To my surprise, I had survived the first few hours of being in Belize City. Dinner for one happened in my tiny cell of a room, a not entirely pleasant blend of cereal bar, banana and some UHT fruit juice. I had emptied my back pack and was re-rolling and re-packing everything, just to keep myself occupied. I had no plan for tomorrow, I couldn't reach that far ahead in my twittering nervous head. When I heard two female voices in the lobby of the hostel, speaking a little English and a little Spanish, my heart leapt.
Hallelujah! Hannah and Layla appeared from nowhere and took me under their collective Nordic wing. In their company I felt safe enough to start to explore what being a lone woman backpacker could be. Together they modelled confidence in the face of the pushy and patriarchal and a relaxed faith in the basic idea that things would be ok. They flitted between being spontaneous party people and street wise and assertive.
Together we travelled to Caye Caulker where we hired bicycles and peddled around the island. We felt marvellously immune to the cat-calling with the relative speed advantage of the humble push bike. Hannah and Layla's laid back confidence was infectious, their enthusiasm for eating well and relaxing was exactly the discipline I needed. After a few days we left Caye Caulker and travelled North over the Mexican border to a simple tourist spot on the coast called Playa Del Carmen.
I started to relax and eat properly and sleep well. Started to take walks and trips on my own to places like Chichen Itza. Still spookable, but increasingly resilient to the unfamiliar. The girls and I shared a room, spent our time separately during the days and came together in the late afternoons and evenings to eat. Low key was exactly what I needed for a time and I began to enjoy being alone to walk around and take photographs and gently explore. When the girls planned to head back to Mexico City, I made my plans to head to Tulum and Merida. Parting was so sad. We swapped something each from our backpacks, hugged for a long time and resisted tears. My next few days were alone, travelling and visiting Tulum, staying as the only guest in a Posada next to the site. I started to feel like I could do this...
More soon x