Apologies for the amount of time it has taken us to write another blog- we have been slacking to say the least! All is well here and you will be happy to know we are working ‘fairly’ hard (against Western standards) but not too hard that we feel we aren't still living the dream!
We love the town we currently call home, for all its quirks- we now understand how it works and why it is how it is. The history here is enough to blow your mind, even if you're not a history geek. Last weekend Molly, Lewy and I set off to a Maya pueblito (small village) 30 minutes down the jungle road called ‘Cub Chen’ to visit the Laguna Azul (“Blue Lagoon”). True to its name the water was as blue as the Caribbean, yet surrounded by mangrove swamp and dense jungle. We hiked for two sweaty hours in vain- searching for an ancient cenote. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of swimming in a cenote- it's a fresh water cave/ pool- fed by underground fresh water streams- the water is absolutely crystal.
The story goes that the Spanish invaded the Maya in a nearby city, Chetumal. After bloody battles in the jungle a small group of remaining Mayas threw all their treasure into the cenote before eventually making it to our town Chan Santa Cruz, now known as Felipe Carrillo Puerto (Carrillo). Our proud little town is the only place in Mexico where the Mayas then over-threw the Spanish invaders taking them as slaves.
On the journey to the pueblito everyone around us spoke in Maya, which almost sounds slightly Chinese- absolutely fascinating that in a Spanish speaking country we are surrounded by tiny enclaves of people still holding their native tongue. Even children shouting out to us, as we passed by on a little Indian-style ‘tuc-tuc’ hollered in Maya!
At a first glance our town seems a mish-mash of houses; some painted, some cemented, some wooden shacks and some, ruins before they were ever finished. And everyone who can- has opened a Sol Convenience Store, a taco-stand outside the front of the house, hung up a rail to sell second hand clothes or picked up every plastic bottle in town to recycle them in the garden. Now looking again with an informed eye I can see that every family has their own little pocket of land- to which they have the freedom to do what they like. Each family builds a few extra blocks onto their house on payday, those who can, will paint the front in bright colours “why paint the back if no one else can see it?” Each family has its own entrepreneurial idea that will ensure kids go to school with books and crayons. And over the years this has made-up an amazingly colourful and dynamic patchwork town, and this I love.
Yesterday I was about to cycle to work, and outside our new house a man was walking roughly 15 tiny piglets tied on strings trying to sell them from door to door. Surrounding him was several, if not more, street dogs growling and dribbling at the thought of a piglet lunch. I cycled on by thinking to myself “is it bad that this seems so normal to me?” Tom Wigzil very kindly spent 10 days with us in January- and it was amazing for us to see a friend from home (we miss you all a shit-tonne)! He said to us “what you’re doing is awesome but not sure it's ever something I could or would want to do”.
Thinking about it Molly, Lewy and myself now live with a completely distorted view on things. For example, there won't be a week or two without us not having ANY water in the house- this means filling a bucket with water from the garden tap and tipping it down the toilet to flush it, using it to shower and wash up with. The electricity often goes off so we don't bother buying meat- it will only fry in the fridge (hence we have all been eating a grand amount of meat out!). We have lived without television, a mirror, washing machine, internet, hot water, drinking water from the tap and being able to flush our paper down the loo. We slept in a hammock under a palm roof where the occasional cockroach fell on us in the night (our new apartment has no cockroaches though!) We cycle past street dogs that chase us in the dark and abandoned puppies that look at us with sad eyes. We cycle to work and random strangers will shout out any English phrase they can. And all this seems absolutely normal. Have we gone mad…?
…for all this we have gained the most amazing things. This morning, I looked out my window to see a yellow humming bird drinking from a flower. We can now speak rather splendidly in Spanish and even a few phrases in Maya. Lewy and I now pay the same amount for our rent as we used to pay for our weekly shop at Tesco’s (we do like a bit of horse!). For all those street dogs it does make us chuckle how they take themselves out for a morning stroll with their friends. And we often moan about the thought of a little hard work to get those necessities in life, but it has made us pretty adaptable and less lazy (Lewy haha!). I’m not saying everyone should do it- I’m just saying we are doing it. And you guys are welcome to come and visit us to enjoy all the good bits and leave the slightly rough around the edges part for us to enjoy!
Right now we have the lovely Veronica and Len over to stay with us (Lewy’s parents). They are making the most of Carrillo, talking to the locals, buying fresh juice in the park and haggling in the market for fresh fruit and veg from the Maya ladies. They are shouting down ‘Pan’ from the apartment when the boy cycles by on his tricycle, squeezing his horn to advertise his fresh bread. They are smiling at those who can’t help but stare and thoroughly enjoying the sheer friendliness of people here, who always say hello, passing by and catching a glance.
Something I have figured out from this long voyage (one of many things!) In the UK we all work SOOO hard, hats off to us. We strive to be on time for everything, to pay the bills before they are due, to look smart for work, keep up with the fashions and appearances la la la the list goes on. By the time we’re due a break from work we’re searching for the light at the end of the tunnel and that light is a sandy beach, a hotel catering for all our needs so we don’t need to leave the dreamy bubble and downright peace and quiet! Afterwards you can say ‘I went to Mexico last year it was beautiful’. But did we really?
If you fancy a different kind of holiday I’ve figured out it’s better to go against your instincts - forget that package holiday. Lower your budget, get ready to drift into the local culture and RELAX! No-one knows how to ‘chill out’ more than the Latin Americans. It’s hot, so you’ll be there when you’ll be there. Fill your boots with delicious local food and give your money to the people that need it- that weird thing you ate last night paid for a kid’s pencil-case for school! Why stare at one beach for 10 days when you can jump on a bus and visit 4 different ones and find that on the last- you are swimming with turtles (who take life just as slowly as the Locals!)
I didn’t know this option existed before and for all those who have come to see us in the last year you have seen all of this first hand. I hope more people will join us in leaving our straight western ways at home (just for now), put on your sun glasses and enjoy what will be the best holiday of your life…. x