Let’s not mess about. Everyone would love to be a beach bum for a while, or at least try to without worrying about life’s complications. When I got to Mexico I was so busy trying to find a job teaching English that I forgot I’d been working my arse off for a couple of years to have a break. It wasn’t until I got to Mazunte, a lovely beach town in the province of Oaxaca, that I started to appreciate life without work. Here’s an excerpt from my time in Mexico. Wouldn’t it be great to drop everything and dart off there with my wife and baby for a year?
|Living in a hammock was damn good…
apart from the mosquitoes!
I was finally off the beaten track.
“Why don’t you eat with us?” Victor said, as we sat on the cabana’s balcony gazing at the sun drifting down over the back of the sea. “The restaurant here has the more fresh fish in Mexico.”
Cristina, the owner of the cabanas, rustled up an amazing fish risotto, which went down a treat with a couple of cold coronas. I was picking up this strange habit though; I always had to have a slice of lemon in my beer to really enjoy it.
We sat around a long rectangular wooden table sheltered by some thick palm trees and chatted with a hypo Dutch couple. They’d been travelling around South America.
“Brazil is the best place,” said the bloke, “you can hire a dune buggy and cruise along the coast. The beaches are amazing there.”
“What even better than here?” I asked, surprised that there could be better beaches than in Mazunte.
“Sure, Mazunte is great, but the beaches in Brazil are something else.” Brazil was still a long way off, but I kept his comments in my mind as I made plans in South America.
As night fell, a breeze picked up and creatures in the trees made odd creaking noises. I felt as though I was deep in the Amazon jungle (somewhere I never actually made on my travels). Mosquitoes darted about stinging our ankles so Cristina put out some candles and the Dutch couple lent everyone their repellent spray.
As they spoke about their travel adventures I realised I was still a travel virgin. I’d only been away from home a month and most of that time I´d spent trying to find work. I had to make more effort at this travelling lark.
Einstein’s place turned out to be a grotto after Victor’s honeymoon suite. On the first morning at breakfast I realised the hostel was really dirty and scabby. Sitting by the stained oak tables were a French couple and two Scandinavian girls. In the corner lazing about were three skinny black dogs covered in flies.
Einstein’s delicioso breakfast of cold eggs and stale tortillas was revolting. I tried to eat but the buzzing flies and wet nosed dogs put me off. I accidentally dropped half on the floor – an old trick my mum used when she wanted to leave the table – and the dogs gobbled up the scraps.
Einstein was all over the Scandinavian girls, trying to impress them with photos of him travelling to various places in Mexico. Strangely enough, his charm seemed to be working as they giggled at his corny jokes.
I’d miscalculated my budget so I had to use Einstein’s kitchen to cook my own lunches.
“Of course, of course, come see, come see,” he said, shooing the dogs out of the entrance. At first I wondered what the strange buzzing sound was, until I saw the cloud of flies. They swarmed above our heads as Einstein showed me round. The oily kitchen surface and dirty utensils made me feel queasy. The dogs trailed behind, sniffing for leftovers. Thinking about preparing food in the stinky kitchen made my stomach turn, but I had no other choice. I stocked up on tuna, pasta, and tomato sauce from the only supermarket in Mazunte and prepared myself for some dull lunches.
Photo by jonathonlinn
Away from the grotto, Mazunte seemed to be the perfect place to kill a few days and really get to grips with being on my own travelling. The beach town had a real bohemian and friendly feel; everyone acknowledged each other with a nod or smile. As it was low season there was plenty of space to chill out on the main beach and watch the waves crashing on the shore. Travellers splashed about and played in the waves. I’d never been in waves so high and it made me realise that I was a bit scared of the sea.
The next couple of days were hard work. I sunbathed, played frisbee with Ed and Victor, and practised Spanish. In the evenings, I ate with Ed, Victor, and Maria. We never arranged to meet; we just turned up and enjoyed the evening together. The food was fantastic, fresh fish or steak every night washed down with ice-cold beer. We never drank a lot, just a few to send us to sleep.
One night a couple of local lads working in the bars put on an impressive fire juggling show. The audience cheered and clapped as the acrobats pranced about, risking their lives to entertain. Life as a traveller was good.
It wasn’t long before I’d had enough of Einstein’s palace. Cooking lunch was a nightmare. I got sick of the fly infested kitchen and stinky dogs sniffing my nether regions while I ate. Once my bank transfer came through, I whisked my stuff up to the cabana on the hill, enough was enough.
Luckily, Victor taught me how to sleep in a hammock.
“You need to put your back straight, like this,” he said, folding up like a bat. He made it look so easy; a hammock professional. I, on the other hand, was an apprentice.
The first night I didn’t sleep a wink. I tossed and turned to try to avoid the mosquitoes but they bit me to death.
“How you sleep?” Victor asked the next morning.
“Terrible, I dunno how you sleep in these things,” I said with puffy eyes, a crooked neck, and enough bites to think I had chicken pox.
After watching the expert a few more times, and with the help of a can of mosquito spray, I eventually got a decent night sleep.
Waking up with the sunrise every morning was a dream come true. I’d get up and spend all day down the beach. I forgot about my dream of teaching English abroad. I was quite glad to stay put for a while and become a professional beach bum.