OR, the drama to move commodities to the end of the world!
Alert: Posted a year ago, my life got so fabulous when I joined the tiny community of Punta Allen. My month of living very simply on the beach with dogs and small dramas each day. The simple life is really the best life.
The Internet really playing up will add more pics later! One of the things that happen off-grid!
The bus ride back was fast, only the three hours, but I was glum. Although I knew it was just one week in Tulum I had finally found my groove in this small paradise. The journey itself was great because it leaves at eight in the morning, no hanging around and great light to take pictures. Upon reaching the hotel side of Tulum though, my depression deepened. Plastic loud tourists milling around and all the trappings that go with under a thin veil of being very ethnic.
As soon as I arrived in Tulum my ears were assaulted by noise. I was so used to crashing waves and wind that to hear all these fucking cars and lorries, loudspeakers of vendors of gas, and fruit and veg, and other shite that I freaked as I got off the collectivo. Also a new thing, police loudspeakers about covid and masks. This just felt hostile and I felt really low.
For all the inconveniences of living on the edge of society, it’s a whole world of difference if you’ve been used to being a lone wolf for a while. I sit here back in Punta Allen another time and although there’s no bloody WiFi at the moment because it’s ‘windy’ I still am blessed to be here and just writing this up in ‘word’ to copy to blog later.
BACK IN TULUM
The week I spent in Tulum was vital for many reasons. First I needed cash because nearly all the places in Punta Allen don’t take cards and so would raid my bank accounts every day to squirrel some away, I also needed to quit my flat so had to try and get Charlie the dollars he was always needing for the rent, to send to his daughter at university in the States. Cash really is king here.
Then I needed food and booze supplies as the food here is very good but limited in those bits that one lusts for from time to time such as meat. I have become as I said before a little more carnivorous since being here so I wanted to stock up with steaks, bacon and charcuterie. I also wanted cheese and of course English tea. Fresh coffee and creamer and a case of wine. I opted for a bottle of Campari and one of vodka for cocktails. Then I slyly thought that instant mash would be great even if loaded with all sorts of crap, so a few packets of that and other small ‘treats’ for a solo old bird occasionally wanting a taste of home. These I purchased in one supermarket sweep and stored at the flat until being ready to send them ahead in the collectivo. I had arranged all this with the hotel and the lovely old man who chugs up and down from Tulum every day except Sunday. The other vital purchases were minerals and vitamins and some sleepers. My sleep pattern is horrific so I’m not ashamed to say I make use of those when needed. Face and body creams and hair conditioners were also purchased and a cooler box for the frozen stuff and its journey down. This was all relatively easy as was doing my laundry and separating the clothes I would need and the stuff I would leave in my suitcase with Charlie.
I decided to take the documents I had from London when I had planned my grand escape. I felt if I had need to return to London in a rush in an emergency these would be better to have with me if I didn’t have time to pick up my suitcase.
The dollar thing was again a pain and indeed on Sunday, I couldn’t even get out Pesos which was a major blow to my plans. I even managed to fall over a small step outside the ATM when I saw someone else go in and rushed back to check that the machines were indeed empty, they were. More damage to my healing hand, dammit I was so stupid.
This was all in a blistering heatwave where everyone had become lethargic and the lorries driving by my flat threw up all the building dust in the area. After every cold shower came only five minutes of refreshment before profuse sweating started again. Dust, dogs barking, traffic noise and this killing heat made me even more homesick for Punta Allen. The second fall had shaken me, more frozen peas were applied and generally, I started doubting myself. Why was I crashing and bashing was I just old, clumsy as per or should I just slow the fuck down and be mindful instead of the crazy planning and not concentrating on what I’m doing. Going slow and concentrating is my new way of being now. I will restart my yoga when my wrist has recovered for I have a whole empty beach to make a fool of myself as I’m very rusty now not having done any since following videos in my London flat in lockdown. I will renew my balancing exercises too so as not to be a wobbly doddery old bird. Swimming will now be a more strict affair with my doggy swimming chum so I can tone up those saggy muscles and deal with my beer gut.
But I digress. I opted for going back to my mates Pepe and Alex at their bar for a fiesta of sangria and some gossip, I adore them and always feel better after a chat and a few wonderful secret recipe sangrias. I felt low as all the time I was becoming more sleep-deprived with the fucking pack of six dogs in my street barking all night and I felt better after seeing them, and Stephanie, a lovely girl who wants to concentrate on helping children during all the different repercussions of this crisis and previous ones. This calm went before a very serious storm for I would receive a Telegram message from her the next day with news of a shooting at beachside Tulum. Two men were shot dead in their Mercedes outside the very chic and expensive Azulik. The beach access was closed so my sending food down to PA was now in jeopardy. I called the driver who had just woken from his siesta and asked if he would still go that day. Startled and still fuzzy with sleep he just kept repeating that he had come that way that morning at 11. I explained it had happened at 12.20 so we agreed I’d leave the food thing till the following day in case the food spoiled on what could be a very lengthy trip. This was better anyway as Charlie was returning from MC the following day and I could cadge a lift with my ‘precious things’ to the bus station in the afternoon.
Alert: Yes there will be dangerous places anywhere in the world that you visit but you just have to get streetwise. Ask locals about dangerous areas after dark, or indeed at any time of the day. Sadly shootings happen in many hotspots across the world so you might just have to be like me and weigh up risk factors. My friend Andreas had to forgo a climb to the top of a volcano due to the fact that suddenly there had been a spate of robberies about halfway up. These robberies were with machetes so clearly, that was a no go area. One man had been sent back down not only without his valuables but with no clothes on. Just think it through and be vigilant. No wearing of flashy jewellery etc and don’t be charmed by a stranger into a dangerous situation.
Selfishly I cared not about the deaths of these two guys just about my food! There had been another two shootings in the previous week and so it can safely be said that they are cartel-related. All this added urgency to my leaving as Pepe said that the local elections were coming up in the next two weeks so a lot of commotion and activity was to be expected. I really needed out even more now and my decision to stay for around a month in PA seemed extremely timely. The next day I sent my food down and then just had to wait to get dollars and clean up the flat which was done with military precision.
I fretted the next two days and was unkind to my liver until Monday when I finished my last bits including getting nearly the amount of dollars for the rent and returned the keys and went to say goodbye to my lovely Sangria boys. Then back to that bus and the long trip down that very bumpy road which caused havoc to my freshly damaged wrist. To be honest, when travelling to these more remote places with local buses, it depends on how chatty the driver feels that day when passing acquaintances, or if he wants to stop to get a coffee or has a lot of drop-offs or decides to let people out for the sunset at the lagoon. My first trip down was a hard five hours but this time we made it in three and a half. Apparently, the trip to Tulum is always just three hours which makes it much more bearable, not sure why that is but it’s Mexico for fucks sake it’s part of its charm.
Finally arriving at Hotel Roseliz I jumped out (safely) excited as a puppy but also very alarmed as I had noticed when putting my bag back on my lap some liquid had entered and both my laptop and iPad were somewhat wet. So after much furore and fuss with getting them to safety, I hugged and kissed my hosts saw my precious cargo was all in place and had myself a cold beer.
I was home.
List of things to be aware of if planning to stay awhile in a more remote place.
- Get plenty of cash out for and more remote place. You don’t have to be in the Amazon jungle to be without a bank or the usage of plastic.
- Make an extensive shopping list. You don’t want to forget any small item. Basically, there is no going back every five minutes. Check what the village store has on a regular basis and remember the prices are steep.
- Get a place organised that you love and where you can stay economically. I spoke with my hotel about a reduced price for a long stay and the usage of the kitchen.
- Get into your head that you only have certain hours with electricity from the main local power station. This means no internet too. Some places can offer you their generator which can be costly so depends on your budget. Some of the restaurants have their own so at a push, you can get onto good terms with them and use theirs but obviously, you then have to buy something there whether it be drinks or a meal.
- Be sure that the place you choose doesn’t have a problem with wee beasties. I am hysterical about cockroaches and they are filthy things but also check out if there are unwelcome visitors on a regular basis. This will ruin your stay and you won’t be able to relax. You want it to be heaven, not hell.
- Check out noise issues that can ruin your stay too. It might be a place that suddenly brings in noisy tourists or neighbours that want to party all night. Ask about any eventuality when this might occur.
- Be a good guest and help out when you see an opportunity if you’re not busy. I’m going to help Sonia learn more English which in turn will help me with some Latin American Spanish. A lot of words are different from Castilian Spanish.
- Relearn the art of going more slowly and savouring each and every moment of your experience and life. Now is the time to enjoy the simple things and reevaluate the things that matter in your precious life.
GOOD LUCK AND ENJOY! A LITTLE DAUNTING AT THE BEGINNING BUT WORTH IT. TEST YOUR METTLE MY OLD BIRDS AND HAVE A GO!