A Month In Mexico

I made a joke to my friend this morning that I am becoming a little more reckless with my travels. Today my flight left at noon, and I didn’t buy my accommodation for tonight until around 1 AM. At that same time, I decided I was going to save myself some money and take an overnight bus from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido. I got to where I needed to be and I didn’t have to pay for one night’s accommodation all at the same time. Win-win. I was all packed for my trip tomorrow, verrry excited, and ready to get out of Costa Rica and back to Mexico.

Or so I thought. I got to the airport and had to check my 40 liter bookbag for the first time (ever) in my life because it was 1 kilogram heavier than the carry-on limit. “Esta muy pesado”, the Avianca clerk said, making me aware that the bag was heavy. I wonder if she traveled, lived, and worked out of one bookbag if hers would be light. Whatever, I allowed her to check it, coughed up the money. This happened to me a month ago in Colombia as well with Viva Airlines. I will soon have to convert the 40 liters to 30 and the two pairs of shoes to one. Maybe I’ll chuck the computer and work from my phone. I don’t know the solution to this problem, all I know is that living out of a bookbag is becoming more difficult (and more expensive) than I thought it would be.

My beloved 40L REI has accompanied me around the world

But that wasn’t all that the Avianca clerk had in store for me. This was the first time ever that I had been asked for an exit ticket from the country I was going to. “I don’t have one”, I clearly stated to her. She looked at me blankly. “I will not give you your boarding pass until I see your exit from Mexico”, she said. What? I have traveled to over 15 countries now and have never been asked for an exit ticket. Did I get lucky or was this lady just a royal pain in the ass? My bag had already been sent to the plane. I felt hopeless. I don’t like to be without my items, which is why I love just having my bookbag. It’s easy, it’s peaceful, it’s my favorite way to travel. 

That doesn’t mean it’s always perfect. Especially with difficult workers and tightened regulations by the day. Between COVID, typical border issues, and the world’s general viewpoint of Americans, it’s getting to be more of a pain in the ass to travel than it is enjoyable. In this instance, it was a $300 ticket from Mexico City to Miami through American Airlines that I bought on a Friday morning. Obviously, this wasn’t ideal, but there is very rarely anything that you can do about it as a solo traveler. Travel takes the ultimate amount of problem-solving skills because about 80% of things do not go as planned. 

Traveling also gets harder the more I move. Staying in one place for a month allows you to settle down, get to know the people, get to know the best places. You don’t have time to do that when you’re traveling fast. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I typically don’t travel fast, and I surely never think about just passing through a country. But even with 2 weeks in Costa Rica, I felt like I was just passing through. I went to museums, explored history, met kind people, and made connections to learn more about the country. My first impressions of Costa Rica were that it is a sought-after country by many retired Americans, therefore it is incredibly Americanized. 

For many gringos, this is beautiful, as the country possesses many Western commodities and it is by far the safest Latin American country that I have visited. However, for me, this turned me away from the country and led me to not want to extend my trip into December. I had gone to the cities, the mountains, the beaches… and overall, I was not impressed. I did not find the same genuineness of the culture as within other Latin American countries. I wanted to leave, and I wanted to go somewhere to connect with the country and to learn, to support the people, to create genuine connections. Ideally, I would’ve done everything in my power to go back to Colombia. I missed the culture, the people, the food, everything. But Colombia’s time was at the beginning of next year, and I told myself I could have one more month of extreme travel until settling down and creating a life in Colombia.

So I decided I would go to Mexico. I wrote all of my friends who are living in Mexico at the moment and explained to them about my plans to coordinate a route where I could see all of my loved ones along the way. I also needed to cut my daily travel budget in half after the prices in Costa Rica, which I knew I could do easily in Mexico, through land travel and buying food from local markets. I also have navigated throughout the country previously, so I felt confident and excited to travel to Mexico. You can never have enough time to explore and learn in a country like Mexico. There are many people to connect with, many organizations to support and represent, and so much culture and history to learn about. Mexico is fascinating, and I wanted to fulfill my travel bug in the exquisite country.

From there. I began planning. Is it all set in stone? No. As I said, I am becoming much more reckless with my travels. I have (about) 3-5 days planned in advance if I have a plan at all. However, I do have destinations, and once I arrive at my hostel later this evening, I will do some research on charities that I can aid throughout my Mexico journey, both in person and through fiscal means. If any readers have previously volunteered their time or donated to a Mexican charity that is meaningful to them, please share it below, and I will check it out.

Now for the plan. Mexico City, Oaxaca, Puerto Escondido/Mazunte, Oaxaca, Mexico City, Puebla, Guadalajara, Tequila, Mexico City. In that order. A total of 6 friends to see along the way. A total of 15 Mexican buses to take to travel around the country, and only 2 bus reservations were made. A total of 9 accommodations throughout the journey, with only 1 accommodation made. The next accommodation would be an overnight bus, and from there I was on the beach, the accommodation didn’t matter much. I am in for a journey, I know that. I have people to see and places to be. I have plans of slow, relaxed beach days, and I have plans of late city nights with friends. I have tours planned, bus routes mapped out. I would kill for some chilaquiles rojos en la playa descalza. I am more than excited for my next journey, and it is an absolute dream to be spending my next month in Mexico. 

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