I can’t believe it – we’ve officially reached the end of our 3 month tour of Central America 😭. Unfortunately, I suffered from a pretty bad case of altitude sickness here in Mexico City, which put a dampener on the last few days but hey, these things happen! Plus, writing this blog made me realise just how much fun I still managed to have despite throwing up 7 times a day…
So, basically, the bus from Oaxaca to Mexico City was not a pleasant one for me. It wasn’t a night bus, so I had high hopes for a smooth journey… turns out that the universe had other plans. I suddenly started to feel really sick and the realisation that I was actually going to throw up began to sink in. It’s funny because we joked at the start of the trip that we’d have to keep a ‘Vom Count’. I (stupidly) assumed that Abbie and her travel sickness or Alice and her hangovers would take the crown but no, I shot to the top of the leader board at the very last second. Serves me right, I guess!
When we finally arrived to Mexico City, I was feeling a bit better and I thought the worst was over. We went to the taxi rank and were told that it could be up to a 40 minute ride into the city centre, so I decided to sit in the front with a few plastic bags by my side just in case I had a repeat of the bus incident. We were about 1 minute from our hostel when, yep you guessed it, I threw up. The driver didn’t seem to care too much. He even leaned over to open my door despite the fact that we were driving down a main road – safety first!
Our hostel was called ‘DF Suites’ and was located right next to Paseo de la Reforma and a ton of tourist attractions. We decided to splurge on a private room 1) because it was Abbie’s birthday weekend and 2) because it was our final destination on the trip so we wanted to end on a high. It wasn’t really a splurge though because Mexico City accommodation is super cheap. This private room ended up costing less than some of the 10-bed dorms we had stayed in previously!
As soon as we got into the hostel and checked into our room I started to feel better again and noticed that I only felt ill when I was in a moving vehicle – I had no other symptoms really. It was ridiculously confusing and I started to wonder if it was travel sickness or something more serious but I just brushed it off because I didn’t want it to affect my last few days.
Abbie’s birthday was creeping up, so Alice and I had developed a master plan to get her some presents and a cake without her realising. Of course, we’ve been inseparable on this trip so it’s very obvious when one of us isn’t there – we needed an excuse to split up. Luckily my friend Danny, who is also kind-of my ex (this becomes relevant later, I’m not just giving away unnecessary personal information) lives in Mexico City and as well as wanting to catch-up, I thought it’d be a good time to get gifts without Abbie suspecting anything. GENIUS, EH? So, about 15 minutes after we arrived (and after I’d thrown up, lol) I prepared to head back out again. I probably would have cancelled and chosen to rest up if Abbie’s birthday presents weren’t on the line but sometimes you have to make sacrifices…
I met Danny on my ERASMUS semester in Madrid and we travelled together in Portugal but that was a very long time ago, so I made sure to reach out and let him know that I was in Mexico. He picked me up from my hostel in his car and although it was great to see him, I couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that I hadn’t showered all day, was wearing hobo traveller clothes and had two plastic bags in my hand because ‘there was a high chance of me vomiting’. If there was a guidebook on how NOT to act around your ex, I think this scenario would be at the top of the list. Unless any of you haven’t already guessed, I did throw up in his car – twice, actually. What makes this even less acceptable is the fact that he drives a ridiculously expensive MERCEDES BENZ. At least, I think it was… Who the hell has time to care about the car model when you’ve got your head in a plastic bag?!
So, there we have it – a classic ‘could-only-happen-to-Tara’ story. I wasn’t even that embarrassed. I should have been though… I mean, we got to the cake shop and I was too busy lying on the concrete floor outside to move. So, Danny had to go in, choose the cake himself AND pay for it. -sighs- In retrospect, this is a very funny story but, at the same time, I am gonna take a moment to seriously thank him for staying cool, calm and collected through all of this. He was also the first person to suggest that it might be altitude sickness and, even now, that seems to have been the most logical explanation…
I got back to the hostel late and had just 10 minutes to throw on some decent clothes for Abbie’s birthday meal. I somehow managed to hide the birthday presents and make myself look presentable in such a short space of time but as soon as we left the hostel, I started to feel super sick. If any of you are reading this and thinking ‘WHEN IS SHE GONNA GET THE HINT THAT SHE’S ILL AND JUST STAY IN BED?’ then I’ll tell you right now; that moment doesn’t actually arrive.
I did skip the meal, to be fair, and went back to the room to watch 75 episodes of Malcolm in the Middle so that was definitely progress on the ‘take some time out to recover’ front but the next day, somehow, I ended up at a theme park…
I’ll start from the beginning… Alice and I decided back in Belize that we were going to buy Abbie tickets to Six Flags Mexico for her birthday. Her birthday was on a Sunday meaning that there were tons of weekend halloween celebrations at the park and we were all SO EXCITED TO GO (it was technically a present for all 3 of us – altruism is dead). Sadly, due to my sickness, we decided to cancel. Abbie and Alice went to the cinema on the Sunday morning instead and told me to stay home and rest up but, of course, I ignored their advice and went out to explore the city. I felt great all morning and even managed to eat a full meal so I called the girls and told them to come back and fetch me from the hostel after their film.
At this point, it was 3pm and we weren’t sure where to go. I mentioned that the theme park was open until midnight and, before we knew it, we were crammed into a taxi shouting ‘WOOOO HERE WE COME, SIX FLAGS’ out of the window. I couldn’t get over how much better I felt, that was until we arrived at the theme park and I threw up. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Yeah, I don’t expect sympathy from any of you – I got myself into this mess. We even WikiHow’ed ‘Getting rid of altitude sickness‘ and one of the bullet points was: ‘Don’t go on theme park rides‘. At this point, I had truly come to embrace my ‘idiot’ status and decided to ride every rollercoaster anyway.
My body hated me (and the people in the ride queues hated me because I was lying on the floor, taking up way more space than I needed) but Abbie had the bestest 23rd birthday and, so, I couldn’t really care less about my terrible life choices.
The next day I really was ‘better’ – no more vomiting, no more lying on the floor in public… hallelujah.We explored Mexico City together properly and it was honestly B E A U T I F U L. What a city!!! I didn’t expect it to be as amazing as it was but honestly, there is so much to see and I wished that we’d had more time to do everything. I want to visit the pyramids in Teotihuacan, watch Lucha Libre wrestling and take a boat down the Xochimilco canals. I want to explore the Bosque de Chapultepec properly and drive up and down Paseo de la Reforma at night a million and one more times. I want to go to every museum and eat at every restaurant…. I just want to do it all. Aside from Six Flags and a walk around the city, we only really managed to visit Frida Kahlo’s house. I think we actually wanted to go to the Frida Kahlo museum, but we didn’t realise that they were two separate places and ended up catching the metro out of the centre to the house instead. Long story short, our time in Mexico City could have been planned better but, surprisingly, I wouldn’t actually change anything.
Even when I was lying in bed feeling completely exhausted after not being able to eat for 2 days, the girls performed a healing ritual on me with a Coca Cola bottle and a plant (using the information we had learnt at the Mayan medicine museum in San Cristobal). We were stopped on the street by a University student learning English who wanted to film us speaking, which we found impossible to do without giggling. We were scared shitless running through the horror mazes at the theme park, being chased by men with fake chainsaws and pushing each other out of the way to escape. Abbie couldn’t get her boarding card to scan for the flight home, so she just ran through the barrier anyway causing a woman to say the words ‘100 PASSENGERS HAVE GOTTEN ON THIS FLIGHT TODAY AND NOT ONE OF THEM HAS DONE SOMETHING AS STUPID AS THAT’. These are just a few of the memories that make me think we spent our last few days perfectly…
Getting on that plane home wasn’t easy. Despite the fact that we were all sick of wearing the same clothes day-in, day-out and our energy levels (and bank accounts) were depleting, none of us actually wanted to leave. Those 3 months were unreal, magical, insane, beyond incredible, -insert more over the top adjectives here-. I have never, in my life, had such patient, considerate, funny, adventurous travel companions – something just clicked between us and I honestly don’t want to travel without them ever again! There were times when we drove each other crazy (queue me and Alice recording Christmas songs in a chipmunk voice for a whole 2 hours while Abbie was trying to read her book) but we were always so honest and open with each other that nothing ever mattered for longer than 2 seconds.
3 months of back-to-back jobs in exchange for 3 months of pure freedom to travel – pretty sweet deal if you ask me. I know now that hard work always pays off (eventually) and there’s no reason why I can’t work AND travel over the next couple of years if I play my cards right and budget properly (a.k.a reduce my weekly consumption of peanut butter from 4 jars to just 1…).
I learnt a lot on this trip – like the fact that free WiFi is easier to come by than free drinking water (what kind of a world?!?!), that being able to flush toilet paper is a luxury we take for granted, that sometimes it’s okay to stay in, watch Glee, play Jenga and read horoscopes instead of sightseeing, that the top bunk isn’t always so bad and that good music paired with good company make long journeys much shorter… just to name a few things. I think the most important thing, though, is that there’s no right or wrong way to travel – take the Gringo trail, go off the beaten track, sunbathe on the beach, climb mountains, book tours, organise things alone, wake up early for yoga and meditation, party hard and sleep in – what does it matter? You paid for it, do whatever you want! Don’t let people try to convince you that they are ‘better at travelling’ or something ridiculous like that. I mean, it may seem like I’m pretty experienced having travelled solo and having visited so many countries but I still get nervous when I have to ask people for directions, I never remember to top up my travel money card, I lost my immigration form in Panama airport and I got my stuff stolen on a Mexican night bus…. I think that proves my point.
I guess that’s all from the 3 empanadas, for now. We had the time of our lives and I look forward to planning our next adventure…
Over and out, my friends. It’s been one hell of a ride ❤️