uruguay and I’d planned accordingly.

    When booking hotel accommodation for our time in Buenos Aires I’d also booked with a hotel in the capital of Uruguay, Montevideo. And I chose the Crystal Tower Hotel primarily because it appeared to be conveniently located for our ‘flying’ visit.

    But before our short trip we had lots more of Buenos Aires to see and we were going to Recoleta Cemetery and try to find the mausoleum of Eva Perón . First though a visit to

    And then onto the National Museum of Decorative Arts .

    Walking around museums is tiring work . I needed to sit.

    Rested we pushed on but it wasn’t long before I needed to give the foot a break. So …

    Fully refreshed we got walking again and eventually reached Recoleta Cemetery. Once through the gates we immediately took a photograph of the map showing mausoleum location. Without this I doubt we would have found

    Eva Perón’s grave.

    What struck us immediately was the grandeur of the mausoleums. Even those that were in a terrible state of disrepair.

    The tomb of Rufina Cambacèrés who it is said died twice .

    And then we found Eva Perón’s grave.

    Upon leaving the cemetery we visited the church next to it, Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar .

    What about Montevideo I hear you exclaim. Well you’ll have to wait until the next installment.

    The headline for today’s edition is based upon track 20 of the album Journey to the Center of the Earth by Rick Wakeman in 1974 which reached number 1 on the UK Albums Chart and number 3 on the US Billboard 200.