when the routines aren’t

Flowers cascade
Flowers cascade

Nothing is a routine for me in this life. Each thing is a subtle joy to go find. Moments to become enriched. Sometimes bored and then I think of just out my door. There where Merida stirs. Where the motorbikes cruise and the tailor shop down the street with the friendly people take a day. They sit in the evenings with big bottles of beer laughing and have invited me. I must bring my own bottle. They play beautiful and lonely music that I don’t know but I feel sad listening.

I can walk home in 5 minutes. Find my door and realize I did find the beautiful, the slow, the usual. Right out my door.

Sunday Morning Routines

I like to have the backdoor open in my airbnb in the mornings a lot. Merida comes streaming in but all the sound bytes are the small things to go enjoy from the comfort of a room and a bed. Good wifi. Instant coffee that does what I want. I don’t much like reading news on RSS so I deleted the app and accounts. I don’t like taking note of things so I don’t. I do like blogging here on cloudways now because I am lazy and they just take care of everything for me. And then I enjoy writing in Ulysses. I enjoy wandering around and taking photos I can then go look at and nod at the simple beauty of flowers that greet my walk.

That little sky at such a different color and the home behind but the infusion of the colors up front.

As long as I can remember I have enjoyed finding little things that trigger appreciation, sadness, fantasy and then taking photos of them. Then I present them back to you so you can see the things I enjoy finding but perhaps you can go out and find your own things completely different and share them.

The routines on Sunday also include wandering down to Starbucks later in the morning for Starbucks Sunday which is grilled cheese and cold brew and relaxing and people watching. Perhaps reading my kindle book on the iPhone. I did think briefly on buying another Kindle. This time the PaperWhite. Truth is I don’t like real books, real paper, real pens. They all carry maintenance and storage requirements and some require multiple little pieces of things. Pens need ink. Etc. I guess they are all things.

So Sunday routines no matter where seem to be similar. I won’t spend a Sunday in the United States this time when I go back. For that I am thankful. Three days seem just enough to dislike the place even more than I normally do.

But now it is this Sunday in Merida. A place I will miss somewhat but never return to. I think that fact gives me a sense of freedom that I choose where I go and where I return to. What I read news on or not. What little things grab me on a Sunday morning and the sun streaming through the window and door lets me find little moments that perhaps I take for granted. I remember sitting in a room in Phnom Penh or Taipei and hearing those cities come alive in the mornings but no place was like Hanoi. There each day was a rhythm of life and people. Here quiet resides on my Sunday.

I like both and the in-between parts. Happy Sunday.

We do Saturday

I had thought of a few things I could want to do today but I think instead I will head downtown tomorrow for the day. I love roaming around the historic central district. So many nice parks to visit, old buildings to take yet more photos of, and I can also just distance myself from others, eat outdoors, and not fear those that are maskless since about 95% of people here wear masks outdoors as well as obeying the indoor mask mandates. I kinda wonder why this Mexican state take things so much more seriously than a place like Texas or Arizona. I was in Houston earlier this year for the visa run and I doubt I will ever go back. That is one sad and angry city. I could have spent only 3 days there and been bored with it and left for Merida again but I spent 8 days.

Anyways, it is Saturday now so I decided to write a bit more on the train travels this weekend and also include some train trips in Vietnam I did. Perhaps it becomes the 4 parts or so of train trips. Just for fun, I did these:

  1. 2018 riding the train from Hanoi to Saigon Vietnam. It took 30 hours. That was something! No bullet trains and a lot of fun Vietnamese people to meet, drink some beer with, share food and talk with. Some with good English and others with google translate. Beer is a language of its own though.
  2. 2018 riding the bullet train in Japan from Tokyo to Hiroshima and then to Osaka. There’s nothing like this experience. One must do it!
  3. 2019 riding the high speed rail in Taiwan from Taipei south with days in each city along the way I wished. That was a fun train trip!
  4. 2020 Amtrak train travels from California to Texas and then from Orlando Florida to New York. Then on to Chicago and finally Seattle. All in a sleeper. Fun times!
  5. 2020 riding again in Vietnam from Hanoi to Ninh Binh to see a friend that lives there. I really did it for no reason other than to just go. I met a lady on the way back intent on sharing her food with me so I could not disappoint.
  6. 2021 Amtrak voyages from California to Chicago with 5 stops in Reno, Salt Lake City, Denver, Omaha and finally to Chicago where I ended up staying in an airbnb for a week in uptown. Then east to Los Angeles with a week in Albuquerque and a train trip to Santa Fe for the day and to Las Vegas New Mexico and then Flagstaff and Los Angeles.

So anyways, I started thinking how I wanted to write this all up. There is a lot more unsaid about train travel I think. My friend AFT and I have discussed many times and there is a gentleness and fun to just the going. If you are a ”destination” kind of person you may not enjoy it. If you want to just go, nothing like train travel. I would say the bullet and high speed rail voyages were timely. The Shinkansen train team apologized for being early to arrive in Hiroshima. LOL. In Vietnam one never worries about things like clocks.

So I think somehow I will glue all this together over this weekend into numerous blog posts but it may be I don’t also. I never really know what it is I will do. Like today. I look at the calendar with 30 days left in Mexico and I have to admit to wanting to just go. I had good times here for a year but I feel like I did my time here. I could never be an expat here long term. They like “things” too much. I dislike things a lot. Cars and homes and property. Boats and entitled behavior. I have never figured out expats or digital nomads anywhere I have been. I think a whole bunch of Saturdays ago I stopped really trying. I have realized that that life is not the one that rings my bell. I want nothing that does not fit in a 60 liter travel bag. I want no mortgages and cars and stuff. This Saturday like my life for the past years is about the things I can carry with me that take no extra room. Memories, moments, and experiences far outweigh big or even small ticket items. They weigh us down, encumber us. Make us sometimes slaves.

There ya go. A Saturday of views and news and subterfuge. Just like this blog is all about.

Friday morning blogging

I had thought of writing a Thursday evening blog post. Actually started one but decided to let it go. Friday seems a better morning to start than the Thursday finishing up with doing mostly nothing yesterday. Took a day off walking. Now I feel like walking today :-). I do have a thing to do today. My todo list:

  • pick up laundry

And that is it. As you can tell I don’t do todo lists. I don’t do shopping lists or reminders because there is nothing to be reminded for either shopping or things “out there”. I even invented a take on “GTD” which is completely opposite to whatever the heck GTD could be. I call my take,

Not getting things done

There are no contexts, review or the use of Notion to build complex scenarios or databases. Hope you like. You can do my way too. Just delete your GTD workflow completely. My take is you all spend way too much deliberating what must be done, spending money on screwy methods and techniques to track all the things. Color code them, prioritize them, make them due on a day. You also spend too much effort on turning things into projects BTW. Seems like a waste of time to me. I mean if you want to do something why not just do it or don’t do it. I could wait for laundry until tomorrow so there is no preferred date next to it or priority. So not Getting Things Done is all about you not about things. The big turn off for me is the middle word “things”. We focus way too much on things and then we want to combine things with times and dates and priorities. F all that. You too can subscribe to my wonderful lack of productivity methods. Don’t write anything down, don’t buy apps that equip you to manage all this stuff, miss a few things today and do them tomorrow, and finally relax. You think it matters to me if you don’t get thing A done or not? Nope. I could give a shit less.

So there you have the essence of the Mike lack of productivity method. Soon out in an ebook. If your room coffee has cooled off, pop it back in the microwave. I’ll wait…

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

Ok you back? Well goodbye. That is all there was to this Friday blogging thing.

To Starbucks we went

Tonight was fun! My friend Celia and I went to Starbucks for evening coffee and talking in a mix of my Spanish and her English. She’s a charming woman with the most beautiful grey blue eyes. She has a very inquisitive and charming heart and soul so drinking coffee with her becomes very nice as we share photos of places in Mexico and beyond. She loves to talk about Asia and asks a lot of questions about the people there, what life is like there, and whether I will come back to Merida ever. The last question is always the most difficult.

We always end up talking about favorite places and for me, the photos and peace and solitude and happiness at Bacalar had to be my place. I just felt like life was operating on no cylinders and did not not need to go in any direction at all. The lagoon after all does all that work for us. It changes colors to 7 sometimes from wonderful purples and almost pinks to dark and light blues. Like I’ve mentioned there is also the spirit of the place. Celia and I both agree that Bacalar is a magical place.

It is just the pace of life that gets us both there. There is the forever mañana of it all. I could stay months there and believe time was not in force at all. The days would just slide by even easier than here because when I finished with the morning coffee at a small cafe, I would probably amble down to the lagoon and drink a beverage or three and just watch the birds and the small boats glide by and find that sublime color touching so many parts of me.

We talk about all that in simpler terms and I think Mexican people get it all better than most. There is the sense of slowing down, of finding nothing, of going nowhere. Even here in busy Merida the last few days have been idyllic. In the middle of the rainy season, we were given two rather beautiful sunny days. The nights though cool off and to walk as the air wander through the streets and parks brings out the peace in my soul.

We agreed that this is kind of the state of Mexico but I think Yucatan especially is like this. Merida can be busy with donut shops and upscale malls but still there are quiet little streets and neighborhoods with stately homes I have never tired of finding. Homes like this one with tints of colors and age but still beauty and this solitary look. I love finding all the character of the homes here because each one has this unique feeling much like perhaps those that live in them.

Perhaps it is Starbucks that brings it all out. Siting with a beautiful woman with flashing grey blue eyes, a wonderful sense of humor. A woman my age that offers to drive me wherever I may want to go but we always start with coffee. Tonight we could not go to the Park de la Americas because I wanted to call my daughter. But we will meet with the family for dinner one night. Because that is another thing here. People love to eat and drink and laugh. Away from guns and conspiracy and bad news in the RSS feed.

And I’ll miss all that but where I am going is not back to a thing but forward. I’m pretty sure before then we will do coffee and then dinner again. Perhaps some Yucatecan food that she cooks or a nicer place out.

Starbucks is nice for a start though. Sometimes family is found in wonderful places and friendships come along for me only rarely. I think perhaps my six months in Merida has yielded both.

Catching the New Day

Morning here again! Birds singing and the two cats which hang out but do not live here have not visited yet. Last night I had decided to go for a little stroll in the neighborhood but ended up because it was just beautiful out staying longer and just wandering some streets I had not been before.

Usually by 7pm, the rains have either stopped or decided to start again. Just not last night. Instead it was simply beautiful out to just go down the streets. I got back at night and was still marveling at just how beautiful it had been out. See the clouds moving in. Making a statement!

That’s what I saw. I was so taken with this cloud formation, I posted on Mastodon. It just seemed so unreal and fantastic like a giant fan spreading out over Merida.

Now I’m catching a new day. Coffee has been made. I’m still poking around on Cloudways but I’m pretty happy there. I turned down the DigitalOcean droplet but did not delete it. I’ll leave it powered off a few days to just make sure life is good. Being off some self-maintained thing is a relief since I have hated managing the server since forever. The new day also promises time to get laundry done down the street and figuring out what food will be.

Most of all now it is hearing the morning sounds, back door open, quiet Merida morning in full view. It is amazing how much different this is than Hanoi or Phnom Penh or name the Asian city. In Hanoi by 5am, things were happening. Teams of itinerant roosters letting us all know they were in charge. Motorbikes cascading the alley. The mango fruit vendors calling out. Here all is quiet except for the rare car that goes down our street.

Catching a new day finally means realizing how fast my time is winding down in Mexico. 33 days now to go. I got here with no real plan last year. I came up with the plan to go to Asia in June after reading how the countries were opening. Now my time narrows and I can see this next thing arriving. Three days in the US to see my daughter and an old friend or two. Then I go. Cannot lie. I am eagerly anticipating going to Southeast Asia. Mexico has been fun but it is no Asia. I need that Edge. This Edge has been nice too though and I’ve had some good times here.

Just catching the new day. But the days left are one less.

Morning of this and that tabulated

I started writing this two part post about my rides on Amtrak last year east and west. Instead of doing it like a travel journal or blog, I am focused on the people I met in both directions because they really made the trip extra special I don’t know when I’ll finish them but I think before I leave for California. I also have this draft post about going back to Vietnam but I kind of put off that trip in favor of getting settled in Cambodia. I want to get there before end of the year but to tell the truth, the visa limits really irritate me. Right now, one can only get the 30 day e-visa online. I want the 3 month visa so I can take my time going and not do visa runs every 30 days and then come back. To me, that is stupid. So I will just wait awhile and see if Vietnam changes the policy. Their achilles heal have always been their visa policies and limits especially for someone like me that wants to slowly travel the country, see friends. I could stay a month in just Hanoi and never tire of it. Then I could also ride the train to Hue and Da Nang which means I would spend time in Hoi An again as well. Finally there is Can Tho to visit in the south.

So I think I will publish the Amtrak travel things soon but I’ll continue to write daily here as well. I am not sure now about migrating the site to Cloudways. They have some interesting verification requirements and as it happens I do not have a LinkedIn profile, a Facebook profile, or a twitter handle. They also want picture ID. I mean, really? I’m hosting a personal blog there. I don’t want to build the next big search site or marketplace. I sent the required documents but I have not heard back. It just seems rather frustrating for what they offer I would have to do any of this. They did not ask for a social security account number surprisingly. Meanwhile I am waiting for them to tell me I do or don’t rate. If I do, great. I will go test it out. If they don’t, that’s great too. My humble blog can find another hosting provider. I do know I want to get this done at least before I leave for Cambodia. I have some other options too. There’s no lack of hosting providers with bad reviews out there I can wade through.

In the meantime, I can just use what I got on DigitalOcean the way it is. Continue publishing my debitage. Write some of this and that. Today is just another one of those days where I will go do what the Hell I please. Like all days.

Meanwhile, here’s a little memory of other days that I always seem to find on google photos.

I happened across this and thought “wow” look at that tree thing. This is in Taipei Taiwan somewhere.

Now go make it a good day. Do you have some ID so I can verify you before you read my blog?

A year in Mexico, Part 2

My Wandering around in Mexico

I think part of the joy of a year spent in Mexico was also going to some places. I particularly wanted to visit places I had not been before.

I decided my last months I would find a few places I wished to visit and just go. This is a record of the places.


Wandering Merida

I have been in Merida twice and enjoyed both times but the love affair is about the going here. A lot of walks in local neighborhoods, to coffee shops and restaurants, downtown to the central district. I figure that of all the places wandering, Merida has treated me the best. Merida is one of the cities where there is simply more. More around the block. More to the people. More to the food. More to the joy of just living here. I lived in two different districts and found joy and fun in both. The best way perhaps is to take a look at the photo galleries and you can see my day to day adventures. If you want both the photo albums you are in luck. Here is the first one and here’s the last which is still being added to on my remaining daily adventures in Merida.

La Paz Mexico

From June 6 to 10th, I headed to La Paz Mexico for a week. La Paz is in Baja and I had never been there. So I did some research to see what other people said were things and then I either avoided them or did them. Several things mentioned that I took from Wikipedia around the culture and history but I also searched on Google Maps for restaurants, breakfast, coffee, and beer. The stuff that came out basically showed me restaurants and coffee shops in different directions from my Airbnb, different ways to reach the Malecon and see the city, and the downtown and central districts. Then I just divided things into days of walking and either changed everything or did something different each day. Most days I walked about 5 miles and then would stop and get cheap food and take to the room.

My days in La Paz were spent walking from my Airbnb in a few different directions to see different parts of the city I found on Google Maps or from wikipedia or just wandering around. I managed to find wonderful breakfast places every day no matter what direction I went. My Airbnb was located about a mile from the Malecon and less from the historic and business districts..

La Paz
La Paz

The next day I walked a different direction down to the beginning of the Malecon and by the boat docks. I came to the Malecon and decided I should have a few beers by the ocean so I found a nice small bar with outdoor tables. This is a common thing along this beachwalk. There are lots of small pubs and cafes from which to order cold beer and food.

I also walked to the historic district to see the older section of town and then find the shops and smaller malls and mercados that La Paz is known for.

Historic District La Paz
Historic District La Paz

Another favorite was the central district with older buildings and a lot of charm. This street was really cool with the wonderful buildings, shops, the barber. If you are looking for the Malecon it is just right past this district. Easy to get around La Paz on foot.

Downtown La Paz
Downtown La Paz

What were some of the best things? If you come here I hope you like breakfast. Like some Chilaquiles!

Chilaquiles in La Paz
Chilaquiles in La Paz

There are some mighty good breakfast spots. Just pick one on google maps. The people. Wonderful people here. Everyone’s friendly and open whether with English or not but a lot of people speak English. Don’t let language deter you. Just go to Mexico. Finally the walking. I had a great time doing my daily walks. I just went in arbitrary directions and streets. Fun times. I think La Paz would have been a wonderful city to live in for awhile.

My gallery of all photos is here.

Yucatan Tour

The Yucatan tour took us across the Yucatan area for 5 days to see a variety of archeological sites and visit wonderful beaches and smaller cities across the Yucatan.

I found the tour on Yucatan Magazine. I had decided I wanted to find some things that would take me through the end of my time in Mexico in a big way. This tour and its itinerary seemed like the best way to see a variety of the state and also take in a number of archeological sites. The other thing is staying at upscale hotels along beaches and just doing that lifestyle for a week. It costs some money but life costs some money too. We visited a few places and some beautiful archeological sites along the way. I’ll just focus on the highlights here.

Archeological sites

We visited three archeological sites but the mosquitoes were so bad at the last one we all left. The sites are just beautiful and not visited (perhaps because of those flying critters). It was easy to climb around on the ruins but for some reason just like at other sites, the stairs are meant as challenges I think.

Bacalar

My favorite spot of the tour and I love the photos from there. It was so peaceful and serene each day to just see the lagoon, find the peace and solitude of the moments. We also went into the Magical Village of Bacalar which is very nice and kind of touristy with shops and restaurants and an old fort. Our dinner at a restaurant overlooking the lagoon was very nice.

Bacalar and its Lagoon
Bacalar and its Lagoon

The downtown part of Bacalar is cool too and lives up to its Magic Town description. The views are of an old fort, small shoppes and restaurants along a central plaza area. Very cool. Always within reach though is the beautiful lagoon of so many colors. You can see why this place just captured me so well.

Bacalar Beauty
Bacalar Beauty

Puerto Aventuras

Probably my least favorite place. Just a gated community with everything one needs besides some real Mexico. Restaurants, gift shops, walking trails, boat docks, residences for the big timers. I really did not get a lot out of it besides a nice room and a few walks and expensive food. Breakfast in the mornings was pretty nice but I just spent time in the room. I think at this point I had reached a sum total with the other guests on the tour. I became I guess anti-social. Not that I ever am social but I found them rather noxious and irritating and I’m sure they found me the same way. I have never done good with a group of the same people in a continuous day by day thing. These people were all expats living in Merida except for one woman from Australia. I have this overall impression of expats the world over. I don’t like them.

Puerto Aventuras
Puerto Aventuras

I’m just being honest here and assessing what I found to be the worst part of the tour. The human part.

My photo gallery for the tour is here.

Finale. (no such thing!)

What is beautiful is so subjective. You think natural world. I think a wall with flowers of red and blue creeping over a wall with intricate patterns. Perhaps for you is something you work so hard on. Post processing and editing. I don’t wish to edit and post process. What I wish is just the ease. An iPhone 12 Pro does that. I capture my beautiful places simply going. Perhaps a walk. Or a Uber ride. A trip to a mall.

So everything wraps up on 6 September 2022. I know because I booked the flight to leave. I’ve had a great time in Mexico. Got to see a few places, meet people that were kind and authentic and funny. When September rolls around this story will have been told but the words will remain forever to be written. This is the thing about how I go and never truly arrive. Each place seems to live on in photographs and writing and people.

There’s not a point where I can really say “finale” to Mexico. I have a lot of feelings about being here that won’t just fade away into some sunset and I realized it on the tour watching the sunset over the beautiful lagoon at Bacalar. Just like before watching the sunset over West Lake in Hanoi. Now it is Mexico which has so much to offer but I realized I cannot just sit still. I have to be going. Feeling the slow movement of no finales. No ends. But always moments to come.

What happens in September is I go to Southeast Asia to live. Hello Cambodia!


Thanks for reading both parts of this year! I had a lot of fun compiling the photos and words to go along with them and also to figure out my thoughts and feelings as I get closer to leaving.

The first part of the story is here.

Going to be changing the site hosting

I got down to a few serious contenders to host the site to move of doing the VPS thing. Well, as serious as this blog is anyways. Thanks to @Kev on fosstodon for recommending Cloudways and others for telling me some less than desirable things about someone else I considered for awhile. I am going to test out Cloudways for three days but I like their service and approach to things using DigitalOcean since I am used to that but I never have to deal with that. It’s not that I hate dealing with Linux servers; it’s just that I hate dealing with Linux servers.

Anyways, the plan I am looking at represents a long term strategy for me blogging and moves me off this self-hosted thing which was good and I’ve enjoyed it a lot but I want something I can just write on and not deal with things like,

apt update

Or

apt upgrade

Or any of those things. The main goal with the writing is to stay on WordPress because I enjoy it and I love the themes and plugins and being able to simply turn on webmentions and indie web stuff as I want without editing a bunch of stuff.

So I will make a few changes I think later in the month but just continue to write here and post images and stuff. They will migrate my site for me for free. I can login to Namecheap and make the changes to the DNS and then the site will be live again. So the question is when. I dunno. When is when I feel like doing it.

I also had some thought after playing with using Obsidian for note taking and so-called personal knowledge management. The truth is I don’t take notes and I don’t got no knowledge management either personal or any other way. So there is no longer a need to wonder about notes. I bring this up though because something I am interested in using a free obsidian publish service for writing. I’ve tested one out a few times called Quartz and I like the ease of just using Hugo and GitHub pages to create the garden. Right now though all the writing is in Ulysses and I’m very happy with that. I don’t link notes and I don’t personally manage my knowledge. I got a brain for that ya know :-).

So that’s the story.