TRAVEL with pat and lew

from Key West to our home exchange in Ajijic, Mexico

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 12, 2007

We’re excited to be traveling. It’s almost 3 months since December when we got back from New York. We love Key West, but we always have a travel bug.

Packing is a snap. Delta allows us to check two 50 pound suitcases each. For a 10 day trip, we each take one suitcase. Mine weighs 39 pounds, Pat’s 38. We pack a heavier than necessary carryon. On the return trip, we’ll switch books to the checked bags.

We drive to Miami, where we are anticipating dinner with our friends Ron and Eileen.

Eileen wants books. Eight hardcover and 24 paperback copies of The Heretic. Plus one copy of A Good Conviction. With everything else on her plate, I think she’s going to be my publicity agent. Maybe when we get back, she’ll have booked me on Letterman.

As always, the conversation is non-stop and full of laughs.

The next morning, we get to the airport before any Delta employees. Why do they tell you to be there two hours before the flight if they’re not going to meet you? Once Delta arrives, check-in and boarding go smoothly.

We had taken the early flight so that all our driving would be in daylight. The roads are not the best, and the drivers are horrible, switching lanes unpredictably. As we leave the airport, see no signs to Chapala (later, on our second trip, we confirm that there were none) and take the road in the wrong direction, north to Guadalajara instead of south to Chapala. For several miles, there are no exits and no turnarounds, but eventually, I find an exit which leads to a loop and the right direction.

The trip from the airport to Chapala takes about 35 minutes. We could have turned off a few miles before Chapala, but the signage was again abysmal, and the map was unclear, so we end up in the town of Chapala when our actual destination is Ajijic. A group of musicians waiting in a parking lot sets us on the correct path.

Our initial impressions are of a very poor country. This is accentuated by the fact that we are months away from the rainy season and everything is dry and dusty.

We are in Ajijic on a home exchange, and we have traded our 300 square foot apartment in Collioure for a truly extraordinary residence. We are met by Anne. This is a non-simultaneous exchange – she will go to Collioure in May – so she is staying with a friend in Ajijic while we’re in her house.

We estimate the home is more than 2000 square feet. The design and the Mexican architectural details are just superb. In the living room, there are columns and arches, like a Moorish palace. All of the cabinetry and the doors are of the highest quality. There are colored tile floors throughout. Outside, the grounds are spectacular.

The gardener, three times per week, and the maid will continue during our stay.

As we often do after a day of  travel, we go right to sleep.

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