All is well in Westport


Friday evening crowd at McGing’s pub in Westport.

I’ve been in Westport for a week now. I’ve delved into the local pub scene and discovered great local beers aside from Guinness which I still do not like (I’m sorry, Ireland!), as well as the joys of Irish music on a Wednesday night. The bus strike is still in effect, making regional travel more expensive and challenging. Yesterday, my roommate Nathalie and I rented a car to go out to Achill Island. Nathalie is German and used to driving a manual car, although not on the opposite side of the road. She did a fine job maneuvering around windy country roads. I did an adequate job of not panicking too visibly in the passenger seat.

Achill was stunning and cold.


Keem Bay.


Sheep on a stroll.


Nathalie with the official greeters of Achill Sound.



My week as a volunteer cat cuddler


This past week I had the pleasure of volunteering for free spay/neuter clinics in three different cities in the Yucatan: Progreso, Mérida, and Valladolid. The clinics are a joint effort between U.S.-based Planned Pethood and local organization AFAD. Mexico has so many street animals and these events help reduce overpopulation while educating communities about dog and cat care. I got involved because my friend Melody has been volunteering with them for years in addition to other animal welfare groups in Mexico. Most people do two or three days but we did all seven because we’re hardcore like that.


Me and Melody on Day One in Progreso.

The clinics themselves are rather like mobile army surgical hospitals. A lot of equipment is brought in and set up quickly in gymnasiums or warehouses, wherever space is found. Veterinarians come in from all over the world for this. There were vets from other cities in Mexico, the U.S., Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria. Mexican veterinary students serve as technicians. Locals and expats volunteer in many roles. More than 300 animals were sterilized each day so there was a lot of activity and a lot of tasks that needed to be accomplished.


It’s Cool in Mérida



A little update as I desperately try to avoid the news today. I need a mental health break. Let’s look at something happy! Here is a photo of me with my hosts in Puebla, Javier and Anita. They were so sweet to me. I almost cried when Anita hugged me goodbye on my last day.


Javier and Anita.

Two years ago when I was in Mexico, I really only spent one full day in Mérida and I used it to go to Chichen Itza. I really didn’t get a good sense of the place. I thought it was a nice city, but not one I had to return to. So, nothing negative at all, but I still decided it was a bad first impression because somehow I didn’t realize that Mérida is awesome.

Of course, this is partially because it’s here that I was reunited with Ken, Martha, and Melody, my dear friends from Spanish school in Puebla two years ago. We would manage to have fun playing in a giant cardboard box if that’s where we were. But it also helps having people who know the city you’re visiting well and can show you the ropes.