I remember leaving Bogotá with a sense of confusion. I said goodbye to Angela and I got into my last taxi in South America, well Uber. It was particularly strange because now I had made it and I suppose I was expecting more of a send off. In hindsight I’d never had one during my entire journey, it was generally a series of taxis to airports and bus stations as the people in any one place I’d met had moved on or had jobs to go to, and I moved to the next place alone not quite sure what would happen in the next place that I arrived. But this was different. I had known about this flight for a long time and, well I don’t know, I just expected it to be more dramatic rather than saying goodbye on the street in front of a copy shop. But the life in Bogotá continued as did life in London and in all the other places I had visited. I’m not really sure how else I felt now looking back on it. I had achieved everything I had set you to. I felt more confident. I felt alive and I felt as if I was definitely coming back. I also felt I had something to explore with Angela but I wasn’t sure what would happen at this time. So for me it was more hasta luego than adiós.
I remember the taxi took an age to get to the airport and on the way I found my flight was delayed. I grabbed a burger at the airport that I didn’t want or need and waited in the immigration line where English speaking gringos annoyed me. It sounded strange to my ears now and US accents were especially harsh. The flight was long, boring and uneventful. In London my bags arrived quickly and I was lucky to be greeted by Tyler who was there to drive me to where I was staying on the other side of town. It was lovely to see him but I didn’t even know where to begin. But he was also concentrating on driving. London was cold, dark and modern. I had missed a whole day of daylight so I was a little confused.
I was welcomed by Colin, Lily and Camilla and a few hours later Dave came home and we stayed up talking into the night. I saw all my clothes and nearly cried, I think that was the best part. I had been tired of wearing the same things for a year and liking back in it, as I do with many things I did last year I can’t actually believe that I did just wear them day after day after day. The worst was yet to come. I woke up on the Sunday feeling like the whole trip had been a dream. Here I was in the same bed in the same room and it was almost like it had never happened. Lots of people gave me advice about returning from travelling but no one told me about the shock I would personally feel. Not just a culture shock but the shock of being back in your old life. I don’t want to sound ungrateful as the people around me were lovely but I think the first two weeks back were perhaps the hardest part of 2018. I was lucky to have Angela video calling me and we probably spoke for about 4 hours a day.
The first week I reconnected with friends and I had agreed to move all of my things out of the house within the week. Dave was expecting a baby, who was born in February and is very cute, and quite rightly needed some space. However if you do come back from a long trip my advice would be to pack up everything before you go so when you do arrive you can spend time readjusting. It might be different if you have somewhere to stay or a job to return to or anything. But at this moment I had nothing, well that’s not true I had a room for the week another for the next week and then an open invitation to live at my parents. So I actually had a lot! But packing up was hard. At one point I thought I would throw it all away but the sanity pro-veiled and I put most of it in storage before moving to Jessicas across town. The lowest point was when I went to get the tube on the Monday morning and saw all the zombies. It didn’t feel like Christmas in London it felt dead and I was surrounded by people on the train who were not living life. It was then I knew I had to leave, less than 48 hours after returning. I hope this doesn’t sound too depressing as I had a lovely welcome back party on the Friday night and was happy to see everyone.
The second week is also a blur, it was less stressfully and I was happy to start the Spanish lessons. I remember waking into the giant Tesco in Woolwich one freezing morning and finding everything so weird, empty and cold. I kept shooting videos for Angela. Maybe it was being back, maybe it was just Woolwich or maybe it was Christmas. Who knows? Things got much better when I was offered a temp job by my old boss and it was at this point I decided to go to Mexico. It had been on the cards since I first met Angela. Actually maybe before. I think she mentioned it in text and I remember thinking, well if I have to look for a job I might as well do it on a beach in Mexico, this was before I met her! Now I wanted to see her again to see what was there and I wanted to see how much I missed Latin America so it seemed like a perfect option.
So I spent that week hanging out with Sherman, playing on my PS4, hanging with Stanley, readjusting, learning Spanish and meeting up with friends. On the Sunday I packed my things drove across London twice, did some of the worst parking I’ve ever done and drive back to the Isle of Wight to see my Family for Christmas. The next two weeks were a blur. I thought I’d get lots done, photo editing and all sorts but in reality I was barely able to finish off the blog posts. My Mum says I was fatigued but I think it’s party because whenever I went into my room they found an excuse to disturb me every five minutes. Also I spent a lot of time calling Angela. I suppose that was time well spent 🙂
And then New Year hit and I realised I was leaving. I had thought I’d be with my parents for a couple of months but it turned out to be a few weeks. In one day I found a place in London to rent for 4 months which covered my BAFTA contract. I left on the Thursday to see it in London and met with Brad, went up to Yorkshire for the weekend to visit Ben and go on some walks and then on the Monday I was back in London, visiting my storage I packed for Mexico, stopped off in Central London to sign my contract and then took the Piccadilly line to Heathrow and another overnight flight.
I was excited and exhausted and not looking forward to flying. Despite having sorted my sleeping problem I found that I’ve not conquered sleeping on planes. I also had a 12 hour layover in Mexico City until my flight to Puerto Escondido where Angela would be waiting for me. But I landed, passed immigration, thought my bag had been lost but found it, exited the arrivals to find Wings and I felt like I’d just come home, despite having never been in Mexico before. The next hours were painful to say the least but I don’t want to complain as I feel I’ve done that enough already. Mexico City does, however, have the most chaotic airport in the world so kudos to that. But soon I was on another flight leaving the city and I got to see my surroundings in day light.
The airport at Puerto Escondido was small, so you got off on the tarmac and walked to the terminal. It was hot and I was overdressed, so made a mistake by taking off my coat which I went on to lose somewhere in the next hour never to be seen again. The baggage took an age to come out but as the airport was so small I spotted Angela waiting for me. Which was great as I’m terrible with faces and was worried I’d screw that up. We reunited through the door before the security guard told her to wait until I had passed through. Jumped on a bus to our “hotel”. She had brought some rum, coke and packed for the beach. We arrived around 5pm I’d guess in time to see the most beautiful sun set I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness, sadly I didn’t have my camera, went to eat fish tacos and went back to the hotel where I had some much needed sleep. All I’m gonna say is I’d always been told that you will know when you know and I knew right there on that beach before the sun went down.
The next morning we headed out for breakfast. Angela had already been in town a week so I let her take the lead and we found a breakfast place beside the road. She hadn’t been there before but it was delicious. I was quickly discovering that Mexican food was spicy, flavoursome, nothing like we have in the UK and involved a lot of corn tortillas. We walked around the area for the morning and then headed to the beach to relax and this is what I saw on the way.
Puerto Escondido is a beach lovers and surfers paradise. There are long stretches of sandy beach, killer waves, clear waters, lots of restaurants, a gringo community and lots of fresh sea food.
Angela has booked us a cheap “hotel” via Airbnb. Cheap is the operative word as the “private bathroom” had a shower curtain separating it from the bedroom. But the thing with us is we can make do with anywhere and anything. The location is not important it’s the company and I think my selective photos make it look nice.
On the way back from breakfast a man went past us on a motorcycle and a dog ran out from somewhere and we saw him break hard and face plant the road. I didn’t really see what happened and my first thought was to just look away before my senses took hold. Not speaking Spanish and not having a phone line I was unsure as what to do. The dog ran off and I helped get the bike up as others attended to the man. He didn’t look too badly hurt thankfully it it could easily have been so bad. Lots of other people arrived to assist so Angela and I moved on.
We spent the rest of the morning on the beach, relaxing, reading and drinking beers before I looked as if I would melt and then headed across the town on a “bus” to eat Italian food for lunch.
Afterwards we went for a walk around the beach head on a particularly fun path that you would only find in Latin America that had half fallen apart. There were gaps in the walkways which if you fell through you would end up in the seas and probably squashed against the rocks but you would also have to be unlucky or fairly stupid to fall in so do give it a go. There is a lot of wildlife to be seen and what’s the point of being her if there is no element of danger?
The path should take you around the beachhead to the next cove but it gets to a point where it’s really not a good idea to continue. So we headed to the cove overland and made a little friend along the way.
It was really tiring in the heat, do watch out for that here and make sure you carry enough water. But we found a place to chill, brought some cokes and watched the sun set.
Heading back to the hotel in the taxi the traffic was pretty bad and at one point I heard screaming. Angela told me not to look but I saw a gringo girl screaming on the side of the road. The amount of people who wear zero protection on bikes scares me. If you come off expect to lose a lot of skin. It was the second accident that day!
We arrived back at the hotel and I had a headache so lay down for a rest. Angela went to get us pizzas and I awoke when she arrived and settled in to watch a movie.
The next day we headed down the beach and went to a cafe for a giant breakfast. The first thing I need to tell you about Mexican food is that if you have only eaten Mexican good in the UK then you have never actually eaten Mexican food. The second is that the portions are huge and the third is that they apparently each two breakfasts. I don’t know how as there is so much delicious food!
After having spent a day on the beach I was feeling a little restless and wanted to do other things than just sit on the beach. I could see mountains and I wanted in! I didn’t have a concept as to how far they were away or what was there but I wanted to go hiking. So we spent a day organising. I found a waterfall and we decided to go on a boat trip to see whales and dolphins, check the post.
When Angela invited me to join her in her vacation in Mexico she said “I’ve rented an apartment in Mexico on the beach for a month, you should come join me”. What she neglected to mention is that her entire family were also going to be there! So we decided I should go and meet the parents. I wasn’t scared as I’m normally fairly good with parents, if anything I’md a little boring. I keep quiet, smile, am polite and for the least scary thing is that they don’t speak much English. Lots of people asked me if that was more scary but I realise it gives me another opportunity to keep quiet and not say something stupid. Anyways long stories short it went fine. They loved me and it’s was all great. I mean it’s me. Who wouldn’t?
Then it was time to go and release the baby turtles. Humans are bastards and as part of this people steal the turtle eggs. However humans are also great so there are conservationists who dog the eggs up once laid and re-burry them in secure locations. Each evening they give the baby turtles a helping hand, dig them out and you can pay a small fee to help release them. There are several locations along the coast and we went to the one on just to the south of the main beach.
When we arrived they were in the middle of digging out the turtles, they were really dosel and literally minutes old.
It was around 5pm and we were told to come back a little later when it was dark. Angela had done this the week before with her family and upon releasing them lots of birds came and had a lovely free meal much to the distress of the children. To get around this as the birds seemed to have realised when a free meal was available the turtles were now released after sunset.
We decided to sit on the beach and watch the sunset and Angela had a paddle while I photographed things. There were fisherman fishing from the shore and the waves were crazy strong here so it wasn’t worth going into the water. I mean, simply don’t.
The sunset was simply stunning.
Sadly after dark it was much harder to photograph the turtles and the flash was so bright I worried it might cause other problems so I only took the one photo.
When we returned to the enclosure the turtles were much more active and were trying to escape. We paid roughly £5 for a pot of four turtles which I decided to name before taking them to the starting line. They do actually have to run across the sand or they won’t know to return when they are older. So you set them down 6 metres away from the ocean and wait. You wait for them to start moving as they make their painfully slow way to the water. You spend this entire time worrying that they are going to be eaten but they don’t seem to be aware. Then when they get to the water the waves just push them back into the sand. I suppose the currents are strong but eventually they got there and disappeared.
We suddenly realised it was dark and there didn’t seem to be method of transport to get back. We had taken a taxi to get here, but there are busses along the main road. This was now two kilometres away and it was pitch black. We didn’t really have any choice other than walking up to the road. After a while you reach some houses, local shops and there are people around. It’s not as scary as you might think. We crossed the main road and waited for a bus. A few went past but eventually one stopped and we were on our way back to town.
That night we opted for another pizza and to watch a film on the beach. It was actually cooler with the wind coming from the sea. It was really relaxing until a policeman with a huge gun came and spoke to Angela. I didn’t really understand and there was another guy in the shadows out of the light from the laptop. They chatted for a while and after they left Angela told me that they had been looking for poachers and people having sex on the beach. We were later told that the police do sometimes try to scam tourists who take to the beach at night. I don’t know how true that is as we were out there several times at night and this was the only time that we saw them, but as we had the lap top and were watching a movie it was quite clear we were doing neither so they left us alone. I expect having a native Spanish speaker also helps. We went to bed early as the next day we were going into the mountains!
Cascada la Reforma
After a some solid googling for hiking in the area I found some waterfalls called Cascada La Reforma. There were a couple of blogs with some information and a Trip Adviser review which explained how to get there. But really we were unsure. Angela said she knew where the bus stop was which scared me a little as directions are not her forte but to her credit she got us there. A bus left once an hour and it goes across the mountains to Oaxaca, I’m not sure how long the journey takes but it’s about and hour to San Pedro Mixtepec and we had just missed one so stopped to get some breakfast. I think the busses left close to the hour but I expect this changes. I can’t remember the price but it was cheap. Ask around the downtown area for the busses, if not they do go into the main bus station which is just outside of the main town and I also believe there are big busses that drive this route. I can’t find the address on the map now, so apologies.
When you approach San Pedro Mixtepec get off in the south, there is a road here that goes to a town called Reforma and there is a colectivo service that will take you all the way to Reforma. Keep checking on Maps.me, if you have Reforma selected then there is only one road that leads there so you can’t miss it.
I somehow lost my new hat on the bus and I was still reeling and sulking from my stupidity, especially as I had realised on the bus that it was missing and I should have been able to find it. Annoyingly it was nowhere to be seen and I hoped it would find a new home. I brought a coke to console myself as Angela broke open some snacks. She was really relaxed and for some stupid reason I started to doubt Latin America and thought that the colectivo would never show up. There is a little restaurant on the corner of the main road so I went there to buy more things, the lady there was very helpful and told Angela about the collectivo, when it showed up and the lady delighted in telling me.
I think 6 of us got in the car for what turned out to be a very sweaty ride, I’d guess now it was 45 minutes to 1 hour and I was squashed in next to a very sweaty man. I remember feeling his sweat through my T-shirt until I just had to live with it. Eventually all the other passengers left and the taxi driver dropped us in town. There are a number of shops here and I brought us the ridiculous hats so we didn’t get sunburnt.
From the town it’s an 2 hour walk to the waterfalls. I was quite excited about this and as we left the town a local boy joined us. He said he wanted to go to swim and I was worried that he would act as our guide and want money. He didn’t, he was a great kid. He walked with us most of the way listening to our conversation and I tried to talk to him in Spanish. When we were nearly there a car full of people passesd us and offered us a ride. We decided to finish the walk and upon arrival stayed at the small shop to rest. Angela offered the boy a drink and his face lit up as he chose the brightest soda with the most sugar.
Once rested the three of us hit the pool by the first waterfall which was freezing and the boy delighted in showing off his swimming skills, climbing up the rocks and jumping off. I was scared enough to just have a swim and the way the water circled the current was quite strong. We had been warned to watch out for this so make sure you do the same.
We followed the path and ended up at a much larger waterfall which is where the group was. There was no one else here and it was beautiful. I imagine on most days you could have the place to yourselves.
We played in the water and I did my best to cut everyone out of the photos. We left at the same time as the other group and the leader, a German man offered us a life back to town. It turned out he ran the Tower Bridge Hostel, which looked pretty cool so if you are looking for a cheap place to stay that is it! They go to the waterfalls each Friday so you can get in on that.
We all jumped in the back, including the boy, and as part of the trip they have lunch in the town at the boys house. Now we realised why he came. The food was local, spicy and delicious. We rode back to the hostel, had a couple of beers and headed back to the hoteles we had an early morning.
The next day had to get up early to go on the boat trip we went on the boat trip which I’ll cover in the next blog post.