Safety first

“In a safe area of downtown Cancun” said the advert. My apartment isn’t so much “downtown” as “out of town”.
I spent a couple of hours exploring the area this evening. It appears to be a largely residential grid hewn out of otherwise inpenetrable woodland. The street parallel to mine is tarmaced, and has the occasional street light. The rest are unlit and characterised by pot holes that even the biggest 4x4s drive carefully around. There are no pavements, nor indeed any pedestrians. There are lots of compounds with imposing gates and high walls, often topped with razor wire. And there are security guards. And dogs. Loud, vicious sounding dogs. It’s obviously a very safe area if you’re the right side of the walls…
The restaurant on the edge of that area that I was looking for was closed by the time I got there, just after 7pm. Another telling sign methinks. The evening is drawing in rapidly by now. I decide to stick to that one tarmaced road, because I know that at the other end of it I’ll come to Alfred.V.Bonfil, and if I turn right I’ll be about a mile from the Amma Food Park Experience again. Not only that, but this (main) road does have a pedestrian pathway – albeit down the middle of the wide central reservation, which can only be reached by braving the onrushing traffic!
Shoulders back, chin up, stride out. My body language says “Bring it on”; I figure it’s the only defence I’ve got.

The view from the other end of my street, in daylight!

The route takes me past the end of my street. My apartment is 10 minutes walk down that darkened opening in the pic at the top of this post.
I’m no wuss, but I think after a couple of beers tonight, I’ll splash out and get a taxi back to my nice safe apartment.

Seasoning for the Heart

Breakfast Mexican style! With ham, bacon, chorizo, spinach, cheese, mushrooms. Served with soft warm tortillas, a bread roll, orange juice, coffee and three types of chilli dip – all for around a fiver.

I’m at Casa de Nana, in Mercado 28. Cancun’s famous downtown market is a riot of crafts, colours, fragrances and food choices. Casa de Nana’s strapline, “sazón de corazón” translates effectively as “seasoning for the heart”; I couldn’t put it better.

Actually breakfast wasn’t my first experience of Mexican food. Last night I wandered the mile or so from my apartment to the Amma Food Park Experience, a permanent street food market with big screen sport / film nights, music (lots of indie rock playing over the sport last night) and a bar. The choice ranged from pizza or burgers to Argentinian or Venezuelan specialities. I went for a huge Argentinian sausage baguette (with chilli dips) and a couple of bottles of Modelo Negra.

I’ve never seen anything quite like the Amma Food Park Experience at home, though to be fair, the revamped Trinity Market is definitely a step in the right direction.

I so wish I had a bigger appetite!

A Flight Of Fancy?

I’m high. 38,000 feet high to be exact, charging through the air at 567mph.
My seat is comfortable, I’m taking a break from watching a classic movie, and my complimentary three course lunch is settling nicely.
I’m on my way to Mexico for an orgy of Mexican street food and tequila, and the weather promises to be superb.
Yet I have a growing sense of unease. I’m not feeling guilty about flying long haul. Sure, aviation is a dirty business, but rightly or wrongly I rationalised that it will only get cleaner with investment and development, and that can only come from successfully selling the idea of flying to ever more customers (and therefore investors). No, my problem started with lunch, or rather the small mountain of plastic that accompanied it. The plastic tray came with a plastic cup, the obligatory plastic cutlery – all wrapped in plastic, a plastic pot of dessert, a plastic pot of water and so on. Thats a lot of plastic when you times it by 300 passengers.
But it doesn’t end there. I’m flying in a plastic aeroplane. Seriously. The Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” has plastic wings. And a plastic fuselage. And plastic seats. And a plastic curtain between “premium” class and cattle class. I, naturally, am on the wrong side of the curtain tracks…
I’m sitting in a 250 ton, 50% plastic, behemoth, producing more waste plastic for the planet to deal with.
Somehow I doubt that the magnificent Dreamliner is the product of a gazillion recycled milk bottles, crisp packets and plastic forks, and I wonder how much of it, at the end of it’s service life, will itself be recycled (apparently German recycling company ELG is working on this).
I’m not going to suggest we return to building aircraft out of wood and canvas, but surely the aviation industry could show a little compromise? Almost all that plastic packaging could have been paper. Recyclable wooden cutlery is readily available (we use it for take-away customers at Chilli Devil’s bar). The trays could be made from similar material. It seems almost trivial at first glance, and perhaps on an individual passenger basis it is. But an industry wide initiative to replace all unnecessary plastic throughout a worldwide industry transporting millions of people a day, would be anything but trivial.
I’ve never been so glad to see a cup of tea served in a paper cup.