Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

I don’t worry about terrorism. I was married for a year.

Today I woke up to a new Sweden. One of he last remaining virginities has been taken. Last night a suicide bomber blow himself up in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. The first suicide bomber in Sweden and the Nordic countries. What to make of it is up to each and everyone of us to decide but I haven’t heard very much talk about it during the day. It wont chance my life, maybe I hear a little less of the “dangerous” countries I visit.
There are always experts claiming to know what is going on. One so called expert says, “If this was an act of a single lunatic he would have stopped with blowing up the car but with a letter to the media it indicates a greater context”
I am not trying to diminish what has happened, it is a terrible thing but greater context? In the referred mail to media and Swedish security service the bomber mentioned Swedish soldiers in Afghanistan and the Swedish silence in the controversy around Lars Vilks’ drawings of Muhammed as a dog. Lars Vilks is a Swedish artist that besides Muhammed also have made caricatures of, among others, the Pope and Jesus (wikipedia).
It wasn’t so much silence from Sweden as careful support, we do have an extended Freedom of expression and Freedom of speech in Sweden, something we stand up for though it is a corner stone in a free, democratic society.
With the mail one can conclude it is an Islamic extremist but nut cases has gone to the extreme in the name of, any, religion for thousand of years, this is no different. In his mail he also calls for his brothers to raise up, with little response. He took Jihad to Sweden but lonely lunatic never the less, no one followed him, he had to blow himself up twice. First his car and then himself.
In his mail he goes on with asking his wife for forgiveness, he had been lying about going to middle east for business, he went there to train for Jihad. If he really were in a training camp he should no how to make a bomb, Security service says this was more a puff than a bomb, luckily no one died and only two people got minor injuries.
Could have been a lot worse and it is a terrible thing but I hold on to my opinion of a single lunatic and an isolated event.

The danger lies in the thoughts it may waken among other disturbed people who wants to be remembered and go out with a bang

Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

“Little progress can be made by merely attempting to repress what is evil.
Our great hope lies in developing what is good.”

~Calvin Coolidge

I have been scanning the news the last weeks trying to find something good to write about regarding Mexico. Beside the Cancun Climate conference, there is just drugs, killings and death.

So I’m going to stick my neck out and say that Mexico is a land of opportunities.
Now matter what the trade, with the border to USA and being a door to South America Mexico is in a perfect geographic position for investments. The cartels noticed, so when will the legal business world catch up?
And for developing within Mexico I have two areas just on the tip of my tongue but there are many more when you look in to it.
One of my thoughts is Technology – Yes, Mexico has educated programmers, maybe to many, but in technical infrastructure there is more to do. And I have seen a lack of skilled systems developers, technicians and everyday repairs and maintenance. Every time I go back I help a friend with a computer, mobile or something else malfunctioning. On one of my trips I fixed a friends mobile phone with a drop of vodka and a napkin, by the look of the crowd gathering to watch me I could just as well have turned water to wine.
It seems like if a computer breaks down or you get a virus you need to know a guy who know a guy who know a guy who works in a basement in Mexico City. If you don’t know that guy you more or less need to buy a new computer. And electronics does not come cheap in Mexico.
Another area is, of course, tourism. In my twitterstream I can read about different ideas to attract new, and more, visitors. But most advertising is directed toward US and North America, missing a market of 830 million people a cross the Atlantic where an estimated 25 percent travel for vacation every year. I met Europeans on my adventures all of the world. We like to travel, we are financial stable and usually have more vacation weeks per year than Mexicans and other North Americans for me it is a mystery why Mexican tourism organization don’t do more to advertise towards Europe.

I’m just laying it out there… Think bigger

Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

“A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history
– with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila”

I was going to write something about the latest wikileaks and the impact it has, but it feels like a subject that has been written about enough.
Lets go geek instead, being voluntarily snowed in this weekend I took a chance to really geek out. I updated my blog, quite a lot actually but no one will probably see it.
Talked with a friend about this, putting down hours to make something better, easier, nicer or maybe just more user friendly and then no one recognize the good job you did, how fun is that? “You mean they are not the geek you are?,” was the answer. Well, I can’t argue with that.
Late last night after a few drinks I asked another friend what she thought about the my new ideas. Of course she had some opinions, actually pretty good. But it took me another 2 hours today to get it right.
Just to go trough the process, I have a local blog copy I use to play around with, checking color, fonts, space, everything. When I get where I want I have another local carbon copy I rewrite for a last check so I don’t miss anything or get something with me I don’t want. From this copy I upload to my blog server. I do put some time and energy in the appearance.
Tonight, logging in to the admin panel, I see wordpress have an upgrade. Having changed that much, not only in my theme, also in the generic wordpress templates and files I couldn’t use the automatic update.
What to do? Download the new version, upgrade my carbon copy, make all the changes again and upload to the server.
I have surfed around checking pages and they all look good, but if you see something strange, please let me now. Either it is with purpose or I have missed something in the update or/and upgrade

Have a nice week!

Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

“Bright light city gonna set my soul, gonna set my soul on fire”
~Elvis Presley

Remember the time you went with a roll of film to a photo store and had it developed? I was cleaning out a closet last night and found a box of old photos. Bad quality, a lot of noise, but it was a trip down memory lane. Las Vegas 2001 was fun. I spent a lot of money, met some fun people and saw some impressing sights.
Oh yes, I got married but that’s a sidetrack, and as a true Vegas wedding it didn’t last very long.

One character I remember vividly is ‘Fast Eddie’. Off the strip far from the tourists I met this old school mobster who in his young days knew all the right people. I made the mistake calling him a wise guy (as I said in my previous post I’m not following my own advices about safety). Being in his 70’s he would probably still have taken me out back and beat me up if my newly wedded bride hadn’t been with me, and that is the best case scenario. As the rumor went he had buried bigger and tougher men than me out in the desert.
Luckily I wasn’t alone so I bought him a beer and we sat in the bar talking for hours, I had to keep my voice down because he had to hear what was going on around us at all time, old habits sticks I guess. Apparently Las Vegas was better before, the 60’s was a golden era. For the city or for the mafia I really don’t know, but it was better.

We manage to do some sightseeing too. Among other we saw Grand Canyon, actually flew through the Canyon. Mother earth do know how to create wonders. On the ground we were guided around by Native Americans, nice but so sad to see this once proud people standing on the side of the road selling cheap jewelery.
We were taken to see Eagle rock, a sacred place for the Hualapai people, I can see why. I had some mixed emotions about having it as a tourist trap though, sacred are sacred no matters which God.

Eagle rock - Rocky mountains. Photo: Dan Freed

Eagle rock – Rocky mountains. Photo: Dan Freed

Anyway it was a great trip which had it all. Married in Little White chapel, beer with the mafia, lost all my money (thank you Amex saving my last week) saw Grand Canyon and Hoover dam.
I think I got the most out of Vegas

Have fun, travel and go south. The north is to cold

Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.
~John A. Shedd

I had a conversation on twitter the other day about the saftey in Mexico and at work today the topic came up again, a colleague not traveling that much told me she started to be afraid of traveling by everything she read in the newspaper. So I think that will be the topic of the day.
I am not going to talk about what to do with passport, money or credit cards, that should be common knowledge when going on trips. I have seen that is not always the case, but if you don’t know you better stay at home.
Safety and how you feel about it is much about how you travel. If you are a family traveling together with young children you probably are instinctively more careful, a couple maybe think about it and a group of friends maybe not that much. If it is a group with mixed sex or a group of men the risk to get in trouble are smaller, but it is still there depending on how you behave or where you go. A group of women may have somewhat higher risk, but better than to travel alone.
Myself I often travel alone visiting friends all over the world and do take some unnecessary risk. I have been in some trouble which I won’t go into, I don’t want to scare you away from traveling and… Well, I am alive to write this but I have the scarves to prove my experiences. It’s all part of the adventure.
Of course you can have bad luck. But where I am going with this is no matter how you travel there is one basic thing to think about;
When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Meaning where do the locals go and what do they avoid? Walking down a dark alley on the way back to the hotel maybe not is the best idea. Taking a trip to the poorer neighborhoods in the evening I don’t think a local would do, so why should you?
How do you dress?
Walking around in shorts and sandals or flip-flops is tempting in the heat, but in most countries it will scream tourist. If the locals leaves their jewelery and expensive watches at home so should you.
Playing children on the streets may be cute, they may also be well trained pickpockers, think of where you keep your things. Camera is a problem, after all you are on vacation, but maybe you can keep your good photographing to daytime and just bring a smaller pocket-size camera with you to dinner or what you like to do in the evening.
Taking a taxi back to the hotel at night is a good idea, just make sure it is marked. Most countries have regulations requiring taxis to be mark with taxi-registration number. Find it and remember the number if the driver see you reading it all the better. If possible avoid go alone.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do… Not only will you be safer, you will get much more out of your well earned vacation. Meet a new culture, see new people and if your lucky taste some new meals you just need to get the recipe for.

Personally I don’t follow my own advice, but I am smooth talker and run really fast

Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

Perhaps I am a bear, or some hibernating animal underneath, for the instinct to be half asleep all winter is so strong in me.
~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Yesterday was not a good day with the trademark winter weather in south Sweden. Snow-mixed rain that froze through the bones. This time of year I always wish I could hibernate, sleep away a few months until the spring brings back the sun. There isn’t very much to do this season, everybody stay inside in various degrees of boredness.
It comes easy to dream away about spending the winter in Mexico.
I think this guy is on to something, I’m homeless and this is why I have an ipad. An Ipad and living the life he want. I have 3 laptops, an Android and one Sony Ericsson walkman, probably a couple of mp3 players as well. I should do pretty good as a permanent traveler.

In my first post I wrote about how I like Mexico and it gave me positive response from my Mexican friends. And some doubtful response from friends never been in Mexico. If you only know Mexico from the news I understand their doubt, all you read and hear is drug wars, gunfights, natural disasters, tropical storms and flooding.
Despite all that this friendly people still reach out a hand to help a visitor.
A few days ago I found my notes from my first trip to Mazatlan, Sinaloa, and it woke some memories, while I was going through customs and trying to figure out how to get to the hotel, the first person I met outside the airport offered me a ride, and I hadn’t been on Mexican sole for more than 30 minutes.
Walking around in the city everybody I asked was eager to help me find my way, if they themselves didn’t know they just asked the next person on the street. Some even followed me and showed the way. A cynical friend said, “Sure, they help you if they can get something out of it”. So what? In Sweden they don’t help, just expect you to give them money anyway.
However I don’t care what other people think. I have seen enough of the world to now we all value different things. I always make sure to get my own opinion of places and people and is traveling with an open mind.

Keep your hat and winter coat on, it’s freezing outside

Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.”
~Frank Herbert

This is a trip to Greece I went on a few years ago.
It was planned for two weeks, but I cut it one week short. Coming home it felt like a terrible vacation, but after a few days with some perspective I had some mixed emotions. It was an adventure, as most of my trips turns out to be.

It was summer, I had some vacation days to take but no plans. Than I read that Greece opened the water for diving, it has earlier been prohibited due to archaeological heritage and fear of treasure hunters. I booked a last minute ticket to anywhere in the Greek archipelago, ended up at Thassos, The green island of Greece, covered with pine trees.
The dive center was located on the other side of the island from my hotel, my first day I spent trying to find someone talking any language but Greek and help how to get around the island.
Next morning I took a bus to Pefkari beach and met the owner and dive guide. A crazy Greek. First he snort at my PADI-certificate, then he gave me way to much weights and a BCD (dive west) about two sizes to large. I went up and down like a yo-yo in the water trying to handle my west and avoiding to get the tank in my neck. Afterwards the crazy Greek whines I had problem keeping the depth… Yes, I wonder why….

In the evening I had some drinks, Ouzo and Retzina, drinking with the locals I had a little bit more than expected, so now diving the day after. I went around in the village tasting the domestic food. Unfortunately it’s garbage day, not a good day to smell Greece.
New morning and time to dive. On place at the crazy Greek in good time. Having breakfast and laying on the beach a couple of hours. About half an hour before we had planned to go out, he says there will be no diving today. Why? He’s a crazy Greek, he doesn’t need a reason. It’s about now I decide to go home early and save my free days for another time.
Next day I learned my lesson, I call before I leave. No diving today either. Why? Who knows, crazy Greek. He did promise it will be two tours tomorrow, Monday. 10 am and 4 pm.
Spending the rest of the day as a tourist, the beach a couple of hours, looking at ancient monuments, having some more of the Greek cuisine. They do know how to cook.

Monday is the day my trip turned from a bad vacation to an adventure. Being in Greece of course it starts a bit chaotic. It’s my last chance to dive, so I am up early. At 8:30am I start look for a rental service to get a car. I found two, none of them had any cars though. At 9 I start panicking and called a taxi. Asking the driver if he could be at Pefkari beach in an hour, it’s just 50 km, but with the narrow roads it’s about an hours drive.
“No problems,” I think he says, he only speaks Greek. And he drove… After running two stop signs, driving on both sides of the streets and speeding 120-130 km/h on roads with a speed limit of 50km I stop looking, I just lean back and holding on for the ride.
All of a sudden he turns inland… great I’m going to be robbed and raped, guess that’s what’s missing… It was actually a shortcut, I arrived after 25 minutes, with shaking legs and happy to be alive I tip the driver well and say a prayer I never have to be driven by him again.
It was well worth it, we got out at 10:30 and this time I got to choose suit, west and weight myself. It was a terrific dive. Warm clear water 20 meters visibility. Colorful fishes, squids and an enormous moray.
After the dive a dutch invited me to lunch in the village but I was sure to be back at the crazy Greek by 4pm for the last dive. When I got there he said he changed is mind, there will be no more tours today. I had to remind him he promised me one more tour, my last dive.
He offered me to go solo out on the reef. Dive alone in unknown water? Not to recommend but I do it.
I hovered between 8 and 5 meters when the moment appears, that moment you wish you bought a UW-camera. A shoal of about 500 little blue aquarium fishes shows up, totally fearless. I meet them nose to nose and for a few seconds the whole world is blue.

Back at the hotel I was satisfied with the day. My hotel neighbors was going home next day and that was my my last day so no more diving. We all go out and party as only Swedes on vacation do…. Not a pretty sight

/Damianos ~The Greek name I was given

Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

When King Bore blows his horn hail, snow and winds will lay upon us.
King Bore – The god of winter in Nordic mythology.

While the high season for tourism is coming to Mexico winter  has arrived to Sweden. 90% of the country has snow and the very south part a long gray rainy season ahead.
Sweden is a long country. Reaching from the 69°N latitude in the north, above the Artic Circle, and 55°N in the south, about the same latitude as Glasgow, Scotland, there is quite a different in season and weather.
The winter snow line usually goes somewhere at the north border of the province I live in, Skåne. Here in the south we have a open west coast against the North Sea and the Atlantic with the Gulf Stream giving us a bit warmer climate.
But with the coast we also have a humid weather, making our warmer climate feeling colder since the cold humid winds icing through skin and bones.
Still, the difference in climate north-south give us some unexpected situations, some years ago I had a customer from the north coming down for a visit. This was in May and we went around in T-shirts and light spring clothes while he came dressed in snow boots and winter jacket, “I had to shovel my car out of the snow this morning.”

winter

Winter fun Photo: Dan Freed

 

 

 

 

However something have happened with the weather, last year for the first time in my 14 years down here we had snow covering the ground and it stayed for a couple of months and we had a summer with tropical heat. I fear this winter, predicting it will be a bad one. Some say we Nordics are boring… Well, I loot out the window and think, “Who can blame us?”

Would be nice living in Mexico December through April.

Stay safe keep warm!

Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

“Remember what Bilbo used to say: ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’”
~JRR Tolkien

As all good stories it starts with, There was this woman…
I’ve been traveling all over the world, friends say I’m looking for… Something. Some says I’m an adrenaline junkie, chasing the kicks. Other says I’m looking for love. Me, I don’t know, I think I’m just a restless soul.
How ever, I’ve had fun, full of experience and have some great stories to tell, and other stories I can never tell.

Which bring us to Mexico and this woman.
I got in contact with this woman in Mexico, she seemed nice and I hadn’t been on a long trip for a couple of years so I booked a flight to Mazatlan. We had a fun weekend and we became, and still remain, very close friends.
What I didn’t expected on this trip was to fall in love in a people, a country, a culture. I feel more home in Mexico than I do in Sweden and I have gone back many times.
Mexico, as all countries, has its problems. Many of my friends ask about the violence. Well, I live in a city where we we have a reported shooting every 5th day or so and when I am writing this there is a manhunt for someone shooting immigrants. So I ask them what they think about the violence around us. Yes, I’m Swedish but who knows, a stray bullet or collateral damage and twice people actually have come up to me on the street and asked me for direction in Arabic by some reason.
What happens to you all depends on the areas you are in and how you act. Mexico just feels worse because its a foreign country, I guess we all are home blind and don’t see, or choose not to see, the problems around us.

In this blog I will write about current events, culture and people in Sweden, Mexico with the Caribbean area, travel in general and maybe photography.

It is also a request for help and tips to achieve my goal to move to Mexico.
Of course I could do it easy, just take a trip and don’t go back, leave everything behind, debts, mortgage, all the problems for another day. Like Ralph Ronzio, walk away and let the bank take over but I have this, in this day and age, crazy idea to do right for myself.
Inspired by Brian Herzlinger, My date with Drew, and Jim Killeen, Google me, whom went to internet for help to achieve their goals, I give it a shot.

One way could be working with time share, but I can’t stand the time share people howling you in walking down the street, so how could I work with that myself?
A few options, start my own business. I launched a webservice, postacall.com, as soon as it gets going I will hopefully have time to go ahead with my others ideas. While I’m waiting for postacall to take off and figured out how to make money out of it another option is to get hired by a multinational company or a Mexican company in need for an english speaking techgeek.
There is also the option that every visitor to this site donate a dollar each and sooner or later I would have enough money for my move, but I don’t really see that happening…

What ever happens, the journey have began, come back and see if I make some progress

Safe travel and don’t forget your towel