On an already hot and sweaty morning me and my giant backpack ( Mochi🙃) were found ourselves walking towards the ADO station in Tulum, off to new adventures. I wanted to explore the islands of Quintana Roo, and find some of that pristine turquoise Caribbean sea.
The first stop was Cozumel, a paradise for divers.
I have to say when I got of the ferry I was a little bit shocked, a promenade of Cartier, Victoria’s Secret and Starbucks wasn’t the welcome I expected… Cozumel is also a cruise ship port, hence the luxury brands and restaurant chains to make people feel more home when they step off the boat…
Never mind, I was walking towards my hostel and the scenery slowly changed to “normal”, little eateries , shops and so on. i didn’t stay long here, just a couple nights, it was enough to snorkel a little, enjoy the free sunbeds and umbrellas in Playa Azul, swim and chill.
I think Cozumel is a great destination for divers, but if you don’t dive, the beaches are quiet far from the centre and let’s just say it’s not the best for backpackers budget.
Beach waves , Playa Azul
Morning yoga in the garden, Amigos hoste
I found the pirates of the Caribbean ( didn’t hide so well)
But I enjoyed my few days here , stayed at a beautiful hostel with a lovely garden and as it always happens, I met some nice people there who gave me suggestions on further travels after the islands. Spending more and more time in the Yucatan peninsula I realised I want to change my original plans and travel further in the mainland and explore more of this beautiful and diverse country.
But before that I was heading to Holbox. And there, I found the paradise I was looking for. I think I’ve never been to such a beautiful place (in the seaside category).
Holbox is the perfect place to connect with nature if you up for leaving some stuff behind.
I decided to stay in a camping with no wifi ( and even when I was in town I purposefully didn’t go online) and the digital detox was just the first step to recharge my batteries, and finally feel better.
The campsite I stayed at was great (Balam Eco Camping) literally minutes away from the beach, untouched, unbuilt and beautiful.
Pizza on campfire😋
I can very well enjoy the beach without bars, beds, and restaurants, but I know it’s not for everyone…If you need a bit more civilisation, Holbox has that near the “town” ( about 15 min away from where I stayed)
But I had my little private bay with palm trees providing shade , my book, my picnic with fresh fruit from the market. I was truly happy and relaxed. Barely saw any other people, but I was in very much need of some solitude.
My private bay
I even sawa unicorn proving this place is magical
Where the sky meets the sea
Holbox has a lot to offer, you can walk to Punta Mosquito to see the flamingos, you can see bioluminescence, and I was there in whale shark season so I decided to go on a tour, which left me with mixed feelings. Although the boats and tour guides have more respect towards the animals than I experienced in other places, but still… I love animals and to observe them by chance ( like a flock of flamingos flying by in El Cuyo ) is always seem better , even if I miss out on the big “attraction”.
Street art in Holbox
2 hrs boat trip yeey
Sunrise from the boat
More flami fun💕
For me watching the most amazing sunset I’ve ever seen every day , swim, read, walk and practice yoga with the sunrise was perfect.
Holbox, you might see me again….
I decided to make use of a rainy morning and write my first post about Mexico. Not so bad activity considering that I’m doing all this in a hammock. After an amazing last weekend, leaving party and packing panic I left London with my huge backpack
( will need reducing overtime!!) . Arrived to Cancùn in the evening and made my way to Tulum, it was pretty straightforward, changed buses at Playa del Carmen and arrived to my hostel around 10pm. The place lives up to his name ( Chill Inn), after dropping my bag ( hallelujah) I had the perfect welcome: really yummy fish tacos at a nearby place, Arena bar. Bienvenidos a México 🇲🇽
My ( very little) Spanish was immediately challenged, and realised that my understanding is better than I expected, however as usual speaking requires more confidence. But I’m constantly trying and I will get there eventually.
My bed after being awake for more than 24 hours seemed heaven, so crushed and slept like a baby til 7 in the morning. Suck it jetlag!
My few days in Tulum were a combination of chilled days when I didn’t do much other than relaxed on the beach and walked to a supermarket- Chedraui is my new happy place:) and some eventful days with visiting ruins, pyramids and cenotes. Some parts of the Mexican Caribbean was going through the “big seaweed crisis”, a totally harmless invasion of sargasso, making the crystal clear waters yellow-brownish and the beach smell like ..well rotten plants. I didn’t mind especially because I knew these were not my only beach days and for me the sea is always amazing. But it was said to see how it is affected local businesses. To read more about this natural phenomenon, see this article: http://akumaldiveshop.com/sargassum-the-what-where-and-why-of-this-seaweed/ .
After one of my newly found friend suggested it I took a trip to Xpu ha on my last day and found almost seaweed free beach:)
An alternative to the beaches around the yucatan is the cenotes, natural sinkholes, but I like the historical background as they say the mayans used them to communicate with the gods. And it’s quite true, when you enter a cenote you enter another place and time. An unmissable experience, no excuses (they usually provide life west for non swimmers). And if you arrive early, you only share the experience with a few people. Crystal clear cool water, plenty to see underneath so don’t forget your snorkels or goggles if you have one and if you happen to be a diver there are many cenotes with caves to explore. i had an amazing day swimming and snorkelling in Cristal and Escondido, they are right next to each other, 15 minutes from Tulum centro on a bike and 120 pesos for both. Bargain;) If you decide to visit these two, it’s nice to bring a picnic, because there’s no restaurants, taco stands etc nearby. I had a lovely collection of pastries, fruit and cheese( basically this is what I lived on other than fish and veggie tacos).
Tulum is also famous for its ruins and mayan pyramids nearby. I dedicated two mornings to explore some of these treasures, with brakes in between so I won’t get “pyramided out”, I wanted to appreciate everything as they deserved it. The key again is the early arrival, we arrived at the ruins for the opening time (8am), this way the tickets are cheaper and the place was free of masses . We saw the intimidating crowds arrive when we were leaving so I was so happy for waking up early, also on Sundays visiting the ruins is free for Mexicans, so if you can choose another day( unless you are Mexican;) But the ruins are beautiful and you can read a lot about the history of Tulum, mayan times and more.
Another historic spot I’ve visited was Cobá. It is about 45 min away from Tulum, there is a bus in the morning but we missed that so took a colectivo to get there. Colectivos are minivans taking people to places, and if your stop is on their route they will get you there. They are absolutely safe to use, you can make new friends and they are reasonably cheap. My trip to Coba was 70 pesos and a lovely girl from Argentina and I used this time to have a Spanish -English language exchange:) added bonus!
The main pyramid from the top
I was ready to move on to new places and adventures, the week in Tulum was nice but probably a bit too long, although it allowed me to have some days adjusting and doing nothing ( much needed) without the pressure of having to do things before I run out of time.
Standard Tulum pic
So next I will exploring the islands of the area, keep tuned in😉
I started writing this a few days ago, on my roof watching the sunset. Than I did a very inconvenient select all, accidentally press delete and wordpress autosave ( I’m sure it happened to many of you). So now I’m sitting in my room on a yoga mat surrounded by boxes and trying to finish what I started .
Its a bit more than 2 weeks and I will board a plane to Mexico to start my travels. If I would have a pound coin for every person who said “you are so brave” my travel funds would be sorted. I personally think everybody is brave who follows their chosen path and dare to do what they love, it doesn’t necessarily has to include a one way ticket to another continent.
But here I am, my life as I know it slowly disappears into boxes and I will start something new. I’m not gonna lie, this comes with a good amount of anxiety and fear, and it’s only natural.
Also the past few months was draining physically, mentally and emotionally. I feel like I’m Super Mario and I have the skills to jump to the next level but my energy is running low.
So now I’m aiming for gold coins and Magic Mushrooms to gain my strength back and have the ability to do what I planned to do.
And these can be found in moments I spend with people I like, in activities I enjoy, places I appreciate.
I spent a week in Hungary, started in my hometown, revisited places of my uni years and just enjoyed being around my friends and family. This always comes with a strange mixture of familiar and non-familiar vibes as I don’t belong there anymore, I changed, the city changed, but there’s still a connection. I am an observer of my young(er) self taking her steps around town, memories spring up every corner. And all the fun with friends, silly selfies or just hanging out in the garden, playing with the animals ( I miss them so much!) .
Our magical garden
The “less ugly fountain” as we used to call it back in the day
Cat joined me for yoga
I had to hug the rose statue
Debrecen and a tram:)
Gold coins all the way.
I made my way to Budapest before I flew back as half of my friend circle live there. I am lucky to have some of people in my life here and there who are my friends regardless of distance or time spent apart. They are the ones you can pick up a conversation that you left many months ago with no awkwardness. That makes me feel happy as I know that wherever I go, they will be there for me. So a few more days with them and their kids, wacky races on the playground and pretending to be a tourist, singing songs to the newest baby , watching her falling asleep( self defence I suppose) creating memories , soaking everything in. The beautiful streets of Budapest, hearing chatter in my own language, travelling on trams and on the kisföldalatti ( my favourite).
And than taking a late night flight , delays and my grumpy sleepy self was back in London, facing some days of work and an overwhelming amount of travel preparation, including dismantling my living space and do some last minute research and in the midst of this dealing with goodbyes and an emotional rollercoaster.
Small steps as they always say, a to do list where every tick makes you feel you’ve done something, but most importantly leaving time for myself, and keep collecting my Magic Mushrooms and gold coins, creating memories with important people in my life and opening myself up to the upcoming adventure, the biggest in my life so far.
Will be back to tell you more…
I haven’t written in a while, as I tried to enjoy my last week in Sri Lanka as much as I can.. then the traumatic return to London with all its greyness, cold and rain ( but luckily also some awesome people who made the city likeable again).
I left Colombo on an early morning train, managed to find great company again, I sat with a lovely family who was travelling with their 2 year old son-quite a challenge for a 9hrs train ride. They were very nice, offering me food (as always) and asked me about my impression of their country. I think I need to rewind the story a little bit, as I meant to stay in a hostel in Sigiriya recommended by friends, however I got an email from the owner that they can’t accept guests at the moment and he left me with the availability of this mystery guy. So I thought he is probably not a serial killer( one can always hope..) and after a couple of phone calls arranged to meet him at the train station in Habarana. I arrived after a 7 hours journey ( we just stopped for an hour at the station just before Habarana for no obvious reason, but by this time a traveller developed an everything comes around on its own terms attitude and happily accepts the changes) .
Well, as you all guessed the guy wasn’t a serial killer:), he was very nice. I stayed at his homestay and before I knew it I found myself in a jeep on the way to see my beloved elephants. They are special to me ( I know they are very hip right now), I always liked them but during my teacher training in India I felt very connected to them, started my little yoga elephant drawings and one of them ended up in my logo for many reasons🐘💕😊. I was so excited that I forgot about the long train ride, being tired or hungry on my way to Kaudulla national park. Well….when you’ve never been to a safari, you might have ideas of endless landscape with you and your jeep surrounded by animals close to nature. The reality is that there are hundreds of other people who’d like to do the same. The national park was crowded with jeeps, I was secretly wishing for Indiana Jones to appear and sort the “expedition” out. While our driver was nice and respectful towards the animals, not everyone followed the rules. Don’t get me wrong, the first time when I saw the elephants it was still breathtaking, they were peacefully having their snack and seemed very used to the crowd..( I even started wondering if elephants go to human watching safaris..) and I saw little babies and managed to take some beautiful photos..But when a line off jeeps were crowding over both sides of a small herd and they couldn’t access the lake to have their drink, I felt ashamed for my fellow humans. So if you decide to go on a jeep safari in Sri Lanka, please make sure you choose a driver who would respect the animals you visiting, and no photo or elephant selfie worth the distress of such a magnificent , sweet and emotional creatures.
So the safari left me with a mixed bag of emotions, but I was definitely very happy to be able to observe elephant families having their afternoon snack.
I was knackered when I got back to the accommodation, so I just had dinner at a random little restaurant and went to sleep get ready for my busy day ahead.
I planned to wake up early and climb Lion’s rock first thing in the morning, as I wanted to avoid the crowds and the heat( almost impossible). I got on the bus to Sigiriya and because of the time of the day it was full of locals making their way to work, ladies in beautiful sari uniforms, men in smart shirts and shoes ( just the thought of wearing shoes made me even more sweaty). This was a different scenery, red sand everywhere ( I still can’t get it out of my t-shirt 😆- an advice: don’t wear white clothes around that area:) ) , no sea breeze, the heat felt more heavy. I got o Lion’s rock around 8.30 and it was quite busy already, but still not too bad. The view totally worth the climb( which is not too bad, I still wasn’t 100% but made it :). The history and culture of the place is very interesting, I didn’t have a guide but I did my reading beforehand(from here😉) And on the top I just sat down and admired the view, chatted with a lovely Spanish girl about travelling and try to soak everything in. I had that feeling that I often feel in historical places that I would like to time-hop to see how it looked like before, the people lived in the palace, walk around the building and the gardens.
The mirror wall
Eventually I climbed down, took the bus back to my little temporary home and had a power nap before I made my way to Dambulla. My accommodation (Sigiri Home stay) had an ideal location in that sense that it was right in the middle of Sigiriya and Dambulla with buses to both ways, so it was easy to hop on to the next one to see the cave temple. It turned out more steps are waiting for me to climb💪🏼, and finding the ticket office was a bit confusing ( I probably approached from the wrong entrance) but I was in. The 5 caves in the complex has 157 statues of Buddha in it, the best to start with 5 working your way up to 1🙂. And don’t forget to look at the top of the caves, the paintings are very beautiful.
Toy and sweet market accross the road
He loves me or not?
fresh mango from a nice old lady
It was a nice two days filled with animals and culture but I felt the calling of the ocean aready, wished for the sea breeza and a dip in the salty water. So next morning I took the bus to the east coast, discover a different beach to Mirissa ‘s waves..
But that’s another story😉, I’m off to enjoy the 🌞( I think someone heard my complaint as London is sunny again 🙂)…
I am sitting in a guesthouse in Colombo, arrived here after a surprisingly long bus journey ( accident on the highway:() and a hopelessly lost tuk tuk driver.. now I managed to find some food from a nearby bakery and before I have an early night to get ready tomorrow’s long train ride, I have to write about the past week and a half.
After receiving the last blood test results, I started to feel relieved, slowly getting back to normal.. I celebrated my “survival ” with cooking fajitas for the others ( my Mirissa family😊). It was really nice and started a tradition of dinners which I’m missing already. I never thought I will eat this much Italian food in Sri Lanka ( in case you guys worried, no I don’t miss out on traditional Sri Lankan food, that’s lunch:)…so we went through a series of pastas, pizza and risotto, and on my last night I made an attempt to cook Hungarian food😊❤️🇭🇺yumm
I was also able to start teaching again, and I had really nice classes, a few of them one to one, and some small group ones. Sometimes we had to face interesting weather conditions ( when you send silent prayers for the rain not to start until you finish savasana🙂) but the roof terrace totally worth the weather gamble. And none of the yogis mind a little refreshing rain… I will miss teaching and practicing there, with the breeze coming from the ocean, monkeys jumping on palm trees, the sound of the prayer, the bread car and our resident bird and KK coming up to check out what’s going on.
I think I was very lucky that James( the owner of JJ’s Hostel) was the first person to reply to my email looking for a volunteering position. Mirissa is a beautiful place and the hostel is amazing. A short walk away from the beach, with very comfy beds , nice and friendly vibe and a breakfast to die for ( french toast💛), but most importantly the people who work there make this place as special as it is. The Sri Lankan staff making sure everything goes well . The chef who was always eager to observe what am I doing in the kitchen ( with her understanding of personal space😄) and cooked us delicious lunch. Dhanusha who was always keen to help with anything from finding gemstones for my sister to train bookings and he was always ready to tell me jokes with perfect poker face.
The other volunteers, Lauren , this Aussie fairy who looked after me when I was ill, Metka and Rok, an awesome surfer couple who are truly one of the best teams I’ve ever seen and my fellow yoga teacher, Alessandra who taught me a beautiful class on my last morning and discovered Secret beach with me.
And last but not least James, JJ himself, who built this place from literally nothing, really knowing what travellers need ( being one himself) and running the hostel as smoothly as possible. He is a bit of a role model for me, as I’m dreaming about building my yoga place one day( it always starts with a dream😉). Besides his professional skills, he was always ready to respond my weird jokes and watched vampire movies with me when I was going to daily blood tests(yaay).
If you happen to be around Mirissa, definitely check JJs out, and eat a french toast for me 😉
Mirissa was everything I needed for to recover, a beautiful and quiet beach, sun( with occasional pouring rain, making life very exciting) and quirky characters such as Lionel, my personal clothes maker, he has a little shop on the beach and makes beautiful clothes and accessories ( and custom makes stuff as well) . He has his “factory” as he calls it at his home and works very hard with his family.It was nice to have a chat with him time to time, although a bit dangerous as I never left empty handed(🙄). My other personal favourite was the coconut lady, who always gave me the best avocados and fresh king coconut (which I still have to learn how to open properly..), despite her injured leg (she was hit by a tuk tuk) working restlessly ,smiling every day.
I can’t write about my time in Mirissa without mentioning the buses… the cheapest rollercoaster ride ever, with entertainment ( all those Sri Lankan hits 🎶).
I believe when J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter she took inspiration from these guys for the Knight Bus. If you don’t have a seat it’s a great test for balance and arm strength.
I was planning to go surfing but it had to wait until the last few days.. JJ’s volunteering crew got together , the pros and the beginners( although Alessandra turned out to be a natural talent) and we went to Weligama.
Well, me and the waves are usually friends, but to be frank it will probably take me longer to master them( a few years maybe😂). I didn’t take it into account that I’m still not strong enough and got frustrated with myself a little bit, although I developed my falling off the board skills up to perfection… I will keep trying though and hopefully one day I’ll stay longer on the board than 3 seconds.
The waves seemed to be a theme at the end of my stay, I went whale watching with Raja & whales and was lucky(again!) because the weather conditions made it impossible in previous days to go, but on my penultimate day I was on a boat on the way to see the largest mammal on earth. Remember I called the bus roller coaster, well this boat truly was. Being on rough sea like this made me realised ( as it often happens when I travel) how tiny and insignificant we are compare to the powers of Mother nature ( that’s why we should pay more respect to her!) But the crew handled the waves with amazing professionalism, supporting the ones needed help and they even jumped into the ocean to save a girl’s hat when it flew overboard. They had extensive knowledge of the whales and they even took photos of them( as most of us was holding on to the boat for their lives, they just casually walked around). And there they were, with their spouts and shiny back, giant and peaceful.. we saw a few of them, making me feel humble and amazed… And a little proud because there were a few people who stayed on the upper deck ( it’s calmer downstairs)and I was the only one who grew up in a landlocked country ( secret sailor ancestors maybe?).
Now I’m on my way to Sigirya, to see other spectacular animals( very close to my heart), and as I’m writing this I feel a bit emotional. Thank you Mirissa, for letting me swim in the ocean( and washed away by it a few times when I left my towel to close to the shore), JJ’s crew to make me feel home and appreciated , KK to spend some of her time with me( and letting me feed her graciously) and the people who joined my class and let me share some of the yoga awesomeness on the roof terrace.