Space Rocket Palace

Shopping is not, ever has been, nor ever will be, high on my list of priorities. Thus walking around city centres can often leave me a little bored unless I raise my gaze away from the plate glass windows that have been ripped out of the bowels of the buildings and look at what lies above. London, Paris, New York and today Montevideo: the assortment of architecture in an old city can be breathtaking. And today, on rounding a street corner, I was rewarded with a rare treat, a fabulous confection of a building rising 27-floors up and above the Plaza de Independencia. Watched over by Uruguay’s homegrown liberating hero José Artigas astride a massive mount, the Palacio Salvo was the work of Italian immigrant Mario Palanti, a resident of Buenos Aires. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Tennis Courts

Travelling, whilst embracing a whole host of new opportunities, inevitably involves leaving some things behind: old friends, family, a secure base, that which is known and familiar. For me, as well as all of the above, I had to forgo my guitars and my tennis, two major passions. Fortunately, however, guitars did appear at odd intervals along the way and I did get to play tennis twice whilst on this trip, on different continents and across a huge economic and social chasm. Continue reading

Weekend in Paraguay

The El Tigre bus shuddered to a halt at Platform 9. It looked nothing like the picture above the office where we had booked that morning. This ‘tiger’ was a toothless, slack-striped old growler of a machine. The day suddenly looked like being a lot harder than anticipated. Continue reading

Remembering Renato

At least two or three times every year I think of Renato, even after 28-years since he died. And whenever I recall him it is always with a smile on my face. That was Renato, a creature who walked this earth with the sole purpose of spreading as much happiness as possible – and to a very large degree he succeeded. Continue reading

The Best Beach in the World

Mention British beaches to many foreigners and they will screw up their faces and tell you that they are all stones and rocks. Well, yes, there are some like that, as there are all over the world, but they are in the minority and the actual diversity of UK beaches is staggering. With over 7,500-miles of coastline the United Kingdom gives you a lot of coastal bang for your buck. But a certain part of that green and pleasant land holds what, to me, are some of the finest beaches in the UK and, I’ll go out on a limb here and say, one of the finest in the world. Continue reading

Walking to Panama

It wasn’t until our eyes adjusted to the lack of light beneath the thick canopy of jungle that we saw the rifles leaning against the trunk of a palm tree.
“Hola, buenas dias,” we said walking across the clearing, making sure to maintain eye contact with the three men sitting on upturned buckets and not at their armoury.
‘Buenas,” they replied giving us the scantest of looks. Continue reading

In Search of Macondo

It was the most beat up, tattered wreck of a book that I had ever seen, but the sight of it filled me with an enormous upwelling of pleasure. The owner was initially reluctant to part with it as she was immensely fond of the book. Rummaging through my rucksack and pulling out the best of what there was to barter I laid them out like cards on the table before her. She was a fussy reader but there were some strong names there so I felt as though the exchange could happen. Taking her time she read the sleeves and back covers before selecting a Conrad and a Hemingway. My two best, she was driving a hard bargain, but I had to have that book so acquiesced with barely a murmur. Continue reading