Los 50 de Franck

March 2016…

mantamar

Mantamar Beach Club-birthday boy bottom right

We spent a whirlwind weekend in Puerto Vallarta to celebrate Franck’s 50th birthday. As usual, he and Paco tore it up with the entertaining. Saturday night there was a White Party at Casa Faro, on Sunday a party boat to Quimixto beach with lobster and alcohol. We met some very fun French friends of theirs, along with the local crowd of Frenchies who live year round in PV. Just like their wedding in Paris three years ago, they spared no expense or detail to make everything fantastic. I wish I gave enough of a shit to entertain that way.

quimixto

Quimixto Beach
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Ensenada and Guadalupe Valley

Feb 2016…

Madre mia! It’s Presidents Day Weekend and also Valentines Day Weekend so all the LA cholos will be heading down to Ensenada and Rosarito, and we’ll be right there with them.

Hector and I used to come to Ensenada all the time when his Mom was still alive and living here. Now we aren’t even going to tell his father we’re here. Tere and Martin have picked out an Airbnb for us all. We are actually more the hotel types than the Airbnb types but hey we’re easy. The place is new and cleanish, and cheap.

Saturday we drove out to the Bufadora, the local blow hole, which always had little shops and bodegas clustered around it for the tourists. It was fun and local. Well, that was fifteen years ago and now it’s grown to huge proportions, with a mile of shops and bars before you get near the blow hole, so there was a lot of humanity to get through.  Even though it was jammed with tourists hardly any of them were vomiting.

bufa

Next day we ate breakfast at Hotel Coral, where naturally we ran into Hector’s Dad. Hi, what a surprise. After that we drove out to the Guadalupe Valley to see the wineries.

The wineries were just great. We hit about 4 or 5 of them and had a great lunch at Laja. The region has really developed since we visited the only winery there 15 years ago. It’s worth getting a map and devoting a whole weekend to it.

laja

Laja

San Diego

Jan 2016…

Back home, ho hum. But it’s the start of a new year and.. oh fuck it. Wish I was still in Spain.

Things have slowed down at my school so they have no classes for me, the low man on the seniority pole. Apparently the Saudis are no longer getting a free ride from the King, they have to actually achieve something to continue their scholarships; ergo, most of them are on the way back to Riyadh or Jeddah. I loved my students but they couldn’t really be thought of as over-achievers.

els

Christmas with Carlos

Dec 2015…

balenario

Came back to Málaga after Marrakesh and checked in to our old flat, Ático Pastor, which was unavailable before we went to Carligto. It’s my favorite apartment, partly because of its central location and partly because it’s an interior flat, so street sounds don’t make it into the bedroom. Correction.  Only the crying baby on the ground floor who hasn’t seemed to age in the past three years.

We took the train to Madrid and collected Carlos at the airport, did a whirlwind Madrid tour and back on the train to Málaga. Over the course of five days, we took him to the Balneario, Picasso Museum, Pompidou, the Hammam, all our favorite restaurants, and finally on a drive to Frigiliana, our local white village, followed by a visit to Carligto, which he loved.

It was a great getaway from the rigors of college life for him and a wonderful treat for us.

 

Marrakesh

Dec 2015…

We were here years ago, at the end of one of our walking tours, but it was just one night so I always wanted to come back. And it’s only an hour or so from Málaga (via Casablanca. Now there’s an airport you won’t soon forget.)  We stayed at the espectacular Riad Kheirredine for three nights (€170 per night), by far the best part of the whole trip. Can’t say enough about the great food, service, value. We had our first dinner served to us on the roof deck, looking out over the city.riad-kheirredine-marrakechjpg-xlarge

Riad Kheirredine

The old city of Marrakesh is a warren of dark alleys, unnamed streets, and perilous entrapments for tourists. It’s delicious. It’s been a market city for centuries so I can promise you the locals in the souk know a thing or two about selling. The word no is merely an invitation to grab you by the shoulders and direct-sell into your face. A polite smile signals that you have sworn to buy their entire inventory and raise their three children.

marrakesh

at a neighborhood Mosque

Actually, wandering through the old souk is a pleasure everyone should have once in their lives, and if you make it to the other side alive, you get to experience the amazing Jemaa el-Fnaa, a centuries-old market square that still buzzes with a raffish air of danger. Snake charmers, dentists, fortune tellers, acrobats, food vendors, horse carriages, and hustlers all compete for your favors. A photo might end up costing you $10 by the time the snake charmer is done brow-beating you. The best thing is just to sit at a cafe, nursing mint tea, watching the British get harassed instead of you.

old-jemaa

Jemaa el-Fnaa, old

Jemaa el Fna (central square), Mosquee Koutoubia (mosque) in background, Marrakech, Morocco

Here’s what it looks like lately.

Cortijo el Carligto

Nov 2015…

cortijo

Cortijo el Carligto

While the boys went off to New York City, we graciously offered to dog and house sit for them for two weeks. Now, we’ve visited them here many times over the years but being up here alone is a different experience. It’s so quiet and removed, goat herds jangling in the distance, and at night so dark it’s best not to wander too close to the edge of their mountain.

trufa-reina

Trufa and Reina

The Labs, Trufa and Reina, are a delight and love all the attention we give them. Trufa is getting a bit long in the tooth so we kept a special eye on her for the boys.  Best not to come home from vacation to find your dog dead.

Got nothing accomplished, except wandering around the place, pretending I own it.

Made it back to Málaga without killing any dogs.  Good weather, lots of sun.

Free at last!

Oct 2015…

The unthinkable has happened! Actually, not only was it thinkable, we could feel it coming like a bad head cold. After 19 long and profitable years, Hector was laid off from his publishing company job, effective immediately… unsympathetic vice president, unusual slowdown in travel approvals, suspicious request from his manager to speak personally, oh, and don’t forget to bring in your computer and mobile phone.

First order of business, sign up for unemployment. Second, buy plane tickets to Málaga and rent a flat. Done. Bye-bye to my students and we’re off. The plan is to stay in one place in Málaga, then dog-sit for Al and Marc up at Cortijo el Carligto, take a trip to Morocco and end up back in Málaga for Christmas to host Carlos Ramirez for his first trip to Europe! Lucky bastard! And us too! We’re off.

dinner

I can’t say I remember what this is, exactly, but I can say in all honesty it was delicious. Lunch in Nerja, Spain with Al and Marc. Not shown: 4+ bottles of wine. A fitting welcome back.