Dec 13: San Pancho to Tecoman
I hadn’t hitchhiked solo since August – travelling as a couple being way different – and I’d been camped on that beach in San Pancho for nearly a month.
But hitchhiking is my passion; it courses through my veins, and it can’t be forgotten. So I fell back into it with ease.
A couple of hours in, a truck driver named Ruben picked me up. I’d been having a pretty good run, with the first or second car who saw me with my thumb out promptly picking me up. When I hopped in Ruben said he was going five hours down the road, and I was happy as hell.
This ended up being a fascinating ride. At one point he asked me what I thought about life. I didn’t really know how to answer. But then we got into it. We started talking about how corrupt the system is – the politics, the economics. We spoke of how few people would talk about it, and even those who did just sat in their bubble doing nothing. We talked about how crazy borders were, and to think of each country as separate rather than of the same earth was simply preposterous. We spoke of religion, and the insanity of anyone presuming to know, without a doubt, what can never be known.
We chatted about what might happen once we die, and he said he was ready for the next thing. He didn’t want to leave his family, but he was ready for the next world. He pondered that our world was perhaps a jail – that we had done something wrong in the past, in a different place, and this was where we were sent.
Ruben told me a story about when he was five, and lived with his grandparents. His grandfather worked in the fields of a large property owned by a very rich man. Ruben used to go work with him when he was off from school.
The rich man was very kind. He’d always have coffee and food for the employees. He had horses, and knew that Ruben loved them. The rich man pointed one horse out. “That’s your horse, but he’s too young to take. You must take good care of him until he’s big enough.”
Ruben was ecstatic, and cared for the horse. Finally he was big enough to bring home. He excitedly told his grandfather he was taking the horse home. His grandfather looked at him puzzled. “You can’t do that, it is not your horse.”
Ruben was confused. The rich man had told him many times it was his horse.
His grandfather pulled him aside, and explained the ways of the world. He explained that the rich man was joking with him; he was not serious, though he had not meant to be malicious. He gave the employees food and coffee because they worked for him. He took care of them because they were his workers.
Ruben had thought that people just helped each other like this. He didn’t know his grandfather was working for the man to earn money and support his family. This five year old simply believed that people helped people.
It was also at this very moment that Ruben realized for the first time that he was poor.
It’s odd to think that a five year old figured out how the world should be, just to have the illusion shattered, and to be introduced to the “real” world. He has been pondering life ever since.
Finally he dropped me off near a truck stop. I was going to camp out, but he said he knew a place that would let me stay for free – in a bed and all! He put me in a taxi, gave me a bit of money, and off I went.
When I arrived, I told the policeman at the door that I was a traveller with no money, and I needed a place to stay for the night. He asked if I had family at the hospital across the street. No, I replied. He then asked where I was from. When I said Canada he let me right in, and showed me to a dorm. It seems the place was primarily for family of those in the hospital, but they had plenty of room, and were happy to help me out.
Where have these places been all my life? Well, time for rest before the next few crazy days of hitching ahead.
Dec 14: Tecoman to Playa Azul
Early in the morning I hitched a ride out. I saw the sign that said Playa Azul – 230 km. I knew nothing about the place, it was just a name and a distance; I would surely get further than that.
I hopped in a truck and we began our epic journey. I really didn’t get a great vibe from the guy from moment one. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think he was going to murder me but… I just didn’t like him.
I couldn’t understand a damn word he said, for one. He wasn’t speaking super fast Spanish, but seemed only to use words I didn’t know. Usually I can have some form of conversation, but not this time. He seemed unwilling to rephrase, and barely understood me either. A couple times he told me to give him a smoke. Not, “Please can I have a cigarette,” and no thank you ensued.
I was going to hop out early on, but I soon found out that was impossible; the road curved up and down mountain after mountain, with few other vehicles on the road, and no towns that were anything more than a row of houses.
So I was stuck with him.
At one point I asked him where we were, pointing at my map, and he more or less ignored me. Yeah buddy, I feel real safe.
So when three o’clock hit, and we made it to the turn off to Playa Azul (that 230 km took six hours) I hopped the hell out. I was sweating, my back was cramped, I was sick of this man, I desperately had to pee, and I needed food. Fuck it, no more hitching today. Off to the beach.
I was surprised to find a rather crowded beach in a town that looked pretty set up for tourists (restaurant after restaurant after restaurant) with zero white tourists. It was a bit odd, but I happily went for a swim.
When I’d gotten dropped off in town, an older man on a bicycle came over to chat with me. As I got out of the ocean, I saw him again. He was with a little boy, around 10 years old, who ran up to me. The older man had told him that I was camping, but I had no money, and the boy told me I could camp at his place. I had a good feeling, and the two seemed genuine, so I went along. Side note: don’t worry people (ahem: mom), I don’t go stay with just anyone. As I’d gotten in the water a man had offered me a room. He was nice enough, but I don’t really trust someone who sees me in a bikini, and says heyyyy come on over.
Anyway, I went down the beach, and met the boy’s mom and sisters, and everyone was happy for me to camp out there. From the sounds of it, the little boy often brings home human strays. They gave me a couple of beers, we had a good chat, and I set up my tent on the beach, but on their property. It just added a wee bit of security, but more importantly, I got a real live bathroom. Well, as real live as a toilet without a seat, and no sink is. That’s a real bathroom to me, anyway.
As I walked around town desperately looking for food that I could eat as a vegetarian, several questions came to mind:
1. Why don’t Mexicans experiment with more than just Mexican food? Sure, in tourist towns I can have some pizza or pasta, but not elsewhere.
2. How do restaurants survive when you’ve got 15 places all selling tacos and quesadillas, within $1 of each other? You all have the same food… How… Just… How?!
3. Salad dressing, guys, salad dressing. Lime is capable of a lot, but not everything. Salad dressing.
4. Where the hell are the chocolate bars? I’m starting to notice that, unless I find a chain convenience store, no chocolate for me. Ice cream, cookies, crackers, chips? No problem. But you want a chocolate bar? Not here, you don’t!
No logic is being had.
…on the other hand, there are a ton of restaurants with tables and chairs right in the sand, overlooking this massively long beach, and they have hammocks between every table. Food comas have got to be the best thing ever here.
Dec 15: Playa Azul to Acapulco
Day three of the hitch to Zipolite; not much to report.
When I looked at the map, and decided to take the coastal route down, I noticed that the only major clusterfuck (read: big tourist city from hell) that I’d encounter would be Acapulco.
Note to self, I thought: if evening is approaching, stop before Acapulco. Otherwise make sure to get across it in daytime. This would not be somewhere I could camp out.
So naturally I’m stuck for the night in Acapulco. I’d asked several people around the bus station my last ride dropped me at where there was a hostel. No one seemed to understand me. As in I had the word right, they just didn’t seem to comprehend the concept of cheap accommodation in Acapulco.
So I was literally on the verge of a panic attack. I have all these emotions I’ve been shoving deep inside, because during a mega solo hitch is no time to deal with upsetting emotions. But in that moment, in the middle of a giant city with nowhere to go, my breathing started to quicken. I put my head in my hands. I had nowhere to go. The tears were about to start falling, when my ride into the city walked by.
He asked if I’d had any luck finding a hostel, and I replied in a panicked way that no one knew where there was a hostel. Truth be told I could barely afford a hostel, but I had no choice in a city. I’m not camping on a crowded beach. Top ways to get robbed 101.
Anyway, he spoke to a couple people, and a cab driver came over, saying he knew where there was a cheap hotel – only $25. Well, that was what I’d pay for a hostel, so fuck it.
My kind ride gave the cab driver the money to take me to the hotel. I checked in, bought a couple beers, and now sit at the beach directly across from my hotel.
“My hotel.” Ha. Don’t I sound fancy today?
Oh, and one last thing. Today I saw one of the most upsetting things I could possibly see. In the truck driving ahead of me in one town, a man rode in the back. He held a rope, and on the other end were tied the legs of a pig. The pig lay on a small ledge, practically falling off of the truck.
I was sure the pig was dead. Do I like to see dead animals? No. But if it’s dead, it doesn’t really matter how you hold it.
But then I saw it move.
No, piggy was not dead. He was fully alive. And this was somehow acceptable.
If this had been a dog, it would blatantly be seen as abuse. But a pig? No one around cared.
Quite honestly I wanted to hop out of the car, grab my rope, tie it around the man’s feet, and hang him off the truck.
But this is something almost normal. You can’t chalk it up to my being in Mexico; we just keep these things more hidden in our first world bubbles. Animals live in tiny cages for their entire lives. I honestly think there should be a very special jail for those who treat animals like this – those who think it’s okay to do this to another living being. And in this jail, they should be submitted to the exact torture that they gave.
Pardon my rant, but I believe people need to be AWARE. Eating animals is FINE! Animals eat animals, it is the circle of life. Animal abuse, however, is not acceptable. If you love meat, and you love animals, why not know where your meat comes from? Cut down on the quantity, and spend the extra to buy it from a local farm that you can visit, and see exactly how the animals are treated. Better yet, hunt for yourself.
Once again, excuse my rant, but I believe that if we are to take a life for our own survival, we should be aware of the sacrifice – appreciate the life given so that we can continue ours.
Please don’t be ignorant, my friends. This was not the first living being to be hung from a truck. This was not a rare happening. This is where your prepackaged meat comes from – from torture.
Oh dear, as the night goes on, I’m given another side note to add to today’s blog. People always seem frightened at the thought of my being a solo female traveller. In truth, it’s really not that bad, and is more worth it than anything else. A friend of mine told me a while back that my ability to not get robbed or murdered gave her faith in humanity. I told her 99% of people have no desire to rob or murder me.
But here is what does happen when you are a solo female traveller: I was sitting at the boulevard, minding my own business, having a couple beers across from my hotel. A man around my age sat next to me, and we started chatting.
He was very nice, and he spoke in a slower manner that allowed me to understand everything he said, and have a real conversation. My Spanish isn’t amazing, so I truly appreciate these interactions in which I can have a full conversation.
He was a fisherman, and he was about to start work (apparently the fishing is better at night). He asked if I’d like another beer; he was heading out, but it would make him happy to buy me a beer, he said.
I was ecstatic! This guy is leaving, but he wants to buy me a beer, and leave me to continue enjoying sitting alone and having a few drinks.
We went to the store and he bought me a beer. Before he left he leaned in to do the typical cheek kiss that is the norm for saying hello and goodbye in Mexico.
And then he tried to actually kiss me.
Of course I pulled away, and said no. He asked why, and I firmly said no. Why did he have to ruin my false belief that someone was just being kind and friendly?
In any case, he gave it up, and waved me goodbye as he drove the boat off to go catch some fish, and I sipped on my free beer.
So that’s what you get when you’re a solo female traveller. Annoying? Absolutely. Frightening or dangerous? God no. And I hope that any chick who embarks on a solo trip is at the very least strong enough to handle a few men thinking they can kiss her!
A side note attached to no particular day: although my personal evolution has been at somewhat of a halt recently, there are a few little things worth noting.
A week or so ago my waterproof camera broke. It was my second waterproof camera to break in the water. It was about my twentieth camera to break (not exaggerating).
It wouldn’t turn on. I charged the battery. I put it back in. It wouldn’t turn on.
I threw it in the garbage without a thought.
I usually am rather attached to the few possessions that I have. But this time I just didn’t care. It was broken, I didn’t have the funds to replace it, and that was that.
Similarly, I’ve been walking around shoeless for a month. Earlier this week I felt something prick my foot. Later in the day I looked at my foot, and it seemed something was inside my foot.
This won’t mean much unless you know me extremely well. Let me give you a bit of insight into my odd past.
When I was about five years old, I was having a mega tantrum, as per usual. My grandma got me to calm down and talk to her. I was standing against the wooden wall in the hallway of my grandparents’ trailer home. I slid down the wall to sit down, and calmly talk to her.
That’s when I got a several inch long sliver in my back, and had the only stitches of my life.
When I was fifteen years old, I was having a bath. My bathtub had glass doors, and one of them popped out of the track. No problem, I had popped it back in before.
Except this time, when I popped it back in, it decided to completely shatter down upon me. My hands and feet got cut to hell.
Needless to say, I’ve always been paranoid of slivers, and small pieces of glass – to the point that if someone else gets a piece of wood or glass stuck on their skin, I will have a panic attack. My close friends know not to tell me if it happens to them.
So anyway, it seemed as if I had something in my foot the other day.
And I thought to myself, “Meh, it’ll come out of its own accord if there’s something in there.”
Um. What? That is not me. I have a major phobia. But I just didn’t care. It was all good.
What the hell is happening to my high strung ass?!
Dec 17: Acapulco to Jamiltepec
Well, I wound up staying in Acapulco an extra day – not because I wanted to explore an extensive big tourist city, but because I had needed a solo drunk session the previous night. There was no way I was hitching on that hangover.
So I set out again this morning. Rides were pretty regular all day; I’d wait ten to thirty minutes, and get a ride half an hour or an hour down the road.
I thought I was making good time, but as it turns out Mexico is in a gap in the time space continuum. Who knew?! When I began, Google Maps told me I was only six hours from my destination. Score! But after around three hours travel time, I found out I was still five hours away.
At one point I was hitching and a van rocked up. It was two immigration officials, and they politely asked to see my papers. No problem. I handed over my passport, along with my tourist visa that I was very proud to have after the ordeal of obtaining it.
He returned my papers to me, and offered me a ride. Hell yes! They cranked the air con, picked up a couple other randoms in need of a ride on the way, and dropped me at the turn off to Puerto Escondido.
Alas, my luck ran out for rides shortly after. I was another hour down the road, and the sun was going down fast. I was shaky as hell from the lack of food in the past few days; it’s been a steady diet of yoghurt, chocolate, and peanuts. Mexico isn’t terribly vegetarian friendly.
A man came over, and we started chatting. After a bit he said that, if I wanted, he had an extra room at his house, and I could stay there the night. Oh god please yes!
Then he took me for food. We went to the restaurant across the street, and between him and the woman there, they managed to obtain me veggie food.
Out comes this big plate with rice, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, and cheese. I mean it was decent, but it was no amazing thing… Except to me it totally was. Good god I just stopped speaking and ate. I’m sure I looked like an animal, and positive I downed it within five minutes. Real food at last!
One more day of this epic hitch before a rest. And now, at 7:30 pm, I bid the world a freakin’ good night!
Dec 18: Jamiltepec to Mazunte
I woke up early, and my host, Daniel, got up with me. He said he could either help me with my bag to the gas station, or he could pay for us both to take a collectivo (a van that picks up people along the way – kind of like a bus, but more cramped, and without strict stops) to a town an hour down the road. Of course I jumped on this option, knowing that would leave me with a mere two hours left to go.
When we arrived, Daniel was keen to continue on with me for a ways, but I had to nicely tell him that I needed to finish the journey alone. This was my epic journey, and I wanted to savour that home stretch all to myself.
I was picked up by a truck, and road happily in the back. Little did I know he was going far past my destination, and this would be my final ride.
Finally, after five days of straight hitchhiking (and one epic hangover day), I arrived in Mazunte.
I stood on a street corner, having a ciggy, and contemplating my next move. I wanted to find somewhere to camp for cheap. See, I loved living on that beach in San Pancho. But for the last month I’ve been living an unhealthy balance of food poisoning and starvation.
I needed a kitchen. Hell, if the place was cheap enough, having a kitchen would save me money on food.
I was also hoping I’d find somewhere with wifi – not as essential as a kitchen, but nice to have given that my work is online.
I asked a man who walked by if he knew where there were cheap dorm rooms or camping. He pointed me down a nearby road, saying the place was at least cheaper than places right on the beach.
When I rocked up, I was ready to have to try to barter, or ask where a cheaper place was. I didn’t expect to find it right away.
But the man told me it was 50 pesos to camp. That’s less than $5 per night, with a kitchen, hammocks, shade, and wifi.
I hurriedly set up my tent, and got to the beach.
You know how sometimes you work something or somewhere up so much in your head, that when you arrive it’s a disappointment?
Yeah, this place way surpassed my expectations. It is absolutely stunning, from the beach to the town.
I sat down under an umbrella at a restaurant to dry off. Now I’ve barely eaten in days, and I’m buying myself some reward lunch. But I wasn’t going to at an expensive beach restaurant.
But I thought I’d just glance at the menu…
They had a little section with relatively cheap vegetarian food. And I don’t mean dressing-less salads. I mean fake meat. I mean soon I get to try soya ceviche. I’ve always wanted to try ceviche, which was as popular in Peru as here. You can cook fish in lemon or lime instead of actually cooking it, and that’s ceviche. Of course, being a vegetarian, no ceviche for me.
I then went for a walk in town. I thought to myself in passing, “Do you think… Do you think they might have a vegetarian restaurant here?”
Two minutes later I found it.
Vegetarian restaurant. In a tiny paradise town in Mexico. I have most definitely died and gone to heaven.
On a total side note, I just realized that I haven’t spoken out loud in English in days. Not once. It’s beginning to seem like the secret language in my head. Maybe I should find some English speakers soon…
…as a last note, I totally walked up to some Aussies right after writing that, and said, “Will you guys be my friends?!” It was needed.