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Last days on Holbox Island

Major realization #1:

I have never traveled this way before!  I’m discovering the difference between traveling and vacationing:  In the past,when I have taken vacations my attitude has been “live for the day”.  I have spent money on tours and experiences that cost a lot because I wanted to treat myself.  After all, if I was going to take one vacation a year, I was going to enjoy it.  Now, I am learning that I can not travel in this same way and financially sustain long-term travel.  I can’t buy experiences – I have to make them happen. My natural introversion is something I have to overcome. I’ve got to learn some skills, yo!  Shy Laura is not going to work!

Goodbye Holbox Island (and I take back everything I said earlier about this being a paradise)


Even the iguana was cold and distant!

After five days, I was ready to get off of Holbox Island. The stagnancy I felt was not just in the climate and the humid thick air.  Many aspects of the island reminded me of the not so pleasant aspects of Hawaii (where I worked on a cruise ship).  The local people seemed disenchanted, depressed, and jaded.  My smiles or poor attempts at Spanish  were left hanging in the air with no return.  When approaching the register, shopkeepers looked at me like I had killed their baby.  So, that felt…crappy.

What was recently a sleepy fishing town is increasingly dependent on tourist dollars and with that comes the screwed-up dynamic of locals resenting the tourists while being dependent on them.  I don’t know if that’s what’s going on there. Whatever it is, it’s not for me.

But, I will restate that it would be a good place to hide from the law. And if you are a horseshoe crab lover – this is your place.

Yesterday, I planned on leaving for Merida today but after looking at the weather – above 100 degrees everyday this coming week with a couple 106’s thrown in, I knew I had to change my plans.

As I watched a cockroach squirm and struggle on the tile floor of my hotel room, I felt a sympathy , as I am struggling too.   I have been traveling for almost three weeks now and everyday I feel confused, stupid, and embarrassed.  But this is to be expected.  Traveling in a new place is humbling.  I have wondered why I  thought Mexico was a good starting point? My reasoning at the time of booking was that I would need some time to unwind from my previous life.  I have gotten that. I can’t deny I have has some lovely quiet moments with spectacular scenery – but I am finding that I am not a very adept relaxer!  Maybe if I was leaving behind a house full of screaming kids, a high pressure job, a stressful relationship, or the like, I would love the solitude, but to me the beach is a place to play and playing alone is not that fun!

Except for one woman I met on the beach in Tulum, I have not met another solo traveler.  I have been in resort towns where couples and families party and relax.   I am simultaneously afraid to go out further and take risks and longing for adventure.  I would love to get on a boat to Cuba, or visit a curandero, or have a real honest taco with a local family, but arranging such an experience has been impossible for me without being able to go talk to the fishermen. the tortilla maker, the real people.   That’s not just the language barrier.  It’s also a matter of confidence. In my travels in South America (Peru, Uruguay, Argentina, Easter Island) everyday seemed to bring an unlikely meeting, a priceless memory, a certain magic moment, and yet here in Mexico, I feel like I am on the wrong side of the window unable to get in…unable to break through the tourist bubble.  My travels so far have been mostly uninspiring to my soul.  This is not a complaint.  I know that I am learning every step of the way.  It will take some time for me to develop the skills I need to travel the way I would like to.

And then, it is quite possible that everything I am thinking or feeling about Mexico has nothing to do with Mexico. I am making a major adjustment psychologically and like a hermit crab that is looking for its new shell, I feel vulnerable and not quite myself.  It feels crazy to have no backup identity: “I do this”, “I work here”, “I own this”, “I live here” – all ways we define ourselves. Now, anonymous to anyone I might meet, the only identity I have is the person that I am today.  Exciting and odd.

I am finding my new traveler’s legs.  I wonder where they will take me?!

More pictures of Holbox Island:



  1. Laura…did you take all these amazing photos? They are really great!

    • Yes, I did Paula. Thank you!

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