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Diary of a travel writer: some madcap times down mexico way

Thursday

Water boarding. Not in the CIA sense, mind you. It took four days of great sun to break down the snow in Les Arcs. It left pools of water right in the middle of the slopes at the lower levels. "It is amazing the piste is in such good condition at all," says Rich, one of the Crystal reps. "It only snowed three times." Global warming or what?

Friday

Flight AM6 from Paris Charles de Gaulle is an hour late. Not bad as these things go. I have had an eight-hour train ride from Bourg St Maurice to stay overnight near the airport and now I'm on the way to Mexico, my carry-on suitcase half full of ski gear.

Saturday

Back at altitude, higher than I was in Les Arcs, but no skiing here. Mexico City is at 2,240m; a madcap, enticing, wonderful city. I have no idea how this place works, and I am sure the authorities don't either. The metro is also daftly laid out. If you only have a few hours, the places to go are the old centre, a mercado if you can and the Bosque de Chapultepec.

Sunday

This is my sixth year attending Mexico's biggest tourist fair. Something spectacular has gone wrong at every one. Flu, an earthquake, non-existent flights. I know the score. All I have is a text message saying your local flight is "MEX-ACA Am309 18.05". So I turned up as instructed, only to find that the flight had been changed to an earlier one, and all the flights are full for two days. So, to the dreaded desks 18 to 20 in terminal 2 at Benito Juárez Airport and the wait list. Only four people. That didn't look too bad until I realised our aircraft was a 50-seater. To my shame, I mentioned President Felipe Calderón was speaking at the event I was supposed to cover. I didn't quite say my good friend Felipe would be disappointed by a no-show, but I hoped they understood. Whatever, it worked. Three of us got on.

Monday

Back in Acapulco at last. How I miss it, like you do a boisterous party host -- loud, brash, noisy. A great place. It will be my last visit. Inevitably, someone got shot on the seafront and the travel journalists and tour ops all got diverted.

Tuesday

I love the Crowne Plaza in Acapulco for its eccentricities as much as anything else. The lift skips the ninth and 15th floors, but I am on a floor that works this year. Last year, I wasn't -- 24 floors up in an earthquake zone. Don't ask.

Wednesday

In Benito Juárez Airport, the big change has been the failure of Mexicana, a huge airline. The empty Mexicana sales desks are still there. A sad sight. Sadder for passengers who have seen fares go up around 25pc since the collapse.

Savvy Traveller, How the Travel Industry Works and How to Make it Work for You, by Eoghan Corry, is priced €15


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