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Bait, Beer and Breakfast Biscuits

State Road 24 in North Florida.

We bought bait, beer and breakfast biscuits, alligator meat was sold by the pound and they had homemade jams.

This is 'the south'.

I had flown into JAX the night before from Madrid. Jetlagged and groggy, the morning's fishing came early. Southeast out of Gainesville down southern highways in the cool North Florida morning with a too-small-for-the-gulf fishing boat in tow. Between plantations of quick-grow Georgia Pines, majestic oaks bearded with spanish moss reminded me I was no longer in Castilla. Out here, off the interstate grid, the sameness of what lies off the grid thankfully remains...different. Deep drainage ditches border the highway and culverts wait for the heavy rains and the odd alligator. Enormous pick up trucks and boat trailers parked in every other driveway with the odd satellite dish rusting like garden gnomes on the front lawns.

We had got an early start but a pitstop had to be made.


The town of Archer passes by, a traffi…
Recent posts

Raising a Different Glass in Roads and Kingdoms: It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere

I had narrowly avoided massacring a dozen newly hatched chicks in a box, whose chirping had accompanied us up from Qax. Stumbling backwards as the rusted-out Soviet-era bus corkscrewed us deeper into the Caucasus, I instead tumbled into the lap of heavily mustached Georgian-speaking shepherd. He didn’t smile...

Writing in Roads and Kingdoms 5 O'Clock Somewhere series...drinks around the world.



The first time we went up in the summer, wild camping below the range that leads to Daghastan, Russia and beyond. Few tourists leave the folds of Baku in Azerbaijan and those that do escape, even fewer go beyond Shaki. Up here the stiff divisions drawn by the Soviets in Moscow blur and the frontiers that the locals carry in the hearts blend into each other.


We stopped in Qax on the way up and then up to Ilisu. Georgian churches mix with Azeri mosques up here. The world of Ali and Nino, a place where divisions are less defined. 

The valley was alive with the fruits of the waning summer and the…

Post Academy Life: 5 ways to move beyond teaching at Language Academies in Spain

Open a job search for ESL job openings around the world at any time of the year and a sunny southern corner of Europe is bound to tally the most hits. A place where, if you subscribe to RP pronunciation patterns, the rain falls mainly on the plain. A place I have called home off and on for more than 15 years, Spain...

And thus starts my piece in EFL Magazine. Click over for a look.

The Rain...

Writing in the local paper. Local Issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

The rain here in Caceres always reminds me of the words of fellow Mercedes Calles Premio de Periodismo winner, Juan Manuel de Prada, when he wrote that San Mateo ‘parecĂ­a desmigajarse, empapada por el agua’ (the church, watersoaked, began to crumble). His story sang true, the city undergoes a tranformative change the few days a year when the rain indeed sets in for a full-day wetting. The warm ochre colors that I fell in love with when I first arrived begin to dim and fade, slowing returning to their natural colour of earth. The arab roof tiles designed to bake in the sun repel the water as best as they can while dark humidity stains spread along the walls. The birds that normally sing and soar above are nowhere to be seen or heard. The distant mountains that can normally be seen from up in the barrio San Antonio blend…

A Fall that Makes Niagara Small

Remember when the National Parks weren't overflowing with motor homes dragging trailers and there wasn't a 6-inch-thick book of rules and regulations to read through before registering for a campsite? Tucked away smack in the middle of the province of British Columbia lies a provincial park that will take your nostalgia away. 540,000 acres of prime bear habitat in the Cariboo Mountains where paddlers can avoid the wakes in North America's largest motor-free body of water. Retreating glaciers surgically carved careening canyons and veering valleys out of coursing lava flows, all of which come complete with picture-postcard waterfalls that run out of see-to-the-bottom lakes. Coming to Canada for the first time? Niagara Falls nothing, the local Helmcken Falls almost triples it by dramatically falling 463 feet out of one of those glacial cuts.

#hiking #wildlife #canyons #outdoors #fishing #glaciers #mountains #nature #lakes #lake #camping #park #waterfalls #kayaking #parks #g…

De-Use It - A tale of coursebook misuse

Last month I was asked by one of the editors of IATEFL's TDSIGnewsletter to contribute to their Teacher Development Stories series and I came up with the following.

They say you never miss the water till the well runs dry and as is often the case, they were right. For years, the institute where I work had shown keen interest the ongoing development of its teachers. Training sessions were organized throughout the year, the occasional methodology book was acquired and money was even found to help teachers attend conferences around the country. But times are tough here in Spain and while it took some time to finally filter down to this modest, lost corner of the country, last September we found ourselves forced to become apostates to the country’s new religion, Austerity. The new fundamentalist prophets ruled that Teacher Training and CPD was frivolous and non-belief in the new creed would not be tolerated. Deprived of this flow of ideas, the few teachers that remained were forced to …

Sunday Goodbyes

Writing in the local paper. Local issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

Sunday afternoon in the Calle Moret in this everlasting climate-change-denyer's indian summer. At first glance everything looks the same. Graffiti splatters the shuttered shop windows that used to bear life and the few businesses that are still open are also closed up tight for a well-deserved day of rest. After all it is Sunday in Spain and moreso in Caceres. But a closer look, and listen, shows that it’s not just another sleepy Day of their Lord. About halfway down the pedestrian street a few people appear, then a few more and suddenly there’s a large crowd. After the recent altercations between the raging nationalists that have happened in the main square, you could start to feel nervous but there are no flags, anger or confrontation here, just smiles, dance steps and cries for more. This is a meeting of a diffe…