Birthday lunch at Jonah’s, Whale Beach

I recently turned 33, spending my birthday camping in the northern beaches of Sydney.  Besides an incident with a tent pole flying out of the ground and hitting me in the forehead (massive lump ensued – thank god for beer eskies close at hand full of ice!), it was a memorable event with the White Russian taking me out for a birthday lunch at Jonah’s at Whale Beach.

We had their Sunday 3-course set menu, starting off with cocktails to celebrate the occasion, all overlooking the stunning Pacific Ocean coastline on a blue bird day.

Jonah's Whale Beach appetiser

Jonah's Whale Beach lychee and raspberry cocktail

Jonah's Whale Beach North Atlantic scallops

Jonah's Whale Beach Redgate Farm partridge

Jonah's birthday lunch

Jonah's Whale Beach Blue Eyed trevalla

Jonah's Whale Beach

Jonah's Whale Beach vanilla mille-feuille

Jonah's Whale Beach cheese platter

Jonah's Whale Beach happy birthday petit fours

My Redgate Farm partridge in particular was delicious, with deep and rich earthy flavours, and the light-as-air, flaky vanilla mille-feuille was a satisfying finish to the meal.

Jonah's on Urbanspoon

Fat Mexicans

There are not many skinny Mexicans around, and when so much of their lovely food is deep fried and/or stuffed with cheese, it’s not really surprising.  And if it isn’t the cheesy morsels that tempt, the hot weather means that ice cream is always available and beckoning.  Thank god I’m nearing the end of the Mexico leg of my travels because I’m quite sure I’ve put on a couple of kilos since being here.  I must learn to say NO, rather than thinking “aah, but I’m on holidays!” because, for the sake of not only my figure but also my arteries, I can’t keep saying that for the next 5 months.

Of course, this was slightly relaxed for my 30th birthday, when I treated myself to a lovely, juicy ribeye steak at the fanciest place in Cozumel.  Heaven!

I did a couple of great dives in Cozumel off Punta Sur on the morning of my birthday, seeing a turtle, an eagle ray, and gorgeous reef fish and colourful corals.  I also tried to dive on Christmas Day, however it was pretty blowy out so the dives were cancelled.

All in all, the last few weeks in the Yucatan peninsula – Cancun (awful, awful place), Isla Mujeres (planned to stay here for 3 days and ended up here for 6 days) and Cozumel (nice diving, shame about the cruise ships) – have been pretty relaxing.  I arrived in Tulum yesterday to try some cenote diving, which were completely different to any diving that I’d done before and were a great experience.  The first dive was in Angelita, where we went through a halocline of hydrogen sulphate around 25m.  I couldn’t even see my buddy a metre in front of me through the cloud – really eerie feeling!  The second dive was in the cavern of the Grand Cenote, where the water was gin clear and we weaved our way through hanging stalactites.  Breathtaking dive!

Tomorrow is my last day in Mexico before I head off to Belize.  Adios amigos!

Three decades already?

I am turning the big 3-0 this year, and what better way is there to celebrate it than by chucking in my job and embracing unemployment? By doing this and throwing caution to the wind – backpacking alone through Central America whilst diving the beautiful Caribbean, learning Spanish, and working out what the hell it is that I want to do with the rest of my life.

I will be flying out of London on the 16th of November, spending a week diving in Florida, then starting my Central American adventures in Mexico City on the 23rd of November. I have a flight from Bogota back to London at the end of April but, who knows, if I’m loving it then I may stay a bit longer (and if I run out of money, then I will be back sooner!).
I’d really like to get to Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, but I may have to save those destinations for another trip.
Check back here for preparations, and blog entries and photos while I’m away.  Only 47 days to take off!

The countdown to 30

My 21st birthday was a fairly forgettable event, celebrated with two fellow CSUS students in a dodgy Irish pub in San Francisco.  However, this year I’m turning 30 and thinking that it’s high time I did something momentous.

I debated climbing Mt Kilimanjaro or going to Victoria Falls, but in the end I settled on going for an extended backpacking trip for 6 months through Central America, hopefully diving the Blue Hole in Belize on my actual birthday!

So I’ve now booked my flights, with a short one-week stop in Florida to check out the Florida Keys and hopefully dive the former USS Oriskany. Then I fly to Mexico City, where I will make my own way all through Central America – Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama – to end up in Colombia.

Along the way, I will be doing lots of diving, learning Spanish, getting a tan, relaxing, and hopefully visiting my World Vision sponsor child.  I will also be revelling in my longest ever period of unemployment. Bliss!

I never thought I’d say it, but hey, I’m looking forward to turning 30!