As I woke this morning I felt a sense of peace and the desire to come back to writing and share more of my travel stories. In times of great anxiety I need to create space and opportunities that allow me to step away from the harsh reality that consumes me. With writing I invite you to join me on past trips and share my colourful memories in the hope you draw energy from them as much as I do – even if only for the duration of your read.
As I seek to combine my passion for art and travelling, I have a plethora of visual reminders around me to catapult me to places, creativity and beauty whenever I chose. One of the frames in my apartment holds a portrait of Frida Kahlo. To me she represents strength, creativity, the power to look beyond your abilities, pushing boundaries and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. She is a true inspiration and her art speaks to me in a way that I find difficult to put into words. The first time I ever saw some of her pieces they sparked curiosity, sadness, relief and joy – a roller coaster of emotions.
As I got up and made my coffee this morning, her beautiful face greeted me, put a smile on mine and images in my mind appeared out of the grey mist of my awakening and slowly took shape. Emerald green, mustard yellow, the blue azure and the rocky beige coming together to form the mesmerising backdrop of Tulum’s coast in Mexico. The creaking sound of my no frills, sky blue bicycle as I crank the pedals and set out in the morning to discover this blissful town. The path winds alongside the main road, still finding my balance on the carriage of my choice, as old trucks from another time pass me by. Workers in straw hats and muscle shirts sat on the back on their way to places unknown to me and far beyond my imagination. The tarmac road ends abruptly and I bounce off onto a soft trail, bearing to the right and cycling on, sheltered by the palm trees lining the wide road that is now frequented with mini busses and cars. My destination unknown, I find myself heading toward the national park and have arrived at the ancient ruins. It is my first day in Mexico and my first time ever in central America. I am travelling alone and I have no plan at all, which fills me with a sense of joy and one of uncertainty. The sun is ever-present and what was soothing and kind in the early hours of the day, has now morphed into a fire spitting dragon attacking at every opportunity I step out of the shade and into the light. I leave the bike tied to a rusty rack along with hundreds of others, all alike in colour and style. Smiling to myself, as I imagine the task of identifying my ride later in the day when I return. Sitting on a rock beneath a scraggly looking tree, barely big enough to cast the desired shade, I focus on my breath for a moment. The sweat running down my back, the backs of my knees and down my forehead. The humming sound of crickets mixed with the rustling noise of the lizard making its way to a sunnier spot. A light breeze and the taste of salt lies in the air as I take in this moment and rest. Seconds later the curiosity of what lies ahead guides me and I rise up and head toward the entrance of the ruins. Surrounded by the sounds of tourism, as a compilation of international notes morph into one tune of happy chatter. Colourful signage, carts and stands grab my attention as locals sell anything from water and hand held fans to replicas of ruins, postcards and tequila shot glasses. I make my way to the counter and again push the boundaries of my discomfort as I ask for ONE ticket – the receiving look of astonishment never any different, no matter which part of the world I visit and I smile back, pass my change over the counter and now armed with my entry pass and a map, embark on my next adventure. Walking along the rocky pathways amidst the individual ruins my imagination runs to a place far before my time and I try to picture the sacrifices made to build these incredible structures. I think of the spiritual devotion that brought people together and drove communities to create something magical. A way of paying tribute to a greater power, demonstrating gratitude to something invisible to the naked eye and simply leveraging the eternal energy to stay connected to something that is grater than us. My walk takes me to cliff’s edge and I start the descent down the wooden stair case weathered by the storms of the past. Crowds of people flock to the white beach that lies at the foot of the rocks and as I jump off the last step and hit the soft, warm sand beneath me, my gaze drifts out to the ocean and is captured by the rays bouncing off the teal coloured surface, as it glistens in the distance. My toes dipping in and out of the cool water as I meander along the shore, dodging the brave who run past me and ever so eagerly face the ocean head first. It is here I am reminded why I came to this place. Stepping out of my normality and into a new world is why I travel and why I seek out new experiences. With this in mind, my feet started carrying me back up the wooden stairs, along the cliff edge and back through the main gates of this archeological site. I jump on my steel companion, my butt burning up as I sit on the black saddle and try to steer my way through the sandy pathway along the coast in an attempt to find a tranquil place and rest my heavy legs. As the sand turns into asphalt, my pathway shielded by bushes and small trees on either side, the air stagnant and the heat bouncing off the deep black road, eager to burn the soles of my feet if I were to take a break, I see an opening on the side of the road in the distance. Jumping off and sheltering amidst the bushes, a narrow path winds up into the unknown. With my beach towel and bathers in hand I wander up and over the hill, staring out onto a wide, white sandy coastline seemingly endless. Making my way across, each step is twice as hard as I sink into the warm sand and it reminds me to go slow and take in every beautiful moment that presents itself to me. The ocean is roaring, seagulls are soaring and the wind is whispering a tune of solace in my ear. Sitting under a palm tree, a cold beer in my hand, munching on nachos and guacamole served at this local beach front cafe and listening to the tunes of Mexico as I unwind and soak up the sun. And as I revel in the taste of Mexico – this is what I came here for – I acknowledge:
“Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.” – Frida Kahlo