My first month or so of female solo travelling has been incredible, having visited three countries, seen one of the seven wonders of the world and eating my weight in tacos.
Newsletter: June 2017
San Diego, USA
The US was great. I spent ten days or so with my family out there and it was exactly what I needed. Even in the week leading up to my travels I was very busy, in my last week I did three English cities in a week saying my goodbyes and organising PR. It was like a home away from home. La Jolla in particular has a great vibe, you have so much to do outdoors; surfing, hiking, yoga, swimming and as a result of these outdoors activities everything has an outdoorsy feel, even indoors.
The area seems on the ball with the healthy way of living; vegan, gluten and diary-free are clearly visible on lots of menus. For me with my illness making me gluten free, this was the dream. Food always plays a big part in my life and thanks to my aunty the food was top notch while I was there. I surfed, wandered food markets, did beach yoga and ate super healthy food on a beautiful roof terrace next to aerial yoga.
Mexico City and a health scare.
Next was Mexico City. I’d been spoilt rotten by my family in the US and I realised this was the beginning of the real travelling- within 36 hours of being there I’d hiked the largest Aztec pyramid in the world and ate crickets in a cave, it was incredible.
By day three, I was struggling with horrendous insomnia and my heart rate (HR) when I woke up in the night was around 104-108 beats per minute (BPM), as an example to a healthy person this HR would be similar to if you were hiking up a steep hill. I was seriously worried my illness which is currently in remission, PoTS, was playing up and I’ve only just started! Often with PoTS you can have flare ups if you are run down with something on your mind- I was incredibly busy before I left and in the back of my head I was already questioning how I could manage if this continued. I’ve had flare ups before that have lasted over three to four months before I could get myself back to a manageable standard of living. After five nights of 2-3 hours of sleep per night I felt like I was about to crack, I could not travel feeling like this. Physical symptoms of anxiety came back, I had the shakes, my HR was 130 BPM on standing (thats higher than Mo Farah’s in an olympic race) and my stomach was in so much pain I could hardly eat. This was the worst my PoTS had been in over six months, so I gave up on doing anything in Mexico City and set it aside as time to control my health. A run down hostel in central Mexico City in a dorm of twelve was not the place you want a flare up but amazingly what I was doing seemed to work. Yoga, CBT practices, meditation, mindfulness, Chinese herbs I’d packed just in case something happened, you name it, I did it all for three days solid pretty much while committing to the price of a private room in my next stop, Oaxaca. It took me by surprise how quickly I did recover and just shows that either my body or I am now better at controlling my flare ups. By the time I was ready to leave Mexico City I had it just about under control, which to anyone reading not aware of chronic illness flare ups- its a near miracle.
Oaxaca with its brightly coloured buildings, winding streets and food to try on every corner had my heart in an instant. It was beautiful and ended up being my favourite Mexican city despite me arriving at the end of storm. I was lucky enough to meet a great group of people from all over the world to spend my time here with, one however was very close to home, a girl in the group lived next door to where I worked back in Nottingham.
This is where Mexico stole my culinary heart. It was incredible to eat freshly cooked chocolate after you’ve watched the vanilla, sugar, cocoa and almonds being churned together. I wrote an article about everything delicious that you should try if your ever find yourself in Mexico at the bottom of the email. Even looking back at the photos in the article knowing how incredible it was makes me hungry.
Mezcal played a large role in my Oaxaca stay due to two guys I was with having a passion for it like I’ve never seen. Pat even wrote a full article on how great all the varieties are here. I love when people love things as much as these two did with Mezcal, it made the distillery tour and tastings so much more fun.
Puerto Escondido (Oaxaca region, West Coast, Mexico)
Next on my stop was surfing for a week on the west coast of Mexico in Puerto Escondido. I did a top five things to do in P.E which is in the links in the bottom, but surfing took the top spot here for me. My lessons were made ten times more fun with my enthusiastic and super cute 18-year-old instructors who just loved life, on top of it one also had the same name as my dog, Barchi, so I was sold. Puerto Escondido and the West Coast of Mexico is a lot cheaper than the East Coast, you’ve got a meal for £2 and cocktails for £1.20. I could have easily stayed another two weeks, relaxing, surfing and eating food but my flight was booked and as a result I was east coast bound.
Tulum (Quitana Roo, East Coast, Mexico)
My trip from the west coast to the east coast was long, taxi-plane-plane-bus-bus-shuttle bus, it was an effort but so worth it. I was surprised by how different the east coast of Mexico was as compared to the west coast. The east coast line is beautiful, the waters of the cenotes (massive sink holes) and the beaches were blue and crystal clear but as a result more tourists were there.
I drank the best mojito of my life here, spent days pottering about in water so fresh you can drink it. I swam with turtles, explored ruins while seeing one of the seven wonders of the world and seemed determined to put on weight by eating all the Mexican food I laid my eyes on. Mexico is a gluten-free paradise to anyone who struggles with gluten too. Tulum was also the place I have had my weirdest travelling experience to date by meeting Elle. A runaway swede due to not getting on with her mum, now living on the streets in Tulum with severe mental health problems-I wrote about my hour with her in the article here. Getting back to the hostel and telling others her story, jaws dropped it was just so bizarre and still thinking about it now it shocks me.
Caye Caulker, Belize and a border hassle.
Getting over the Mexican border was a hassle, the people that had gone the previous night told me to take money with me for the exit fee that was equivalent to £20 (US$25) however as is well known in Mexico, prices change depending on how much the employees of the border fancy charging. This particular night it was actually £25, fine by me but with the crossing being at 3am, with no ATMs and the nearest town being a taxi ride away I was in a mess. Luckily two welsh guys also had the same issue, they read the exit fee is never more than £15. We managed to borrow money off a life-saver american who then unfortunately couldn’t enter Belize because his passport was due to expire in two months. As a result both me and the two welsh guys reluctantly paid the bus driver saying he has arranged to pass it on to the guy we owed. We walked back on the bus with certainty the american wouldn’t be seeing his money, combined with not being allowed into Belize, he had had a rough night.
Caye Caulker is a small island about a 30 minute ferry ride from Belize City that is scattered with backpackers and really engulfs you in its relaxed Caribbean island life. As a result of avoiding a real hassle at the border I spent all my time in Caye Caulker with the two welsh guys. Very much welsh men out to have a good time, I had to spend a day as they wore welsh flag speedos, captain hats and flowery shirts to celebrate one of their birthdays. They also managed to convince me for a good four hours in my hungover state on the second day that they had entered me into ‘Miss Lobster’ an annual beauty pageant held on the island as part of the Lobster fest (a festival taken in parallel seriousness as the Irish take Paddys day).
We spent our days soaking up island life; relaxing, eating the amazing BBQ sea food as the sun set, drinking cocktails and beer on the numerous swings in the bars and snorkelled with sting rays and sharks. It was so chilled, as the first local I saw said to me (I still walk at a Londoners pace) ‘Relax, on Cayes, we go slow.’ I loved my time there.
Next stops in July are everything Guatemalan with a week or so in El Salvador. Fingers crossed it’ll be more sun, surfing, food, beaches, swimming, hikes, ruins and incredible panoramic views. I’ll report back next month, If you guys have ever been to either of these places before let me know- I want all the help I can get travelling round!