All that is wrong with the world…

February 2, 2011

From NYC to Cancun

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 4:18 pm

So I have decided to try and write much shorter posts. I still have my travels in Canada and up the west coast of the US to write about, as well as my two months in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and even stuff from NYE 2010. Taking notes and working a bit at a time doesn’t work because I procrastinate and get backlogged, so let’s see if I can actually do it in blog format. I had to leave to Mexico because I didn’t get the full 90 days in the US as I came from Canada and Cancun happened to be the cheapest flight from NYC. I was forced to leave the horrible NYC winter and go to Cancun or I would be there illegally. What to do? It worked out well though as I had been wanting to come for a long time, and now I was on my way.

So, after coming back from Letty’s place, I ended up getting lost. I was sure that my friend I was staying with lived on Jefferson Ave, but no it was Jefferson St.
My friend offered me a subway card, although I turned him down as I was sure I had money on my card. I was wrong. The problem of course is that the Jefferson St Subway entrance has absolutely no way to purchase a ticket without heading to the other entrance, something I really didn’t want to do if I was already cutting it close. Luckily a friendly guy swiped me in, and I was on my way.

After transferring to the bus and thinking I had $2.50 worth of quarters in hand, it was when paying that I realized I couldn’t count and only had $1.50 in change. Then I started looking for dimes and shit in my huge pile of change in my wallet, and just started dishing it in. I managed to pay mostly with pennies which was nice, although I did lose a Toronto subway token in the process.

As soon as I arrived at the airport I got off, which was a stupid reflex as I had to wait for the free shuttle to take me to the right terminal. I made it just in time, getting to the counter right on the deadline for international flights if it was being enforced, although apparently it was not. What was very nice and a huge relief is that I was not asked for any information about an onward ticket. They just checked me in for Mexico, and I was on my way. It’s particularly annoying when Airlines try to play customs at checkin, especially given a nomadic style of traveling. I stayed up for a few hours making fraudulent flight itineraries to sate them, but luckily I didn’t need to use them.

I was interested to finally experience the full body scanners that received so much negative press, as the last time I flew was in July and they didn’t have them yet. However, it was still only metal scanners leaving NYC. I surrendered my toothpaste to avoid any problems, although left my cologne. This of course, was not detected. I normally don’t surrender my toothpaste either, but they occasionally check and it wasn’t worth any hassle.

After actually being through security and having the relief of already having my boarding pass to Mexico, I started to relax and prepare for my overnight stay at Fort Lauderdale airport. With my lack of mouse games were not an option so productivity should have gone up, although I was too tired to do anything. I watched some of Green Hornet, read various pages etc. I was terrified of falling asleep, as I have missed at least one flight from falling asleep before checkin. The airport seemed lonely, and apart from the cleaning crew and one elderly black guy I was the only one present. It was only when I got bored and checked upstairs that I noticed there were easily 30 or 40 people, which was interesting.

There still wasn’t anyone to talk to as they were all sleeping, so I went back downstairs. I managed to sleep a bit, and woke up around 4:30 and noticed the airport starting to fill with people. I considered going through security at 5 due to absolutely no line, although I didn’t want to throw away my coke and wanted to have a smoke…possibly. I was somewhat sad there was no Dr. Pepper, as I figured I would not have it till I get back to either NYC or Canada. I ended up going through at 8:30 and while they had the full body scanners, only one woman went through as far as I could tell. Of course my cologne was not detected again, further demonstrating the ineffectiveness of the TSA. I did notice one woman being patted down in a glass room….so much for privacy.

On the plane, I noticed Spirit Airlines don’t require a signature when purchasing items with a credit/debit card. How very odd. There were so many cute girls on the plane…aye aye aye. The plane was actually less than half full…I guess Cancun is not a popular destination in Winter. Odd. After finally getting of the plane, which was a short 2 hours, it was such a nice smell. A lot of what I think about Latin America was caught in that smell…humidity, fruits, freshness and forests. Quite an awesome thing.

Immigration was easy. I had thought perhaps I would only get 30 days and my fake ticket was for 36 days…, however I got 180 days which was a huge relief. Nothing could stop me now. Just as I was ready to waltz through the doors of the airport into Mexico, I had to wait in line for the stupid customs x-ray scanners and metal detector. Aye. It was over soon enough, and then I was greeted by the biggest tourist center I have seen at any airport. So many cheery faces, although the girl I chose to ask about the bus was oddly dismissive, which seemed contradictory to the impression they were trying to give.

After having a smoke and changing my money, I saw a can of Dr Pepper for sale. My second favorite soda, so I went for it. I got 200 pesos for $20 USD, and 45 of that went to my soda. It didn’t quite seem worth it, but it was too late. Getting change in quarters really didn’t help things. I then bought a ticket for the bus…Cancun downtown leaving in 45 minutes. After waiting I ended up getting on the first bus that came after about 15 minutes…too late to realize I was heading to Playa Carmen. Aye. I talked some Australians who didn’t want to chat, and then that was it. Just waiting.

I had some time to think on the bus, wondering what it means to be so detached from the floods in Brisbane, the city where I spent much of my teenage years. Everyone I know is OK there, but at the same time I don’t really have close ties to anyone there. I don’t talk to my family much and I know they are fine. Perhaps it is just a sign of my having left it behind. It is interesting to compare to my thoughts in 2005, where I was still very interested and keeping track of what was going on.

My thoughts then wandered to my former best friend…I had not spoken to her since before Christmas, hoping to be able to fix things, and then another message on the 1st of January, where I let her know I was in Montreal. I couldn’t help wondering if she would have checked if I was OK as she thought I was going back before we parted ways….if I hadn’t told her I wasn’t, would she have checked? Or are we really that far apart now.

I managed to get back to Cancun, at this point already having spent $15 of my $20. Le Sigh. After a taxi to the supermarket where I was planning to meet my hosts, I settled in. Their cell was not answering, so I waited. And waited. And waited some more. It got to about 7, and I started wondering that 4 hours outside a supermarket was too long, interesting as it was. I sent an email, although I didn’t hear back and the cell still weren’t ringing. I decided to wait just two more hours until 9.

So during this time, a friendly girl at the call shop was very helpful, and let me try the number for free a few times throughout the day. We could not understand each other in the least, but it was nice to meet someone so friendly. While I was waiting on my bench a guy came over and was friendly and talking to me…I was unsure if he was hitting on me or not, but he left after I pretended not to understand what I thought was an to go to his house. It was a long time waiting, but it was also interesting just to sit and watch the culture for a day.

I went into the supermarket to buy a drink, and it was interesting that they take your bag for you before you go in. I guess it is an easy solution to stop shoplifting, the same as in Costa Rica. I bought a 600ml Pepsi for 8 MXN, which is about 80c which is quite a difference compared to $4.50 for a can of Dr Pepper. I then bought a cigarette for 40c…I don’t know why. I have not bought a pack of cigarettes since August bar NYE, yet the last two weeks in NYC I have been smoking around 3 a day. It just seemed like something to do in the several hours of nothing.

Where I spent my first day in Cancun

I did see a young guy/teenager staring at me kind of strange. He actually came over and was grabbing a red cloth or shirt, and I could not help but wonder what if he had a gun or something in there…what if he just decided to kill and rob me and this was it? Completely irrational, but interesting thoughts nonetheless.

I then started thinking about being back in Latin America. Whenever I am in NYC I feel like I have made it, even if just there temporarily as this is the place I keep trying to settle in. So far when I have been in Latin America it has been because I am forced to travel and I can’t help but feel I am getting further from my goal, as well never having money to go out and do things is frustrating. Hopefully this should be the last time, as I won’t be leaving until I get my Canadian visa.

I was planning to go to a hostel at 9, but thought I would try the internet one more time. An additional 50c if wasted couldn’t really hurt. My host got back to me and her phone wasn’t working and she hadn’t checked her email. She was very apologetic and sent her partner to come and get me. No worries, and now I could wait knowing I would be meeting someone soon. I was also pleased to find out my credit card disputes had been settled in my favor. I had already spent the temporary credit, so it was nice to know I was not in debt. That’s what you get Via Rail Canada for fucking over customers.

While waiting I tried a Mole de Pollo Tamale which was ok. I was not sure what Mole was but it turns out to be a traditional Mexican sauce made from chilies and various things. I still don’t care for Tamales though…no matter how often I have them they always just taste bland. A bit later I tried a hamburger which was quite good for just $2. A patty, ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato, quite good. I communicated that I wanted it for take away and received it on a plate wrapped in a plastic bag. As I walked away it seemed a bit odd, and I threw it out in another ladies trash, only for her to rescue the plate and return it to the guy I bought it from. Very strange.

I decided to get another smoke, this time it only cost 30c…just something to do while passing the time. Earlier on before I paid for internet I tried seeing if there were any crackable wireless networks, there was only one which was too weak to bother. It seems just as in Canada one of the ISP’s ship out WEP as the standard security on all their wireless cable modems. How very lame.

I then decided to buy another drink, and opted for a bottle of Pepsi for 600ml. Who knew that hitting a picture of a bottle of Pepsi would yield a can of 7up? Well, whatever. Then one of my hosts came and at last I could leave. He was so very friendly and bohemian…very hospitable and making sure I was looked after and providing me with a beer on arrival at his home.

Then my other hosts arrived home who is from Europe originally. I think it is so cool when couples end up together being from opposite ends of the world. It is always interesting to speculate how that happens, although it could have been as simple as meeting at a hostel such as with my former best friend.

I was so looking forward to a hot shower after such a day, only to find out there is no hot water in Mexico. Alas. It’s true you don’t really need it during the day, but it is still might nice sometimes and would be nice at night when it is chilly and so the water is cold. I’m still too much of a wimp to fully get under freezing water…damn it.
I notice they have a cooker which is just connected by host to a tank of gas. I have no idea how to turn it on despite it being simple…simple things like this kind of scare me as I grew up with electric. If I smell gas at all or it doesn’t ignite instantly I worry that it is a huge danger, despite knowing better. Then I was greeted with the familiar shoddy electronics in this part of the world, sparks flying as I plugged in my laptop and was thankful the curtain didn’t catch fire. Such a setting would be perfect for something out of Final Destination.

Finally, it was time to relax by catching up on some news and downloading the latest episode of Chuck, being one hour into February in Mexico. The next day I caught up on sleep, and didn’t really leave the house till 4:15…which I found out was actually 3:15 as I hadn’t set my clocks yet. I had been meaning to do some writing all day, but ended up watching the end of Green Hornet(a truly forgettable movie), Chuck, and then Fast and Furious.

I went to a food place next door that my hosts recommended, and didn’t see the menu at first. I was offered some kind of stew which I said OK to, and then saw the menu and ordered Fajita de Pollo, which I assumed, was a chicken fajita. I wasn’t sure if I was still getting stew at this time or what was happening. I ended up getting some red drink (despite asking for cola), and some fried chicken with rice and beans. I was quite sure that a Fajita needs some type of bread and Wikipedia confirms this, so I am not really sure what I got or if Fajitas are just open to interpretation. It wasn’t a bad amount of food for $5.

One thing I do find annoying is that I think Mexicans have smaller appetites on general. I have a huge appetite and know how to stuff myself on $5 in western countries. Here, it isn’t so easy, or at least I have not figured it out. A bit more procrastinating and watching movies, and then I decided to go and buy another drink and a cigarette, and take a picture of where I spent my first day in Mexico. A chevez cola for 10 MXN…interesting, as normally the local brands are cheaper than Coke or Pepsi.

Then my hosts came back, and we talked for a while. I noticed while trying to find where I was on Google Maps how strange the addresses in Cancun were. Instead of street numbers and post codes, there were section numbers and then lot numbers. Apparently this was because Cancun was designed purely as a tourist spot and spiraled out of control with a local population. Quite interesting.

I then went out with my hosts to get some food, and got a torta for $3, with Chorizo, Jamon, American Cheese, eggs and Salchicha which was quite delicious. I then shared Buritos with one of my hosts which was nothing like the Buritos in the US. Apparently Burritos are a US invention, however they exist in Mexico and are more akin to a soft yet crispy tortia. It was here I realized that they put the plastic bag around a plate to avoid having to wash the plate. Nice.

I was meant to stay with my hosts for only 2 nights, but ended up being able to stay much longer which is nice, as it gets annoying to move around constantly. Hopefully I will be able to repay them with some website assistance. Somehow I was too tired from doing nothing all day, so went to bed fairly early, too tired even to watch the terrible terrible show which is V.

The next day woke up and started doing some writing, and then my hosts made breakfast with tortias and Carnitas. Carnitas is apparently a type of shredded pork, although according to my hosts it also contained various organs. I think this is the first time I have knowingly ate the organs of various animals, which while I always thought was somewhat gross it didn’t actually bother me. The only time I ate something that exotic was in Taiwan, where I had pig blood jelly.

Then my hosts are off to the beach where I will join them as soon as I finish this article. It has been an interesting few days for sure, and I wonder what the next month will bring. A lot happened during my two months in Costa Rica and Nicaragua which I never expected, so I will see how this simple trip to Cancun turns out.

One thing I do notice is that I have not been able to get my ex best friend of my mind. I miss her so much and know I did the wrong thing and just hope somehow we can reconnect at some stage. I think it is unlikely she is reading this, but if she is…please know that I am dreadfully sorry and miss you excruciatingly. Aye.

So much seems so familiar from my time spent in other Latin American countries, so I am looking forward to see what is unique to Mexico and experience the differences. It is amazing to me that I was in Latin America in in June and July, more than six months ago, yet it still seems so recent. I think this time I will try to actually learn some Spanish. I rejected it the previous time because I wanted to focus on learning Mandarin…but I have squandered too many opportunities to learn native langues while in places, so will try more actively this time. Mandarin isn’t going anywhere soon.

I am really hoping to find a way to get to Cuba, as I would like to see it before they have some kind of revolution which I believe will occur in my lifetime. As well, I don’t believe I have been to a communist country yet, so that should be interesting. The problem is that it isn’t easy to stay with people as they have to have a licence from the government or I need to find someone I can stay with who is willing to take a risk. As well there are no boats and the flights are far more expensive than they should be…so I will see.

I originally decided to go to Canada and get a WHP visa as it was cheaper than a flight home. Due to not doing my research and such with my various travels around the cost has gone to $520, with another $300 or so for visa stuff. Still a few hundred cheaper than a return flight home and it’s been a far more interesting trip so far.

Now off to the beach for the first time and then when I get home, hopefully I will finish my HOPE and DEFCON article which I have been working towards since August, then some smaller articles…then I can start preparing for the larger articles. I need to balance my writing with enjoying what I can in Cancun as well. We will see.

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