It’s been two and a half years since we began our epic nose to tail tour of Central and South America, but, finalmente, the prawns have returned to Mexico. There’s something about this country that’s hard to get out of your system: the warm welcomes extended everywhere, an easy-going attitude to the hectic chaos of modern life, celebratory music percolating out of the crevices of towns and villages, the certainty of getting caught up in a fiesta that can last for days, and oh, did I mention the tacos?
Something else brought me back: a sense of incompletion that stayed with me long after we returned to the UK in the summer of 2014. Clare and I had disagreed on the starting point for our trip, arguing that the well-served and relatively familiar vacationing region of the Mayan Riviera was an ideal east-coast gateway into the rest of Mexico and Central America. I demurred, claiming that our nascent plan to travel from the furthest northern reaches of the continent made Baja California on the western coast the obvious entry-point.
Baja won the day, but it wasn’t as cheap or undiscovered as either of us imagined. As time passed since our original journey, stories from other returning travelers of miles of pristine golden sand lapped by warm aquamarine waves persuaded us to consider a return trip. It wasn’t just the legendary beaches that enticed us either: some of Mexico’s greatest cultural treasures, plus unusual indigenous dishes like Cochinita Pibil, come from this region. And as the Yucatán peninsula had had to be cruelly jettisoned from the PFB routemap as we made our way southwards, there was a sense of coming full circle.
Full disclosure at this point: this wasn’t to be a return to our grubby traveler ways in search of continued enlightenment on the Latin American highway. This was to be a fairly nice holiday, and it had been funded accordingly. We’d slipped back into a 9-whenever grind since we got back to the UK, moving first to Bristol and then Manchester, Clare freelancing in a creative agency then working in a bar, and Jovian spending days on the road in a consultancy role for the public sector.
Both of us needed just to stop, take a breather and think about our life-plans back home, and we wanted to do it in fairly sunny climes where we could practice our rusty Spanish. And whilst we were at it, why not bring this blog up to date and let you, our loyal but long-lost reader, know exactly what goes down in these parts? This time round we agreed that Jovian would take on writing duties and Clare would be the official editor and photographer (thankfully). And of course, we would keep on mostly blogging about food: you can count on that.
In that spirit we’d opted for a two week coast-hopping adventure that would take in the best of the region: colonial splendour, Mayan ruins and, yes, those perfect, pre-instagrammed beaches. We would be travelling, but at a slow pace. Which meant planning more time in tranquil cities and chilled beach towns, and less in party-hearty Cancun, the US Spring Breaker’s destination of choice.
Well, maybe there’d be time for a round or two of tequila y sangrita in a dodgy backstreet tavern, soundtracked by pumping EDM, en route.
Hell yeah, you only live once, right?
Dear Jovian & Clare
Very good to have news of your trip. Much appreciated. I am sure that Stephen will be looking forward to a visit. We speak quite often and he seems in good form.
Heather x x
Thanks Heather, glad you enjoyed the update – more to follow shortly! And yes it was good to speak to Stephen again yesterday, and hear about his last visit to the Old Hall. An emotional moment for sure. xx
Hurray – you’re back! Looking forward to more of your quixotic tales and culinary experiments (sans gastric violence). Keep saving your pence for travel and we’ll be along in spirit!
Yes indeed nsbell2014: the prawns never really went away, and neither has our wanderlust. Glad to have you on board for the return to Mexico – and yes, we are already plotting further getaways via the Transiberian Express and a nose-to-tail gastro-tour of Italy by rail! Looking forward to checking out your own online tales soon…C&J xx