I am sharing exclusive photographs and reflections from my solo journey around the world in 2007/08. So far, I have travelled (back in time in my mind to ten years ago) through Belize and the southern tip of Mexico (and sent out a few postcards)...
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Here's postcard from Mexico:
I have always been a bit obsessively in love with dogs. Not all dogs, Smooth short hair is pretty essential - I'm a bit prejudiced about long haired dogs being a bit smelly. Ridiculous closed mindedness, because my own short, smooth haired, mini Dachshunds are actually quite odorous, in spite of their short, manageable hair. It's the aesthetic of the short haired dog I love. Being able to see their quadrupedal form is important to me. Anyway, I digress. The genesis of my yen to go to Mexcio was a magical visit to the Museum of Mankind. My mum took me when I was around 14 years old. One of those delicious moments in childhood where a bedazzling glimpse of another culture sucks you through a portal and changes you forever. It was the 'Day of the Dead' Exhibition. My mum knew that I would love it. I was enraptured. I made a visit to Mexico an essential item on my list of things to do when I grew up and began drawing skulls and folksy pattern on everything in preparation for my visit. That exhibition is a big piece of the origin story for my whole journey and especially the reason I went to Mexico, my 'why'.
On Holbox and Isla Mujeres I came closest to feeling that magical Mexicania I had imagined from the wonder filled cabinets and artefacts at The Museum of Mankind. The tourist season had finished so my new friend Nicole and I were able to explore unencumbered. My inner world no longer revolved around imminent danger. I was actually enjoying myself! I was completely fixated with the porky Chihuahuas padding about Holbox. They varied in size from fat Guinea Pig to medium sized Staffy. All super chilled, utterly flea infested and shuffling about looking for patches of sun to sit and blink into. Though no physical contact happened, I felt a deep bond with the little beasts. I felt seen by them and companioned. They reminded me of the pot bellied terracotta vessels and effigies of dogs I had seen in that exhibition about Mexico at 14 years old. somehow I felt that the dogs understood my story and that I had been waiting a long time to meet them. During our 10 days or so on the islands, Nicole and I watched sunrise from the eastern most point in Mexico, walked round the edges of the isles and the lacework of sand tracks through them. We watched birds, lolled in hammocks and I had my second attempt at snorkelling - which I couldn't quite decide whether I liked or not.
My flight to my next stop, San José left from Belize City, so my final test for this first chapter of travel was to head back there, to that hostel to stay one last night before flying to Costa Rica. I could have stayed at a different hostel, or even a fancy hotel but I had actively decided to return to North Front street. Returning would be my slightly perverse way to measure how much stronger I felt. I recall a gut tightening sense of foreboding incubating within me on the bus from Chetumal. I braced my whole being against the associative fear of returning to Belize City. I revisited the city as a stronger woman. I spoke comfortably to fellow tourists at the bus terminal; handing on my knowledge to a young and nervous looking French couple about how to get to Caye Caulker. Chatting to shop owners and greeting the sour hostel receptionist as an old friend, I felt like a different person in a different place. You see no matter how scary the unfamiliar, the brand new, the totally alien is; it IS possible to get through it and to find your emotional feet and reconnect with your 'why'. Meeting Chihuahuas on Holbox and remembering that visiting Mexico had been an inner longing since childhood grounded me enough to feel ready to move forward with momentum and excitement and to own this adventure for myself. I was even ready to begin to share my learning and belief in what I was doing with others (remember; the French couple). These stretching experiences allow us to grow in ways we don't even know are possible before we pass through the first 'test' and circle back on ourselves. On to Costa Rica:
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