A picture is worth 1,000 words...
I’ve been arrested (more than once) but never stayed overnight in a prison cell. Yet staying in this room in Mazunte - on the south coast of Mexico - I feel I’ve experienced what it might be like. My room is like a prison cell with mattresses that force you to book in a massage at the conveniently located spa in the same business as your accommodation. The room is cheap, the massage expensive. That’s how they get you in. Bad back? No worries, we can fix it - for a price.
A single and double bed makes for a decision. Do I sleep on the double or single? Both are about as thick as a yoga mat and equally bad. An experienced traveller such as I solves the problem and throws one on top of the double bed just to feel some comfort and not the wooden slats through the thin layer of foam. Bed sheets that feel like sandpaper. No mosquito net and a giant hole in the bathroom wall to let the buggers in freely.
A shower head that faces on a 45’ angle upwards to mock me, precariously positioned over the toilet. No water pressure to get the sand off the lower half of your body.
I move to new digs next door, more holes in the walls but now, mosquito nets… with you guessed it, holes in them. Having to sleep in humid conditions is one thing, but layering your body in repellent that stinks and sticks to your skin is another. The heat and sweat and smell makes for an icky-sticky un-fun sleep.
A fan with the power of a whispering breath to keep you cool at night. More breeze coming from between your legs as your flatulence bursts at intervals. Will it follow through? It’s a risky game of Russian roulette in a 3rd world country. The tacos I'd craved for so long are not agreeing with me, carrying toilet paper is a must. Diarrhoea ordinarily becomes the norm, but this week I have cramps and I don't if I need to fart, poo or piss half the time. Sometimes I can't do anything. Bottled water is a necessity. You can’t trust the tap water, even to clean your teeth. Your first world stomach is no match for these conditions. Sun bearing down even though there are thunderstorms and lightning. Getting sunburnt on a rainy day bemuses you when you return to your quarters to discover a red face in the cracked postcard sized mirror above the basin crawling with ants nibbling on your Rosa Venus bar of soap straight from a Mexican motel, whores and lust filled one nighters use to wash away their regrets. The consolation is you have a beach at your doorstep, a beach with no shade except for the paid kind. A rickety wooden chair under a wonky umbrella – a bargain 250 pesos to rent for use all day long – til they come and take it away with no explanation. The same man offering you this seat, will offer you any drug you want - amphetamina, ketamina, mezcalina, acido, hongos magicos and of course marijuana. It all sounds poetic when they sing it to you. The names roll off the tongue well. A tongue used to whistle to get your attention in the first place. Some use the quieter approach, waiting to make eye contact and wink, nod or give the international signal for "wanna buy weed?" by mimicking smoking a puff. Quite the variety of drugs on offer considering the bar menu only has one or two choices of warm beer. But don’t tell him where you’re staying as he may be tipping off the police, or he may be the police. On second thought, don’t buy any drug from him. If it’s anything like the piña colada he just sold you. It won’t have anything in it to get you high. The 80pesos cocktail served in a chipped glass with crushed ice is sure to give you a re-run of the runs. But when you’re lying on the sand after the chair you’ve hired to sit on has collapsed, it’s too tempting, and you drink it up, then you swim because you need to pee and let’s face it, pissing in the ocean is more hygienic than using a baño out the back of one of these beachside bars. The shore breaking waves look small but are deceptively strong and are no good for body surfing or swimming in general, but you NEED to be in the water, you’ve been bitten on the sand by ants and bugs, yet in the water, the sea lice are having their way with your skin. The only thing to take the pain away is stepping on a rock. You return to your accommodation before sundown, you’re on holiday. You want to tell everyone how beautiful it is but the Wi-Fi isn’t working. After all, it is connected to a Huawei mobile phone, owned by the manager who has walked away with it to run some errands. Even when in range, the reception is shoddy.
Finally, some bars, some connection. You post a photo from the hammock you’ve been told to vacate because your room only comes with the option to sit in a plastic chair. Alas, the world will see your legs from a hammock facing a beach, you can't get palm trees in the same shot because they didn't put a hammock in the right spot for safety reasons, nobody wants a coconut death on their hands, so you take a 2nd shot of the trees nearby, and your friends will see the picture that deep down, you know, is worth a thousand words, words that could take the wind out of their sails, words that would shed light on the often negative reality of travel, instead you prefer to show the side of it they want to see, the picture is summed up in just 3 words combined... #livingthedream