Where on Earth do I start??

17 Mar

Where do I start?

There is so so so much that I could write about. My trip was long but incredibly exciting. And exhausting. I went without eating for 10 hours or so and I didn’t even notice, until I was in the plane on the way to Playa Del Carmen from Mexico City and was given some bicuits as part of the refreshments and it suddenly struck me.

I had about 48 hours of flying time and mozeying around in airports in total.

It was such a relief when my ride arrived, I’m not sure I would have been able to take a bus and find where I was staying on my own in such a state of… how do I describe this? Floatiness. I was way past the point of being hungry, but knew I should eat, but didn’t want to buy expensive, stale snack-style airport food. So I was quite disorientated from this, jetlag, being on the super-high of being IN FREAKIN’ MEXICO! I wanted needed a meal.

Which is exactly what I got at about 7pm that evening!! It was fantabulous – I met up with the guy who picked me up and some other people that I’ll be travelling with for two weeks through Mexico. We walked straight past some restaurants that didn’t have many people in them and had staff out the front trying to lure people in by offering them menus, and went to a gorgeous, little, very mexican, packed one. It. Was. Sooooo good.

I have to say, the culture here is one of loveliness. Of being appreciative. With the certain madness of a developing country chucked in there too. Today, I loved the surpised, happy look on the local cornerstore’s checkout person’s face when I smiled and said “gracias” when he served me – I’m not even sure why he was surprised as there is a huge variety of people around here, many of whom speak at least some spanish. Perhaps he’s used to gringos not making the effort. However, that moment was special, because I have to be honest, I was so scared about coming here. It was intimidating to begin with, and overwhelming. I had absolutely no idea of what to expect. And to be honest, I wasn’t expecting everyone to be so helpful and warm as they really are.

What I’ve enjoyed a lot so far is walking around during the day. Out and about it’s mostly locals, as pretty much everyone just visiting here comes for the white sand and turquoise water of the beach. Being a (by comparison) very white and tall, lone young lady with naturally blonde hair, I do tend to get a fair bit more attention and than somebody who might blend in a little more effectively. For example, when I went for a hour(ish) walk to find somewhere to buy food today, every second person had a good look at me, not in a threatening manner, and some said “hola”. Another guy started a seedy conversation with me out of the window of his ute as he drove slowly alongside me before giving up a minute or two in (I can assure you this isn’t a socially approved practice here, the locals standing around and going about their business looked rather amused but ready to step in if it came down to it), a beggar man got up and asked me for a peso (he probably does that to everyone who walks past) and I got whilstled at a couple of times. But at no stage did I feel unsafe. I never felt that anyone was out to get me. More than negative attention there was positive, as much as I attempted and obviously failed at slinking around unnoticed.

I apologise for there not being photos, there is so so much I would like to show you, but I would feel like too much of a tourist, glaringly obvious, just too out of place if I were to pull my camera out at the restaurant, at the brain-taco stand, just generally around the streets and at the random local talent quest we stumbled upon walking through a park back to our hostels from the restaurant. I hope you understand my not wanting to be ‘that’ person. Lo siento.

I probably won’t get the chance to post very often, as my phone, which is how I’m accessing internet, is dieing and I don’t have a Mexico-appropriate converter.

We’ll see.


Mental Exhaustion and 22 Sleeps To Go

13 Feb

It’s still so surreal. 

I’ve felt trapped for so long (even in my life that allows so much freedom and many simple luxuries that I want to stop taking for granted), that travel feels like an alternate reality that I’ve invented to cope with the day-to-day life of studying and jobs. I feel tears of mixed emotions pushing through as I try to convince myself but not daring to believe that backpacking will soon be my day-to-day life. I’m so scared… But I’m so ridiculously excited. I’m no longer so fearful for what I’m leaving behind. I just want culture and excitement and to feel alive! Unless you’ve done something similar in your life, you can’t know how mentally exhausted I’ve made myself by over-thinking everything to do with choosing this path, the path that flings the everyday life I’m used to out of the window. 

My mind has been a constant pendulum, drumming back and forth between the negatives and positives that choosing this path brings. Occasionally things get hard when a comment somebody makes (about being too young or going alone etc.) gets to me and makes me linger over the negatives for too long. Thankfully, I also hear many positive things (about how they wish they could do the same thing, or about how much fun I will have) that help me linger on the uplifting things instead, and eventually I regain my self confidence and faith in my choices. 

And so, with 22 (theoretical) sleeps to go, I still have many more roller coaster rides of daily emotions to go. Feeling like crying for no particular reason when I’m on my checkout at work, or the ridiculous things that I stress about as I’m trying to go to sleep, that I have to write down to settle my mind, or feeling confusion because I feel happy for my friends who are moving towns and even islands for university, instead of feeling sad because I know that I won’t see them for many months (which feels longer when you’re only 18). These things and many more are the causes of the knots nestled in my shoulders. However, my dreams spread far and wide ahead of me cause me to also be on edge constantly, from excitement and too many things to think about and to do, but also cause me to have a constant content glow simmering in my very core. 

(The picture is a painting from an opshop, on the wall in my bedroom. It kind of shows the way I feel I am at the moment, staring into this future.) Image

The Dream of Travel

7 Jan

When I tell people about my plans, the most common response is: “You are so brave.” What they don’t know about is the times that I’ve spent curled up in a ball on my bed sobbing for all of the fears that I face ahead. The largest of those is being alone. 

The thing that got me through the toughest times, the scared-part-of-me-crying-alone-on-my-bed times, was this romantic dream I have nourished that is my dream of travel. Just the thought of wandering down streets lined with buildings I don’t recognise, bustling with people whose language is a new and exciting music to me… It is this that makes me shiver in excitement, raring to go like a wild horse at the gate out of its paddock. 

Part of me sometimes thinks “Can this dream be real?” But of course, in our wonderfully diverse world. I have to tell myself when these thoughts arise, that just because you haven’t seen or experienced something yourself isn’t to say it doesn’t exist. 

The perfections of this dream are what I imagine most would see to be imperfections. The confusion, the extreme and random situations, to be in places some people would do their best to avoid… Is it perfection I am seeking? No, not in the slightest. Only in the sense that when a person is in love, they only see the imperfections of the person they love as what makes them so special and all the more perfect. 

This dream has kept me sane when working for hours in mediocre jobs and when scraping the bottom of the metaphorical pot for motivation in school. This is my dream that makes me feel more alive than I dare be while still here in my home town. This is the dream that when reality strikes, will surely leave me a different, better person. Since I was 14, it’s all that I’ve hoped, wished and aspired to…


The difference between being a traveller and a tourist

22 Dec


This is me, Cindy.

In March 2013, all 18 years of me is making my way out of New Zealand and diving into the deep end of the big wide world. My plans are still pretty vague, but the thing I know for sure about the experiences to come is: I do not want to be a tourist. 

What I was going to do was compare the definitions of tourist and traveller given to me by usually-trusty Google, but as they were so vague, I’ll instead tell you the difference that I see.

To me, being a tourist involves spending just a few days in each place visited, only really going for the main attractions, for a fun stop and for the snap-shots that give bragging rights. Being a traveller however, is to me being absorbed in a place for as long as feels right or as long as funds allow, to soak up this foreign culture in order to have your mind opened to such an extent that the end of each day is met with a satisfied exhaustion. It’s buying at local markets instead of McDonald’s and volunteering instead of touring. Yes, it is travelling that I want to do so badly.

The difference can be summed up so simply as the difference between taking a picture of a rope-swing with a sunset backdrop, and taking the chance to swing in the sunset.

Which would you rather do?