No mezcal for me, thanks

After a manic week of people and pollution in Mexico City, it was a welcome relief to spend a few days in beautiful Oaxaca.  It’s a beautiful Spanish colonial town in the middle of three valleys, with a laid back and relaxed vibe.  There was a lot to do in the area – I wandered around the ruins of Monte Alban and Mitla, refreshed myself in the freezing cold springs of Hierve el Agua, saw the world’s widest tree (not as exciting as it sounds), and drank mezcal with a bunch of crazy Aussies from the hostel (the expensive golden stuff is OK, the clear stuff is like drinking paint stripper).

From there, I travelled to San Cristobal de las Casas, high up in the Chiapas mountains.  Being coffee country, I supercaffeinated myself and explored the hippie stores and lovely streets with alfresco dining and bars.

Despite desperate pleas from the Mexican manager of my hostel for me to change my ticket and stay in San Cristobal another night of salsa dancing (I’m clearly breaking hearts all over the country…ha!), I headed off to Palenque to see the amazing jungle ruins.  I had pretty high expectations of Palenque, since everyone told me how amazing they were, and I was not disappointed at all.  Our Spanish guide took us into the jungle to show us some unexcavated Mayan buildings, and gave us some fascinating background into the medicinal plants and the worshipping of Mayan deities.


For the last week or so, I’ve been chilling out in the Yucatan town of Merida, exploring the beautiful cenotes, the ruins of Uxmal, and indulging in some of the best pizza I’ve ever had (by Raffaello from Italy).  It’s a welcome break from the hectic travel schedule of the last two weeks, and is a bit of recuperation break before I head to the party towns of Cancun and Playa del Carmen next week.

Well, Merida is known for its all-weekend festivities, so I’m off to find some beer!

Men in lycra and other DF sights

Mexico City is just buzzing with people.  Just when I thought that there could not possibly be any more people crammed into the streets or the metro, the weekend arrived!  I try to ignore the similarities to London’s Oxford Street on a weekend.

There is no shortage of interesting things to do and see in a city this big and with a history and culture so rich.  I’ve managed to cram in a lot of great tourist sights, such as awesome Teotihuacán, the National Palace, the Museum of Anthrolopogy (one of the best museums I’ve ever visited), the Catedral Metropolitana, the Templo Mayor, and the incredibly massive Chapultepec Forest and the Chapultepec Castle.

Some interesting or cool observations about Mexico City:

  • The mo’ is definitely still in!
  • Mexican men LOVE the “wet look”, and I have seen some absolutely enormous tubs of hair gel for sale in the markets
  • The Metro system is brilliant – regular and clean, and at less than 10p to anywhere
  • The smog and pollution here is slowly killing me
  • Looking like a backpacker, who doesn’t speak any Spanish, is enough to feign ignorance at all the touts or people trying to beg for money.

This evening, my mate Paul and I went to check out a fun family night out – the lucha libre!  It was much more entertaining than that WWE stuff that you occasionally glimpse whilst channel surfing (noone really admits to watching it right?), just because they don’t take themselves as seriously.  The star performer of the night was Místico, and he got us all whooping at his amazing acrobatics and amazing leg throws.

This was my super sneaky iPhone shot after my camera wasn’t allowed into the fight.

Of course, I was more than a little excited at all the lead up to the actual fight, with the wrestlers strutting out in their shiny jackets and capes, and then tearing off their velcro pants and tight tops, which had me swooning and squealing like a teenage girl at a Backstreet Boys concert.  At only 40 pesos, or less than 2 quid, for balcony tickets it has to be the cheapest strip show ever!

Tomorrow I am off to the beautiful city of Oaxaca.  Must remember to charge the iPod for the 6 hour bus ride.

‘Gators and tacos

I spent my last few days in Miami soaking up the sun and hanging out with the fantastic people that I met at my hostel.  There are always some interesting characters that you meet when travelling – the strangest person I’ve met so far was an American bloke who fancied himself as a bit of a Che Guevara, anti-establishment type.  He was in Miami to buy a yacht so that he could sail to Cuba, despite not knowing at all how to sail.

But mostly, it’s been great meeting people from all around the world that I will probably never see again, but thanks to Facebook, we can keep in touch and perhaps cross paths in the future.


I also took the opportunity to visit the Everglades national park, since I’ve always fancied going on a ride on those air boats!  The trip to the Everglades was quite fun, getting up close and personal with alligators, seeing on of the park guides jump on top of a 6 foot ‘gator and the air boat ride out into the marshlands, zooming sideways over the shallow swamps and spotting turtles, little alligators and a few different varieties of birds.

I am now in Mexico City, enjoying the constant sounds and rhythms of this populous city.  There is music blaring constantly, drum beats, vibrant colours, and smells of street food!  I tried my first street taco yesterday at only M$10 each (less than US$1), which was was packed full of flavour and heat.  Being constantly surrounded by this amazing food, I think I will struggle to leave Mexico any less than 5 kilos heavier!!

Time is money

For once, I am planning on not planning much of trip at all. I’m just going to play it by ear, go with the flow, take it as it comes.  It’s a bit tricky since there are certain things that I want or need to do at certain times – diving the Blue Hole in Belize on my birthday, studying Spanish at a school in Antigua, and visiting one of my World Vision sponsor children in Panama.

Then, my return flight from Bogota to London is at the end of April, although it is changeable.

A lot of people ask me how long I’ll be away for, and the details are always a bit sketchy. I figure that if I’m having a good time living out of a backpack then I can always extend my trip. But if my money runs out sooner from all the diving and partying, then I could be back in London before you can say “see ya later”.

Working out the budget for my trip has not been easy. I have a bit saved up, and I’m hoping that by the time I get my bonus (fingers crossed!), the bond from my current flat, and the money that my brother owes me, I’ll have a decent kitty to play with.

The Lonely Planet guide recommends around US$30 a day (Honduras and Nicaragua are cheap, Belize and Panama not so much) so I think I should be able to travel for a while! However, pressing on my mind is when I should move back to Australia and resume a more serious life. I do want to kick off my exciting business idea after all, and I’m definitely not a spring chicken anymore!

Oh well, plenty of time to ponder the rest of my life later. Only 8 working days left until unemployment!

Three decades already?

I am turning the big 3-0 this year, and what better way is there to celebrate it than by chucking in my job and embracing unemployment? By doing this and throwing caution to the wind – backpacking alone through Central America whilst diving the beautiful Caribbean, learning Spanish, and working out what the hell it is that I want to do with the rest of my life.

I will be flying out of London on the 16th of November, spending a week diving in Florida, then starting my Central American adventures in Mexico City on the 23rd of November. I have a flight from Bogota back to London at the end of April but, who knows, if I’m loving it then I may stay a bit longer (and if I run out of money, then I will be back sooner!).
I’d really like to get to Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, but I may have to save those destinations for another trip.
Check back here for preparations, and blog entries and photos while I’m away.  Only 47 days to take off!