The trip

Record of my adventures / food diary
Covering gap year travels and my year abroad in Mexico!
....And now also providing procrastination from my internship

Monday, 21 July 2014

A Surreal Weekend

So we got back on Friday and originally I was going to leave that same evening for a rugby tournament the next day, but got a lift sorted for super early the next morning instead which meant we had the afternoon to do some planning for the next two weeks. Alix decided to stay at the house for the weekend instead, and went into DF with Marlene (one of my flatmates).

Almost forgot to mention why I referred to Alix as 'Jinx' in the previous post. Basically he has an amazing ability to jinx everyone. So whilst we were in Yucatan, we managed to miss 2 ferries that we were early for!? The ATM stole the money from my card without giving me any cash. Then that Friday we got back, my new phone (also forgot to mention previous phone got stolen so got a replacement - that was probably stolen from someone else - but hey ho that's the way the world works!), fell a tiny height and the screen cracked, luckily it still works. Then finally I got a message from the letting agency we were using in Exeter for our house next year saying they were no longer going to give us the house due to various reasons - effectively leaving us with very few alternatives (After much pleading this was resolved and we got our house back though was a couple weeks later).

Not to mention he can also jinx other people. E.g when marlene took him into DF, the taxi they were in crashed and then they got on a bus that told them it was going were they wanted and then left them on the side of the highway a while later after telling them that actually it wasn't going where it said it was!?

So, back to the weekend. I left super early Friday morning, getting a lift from one of the rugby girls. The tournament was being held in a place called Tequisquiapan - bit of a mouthful meaning most people just shortened it to 'Tequis'.

Also, our free 'jerseys' for the tournament were literally the worst quality printed tshirts I have ever seen! Plus they were all the same size - tiny. Meaning had to wear a layer underneath aswell and ended up cutting the sleeves so it didn't cut off circulation to my arms! Plus the design on ours wasn't great to begin with, and then was only half printed so just looked ridiculous. Plus they gave like all the womens teams white tshirts with different prints so you couldn't really tell the difference sometimes! I think we played about 4 games over the day - maybe managing to win one or draw one - I don't really remember now.

Was ridiculously hot and sunny the whole day we were playing and then I kid you not, 5 mins after our last game it started tipping it down with rain. Meaning the 'old men' game was played in a downpour.

So after the game we go back to the house we're staying in - one of the girl's friend's family's house. Now before we got there, they'd told me it looked just like England. So obviously when we start going through all these little Mexican looking backroads I thought they'd seriously exaggerated.
That is until we full up to this gated community and as you enter there's a fountain with a horse and cart just outside a house with a fake thatched roof. Then they've got all these little cobbled looking streets and 'sterotypical' olden houses. The house we were in was possibly even weirder on the inside - full of breakable antiquities and odd little collections, definitely one of the most surreal looking places I have ever been. Pictures don't even do it justice as to how odd the whole thing was!

Mini England

So Surreal!

Where did it come from?

After a night out, it was time to head back the next day, giving us enough time that evening to start making some more plans for the following couple of weeks.

Awesome top I picked up at the tournament

Friday, 11 July 2014

Travels with Alix aka 'Jinx' (Part 1)

So we arrived like midnight, spent the night in Cancun and then left the next day for Playa del Carmen to meet them there. We were staying at a really cool hostel about 6 blocks from the main street. Was super convenient as we were literally opposite Walmart to pick up supplies to make dinners / get drinks. The hostel also had a roof with tables chairs etc to go up and chill.

First night we did drinking games in the hostel before going out, although were having so much fun with our games didn't leave til like 1 when we were told to go. Unfortunately by that time we'd missed all the open bars. Now girls as a rule don't have to pay to get in most places and as we were half and half we could get the guys in for free too. We gave one guy a small tip for his help - but a fraction of what it would've cost for entry. Next day we were all dead for pretty much most of the day, a few people went to the beach and then in the evening me, Alix, Cam Cam and Theo (Cam cam's friend from home) went to watch the end of this 5k run they had through playa. Then they had this mini show on the beach as like a celebration for the event. Was fun to watch and Alix managed to grab himself a free tshirt - helps when he's like a ft taller than everyone so just grabbed it outta the air no problem. That night after drinking in the hostel only the four of us went out as the others decided to stay in. It had been raining earlier in the night but we used the pause to head out. As we went earlier me and cam cam were able to get the open bar in one place. Then we spent the night jumping between clubs - all in all had a blast. Unfortunately on the way back in started pouring down with rain and we ended up soaked - probs not helped by the fact we decided to go swim in a fountain.

The next day we had booked a tour to go to Chichen Itza (famous ruins) that would pick us up from our hotel at 7am. Having got in around 5/6, and despite setting a multitude of alarms - we were only awoken by the lady from the hostel coming in to tell us the bus was waiting outside! We couldn't work out how we had missed so many alarms - and that not a one out of the 8 of us had heard them - it later transpired that Alix had in fact heard it, but didn't fancy getting up when he saw the time so simply turned it off!

So 10mins of panicked packing and rushing around later we were on our bus - or more accurately our tiny and rather uncomfortable minivan. Not exactly what had been advertised, however given we paid like half the price, an acceptable sacrifice. So needless to say, we weren't the driver or the tour guides favourite people. I pretty much fell asleep the second we got on the bus, as did everyone else, meaning we got a bit of much needed catch up in the 4 hour trip there. First stop was a cenote - a giant sinkhole.

Cenote - view from above

Cenote - view from inside

Anyways, once you go down all the steps to the bottom you can swim in it, and / or jump off some ledges that go round the inside. However we only had like 30mins there as we had to been told to be back at the bus in exactly 45mins as we were on a tight schedule. Given our start, we decided to stay on their good side and get back on time. Good thing too - we basically got on the bus, the tour guide checks his watch and says right time up, we gotta go. At this point there are 8 people not on the bus! His response? They'll have to meet us at lunch, they can get a taxi! Seriously?! We were kinda surprised at that, as a lot of people had left stuff on the bus, which could include their money for taking this supposed taxi! Anyways, luckily as pretty much all the tours go to the same place for lunch, the missing people were able to get a lift with another agency. Lunch wasn't bad and was included - however drinks weren't. Leaving us dying of thirst whilst not so subtlety eyeing up drinks other people had left!

Following lunch we stocked up on water before getting back in the bus to head to chichen itza, which at this point was pretty close. The tour wasn't that interesting in my opinion - I prefer just wandering around and seeing things. Although there were a few interesting add-ons that you can't really get from just looking. Although, I missed like 30mins of the tour when he stopped for too long to explain something allowing me the time to go to sleep! It's a pretty big site although the main pyramid isn't that tall - however it has this cool design feature where if you stand in front of it and clap, it echoes back what sounds like a bird noise. Also, because of the stormy weather it created quite a cool backdrop!

Chichen Itza

Have to say though, my personal highlight was when this big woman in our group who we were chatting to said something such: (bearing in mind one of my favourite youtube videos is the 'ain't nobody got time for that lady' ( and this woman talked just like that)

'I bet they had slaves and everything but....ain't nobody gonna carry me'

Hard to relay just how funny she was - I hate to say it cause it always annoys me - but guess it's one of those 'had to be there moments'
Anyways, its was a long trip back again, with the others planning to go straight to Cancun when we got back to Playa (as they were flying back to DF the next day) and me and Alix heading to Tulum. What we didn't realize was that we would pass through Tulum on the way back. Luckily Micho noticed and told us so that we could get off there. Although we'd already gone through it so had to flag down a taxi on side of highway to go back into town. We stayed in a really nice little hostel that the others recommended called 'El Jardin de Freida'. It was only when I started unpacking my bag to look for something that I discovered Micho's and his brother's (Lenny) passports which I'd been looking after for some reason no-one remembers. Unfortunately, Lenny's other ID card was also with his passport so Micho got a 3hr bus early the next morning from Cancun to come pick it up as they were flying the next day and you need some form of ID to board the plane!

After we gave him the ID's we went to rent bikes so that we could cycle down to the ruins. Bikes were great value - like 120 pesos for the two (£6) for the whole day. Didn't even have to leave a deposit or anything, just Alix's trini ID, which looks like a homemade library card!

Unfortunately in keeping with the whole time we were in yucatan area - we didn't have the best weather. There were 3 particularly bad downpours which forced us to take shelter during the day. Luckily though, the tropical climate means its still warm. We also took the wrong route on the first attempt leading us to cycle a long way out of the way! Eventually later in the day we found the main ruins, although the stormy background and threat of more rain meant it didn't look as nice as I thought it would have. Whilst they were impressive looking due to the setting on the coast - they weren't the best ruins I've seen by a long shot and was kinda disappointed after a lot of the hype that people give it! By the end of the day we had cycled some ridiculous distance (on our beach cruisers) and were happily ready to give the bikes back.


Enjoying our bike ride


Unfortunately in the evening, our plans of going to the supposedly great seafood restaurant across the road from the hostel were derailed when it turned out they closed super early and we were too late for food! Ended up at some random little place where two old people were playing live music / dancing. Thankfully an older couple walking past decided to stop for drinks and the entertainment so we didn't feel so bad about ignoring the performers!

Next day we went to Akumal, a small beach area on the way back to Playa del Carmen, found somewhere we could store our bags, managed to avoid all the people trying to sell us snorkeling tours and found a nice spot on the beach.

Akumal beach - definitely worth a visit

The main attraction here is the sea turtles which you can find by swimming out 50-100m from the shore. Knowing that in advance was a great help as it meant we weren't suckered in to one of the guided snorkeling tours that charges 2/3x the cost of renting equipment for an hour guided tour. Considering the sea turtles are pretty large and pretty much everywhere, unless you're blind, then I didn't understand the point in a tour! Especially as renting the equipment meant we had it all day and could go a few times as opposed to just the one opportunity. Not to mention as well that we didn't have to fight other people for 'our turn' to see the turtles as we avoided the giant groups as much as possible. Whilst you're not allowed to dive down to take photos with the turtles, one of the guys associated with a tour group was out there taking photos and was 'allowed' to dive, so very kindly swum down with my camera to take a few close-ups. unfortunately they didn't come out that great as my casing had fogged up a bit so they were kind of blurry! Also, we were having the weather problem again and it was flicking from perfect sun to downpours. However, it was one of the best places we went and the ability to swim so close to the sea turtles means I'd highly recommend going to anyone!

Sea Turtle!


Sea turtle

Also saw a massive sting ray swim by!

Alix representing #trinitodebone

Swimming back down after going up for air

From Akumal it was about a 45min bus ride back to Playa del Carmen and then a 45 min ferry across to Cozumel. I went to take out money just before we went to get the ferry as we were almost out but the first machine was broken and then the second machine said it was out of cash so my transaction had been cancelled. Didn't think anything of it at the time as it's happened before, however the next machine I went to told me that I had gone over my daily withdrawal limit - was very confused as hadn't yet taken out cash. Turns out that other machine had charged my card without actually giving me the money! Luckily we just had enough money for the ferry and the hostel in Cozumel. When we arrived in Cozumel - late cause the kerfuffle meant we missed the ferry we wanted - I called up and explained what had happened, but was reassured it would probably readjust overnight and be back to normal in the morning. Unfortunately it wasn't and what's more, because of the time difference between Mexico and the UK, the next morning for us was still the same calendar day in the UK as the night before meaning I still had 'exceeded the daily limit' which meant going to call again to get them to increase my limit for the day so we could finally take out cash! Eventually was able to take out cash but the process for getting my money back from the machine is still ongoing 7 weeks later! About 3 weeks ago a letter arrived back home saying that they would be refunding the money after carrying out their investigation, however I am yet to see it materialize in my account :/ Not cool as was around £300!

I had wanted to go diving whilst in Cozumel, however given that we arrived late the night before trying to sort out the money and then lost the morning doing the same, plus we were flying 2 days later, I only had that afternoon to go. Luckily there are no shortage of dive shops in Cozumel - which is supposed to have some of the best diving in the world! We found a couple options but in the end I decided to pay the extra $5 and go with the one where I liked the staff - also, the next one seemed real suspect and didn't seem to exist on the internet - not worth the risk with diving! Alix hadn't been feeling well and doesn't dive so he had a quiet afternoon in the hostel.

The company was called 'Blue Magic Dive Shop' and I'd be lying if I said having a great name didn't also sway me to them! I was doing a 'refresher course' as whilst I have my PADI qualification I hadn't been in some time. Normally the refresher course would be a quick review of basics and then a shore dive. The guy in the dive shop didn't want me to have to hang around so he sent me down to the marina with all my kit to meet the dive instructor. I ended up being able to tag along with a group doing a 'discover scuba' dive, so I got a much longer boat dive on a small reef compared to the shorter beach dive I would have got otherwise! So all worked out well and the water was an amazing blue colour, plus there were plenty of fish on the reef.

Reef dive - Cozumel

Giant fish!

That night Alix was feeling better so we went out for dinner and had decidedly the best meal of the trip:
Appetizer: Choripan - kinda like a giant sandwich with Argentinian chorizo inside
                  Italian bread with garlic butter
Main: I had garlic shrimp and Alix had the lobster pasta (which had 2 small lobsters on the top)
Dessert: I had some kind of fried bananas with chocolate and Alix had cheesecake
We were there for like 2 1/2 hours eating and taking our time - but was totally worth it! Not to mention it cost us like £36 total including service and drinks!

Next day we left on the ferry early before heading back to Cancun. We were staying somewhere literally right next to the bus station as we had to get a bus to the airport at 4am the next day. That day we decided to go to Isla Mujeres - a small island off coast of cancun. Short and very pleasant ferry ride with live music. When we arrived there were people driving golf buggies all over the place - needless to say we desperately wanted to rent one, but in the end decided to spend our money on the snorkeling tour we had actually gone there for!

Snorkelling tour took us to 2 sites. The first was in relatively shallow water but there was a lot to see! Fish everywhere and a small reef aswell. The second spot we went was a massive disappointment. The main reason we had gone there was to see the underwater museum - MUSA. A wide variety of massive statues at the bottom of the ocean. Unfortunately, we had swapped boats at this point, as they put all the people going to MUSA together and the others on another boat then you meet up after again. Our new boat companions were a family of 4 rather large Mexicans whom it appeared could not swim and were afraid of the water ..... Which begs the question, what on earth made them think snorkeling in the middle of the ocean was a good idea!? Anyways, we're in the water for about 10 mins and get to see some people and a VW Beetle statues before the oldest woman says she doesn't feel well and needs to get out the water. Ok, we thought maybe now we can actually go a little quicker as she was the one struggling the most who wasn't even attempting to swim - just being pulled along by the guide. However, they made all of us get out and that was the tour over?! We asked and he insisted there was nothing more to see - even though us and a Puerto Rican lady who'd come across to this new boat with us were all asking why we weren't getting to see the rest of it. Anyways, luckily the included lunch was good, so Alix decided to eat his money worth in fish instead!

Underwater museum (MUSA) - stone people

Underwater museum (MUSA) - car

Sunset - view from ferry on way back to Cancun from Isla Mujeres

The next day was a super early start to get our 7am flight back to DF. We got in the Friday morning - just over a week after we left. And after deciding to take the cheaper, albeit more difficult, route of public transport to get home, we arrived at the house around midday.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

World's Worst Blog!

UPDATE: This has been sitting around for almost 3 weeks now as I wanted to add pictures but kept forgetting to do it at home and don't have my laptop at work! Hence being posted as is! Also, there's probably a ton of stuff I've forgotten - but that's what happens when you don't bother to update it regularly!

So, after a casual 6 month break I'm back!

It's just been one of those things I kept meaning to do and then it was harder and harder cause I kept just leaving it longer meaning there was even more things I should be including! I still want to do it though as it's a good way to remember all the great things I did, not to mention I have to write a reflective essay about my year abroad so this should help me with that aswell!

Having now left it 6 months, I have finished my year abroad in Mexico and am currently  on my second day of my internship in Trinidad - so far, so boring!

So going back to the beginning of the year, I figure the easiest way to do this is by month highlights!


After having had a great Christmas at home seeing family, friends and even getting in a little skiing. Mom unfortunately fell ill just before I was due to go back to Mexico so decided to stay a little longer at home to help out. This also meant that when I returned I had missed the induction week and the first week of classes. As a result I was unable to change any of my classes meaning I was kinda stuck with what I'd chosen. Luckily as I did 7 courses last semester and only needed 12 in total over the year, I was able to drop 2 of the hardest / most boring ones I'd chosen this semester leaving me with 5:
  • Management of Debt Instruments (Spanish) - Seriously hard to begin with, actually turned out to be one of my best subjects!
  • Firms, Business and Culture (Spanish) - Teacher seemed to hate me, wasn't a fan of the group presentations, and the partial exams were designed to trick you! Luckily managed to do well somehow on final exam - still confused by that
  • Intermediate Accounting (Spanish) - Hard in the sense that you couldn't miss any classes as you would fall behind - the practice questions were only available in the relevant class and there were random tests aswell you shouldn't miss!
  • International Relations (English) - Not at all what I expected - mostly just big class discussions and debates. Plus I got luckily that the main piece of assessed work was basically writing a dissertation proposal and for some reason he loved my own!
  • International Finance (Spanish) - Pretty easy class, our group for the group tasks was all the international students in the class and we killed it at everything!
One of the biggest difficulties coming back, even though I had known it would be the case before I went home for Christmas, was being in the same house but all my roomies had changed. This time it was 6 French, a German guy and me. It was kinda difficult to adjust at first especially as the French were 2 groups of 3 from the same universities and they'd also all been there 2 weeks before I arrived!

Like the week after I arrived I signed up to go to the beach festival trip again with a few people I knew from last semester - Angus, Cam Cam and Coline. Turned out being a great weekend and was waaaay better than the first one in terms of location and setup. This time it was bigger, the tents were all set up for us before we arrived, it was onsite at a hostel which had a pool and for a decent price provided all the food. Plus we had our own section of beach - again it was miles from anywhere but in the Puerto Vallarta region. They had a neon party, colours party with all those bags of dye and a paint party. There was also a giant stage with guest DJs, so all in all pretty cool setup.


So around mid February, auntie Robyn and her friend came to Mexico for 2 weeks. unfortunately due to the change in system this semester to 2 partials instead of 3, it meant that I was flicking between seeing her, travels and exams. As she went to high school here, a lot of those friends still live here and she hadn't seen them for years, so they had a big reunion one night which was nice as quite a lot of them went.

We then also went to Oaxaca for a long weekend where we had a little bit of a shopping spree - clearly they were a bad influence as I was doing so well in avoiding buying things up till then! Although to limit the spending spree description to just Oaxaca would be a discredit to auntie robyn's abilities - it was pretty much the whole trip. But we all had a great time so that's what matters!

We were also lucky enough that one of her friends here - Juan - and his girlfriend offered to take us to Taxco - so much silver - definitely had a blast here! Unfortunately had to be back in Mexico city the next day for an exam at 10am, so of course instead of taking the last bus back that night (way too early) I decided to risk it for a little extra shopping time and get the 5am bus back to Mexico city, and then crossing the entire city and heading up north to tec! Luckily everything was on time and worked out meaning I even had a little revision time before class! Juan and his girlfriend were also nice enough to take us to Teotihuacan - meaning we got there early before the crowds and super hot sun. Despite having been in Mexico at that point for like 7 months that was my first visit there!


I had been spending a lot of time at 'casa verde' - another house with exchange students, including Angus, Cam cam, Coline and some new French. After Angus went back to Australia, the French girls decided to move house as they'd had several problems with the landlord. The new house they moved to had an extra room going aswell, so I decided to move with them. I hadn't really enjoyed living in my previous house with new people - they were all nice and everything but when I had the opportunity to live with some people I already knew plus some which I got on really well with, I moved. The new house was on the other side of campus. It was a pretty big house - for 10 people, the other spots being filled with 4 Mexicans and a Colombian girl - Laura - who was also on the exchange. My new room was bigger and I had my own bathroom, not to mention the cleaning lady came twice a week and cleaned my room on one of those occasions! O, and to top it all off, the rent was less as well! I was paying $2800 pesos a month - roughly £130 a month! That's what some people pay in Exeter a week

March 28th - Birthday time!!! Being super organized we threw together a last minute invite to go out in Mexico City the night before my birthday, meaning I could invite friends from rugby - who all live more in that direction - as well as friends from Tec. Had an absolute blast, methinks ;) Although probably wasn't the wisest idea to try and work my way through the shot bar menu at Rhodesia (club), but hard to resist when everyone wants to get you a birthday shot! Unfortunately whilst having a great time, I accidentally misplaced my house keys - still don't understand how as could have sworn I had them on a lanyard around my neck! Anyways, this meant that as we were leaving at 3pm that afternoon for a trip, I had to walk all the way down to comercial (supermarket) in the morning in order to find a locksmith to get into my room, as of course I had my room keys on the same chain! Fun morning! We then got on a bus to go to Veracruz for a rafting trip run by Amikoo (the student organization for exchange students). So I actually spent my birthday being rather hungover, panicking about getting into my room and then on a bus for like 8 hours! Woop Woop

The rafting trip was really great though. We arrived late Friday night as we ended up a touch lost and there was also some traffic on the way. We were staying in the rafting centre and so had it to ourselves, they had a pool, table tennis, basketball and the food was included. Had to be up early (around 7) on Saturday to head out. First up was abseiling which whilst fun once you got to do it, not that well organized meaning we were standing at the top waiting for like 2 hours in the boiling sun! Also, some people just took forever to actually go once they were all hooked up and it's like once you've committed - just go already! Clearly I am full of sympathy for those who find these sort of activities scary as opposed to just fun!

After everyone (well most people, some chickened out after waiting at the top) was down, it was time for rafting! Each raft was 6 people plus the guide guy. It wasn't that hard or big but there were a few good rapids and the guides made it fun by having us do games as we went along. There were also a few stop points along the way where we got snacks and could jump off things - bridge, rocks ,etc. It was pretty long stretch in the end and good fun. After rafting we had time to go back and change before paintballing - or 'gotcha' as they call it here - much better name in my opinion! Given minimal protection and a pretty small field was always gonna be tough. I decided my best chances stood on the team with my 2 American friends - both at Westpoint Academy back in the states. Unfortunately at some points it was just a bit of luck in terms of point and shoot as the masks steamed up almost the moment you put them on so could barely see anything! I decided to call it quits after my mask slipped whilst I was running and I sot shot twice in the head at that exact moment! Also had a gigantic bruise on my leg from where I'd been shot earlier aswell! By this time it was also just getting dark and starting to rain, so we headed back to base with some beers to chill.

Sunday was another early start so we could get in the second bit of rafting before leaving - this time we didn't stop as much or do as much so we finished relatively quickly. Also, it was absolutely freezing this day! We had time to go back, eat and  have a hot shower afterwards before we had to get back on the bus to head home! All in all, a pretty great trip :)


We had our week long break for Semana Santa (easter) in the middle of April. After much discussion and lack of planning we ended up going on a road trip down to pacific coast and staying in a small town called Zipolite - about 1 1/2hours further south than Puerto Escondido. We rented one car and then Micho had his own - we were 9 of us. Taylor and me were the drivers of the rented car, so we just took turns as was a long way there. Even more so as Micho had decided that the quickest route would be through the mountains - long story short, it was not, not even close. We were driving along these windy mountain roads for like 4/5hrs before we finally got out of them. As a result, despite having left at like 6am, we didn't arrive until after midnight, at which point it was just about all we could do to move the stuff into the huts and go to bed. We were staying on these wooden cabin / hut things on stilts about 3m up on the beach. Despite the mosquitoes, I opted to sleep in the hammocks each night as was much cooler than the room, plus we discovered the scurrying noise we'd been hearing at night was exceptionally large mice (almost ratish!).The view in the morning though was amazing as we were right on the beach and like 30m from the sea.

Unfortunately the next night we were there we had an accident when one of the guys in our group fell off the balcony backwards when one of his chair legs slipped over. Furthermore, the first people down tried to help him stand up?! Which I couldn't believe as he'd fallen directly on his back so the last thing in the world they should have done was move him. The problem was that some of us (myself included) had already gone to bed at this point, so by the time we woke up and reacted we were several minutes behind. As he was also winded from the fall as well as in a lot of pain, it was very difficult to get him to stay still and lie flat, which is what you're supposed to do. Being 3am, and on the beach in the middle of nowhere, we had to drive to go find the doctor and bring him. They then examined our friend and called for the lifeguards to bring a spinal board. Now as you may know, spinal boards are designed for someone to be strapped on securely face up, with the idea being they move as little as possible and keep their neck and spine aligned. So imagine my surprise when they decide to strap him on so loosely it was almost pointless, not to mention face down with his head twisted to the side?! My queries were overruled by doctor and lifeguards though. Then they took him to the nearest hospital and two of the group went with him.

The next day we stayed at the beach huts whilst the other two tried to get him seen to at the hospital. Around 6pm they gave us a call asking if we could come and pick them up - I obviously assumed they meant just them, na, the guy wanted to come back too! So we asked what the doctor had said, and were told that he wasn't supposed to be moving at all, so needless to say we went with the intention of only picking up the two who'd been there all day. One of the other girls - Marlene - came with me as well. When we arrived we could see the problems they'd had all day - all the relatives of people were lying around outside as only one person at a time was allowed in to visit. Also, they wouldn't let us in wearing shorts?! However if we wrapped a bedsheet round us toga style that was perfectly acceptable - Mexican logic. Was very surprised when we arrived to see he was still in the same position on the spine board as the night before as furthermore to the other points, it's really only supposed to be used for transporting the patient! Anyways, long story short, it had taken ages to be seen, they weren't entirely sure how much damage he'd done but thought he'd fractured a vertebrae, and he'd been given a back brace to keep it straight and advised not to really move. The main problem was he had been discharged and so was no longer allowed to stay in the hospital and wanted to go back with us to the huts. To which I said was ridiculous and point blank refused to drive him back, instead we found a set-up next to the hospital which allowed relatives to stay the night for almost nothing. Anyways, long story short we picked him up the next day and after a few days trying to sort out insurance he was eventually picked up and taken back to DF. Also, turns out when he got back to France he had multiple fractures and had to have major surgery.

Lesson for all this:
1) Everyone should have to do some kind of basic first aid course in school
2) Don't try to do stuff the doctor told you not to
3) Travel insurance may seem like a pain as almost nothing ever happens - but a small accident can leave you with massive bills if you don't! And it only takes one incident to make it worthwhile having!

Anyways, the rest of the holiday passed without incident and we were lucky enough to have great weather the whole time. We spent most of the time at the beach where we were but did go one day to Puerto Escondido to go surfing - was super crowded though so didn't have as much luck standing up as before, cause constantly checking not gonna hit someone/be hit. We also stayed that night in Puerto so that we could go out there aswell. Another day we explored a close-by beach and we also did a boat/snorkeling trip one morning. Our boat companions seemed a little surprised by our preparedness when we rocked up with 2 giant coolers of beer. We also had stuff to make sandwiches but never got round to it until we reached back land - so kind of a liquid breakfast. Later that same day we were all taking naps and one of the guys - Kaarle, a 6ft something giant - decided he'd take his nap on the beach. Well he passed out so naturally we took the opportunity to draw on him, resulting in several groups of people stopping to pose an take photos with him as they walked down the beach - not that he even so much as moved during this! Then when we went to wake him up all of a sudden like 6 lifeguards came running / appeared on a quadbike as someone had told them it was the same guy who fell so they were all panicking! Also, given our difficulties in waking Kaarle up they didn't actually believe us that he was just a bit drunk and had been taking a nap!

On the way home we stopped off in Acapulco for the night, having decided to take the more sensible and much quicker route home! Unfortunately due to traffic etc, we arrived too late to go out, so we just found accommodation and had the next morning there before heading home. Me, Kaarle and Taylor decided we needed real food for the last day so went to a nice big breakfast buffet - pancakes, eggs, fruit, breads, meats, etc


So May brought about the end of my time at TEC. Despite worries in a couple classes I managed to maintain my 93% average for the year so just gotta wait and see how that converts. Exeter tells me that for some reason it will take until December to be able to tell me?! Like I said, a couple of the last exams were quite hard as well as a few final projects to be finished off. Meaning I was quite busy those last 2 weeks of term.

Then Alix (my cousin) arrived on 14th May for a visit - he'd been on a gap year.

Side note: went to pick him up from the airport and was reminded of how ridiculous the taxis are from the airport. To get a taxi from where I live to the airport, then wait with it until we got Alix before returning home costs $400 pesos plus parking $25. To just get a taxi from the airport to my house would have cost $370?! So for an extra $55 pesos (like £2.50) I was able to go pick him up instead

I had my last exam the next morning and then we left that night for Cancun. The French girls I was living with, along with one of their friends from home, Micho and his brother had already left for Cancun earlier in the week.

So this one post doesn't become too ridiculously long, I'll leave it here and continue a next one for travels with Alix.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Chou Blanc

Considering my epic failing at keeping this up-to-date in the last month or so, I think the title is an appropriate use of my new favourite phrase (it's french for fail).

So, what's happened since day of the dead? Well a whole lot considering that was over a month ago! Suppose top of the list would be that I'm currently sitting in Toronto airport writing this whilst waiting for my connexion home! But should probably cover up to now first!

Side Bar: I seem to have a bit of a tendency to over-use exclamations!

Finished up all exams and projects - such a relief. Was sooo much work, but came out of it with a pretty good score overall for the semester so guess it was worth it.

We had another rugby tournament. Unfortunately I wasn't feeling so well, so didn't play that much given I felt pretty sick any time I had to run for a sustained period! Bit of a bummer but excited to go back and play some more :)

We did christmas lunch (giant lasagne) and presents in the house just before I left. Was nice as we had bought  mini christmas tree with lights aswell. Got an awesome present, giant monkey, which as anyone who's met me knows is kinda perfect!

Also went away for a week to chiapas, state in south of mexico. Went with Xavier, Jakob and Angus, travelling with them was interesting especially as 2 of them are over 6ft, a ginger and a blond. Meaning we were probably the most obvious gringos around! Super cool trip, but will put it all in another post as easier to separate from the rest.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Dia de Muertos

In Mexico, rather than halloween, the day of the dead festival is the big event of the season. We went on one of the organized trips for the weekend to Michoacan, a state west of the city.

The night before the trip was a big halloween party. In pre-drinks I introduced everyone to the gecko rule (you have to 'gecko' yourself on wall / floor / flat surface and last one to do so loses), which provided a lot of amusement, especially when we started speed geckoing, so basically anyone could count 3..2...1...gecko!

Anyways, didn't have too late a night, back home by 3, so set my alarm for 5 giving me enough time to pack when I woke up (we were getting the bus at 6). Was all ready to leave, bag packed, dressed, all sorted, when I went to the toilet and upon my return, my room had shut and locked itself.

Inside my room was my packed bag with all my clothes / shoes, my money, my camera, my cards, todo! :(
I did briefly debate trying to go later and catch-up with the trip, but I would have had to pay again for the bus and on the friday the trip was visiting like 5 different towns before going to Morelia (where public bus would take me). So armed with a mini rucksack of clothes donated by my roomate Xavier, off we went!

Thankfully I had been wearing my glasses when I went to the toilet otherwise there's no way I would have gone - no fun if you can't see everything!

We were told that it would take roughly 4-5 hours to get there...... it was 8. Luckily the bus was pretty comfy and you could recline the seats pretty far so was able to catch up on some sleep. We also had the company of films, the intouchables was really good and would highly recommend it, although was somewhat ruined by lack of ending - bus' dvd player stopped working for the last 10-15 mins of every film?! HAve since watched the end though so I continue in my advice!

On Friday we stopped in one town for lunch before moving on to another. It was between 1-3 hours between each town/city. I don't remember what they called so I'm going to merge them into one. The offerings that they have for the dead are pretty cool and colourful. Although there was some confusion to begin with when someone told us that the items placed on the offering represented what the person liked most in life, so imagine our confusion when every offering was covered in bananas and bread! Turns out those are just the staples (along with the orange flowers). There were a whole range of offerings, I would include some pictures but I didn't have my camera so you'll have to wait until i've stolen some from my house.

The third place we went to was an island maybe a 20mins or so boat ride from the mainland. The whole island was basicaly a giant artesania market. The path up to the top of the island kind or zigzagged through all the various stalls on its way up. We also felt the need to sample most of the streetfood on the way aswell!
The tradition here is for families to go and 'celebrate' the lives of their loved ones in the cemetry. I thought it would be a bit more cheerful atmosphere but I found the whole thing a little odd with families trying to commemorate the lives and sitting on the graves whilst hundreds of tourists traipsed through thte cemetry and over the graves, taking photos and drinking!

We went to anotehr town after that before going to the city where our hotel was. For entertainment value I should add since the boat trip I was wearing a poncho that had been donated by angus (6ft something), so I looked like an abominable snowman as the poncho came down to my knees and the sleeves were like 10 inches too long!

Saturday was a bit of a slower start as we hadn't got to the hotel until 3/4 so got up around 11, just in time for our free breakfast :) We spent the day exploring the city which was cool. There was one street where they were running a competition for the best offering, so there were all different kinds of offerings from the traditional to the 'artistic'.

I have now left too long since writing the first bit of theis to remeber everything we did so long story short:

Saturday spent day in morelia, night went out to awesome club, pretty sure there were some kind of fireworks / at least sparkler thingys at one point
Sunday: went to volcano, also awesome however due to shoes also being locked in room, toms were not the ideal climbing shoes. Cool view from the top though and running back down was awesome cause it was just like hot sand / dirt so you could jump and it kinda felt liek you were flying for a bit before you landed again!Temporarily lost my shoes, but with some help digging them out found them again. Downside was ran rest of way down barefoot as shoes kept falling off so safer to hold, and there were the odd rocks or two that i managed to cut my feet open on!

Got the sucky seats on the way back cause me, angus and jakob had gone to find food and were late back to the bus! Meant no recline, no space and an awful smell as were next to the toilet and the door was broken! Couldn't have been happier when we got back to go to bed, even if it was only for a few hours before class started at 8.30!

Still gotta up date for rest of month but on a side note - can't believe i have less than a week left! Super glad that i'm here for a year but will be weird to come back and not know anybody (all my new friends are only here for 1 semester!)

Friday, 15 November 2013


Can't believe haven't mentioned rugby as yet, but I suppose fact that haven't actually written anything in the past month has something to do with that!!

Anyways, a while back Cassie (american exchange student who also plays rugby) found a local club not too far from here so we went along to give it a try.

I managed to get hopelessly lost the first time I went to training as I had looked at a map before I left and noted a landmark (hospital) that I could use to get off the bus. Unfortunately it turned out there are two hospitals along the pereferico, and I of course got off at the wrong one with no idea where I was and turned out was really quite far from where I was trying to go! Anyways, several phone calls, running in circles and helpful people on the bus later, I finally made it to the training ground. Have to say at times like that really miss GPS on my phone. So easy at home when I get lost and can just pull up a map with a little flashing dot that tells me where I am / where I need to go.

Was a little disheartned when I first arrived and they announced, now we are going to do passing......
Just turns out there were a few people who hadn't really ever played before, but there are also a few who are pretty good so makes for a mixed bunch. The pitch where we were training didn't have floodlights for the first session so made for interesting times trying to catch in half-light! Luckily ever since then the lights have always been on when we're there.

Unfortunately cause I have classes on mondays until 10, I can only make training on Weds, and even then I have to go straight from class cause finish at 7!

First torneo was a few weeks back. O also forgot to mention they don't play 15's here, just  7's. Was a little worried going into it as like I said, quite a few of the girls hadn't played before / really ever tackled!
The whole thing was quite a different experience - we arrived at the place and they were still painting the pitch, which was more of a square than a rectangle. Not to mention the posts were just large sticks that had been duck-taped onto football goals, and the try zone was 1m and came before the posts!

However was a really fun day, even though we only won one out of 4 games. I got to play scrum-half and dropkick at one point, which made for interesting viewing!  Excited for the next torneo in a few weeks, there was supposed to be one this weekend just gone but it got cancelled :(

As you may know, it's somewhat of a miracle that i've gone this long wihtout mentioning what i ate....
After the game we went to this awesome restaurant where you can eat all you want for 98pesos (less than £5), the only condition being that you finish everything you ask for. It was like 10 different flavours of chicken wings, ribs and fries, that came in little baskets of like 6-8 pieces. I thought it was great, although Cassie being a vegetarian didn't enjoy it quite as much!

Everyone on the team is super friendly and we got invited to one of the girls halloween / birthday party that was really fun.

Training's going well although for some reason I can't quite fathom, the others seem to be afraid of me in tackling drills?! Maybe cause I've won me versus everyone bulldog twice now :)

Last week we went along to the 'trials' for the 'estado de mexico' team, kinda like county. But wasn't a great turnout as for girls was basically our team plus 2 other people from other teams!  Not sure how it works and I think there are two teams, under 21 and over. But everyone in our team is over 21 so not sure who's in this under 21 team! Anyways, I think it was the start of the selection process, so hopefully if I'm part of that then I'll get a few more games in!

What happened?!

So, I may have got a liiiitle bit behind in updating the blog. But solo como un mes! ;)

The last month has been a bit of a blur but mostly because I've had so much work. I know i mention it almost every post, but seriously, they are crazy here. And while i'm on the subject, in case you haven't already heard my rant on the conversion of grades from here to Exeter...
So there is some debate on the actual conversion, but we're currently looking at a rough exchange of 90% average here being worth only 60%ish at home. Bearing in mind I thought this year abroad would help my overall grade not hinder it! I will take at least 12 modules here over a year compared to my usual 4/5 at home, making the likelihood of gaining an overall average of 95%+ highly unlikely. Apparently they're basing it on the fact that the min pass rate here is 70% but like i've already mentioned, whilst it's not that hard to get 70%, I had to work for the points above it. Also, most universities in Mexico have a pass rate of 60%, the TEC is just special in it's higher rate! Anyways, i've decided i'll wait to see my overall grade for the first semester and then start arguing for a better conversion!

As I'm remebering the most recent things first, this post is probably gonna be in reverse order / all over the place! Haven't really slept much the past week due to overloads of work / exams and maybe trying to fit too much going out into that aswell! This weekend I had to finish a 10 page essay on Corporate Social Responsibility and a presentation in spanish analysing the financial situation of some company. Plus revise for 2 exams today - as you can imagine, i've had a great weekend. To top it all off today we got told that our final project for business law (about the environment?!) which we had been told was due at the end of the semester, is now to be presented on thursday, giving us 2 days to do everything!! What sucks most is all of these things are worth like 10-20% of a single module, and each module is only worth 1/12 of my year = 1/7 of my degree. Putting it in perspective seems like of a lot of work for very little!

However, good news, this weekend is another long weekend (monday is a bank holiday) so taking a week out to go travelling in chiapas (south of mexico) woop! So photos and videos will be along shortly. I say shortly but I really mean in quite a while as when I get back I have all my final exams and the last few final projects to do in one weekend.

Then I'm coming home 7th Dec for a month! :) Excited to see everybody, although slightly jealous of friends here who are making travel plans to go to Belize, Costa Rica, etc for christmas, even though I am planning to do that when I finish next semester and have already got my first tripped planned for january when i return with some friends from this semester who will still be travelling!

On second thoughts i'm gonna split the posts and write about the weekend trips separately!