Tuesday, December 30, 2008

K & J Have This to Say About Lawson...

"Thanks a lot for driving us around that day. Overall we were pretty happy with the day's events. It really took a load off not worrying about how to get between the sites, and then to Merida a few hours away after we were all done. Definitely saved time and we got to experience more of the true Yucatecan culture and food than if we went it alone. Also I'm not sure we would have been able to get that awesome "behind the curtain" tour of the convent in Valladolid if we went by ourselves! Getting to Ek Balam in time was a close call though, I think we spent too much time at lunch. But it worked out fine and it was a very satisfying day, not sure what else we could have done after that. Except maybe hit a night club or two... ;) K."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Good-Bye Yellow Car!

Yes, it's time has come.

The yellow car, vehicle of choice for Lawson's Driving Excursions, has been officially sold. It's been fun, lots of memories in that car, both personal and Lawson-ish!

Stay tuned for info on the next LawsonMobile!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ek Balam, Valladolid and Smoked Meat in Temozon

Well hopefully another happy couple has enjoyed the neurotic services of William Lawson! The day's activities went something like this:
  • 12 noon - pick up at the gorgeous Hacienda Chichen hotel;
  • drive to Valladolid, with stops at the Ik Kil and Dzitnup cenotes, additional stops along the way for chinas, mandarinas and fresh, cold coconut water;
  • a brief tour of Valladolid, consisting of walking around the main square and buying some memory for the digital camera, as well as a visit to the convent San Bernadino de Siena, where we had a 'mini-tour' from one of the men who works there, translated from Spanish to English by yours truly;
  • enjoying stomach-bursting Yucatecan-food lunch in Valladolid;
  • driving in a food-induced stupor to Ek Balam ruins, which we made just in time since they close at 4:30 pm;
  • followed by a visit to the Eco Genesis hotel in the town of Ek Balam, to check out this eclectic hotel run by a very nice Canadian lady in the middle of practically no-where;
  • after which there were photo ops with kids and a lady making a hammock right there in Ek Balam;
  • and then a quick stop at Temozon to sample (and buy) some of their smoked meat
  • after which, finally, driving back to Merida for hotel check in.

All in all, a complete and rather exhausting day! This was a full day trip.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Missed Connection!

A real first!

Well, I was all fired up to take some folks arriving on the cruise ship at Progreso, on a feeding frenzy this morning but for some reason we didn't connect and after waiting around for a couple of hours, I decided that maybe something better had come along for them and my services were no longer required! Darn! There was however plenty of time to sit and watch the tourists arrive and, as always, the opportunity to make some observations about the lovely arrival people can expect in Progreso! You can read about them at the NotTheNews regular blog!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Another Real Endorsement

I too want to thank you for helping to make our trip so special. It was great to have someone driving us who "clicked" so much with us, especially with A and mine idiosyncrasies. I loved your commentary. I would really enjoy getting the pictures. 'd love to get together when you come to NYC and would love to show you parts of NYC you may never have seen.

BTW, A has told everyone we have seen so far how great you were. Getting an A from her is rare!

Take care.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Yet another use for Mr. Lawson

There are so many ways one could use and abuse Mr. Lawson.

Visiting Merida House Rentals - Why, you could spend a leisurely morning perusing rental ads in the local paper, while sipping your fresh squeezed orange juice at your charming B&B and then spend an afternoon actually visiting the places you picked out, wherever they may be, along with your private, personal and highly opinionated driver.

A Seaside Lunch - Perhaps you have a hankering for halibut? That would be too bad because we don't actually get much halibut around these parts. But in the nearby Port of Progreso, there is an ample selection of seafood places at which to try some of the more local variety of fish. How about a boquinete or mero, cleaned and then deep fried whole, served on a plate crunchy tail and all for your finger licking enjoyment? It's like eating highly addictive southern fried chicken complete with greasy hands (sans slaw) and all. Your personal driver can make that happen without any complications to do with language, scheduling of buses and so on. The only thing you have to do is let me know and wash your hands thoroughly after lunch since we don't want the Yellow Car smelling fishy now do we?

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Real Endorsement (I don't do fake ones)

Anonymous Karan & Jim said...

As one of the crazy adopted Canucks (Canadian’s) from the AAMT 2007 in October/November of last year I can honestly say you made our trip and anyone thinking of using your services is on the right track. If you need us as a reference you have our email address and we would be more then happy to answer any questions or concerns they have.


Karan and Jim
Surrey, BC Canada

Sunday, November 9, 2008

More Uses for Bill Lawson

Airport Arrival, Rental Beach Home Provisioning and Rental Home Introductions - You arrive at the airport, are immediately assaulted by the humidity and warmth of the Yucatan, along with Yours Truly with a hand-painted sign with your name on it. We load you and your luggage into the Yellow Car and head off to your paradisaical beachfront rental, stopping at Sam´s, Costco or Aurrera to shop for essentials like tequila and chips. I tell you which ones are the best chips and which tequila will go down smoothest. After negotiating the cash registers with your debit card, we head out to the beach house and meet with the gardener/caretaker who speaks no English and make the introductions. Sometimes the owner is even there and everything is clarified with me in your corner. Then I leave you, with or without a Lawson Brick, an ancient but useful pre-paid cell phone since there are no phones at the beach and your roaming charges can be killer, with which you can either call me or whomever, whenever the mood strikes to go somewhere. How exciting is that?!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Some Possible Uses for Mr. Lawson

The Panucho Craving - Let's say you are installed in your rental home, condo or hotel. You have a hankering to head out to Kanasin, on the outskirts of Merida, to enjoy Merida's arguably best panuchos, salbutes and caldos especiales. You could take a cab, you could rent a car (not really spur of the moment) or you could take a bus (naah). Instead you book Mr. Lawson and arrange for him to pick you up at your doorstep, get into the yellow car, and head off through Merida until you reach your destination. During dinner you can pick my brain or not, as you wish. I can wait for you too. After dinner, you are whisked back to your accommodation as quickly or as slowly as you want, depending on which detours and or sights you might want to pass by on the way.

Boy's Night Out - a designated driver who not only speaks the lingo, has no ulterior motive and will also help you negotiate the intricacies of tipping in Merida's nightclubs. Not for the faint-hearted but always fun.

Golf Club Checkout - let's say you wanted to see both of Merida's glof clubs. Maybe even check out the third one that is possibly already underway. No problem. A half day outing to the clubs to see what they charge, what their facilities are really like and what the course has to offer. Door to door comfort.

more later...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Some Generic Rates

Airport Pickup and Delivery - The French Connection

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of meeting 2 couples from Quebec who needed help with their luggage and getting to their rented beach house in Uaymitun. They had rented a small car which would fit the four of them but not their luggage and since they were arriving after dark, they contacted me to lead the way and transport bags.

Picked them up at 7 - 7:30 pm at Mérida´s airport and, after checking out the rental car for dings and malfunctioning lights, we loaded up both cars with luggage and people and took the periférico out to Progreso and on to Uaymitún, with a quick stopover at the Bodega Aurrera grocery store in Progreso to buy wine, beer and some snacking material.

I also called the lady who was renting them the house to let her know that her guests had arrived and helped out a little with the initial introductions and went over the instructions and indications on how the house worked. As an added perk, they got the Lawson Brick, an older cell phone with some credit on it so they would not be totally cut off from the world (there are no land line phones at the beach).

Total time for this trip? 2 hours.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Uxmal / LolTun Caves Day Trip

The Manhattan group also wanted to visited some ruins and rightly decided that Chichen was far too overrun with tourists to be enjoyable; we opted instead for Uxmal followed by a trip a little further along through the Puuc route, to Loltun Caves.

A 7 AM pickup at the hotel, a cooler with water, soda and cookies for snacking and we were off, arriving in Uxmal just before 9 AM to enjoy a couple of hours tramping around the ruins before the morning dew completely evaporated and it became too hot. The tourists, Italians and Spaniards in large groups with matching travel bags milling around the espresso cart at the entrance, were assembling en masse around 11 AM but we had finished by that time.

We then broke for a rather mediocre lunch at the (former?) Club Med Archaeological Villas and then continued along the Puuc Route to LolTun. Where we arrived just in time to wait about 45 minutes for the 1 PM tour to begin. After the hour long underground visit to the cave, we were back on the road towards Merida, with only a stop in Mani to look at the convent where that fine fellow Friar Diego De Landa burned all the Mayan documents he could get his hands on, thereby singlehandedly destroying about 95% of the written history of the original inhabitants of the Yucatan.

We were back in the hotel at 5 PM, making this a full day trip.

Sotuta de Peon Excursion with Storey Uayalceh Add-on

Another tour to Sotuta de Peon; this one due to the fact that the weather suddenly became horrid - chilly, wet, grey and windy - and bobbing about on a choppy sea dressed in black garbage bags around Celestun had definitely lost it's appeal!

Picked up my Manhattan friends at the Fiesta Americana hotel at 9 AM and we arrived at 9:55 AM sharp at the Hacienda. The smaller guests always enjoy the sounds and smells (!) of the sheep so that was the first stop while waiting for the tour to begin.

Robert, the Cuban-American tour guide, has apparently left the employ of the Hacienda and Jorge is now doing a fine job, complete with bullhorn and freshly welcome comments such as "the hacienda owners were catholics, but they were definitely not good people", alluding to their use of Mayans as slaves.

Again the machinery and swimming in the cenote were the highlight of the trip and again, I mentioned to the Hacienda people that they need to get some sort of gift shop happening; everyone was asking about something to buy as a souvenir. Keep your eyes and ears open and you can pick up a handmade key chain from some of the workers for 10 pesos which is less than a dollar at today's exchange rates.

After the Sotuta de Peon experience and at the insistence of my guests, one of whom wanted to see and feel a small town, we drove the additional 5 kms to Uayalceh where to our great surprise we found a fabulous, hacienda that once had been very wealthy - completely in ruins.

Apparently only the main house is occupied, but the rest of the buildings are weed covered and visitable which makes for a superb glimpse at how the haciendas were before they were bought up and restored to 5 star hotels and such.

Then a stop at the local tortilleria where we raised more than a few eyebrows - not too many tourists I suppose. The turkeys out front, the kids, the smell of fresh tortillas - it was a great finish to the day, especially when we started eating the tortillas in the car on the way back. You cannot find this quality of tortilla in Merida (at least it is quite difficult) and we must have eaten a dozen each.

Finally, a stop at a roadside stand to buy and suck on chinas (oranges), a typical Yucatecan highway snack.

We arrived back at the Fiesta Americana about 6 hours later, tired but satisfied; a good time was had by all.