Mexico Backpacking

21st November 2006 – 3rd January 2007 

The impromtu end to my last chapter saw immigration give me my marching orders for a compulsory holiday. I bought the cheapest ticket leaving Canada, which conveniently was Las Vegas, but not before more trouble with immigration. My trip looked like it was going to be over before it started when the US immigration officer in Vancouver welcomed me with the following “sorry sir I’m refusing your entry into the United States today”! I’m thinking ‘great, I’m a failure, I can’t even be kicked out of country successfully”. After being taken out back and engaging in…………….. an interview, I was set free to continue my chapter.

Flying into Vegas over the barren desert you realise what an environmental nightmare this 24 hour man-made entertainment oasis must be. That aside, Vegas has to be experienced, and ideally experienced with a big bank balance. In my 3 days I took in one of the 7 wonders of the world, the big ditch known as the Grand Canyon, gambled and drank the complimentary free drinks, ate the best Chinese buffet of my life, checked out the New York skyline line again (Theres a replica in Vegas), attended a playboy bunny party, took in a show, explored my hotels indoor chapel and theme park including a free ride on the roller coaster, came across a lion enclosure in the worlds largest hotel and finally set eyes on the Eiffel Tower! After 3 days of Vegas I was ready to relax, so brought the cheapest available ticket to the Mexican Caribbean.

Shells on Cozumel Chilling in Palenque

I arrived in Cancun, known as Mexico’s little America. Renown as a place where hoards of drunk young kids on spring break and overweight American package tourists flock, to beach themselves on golden Caribbean sand and frolic in the comforts of Americanisation. I got a bus at the airport and escaped the clutches of Cancun (so I probably shouldn’t talk bad about it since I haven’t actually experienced it, although it didn’t really sell itself to me), heading south to a ‘little’ less touristy spots of Playa de Carmen and Tulum.

It was in Tulum where I met Simon, a 27 yr old Englishman with standards (specifically high bathroom standards), a BMW driving saleman by day and house DJ and partyboy by night. He was backpacking with his soon to be married best friends Nick and Justine from Oz.

I joined the good times oriented threesome and we made our way to Palenque, a place that attracts people due the amazing Mayan ruins. Here we stayed 5 days at a cool little hippy backpacker community(El Pachon – from memory). I’ve never had so much fun in the middle of a jungle in a tin shed (bar) during monsoon storms!

Party in a shed in the middle of the jungle On way by river boat to Guatemala

We then made our way by boat down a river over the boarder into Guatemala. Here we checked out the amazing ruins of Tikal. It was here that Nick and Justine headed back to Mexico to fly back to reality. Simon changed his plans and decided to continue with me, little did we know it was the start of 5 weeks of good times.

We continued in Guatemala down to Antigua where we met 3 other guys up for a good time. One hungover afternoon we all took off together on a chicken bus (Old school dilapidated US school bus overflowing with people and animals) to Lago de Atitilan for 5 days of chilling. But the ride there was chilling in another sense. First of all the chicken bus ride, which is an experience in itself, the fumes from bus pouring in, the road rushes beneath you through the rusted spot in the floor, your squeezed three wide on a 2 person seat and your drivers seems to be driving like a deprived crackhead that has a fix waiting at the destination. 

Lago de Atilan, in Guatemala Lago de Atilan

We had been warned by so many back packers and workers at the hostel to avoid the notorious pick pocket market where the chicken bus changed over for the Lake. But we weren’t too concerned, 1, because we were in a hungover daze where everything seemed to make us laugh, and 2 what could happen to a group of 5 well travelled  young men.? Well that chicken bus ride I will never forget, unbeknown to us a team of 5 or 10 professional pickpocketer’s situated themselves by us, and in the chaos of climbing over people to jump out the emergency door to change buses at the market, they pounced, successfully taking 2 out of 5 of our wallets and credit cards! And we were left in a cloud of smoke in what seemed like a war zone, a helper from our waiting bus shouting to us “hurry up, don’t worry about your wallets, there’s bandits eyeing up your packs, we gotta go NOW”, he ran out, stopped traffic, we ran across the road like a Black Hawk down scene and on to our awaiting chicken chariot.

In Lago de Atitlan, we forgot about out sorrows, we used mine and another boys remaining credit cards to fund our stay there, (at one point it was just my credit as the other boy temporarily lost it at a bar one night scraping stuff off the table). One of the stolen credit cards  ended up getting $2000 taken off it before it was cancelled, ouch!

Next it was back up to Mexico, Simon in tow, he had no choice because his credit card was one of the ones stolen, so I was his bank while he went through the frustrating process of getting a new card.  Onto San Cristobal, then to Mexico City.

Happy NY!Xmas time in Sayulita

After the city it was beach time, and Simon and I headed towards the Pacific Coast. Sayulita was the destination where my Ozzie chick friends from Canada were spending New Years after there 2 month surf trip down the coast. Simon and I arrived in Sayulita with a month of partying practice under our belts for a big Christmas, New Year celebration. But we were welcomed to Sayulita, an overpriced (for Mexico) and overrun destination for American and Canadian families and retirees. A place where there seems to be more foreigners than Mexicans and your asked in English what you want to order, and the local Mexican surfers think they are gods gift to the surf and gringa’s.

Simon and I were saved, we found love, and it wasn’t in the form of each other. Which surprised many as we were going to spend New Years in the proclaimed gay capital of Mexico, Puerta Vallarta, and we had come to this part of Mexico with the thought of sharing an undersized two man tent. I bumped into Amanda at the toilets! We spent the majority of our time with Amanda’s family who were in Sayulita for Christmas, having a break from the US winter. After a week Amanda left with her friend to spend a prearranged New Years in Guadalajarra.

Simon and I celebrated NY in the gay capital of Mexico in the only way we knew how, getting back to the tents before midday.

With January 7th fast approaching, signalling the end of my trip with a flight out of LA back to Canada, I had to get on the move. The next morning I left my now good friend Simon to attend to his love seeds he had planted in Sayulita, as I put my thumb out to hitch a ride. As destiny would have it, my hitch-hike mission took me off route and I  decided to go pay Amanda a visit before she flew back to Denver, Colorado.

I spent a great last night with Amanda, and then as Amanda left I got news that my friend Lucy was making a special trip to come see me in Guadalajarra after arriving back  from Cuba. So Amanda left that morning and Lucy arrived the following day, the hostel staff must have thought I was some kind of nomadic pimp.

So it was going to be a couple of days catch up with Lucy, then do the marathon 50 hour bus trip up to LA to fly back to Canada to start work. But I still had no word on my Canadian work visa, those of you who have dealt with Immigration know that the wheels turn slowly. 

So one day, with the thought of a 50 hours on a bus, to go back to -40’s in Canada and wait for my work visa to come through, I thought ‘stuff it’. Luce had no plans, and was up for a mission, so we headed to the coast with my inherited tent, and started the chapter starring Lucia and Marcos (Hap) as I waited to get my Canadian work visa.


4 Responses to “Mexico Backpacking”

  1. Anna February 12, 2008 at 5:18 pm #

    WOW WEE this is awesome. Top work!

  2. Hap February 13, 2008 at 4:02 pm #

    Cheers Anna,

    Hope to be crossing your paths in another chapter, you can check out some Banff photos by clicking on the ‘photobucket’ link on the right hand column. I’m pretty sure these some naked photos of my skinny stunt double on there, i should actually get around to deleting those, as this is a family show.

    Hope all well in Aotearoa. Oh yeah, you got hook ups for Antarctica? if you do, drop us an email. Hope you NY has got better 🙂

    nuthin but love hap

  3. nick n juzi March 22, 2008 at 7:31 pm #

    It was good times, hap….

    Wish we did’t have to leave when we did…

    Gettin married in 2 wks (5th April) Can’t wait…

    Si’s flying in tomorrow….

    Party time…

    Let us know if ya ever in Melbourne..

    Big Love

    Nick n Juz

  4. Hap March 22, 2008 at 7:43 pm #


    You two have a wonderful day, your an awesome couple. Hope life trating you both well in Melbs, and will for sure drop by if ever get over that way.

    No doubt you will have an out of control time wih senor Simon. Make sure he gets his butt over to the Western part of this country.

    Best of luck, Nutin but love hap

    PS Juzz I was watching a video of you rapping in the jungle the other day, in Palenque, entertaining as ever.

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