20/12/11: All is not going to plan. It just so happens, to my surprise, that in Mexico, they speak Spanish. I tell people I love their laxative instead of their accent (an easy mistake to make). They tell me to stop molesting them. At first horrified, I search through my dictionary and find reassurance that I’m not about to be processed by the Mexican legal system for sexual harassment. This comes as a relief to someone who is tired after having spent last night in Orlando’s airport terminal trying to speak Spanish to a young woman from Columbia as she tried to convert me to Mormonism. She then hid beneath her jumper with her bible as the cleaner proudly informed me that McDonald’s stays open until 3am. Phew.
22/12/11: After having come close to calling my mummy to drop by and pick me up, things take an upward turn. Yesterday I cycled through a jungle looking at Maya ruins and at last managed to get out some cash. So I can now eat. I write this from a beautiful old building still being decorated; I had tequila with grapefruit on the way over, walking past the sea. I compose an ode to morning alcoholism. I’m where I want to be.
25/12/11: Apparently jelly is a typical Christmas desert. I ate it last night with my makeshift family that had come together on the beaches of Progreso (swimming not recommended, barbecues for a recently retired vegetarian, highly recommended). After our Christmas jelly, we went out to dance along the streets. There was an Italian who spoke to me in Spanish and at last I understood. The language made sense. I could speak it. But more importantly, I discovered something better than tacos: banana dipped in nutella. Warning: for the unsuspecting consumer, infatuation with the chef is a likely side effect.
26/12/11: I need to plan where I’m going, where I’m turning back, what I need to see. I want to swim in a cenote. I want to go to the ruins on the rocks of Tulum.
28/12/11: The year is nearly at a close…what have I learnt? Two kinds of doors, two kinds of paths…two ways to look at a situation.
|View Over San Cristobel|
30/12/11: I’m on the bus to San Cristobel. I stopped writing the last entry when my hammock neighbours said hello and then yet again my world changed. Especially after the mushroom tea. A voice of wisdom told me ‘Be where you need to be and you’ll meet who you need to meet’ as the burning logs began to move and the shadows became snakes. The day after I swam beneath a waterfall and spoke to a Mexican about health care and education and crime. He wanted to live in Mexico. And I’d let myself be fooled into thinking they were all desperate to cross the border anyway possible to reach the Promised Land.
3/01/12: First entry of the new year, being written on an 18 hour bus journey. No toilet on board. I plan my life. Someone behind me throws up. I pick apart what I’ve learnt and how I can be the person I want to be. I try to grasp the moments I left in the last place. I realise I keep writing in the in-between moments. I’m not capturing the moments themselves. They have to be lived.
04/01/12: In white sands, turquoise waters and coconut trees beach paradise, and I want to be elsewhere. Last night I slept in a hammock, freezing cold as I wrapped myself in dirty, sweaty clothes after having been chased along the road by a Mexican man on a bicycle with a hole in the crotch of his jeans shouting ‘Quieres novio?’ (want a boyfriend?)
05/01/12: Perhaps the cold last night weakened my immune system. I appear to have been struck by a severe case of travel snobbery. Symptoms presenting include: thinking that somewhere is too touristy (hey, I’m not a tourist, I’m a traveller), and inwardly tutting every time someone gets out their camera (still bitter that I lost mine). I decide my Spanish is suffering, as I ignore everyone around me, and resolve to return to Merida.
08/01/12: Last day in Mexico. On the bus here I was told about a man who started out with a red paper clip and made one trade at a time until he ended up with an island. Now I’m back in the town where I began. I feel I should have something profound to say about Mexico. About how the journey along side streets to the Zapatista university with mud walls, or the strange church with no pews where they drank coca cola to cleanse their souls, or the cenotes where tree routes and sunlight fall down through holes into caves of electric blue water whose light reflects off rocks, left some deep impression. But I can’t make anything coherent.
Its beauty isn’t a clean, straight forward one. There’s a lot of mess and car fumes. But there’s the beauty you stumble across– the court yards, and the places where the disorder gives birth to something.
The colonial buildings and Maya ruins and cheap new buildings with palm trees surrounding them and loud music blasting out from tacky clothes shops and the mountain views of San Cristobel and the thrill of dancing salsa and the deep poverty and a large middle class and in some ways it’s not all so different from the States except for I felt freer here and less of a need to prove myself through success and more of a need to learn from, build upon, value and get to grip with the relationships I form.
14/01/12: On return I confess to a friend that I carelessly lost my camera near the beginning and spent too much time making out with Joses (well, two – one of them had a moustache and some hot salsa moves) or chasing Italians, when I should have been getting to know the culture. He wisely assures me: there are many ways to get to know people. One of them is with your mouth.