Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mexico, Part 2

After our short Belizian tour we headed back to Mexico for the next month; to spend it diving, relaxing and chilling out. We spent the first week in Tulum, at Mamma’s Home while we enjoyed some Cenote diving. After our daily diving with Dream Divers, we were treated to a free lunch at a local restaurant. Gaffa ordered the same meal everyday, whereas I switched it up a bit to try different things. 

Shrimp Tacos after a day of diving
Mama's Home
We also spent a day at Tulum beach, which has beautiful white sand and crystal clear blue water. The sun was shining so bright against the white sand that it was hard to fully open your eyes! 

Chillin' on the beach
in front of our apartment
Afterwards we headed to Playa del Carmen for the remaining time we had in Central America. We found an apartment on AirBnB in a small town called Sante Fe just outside of Playa del Carmen. The apartment was perfect for us: basic but with all amenities and way cheaper than staying in a hostel for a month. 

There were 2 bedrooms, we took the master bedroom with an oversized king size bed, and used the other bedroom as a washing line. The lounge room had an L-shaped couch and a flat screen tv with media player and the kitchen was fully equipped with everything except for an oven. The down side to living in Sante Fe was that we were the only English speaking people in the neighbourhood and it was a 3km walk to the Bikram yoga studio and into central Playa del Carmen.

lounge and dining area 
I had found a Bikram Yoga studio in Playa del Carmen called Riviera Maya Bikram Yoga, (situated on 5th Avenue between Calle 40 and 42) so we decided to take the challenge and spend a month there practicing yoga. The price for the month was about half what we would normally pay in Sydney, so we jumped at this opportunity. The studio was quite small though, and the facilities were not as great as we were used to back at the Maroubra studio. The owner and main instructor spoke Spanish and English, but she taught classes in Spanish and corrected us in English. There was an American yoga teacher that had an arrangement with the owner, to practice for free while teaching silent yoga classes. Most of our classes during the month were like this, silent classes with the teacher giving minimal prompts as to when to change postures. Once a week we would be lucky to get a full dialogue class. Anyone who has practised any sort exercise class knows that it only works with a good instructor motivating and guiding you, it's not the same doing it at home by yourself. 

rewarding ourselves with ice cream
The morning yoga classes were on at 9am, so we would leave our apartment at 8am and walk into town. The walk would take about 30-40 minutes and at that time the sun was already beaming brightly. One day it started raining after class and we were faced with walking back in the rain. When it rains in Playa, it really pours! There were massive puddles down every street and by the time we got back home, we were drenched – like we’d had a shower while wearing all our clothes! Towards the end of the month, it got really hot and humid so we starting taking the bus home instead of walking home.

During the month of yoga, we developed a routine. We’d come home from yoga, have a banana smoothie or some freshly squeezed orange juice to fuel us, eat some lunch, then either catch up on some Smallville/Glee/other television series, write some blog posts, head back into town to the beach or edit some photos. About once or twice a week we would walk to the local supermarket and do a weekly grocery shop. The local Chedraui supermarket was a one stop shop for everything that we needed. It even had a local bakery where we sometimes (meaning a lot of the time) purchased sweet pastries and cakes.

one of the many cakes we ate
another cake from Chedraui supermarket!
We only ate out one night, and that was the night that we met up with an old friend from home, Paz Man. He had been working in the States and was enjoying his holidays in Central and South America. We happen to be in Playa del Carmen the same night his tour group was there. So we met up with him for a drink and joined his group for dinner. It was great to see a familiar face and catch up with him. 

Gaffa and I with Paz Man
Chedraui had loads of fresh fruit and vegetables and the apartment had a blender, so Gaffa decided to make his home-made soups for dinner. We rotated between pea and ham soup, tomato soup and sweet potato/pumpkin soup. For lunch we made a batch of Mexican rice, with beans and vegetables. Avocadoes and limes were in abundance, so we made fresh guacamole, chilli sauce and salsa. 

fresh guacamole
Mexican rice, with fresh salsa, chilli sauce and guac
On some days (mainly Sundays as there were no yoga classes) Gaffa would feel inspired and make a big Mexican breakfast of nachos, chilli quillis or huevos rancheros. 

Mexican nachos for breakfast
Mexican breakfast on Sundays
During the month that we stayed in Playa del Carmen, Gaffa and I lost weight. Because of the constant yoga practice we were doing and also because we were walking about 6km per day to and from yoga. Also, eating healthy home cooked food was a bonus. I truly think that this lifestyle is a great way to shed those excess pounds that you don’t need. After the first two weeks in California we’d put on loads of weight because of the food we were eating (not complaining though, it was damn good!) During the 2 months in Central America we’d lost the extra weight plus more. When we got back to California, people noticed!

Restarting Bikram yoga after over a year out of practice was hard. The added humidity in Mexico did not help either! My mind knew all the postures and where I had to be, but my body was not letting me go there. Because my muscles had not been stretched like this for a long time, it was hard to get back into it. We took it easy at first while we got back into the rhythm and then pushed ourselves when we knew we were ready to go further.

Towards the end of our month in Mexico, we decided to do some more diving. We took a day off yoga and headed to Cancun to dive on the Underwater Museum and some surrounding sites. Gaffa will talk about this in a separate post. 

our home made washing line
Spending the month living in Sante Fe really taught us some things:

- it's easy to live on basics. Gaffa and I were on the last of our travelling budget, so we had to get strict with what we were spending. We bought groceries and made our own meals (a lot cheaper than eating out), and we kept an eye on every cent that we were spending. It made us realise that you don't need to spend a lot to survive, luxuries are just that - a want, not a need. If you want to save, it is doable to live on less than you already are currently. 

- you don't need a car. Not having a car really makes a difference. You walk everywhere! Exercise is good for the body!! It really made me appreciate what I had back at home, but also made me realise that you don't have to rely on your car all the time, walking is good for you, so do some! 

Gaffa riding the local bus
- it really does take a month to build a habit, but only 1 day to break it. We set ourselves a goal to complete a 30 day yoga challenge. It was hard since there was no yoga on Sundays!! But we did our best to practice yoga on the other 6 days of the week. It was hard to get out of bed and to drink 2L of water so you're hydrated, but once you get into a routine it feels good and it gets easier. And you realise that when you're not doing it, you miss it. But on the other hand, if you get lazy one day, you can easily break the habit and then you're back at square one. So keep going, push ahead! The hardest thing is getting up and getting out the door.

- buses in Playa del Carmen are quite dangerous. Since it was getting hotter and more humid while we were living in Sante Fe, we started taking the bus back home from yoga instead of walking 3km back. (which goes against my point above about, but oh well). Buses were only 5 Mexican pesos each (about 37 cents) so we took advantage of the cheap public transport. Buses in Playa del Carmen stop anywhere along the route, there are no set bus stops. So to stop  a bus you wave it down and it pulls over, and you hop on. One time I did exactly this and the bus pulled away without closing the doors. Not good! Lucky I was hanging onto the hand rail otherwise I would have fallen back out of the bus onto the pavement.  

blending in with the locals on the bus....
- family and family values are important. Since we'd been away for over a year, and we had a lot of spare time to reflect, we were both home sick some times, me more than Gaffa. The lovely Mexican lady called Vilma, that was looking after us while we were staying in the apartment was the best. She knew little English but was always so nice to us and treated us with respect. Her daughters came to visit with her sometimes and they bonded well with Gaffa.  Vilma got us water when we needed it, drove us to the supermarket, and helped us with the local buses, and the one thing that we will lever forget, is that she drove us to the bus station on our last day, much appreciated. The cleaner, Carmen was also very nice. She cleaned the house once a week and made it spotless. She even wiped down the door frames, the fans, and emptied out the fridge and every cupboard in the kitchen. These Mexicans had never met us previously but treated us like family. It made us realise and appreciate the wonderful families that we both have. 

relaxing in the water
Speaking of families, after our month in Mexico Gaffa and I left Central America and headed back to San Francisco to spend some more time with my extended family. More eating, sightseeing and fun times!! 

Until then, hasta luego mis amigos! 

Fun in the sun

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...