I'm home! (but you can still call me Rainman...)
Trip Start Feb 16, 2011
18Trip End Jun 28, 2011
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Playa del Carmen
Everyone knows that I am not a fan of pasty skin, but in all fairness, I practise what I preach, and go to great lengths to ensure that whenever possible, I am nicely tanned so as not to be 'bungled in' with my fellow whities. As I mentioned in my previous entry, Tulum was quite a way from the beach, so I decided to spend a few days in Playa del Carmen before flying back to Mexico City. The plan was to stay at a hostel a short distance from the beach and spend three full days basking in the glorious sunshine which had been present, but not fully exploited, in Tulum.
I arrived on Friday evening, and had a flight booked for Tuesday morning. I don't have much to report though. This was the weather:
Friday (evening arrival): Sunshine.
Saturday: Total cloud cover and thunderstorms.
Sunday: Total cloud cover and thunderstorms.
Monday: Total cloud cover and thunderstorms.
Tuesday (morning departure): Sunshine.
I'm not kidding. And to be honest, it threatened to put a dampener on my entire trip. Especially as Mexico City had sunshine up until I returned on the Tuesday, where it then proceeded to rain every day until my flight home. When you go somewhere purely for good weather, bad weather throws a proverbial spanner in the works. But the good news is, I've now succesfully negotiated my way through fifty games of Free Cell.
Back in Distrito Federal, I continued my form of lounging around and not getting up to much in capital cities. I went out with Suha one night to a couple of cool bars, but it didn't take long before I was feeling tired and sick and needed to go home. Standard. I also bumped into Rucha, who I met on my first few days in Buenos Aires, although our paths merely crossing rather than running parallel thwarted a chance of a proper catch up.
Suha and I also watched an entire series of 'Pretty Little Liars', which is about as masculine a programme as it sounds. Episode 1 came on the television, and after five minutes had elapsed, I bit my tongue when all I wanted to mutter was "What is this shit? Can we watch something else please?"
Ten minutes later and my opinion of it had improved. In fact, I was getting quite into it. 3 days and 22 episodes later, the series was complete and I considered if I should do something a bit more productive with my ever-evapourating Mexican hours.
We headed out to Chapultepec Park, as the sun was out (shock horror) and I wasn't going to miss an opportunity like this. When we arrived at 12:30, the guard told us that the park was closed until 1:15. He didn't give a reason, it just was. We decided to wait, but I had spotted a huddle of clouds on the horizon. 1:15 came around, so we again stood at the gate. This time, the guard, taking a break from his obviously hectic schedule of sitting down, chatting with his colleagues, and reading a book, informed us that actually, the park was not going to open at all. I looked up to the heavens in disgust, and noted that the once-distant cloud-huddle was now very much part of the action. As we traipsed away from the locked gates, there was a performance by some traditional Mexicans (Is traditional the right word? Maybe... Original? Indian? Browner?) taking place. They climbed to the top of an extremely tall pole, tied themselves on with a few ropes, and then let themselves drop, as if they were bungee jumping, except the taught rope unravels gradually, whilst one of the performers played a tune on a recorder-type instrument. The procession lasted about twenty minutes, and I guess the guys must have had quite a headrush by the end. I wondered if they have many accidents, as they climb the pole freestyle. It was nice to stop and see this circus-like act, but we quickly moved on as the storm was moving in...
I flew home on Monday night and had very little sleep overnight on the plane. I guess this shouldn't come as a great surprise; Economy class, even on British Airways, has rarely been acknowledged as a prime location for dreamcatching. After spending a night in London, I returned to Winchester and can now be found aimlessly wandering from room to room, wondering when I'm going to get round to unpacking that huge slug of a bag and put my clothes through the washing machine, before finally deciding that it can wait until after I've browsed the internet for a while. This cycle repeats continuously. Suha is coming to stay next week though, so I ought to sort myself out...
So, has travelling changed me? In a word, no. As you've probably guessed from reading my blogs, I am still very much the same cynical, intolerant and misanthropic person that I was when I left Deloitte almost a year ago. I do feel though, that during this second adventure, I have learnt to relax a little more (but only marginally), I can speak fractionally better Spanish and am one step closer to working out what I want to do with my life. 'One' being the operative word, as it seems there are still hundreds more ahead of me.
Perhaps the key thing I have taken from my voyage is the knowledge that I can do trips like these on my own, and that places which appear such a long way from home aren't nearly such an effort to visit. In future, I know that if I can't convince anyone to come with me to a place I want to see, I'll probably just go on my own, whereas before this trip I would have given up on the prospect.
I think my 'travelling' bug has been placated, at least in the short term. I never had any concerns about being on my own, but there were times when I would have liked to have been with some good friends, mainly because I probably would have been open to more activites if someone else was joining me for the experience (i.e. straying from the Gringo Trail from time to time).
That being said, I encountered many people along the way, and whilst there were a handful who failed to enrich my trip, most of them have been friendly, many of them offered various pearls of wisdom, and some even emerged as friends.
A few highlights, in approximate choronological order, have been:
- Endless views, horse riding and chocolate in Bariloche.
- Climbing the Volcano in Pucon, and more importantly, sliding back down in the snow whilst listening to Ski Sunday.
- Discovering that I simply don't like clubbing. And in fact, unless I'm with the right group of people, I don't really like any sort of 'fun'. This was a bit of a watershed moment for me. I know, I know, I am a right barrel of laughs.
- Seeing a River Plate game, and continuing my superb form of jinxing just about everything I turn my attention to. As I stepped into the stadium, River were currently 1 point off the top of the table, and unbeaten in their first seven games. 90 minutes later, they were no longer undefeated, and at the end of the season, they were relegated for the first time in their 110-year history. Sorry about that.
- Two World Wonders. Machu Picchu was incredible and significantly better than Chichen Itza, but that was cool to see as well.
- Dune buggying, sandboarding, and sunbathing in Huacachina.
- Seeing friends from my first trip in Mexico (especially Suha, ahhhh)
- Swimming in the Cenotes in Tulum, and then seeing Sea Turtles whilst snorkeling off the coast at Akumal.
- Writing this blog.
And that's about it really. I have enjoyed keeping a record of my trip. If you have been reading please let me know, as I like to hear who has been following my escapades. I hope it has been a fairly entertaining way to avoid work in the office (I haven't totally forgotten what the real world is like)!