Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blackberry Buttheads

I am missing Tulum. Today, my eyes see NYC as they did before I left for my travels. The noise hurts my ears, the pace frenetic and invasive. I question my rhythm as I am continuously close to being knocked over by people hurrying past with no regard for anything but themselves.

I promised myself I wouldn’t do this. When I came home, I made a conscious deal with myself not to make mental notes of every little thing here that gnaws at my soul. The Blackberry Assholes who are so immersed in their emails, it doesn’t even occur to them that there might be other people on the street as they just zoom ahead, faces buried in their Pearls or iPhones. I promised myself I wouldn’t squeeze into a seat on the train, back aching from my heavy bag and feel sorry myself as I long to be back in the simplicity of Mexico.

The truth is, I’m not really all that happy to be home. Why would I be? Life made sense in Mexico – the only sense life makes here has to do with survival. Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but man, does it have to be so difficult? That’s my point. Have I gone soft? Have I lost my edge? These very questions used to worry me into a cold sweat as I wore my New Yorker-ness on my sleeve like a badge of honor. Today, I don’t care. I am done. I really am.

There is no excitement here for me anymore. It’s not even about the excitement really. There sure as hell isn’t much of that in Tulum. It used to be about the excitement, New York, but now it’s like not having hot water in Mexico – when you know you’re supposed to have it and you don’t, it makes not having it even worse. It used to be that the excitement was the payoff for the madness – now it’s just madness in my eyes.

I want to stay present, I really do. But it’s hard and I don’t know if I can. I’m grateful for work tomorrow because at the very least, it will distract me – keep me busy. Ain’t that a shame?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

For Rufus

Dear Rufus,

I hope you are happily traipsing around in a breezy, grassy knoll somewhere quiet with all of your other pals. I miss you, but I know you know that. Today is a year since we said good-bye and it's been a tough journey. I don't think I'll ever stop missing you or thinking of you.

But, I'm starting to get it. I know why you went. And as much as I'd give anything to have you back with me, I'm glad you went. Your departure created an opening for me and I am finally living in that space. So thank you, my friend - you were that through your last breath. I love you. If heaven really exists, then I guess we'll meet again sometime...Until then, you are in my heart forever.


April 1, 2008

Rufus was my support system. He was always there to love me – no questions asked; no conditions. Only love. As he showed the first signs of real decline this past Summer, I began to realize, even then, the significance of his exit from my life. I knew that I was coming through a major turning point in my life, emotionally and as a result, my relationships with people were shifting, as was my relationship to myself.

I knew that once this part of me was in place and more solid, he would move on. It was horrible to realize this because I had so much fear and confusion. Maybe I should stop growing. Maybe I should just stay where I’m at and hold onto him. Hold onto his love. Accept no one else’s and live happily ever after. I was torn because I knew I’d already turned a corner and going back wasn’t really an option and more importantly, deep down inside, I didn’t want to go back.

I wanted to be stronger, more self-sufficient. I wanted to be connected to my own power and come from that place daily. I started to feel the physical pull away from leaning on him as I cultivated my ability to stand on my own two feet, steadily and solidly. The irony is that his deterioration was due to arthritis. At its worst, I had to carry him up and down the stairs outside my apartment to relieve himself. He couldn’t stand up through an entire meal, which for anyone that knew Rufus, was just unbelievable as this dog would stand all night if it meant getting some more food.

As I started to stand taller and stronger, he started to tire. Maybe it was symbolic that he’d served his time and couldn’t hold me up any longer. Perhaps he was comfortable and at ease with the fact that he could take a rest and I could survive with grace and beauty. I’m sure he did. That was Rufus. He knew exactly what I needed when I needed it.

Today, two weeks later after his death, my legs are shaky and weak. Some days, I can’t even imagine taking another step without him in my life. My heart literally aches with pain as I wake up each day and remember that he’s no longer here. But I do it. I get up. I go to work. I visit with friends. I talk to my family. Slowly, I move forward. Perhaps his strength lies so deep within me now, that he’s helping me move forward. He’s carrying me outside and down the stairs to the subway – to work. I think I like the idea of that – though I’d give anything to have him right next to me lying at my feet while I sit at my computer.

Monday, March 16, 2009


My time in Mexico is complete. For now, at least. I am sad to go as it’s been an amazing trip. Reaching far back to my time in Trinidad, is a stretch for my mind. But I am homebound and back to life in New York. I wonder how I’ve changed on this trip – I’m sure I have and it will be interesting to discover the changes as I settle back into my routine at home.

I’m determined to stay positive, though as my plane flew over the ocean, I had to fight the urge to weep. My ride to the airport was nothing short of an adventure. I left myself plenty of time, but still managed to almost miss my flight. As I write this, I’m not even sure if my bag will make it New York – fingers crossed.

Though my car rental originated in Tulum, I was able to arrange it so that I could return it at the airport in Cancun. The guy at the rental place and I had a conversation – and I use that term lightly – about how to get to the rental agency in Cancun. The conversation consisted of him drawing on a general map of Tulum, Playa del Carmen and Cancun, a line with an arrow and a star to indicate where I had to go. He also gave me the name of what I thought was the street, but I found out later it was the name of the shopping center in which Buster Car Rental was located.

I left Tulum at 8:30am. Cancun is about 90 miles north of Tulum, so with traffic, it could take up to two hours. My flight was at 12:30p and I checked in online, so I was pretty confident that I’d make in time. Unfortunately, the map he provided didn’t offer much help and as I reached the Cancun airport, my search for “Nacional de Abostos” was unsuccessful. I continued driving wondering if perhaps, I had to go further into Cancun. Well, Cancun came and went and as I drove through an area that was clearly not Cancun, I decided it was time to turn around.

Once I turned around, I asked a few taxi drivers if they knew where Buster Car Rental was each time I stopped at a traffic light. Unfortunately, the further out of Cancun you get, the less likely it is to find anyone who speaks English. It was also much hotter here than in Tulum which didn’t help. I was trying to keep my cool, literally and figuratively as I assured myself everything would be okay. Another fake it ‘til you make it moment at its best!

I reached the airport, again and decided to stop into one of the more major car rental places. The people at Budget told me I was close, but they couldn’t quite explain just how close. I knew from them, that I had to turn around and go North (again), pass Budget and then turn around (again) to reach Buster which, apparently I had passed when I pulled into Budget. It was close to 11am and I was hot and worried that I would miss my flight.

Plus, I still wasn’t really sure where the hell this place was. I pulled into another car rental place and in full New York intensity announced to the guy that I was lost and “going to miss my flight.” Thank goodness his English was good. He directed me to Buster which upon finally finding it, I realized just how improbable it would have been for me to find it on my own. Note to self – next time go with the one you know, say, Alamo or Thrifty. I chose Buster because Hertz wasn’t an option and we all know why.

As I pulled into Buster in the obscure location, I continued to tell myself “all will be fine.”

The agent was great as he checked for damages with lightning speed – a rarity in Mexico. We jumped back into the car and we were off to the airport with 45 minutes to spare. Once at the airport, I swallowed my panic at the huge crowds all headed somewhere post-Spring Break and marched right to the Continental counter. There were some college students from Virginia who were really sweet as they let me tell the agent of my plight.

In spite of my panic, I noticed that it sure was nice to communicate with people in English for a change. The agent checked me in and told that my bag might not make it to New York today. That would suck, but ya gotta take your chances, right?

With my boarding pass in hand, I practically ran to security and was grateful that it wasn’t too crowded. Once through security, I was in Duty Free la la land. Wow! Next time, I need to save some money for this Candyland of liquor, makeup and whatever else one might think of.

When I got to the gate, I was told the flight wouldn’t board for another 15 minutes. Relieved, I opted for a beer instead of Duty Free to calm my nerves. At Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co., I had my final beer in Mexico. What a difference it is in Cancun! It felt so American. The people, the stores, the restaurants. I might as well have been in Times Square. Oh how I miss Tulum.

I took a minute to enjoy my beer and take in the scene. To my right was a guy that looked like Hulk Hogan 30 pounds lighter. His wife arrived shortly after I sat down toting a Harley Davidson Store bag. She looked like she didn’t use any sunscreen while in Mexico or quite possibly ever in her life. I focused my eyes ahead of me and watched the final 10 minutes of Forrest Gump thinking it funny that this particular movie would be playing. It was only after the movie finished did I realize why – Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co….hello??

I bid my new friend, Abraham the bartender good-bye and made my way to the bathroom before heading to the gate to board. In the bathroom, I struck up a conversation with a woman from New York. She was supposed to fly home yesterday, but missed her flight. When I asked her why, she simply replied, “Denial.” I liked her instantly.

On line at the gate, she tells me her name is Angel and she’s an artist living in Brooklyn, but is going to return to live in Tulum as soon as she can. I like her even more! I also decided to take this as a sign, an Angel reflecting back to me my deep wish to live in Tulum. The deal was sealed when I settled into my seat on the plane and pulled an angel card – intention.

I hear ya Universe, I hear ya.

Truly Cool People

I believe that vacation is not about what you see and do, it is about who you meet. I’ve met all kinds of people on my travels, however, it is rare to meet people that even though the trip is over, the friendship is not.

Gina and Brian, the couple from Winnipeg – my neighbors, my beach buddies, my support system and my new friends.

I used their shower after my first three days with no hot water and found them to be really easy-going and nice people. Gina and I bonded when we were the only ones at the apartment complex with a bunch of Mexican workers who, of course, spoke no English and were looking to us for direction on furniture assembly and water heater installation.

She and I took it all in stride and sat on her deck drinking baby Corona’s and getting to know one another. She told me about her life and all of the tragedy. I sat in awe as I listened to all that she’d been through. She has such a great energy and it surprised me that someone could come through so much and still be full of light. I told her so and she replied, “I owe it all to Brian; the one constant in my life.”

As I got to know them as individuals and as a couple, I liked them more and more. Brian became my surrogate big brother, which thankfully, was okay with him. His energy is so even-keeled. A musician at heart, he and I talked a lot about music and performing.

In fact, we all sat at the beach one day planning to buy Mezzanine, a local restaurant for sale, and run it with me and Brian as bartenders and entertainment and Gina as a hostess.

One of the many things I liked about these people was the fact that throughout the trip, we had conversation – ya know, that little back and forth between people? Hard to come by, but easy with these guys.

They were generous with their time as they invited me to the beach on most days. When there was all the madness with the moped and the rumors, they were right there offering support.

If I had to sum up the two of them I’d say without hesitation, “Kindness.” I called them cool one day and Brian joked that they were far from it. But cool is not just funky clothes and trendy vocabulary. Cool is way more than that. In fact, kindness is the coolest thing ever.

So here’s to my cool friends, Brian and Gina – May the good energy you both put out into the world come back to you both ten-fold.

March 15

Today is my last full day in Tulum. The past few days have been gloriously calm and I feel that I’ve come full circle in my journey. I am no longer afraid, though I am perhaps a bit more cautious. I am connected to the warmth and beauty of the people here once again and for that very gift, I am grateful.

Yesterday, I made another attempt at motorized transportation; however, I went with a car this time. I drove up to Playa to run some errands for Karen. Who knew Walmart could be so popular in Mexico? It was an adventure as most things are in Mexico, although there were no ambulances or hospitals this time.

I had a few tasks to complete for Karen while I was here one of which included purchasing bicycles. Early on in my trip, I had scoured Tulum for bikes and was disappointed to find there were no cruiser bikes for sale. I had heard from others that Playa sold these bikes, so part of my mission yesterday was to find at least one of them to buy.

After driving around and a conversation with a very nice woman in the dive shop, I found the bike store in Playa. I purchased two bikes, one mountain and one cruiser. I was supposed to have rented a small SUV for the day, but in true Mexican style, there was only a large sedan available when I arrived to the car rental place in Tulum.

Initially, I was supposed to drive to Playa and pick up cushions for Karen’s furniture. The glitch in that mission was that I forgot my ATM card in Tulum and only realized it when I went to the bank to get money out to pay the balance. At the cushion store, Roberto offered to drop them off in Tulum since he and his family were traveling to the beach on Sunday. I obliged and was grateful because I had no idea there were so many cushions and frankly, with the car, all of them wouldn’t have fit!

The empty car gave me the option of possibly buying two bikes. I discussed this notion with the bike shop owner who spoke English fairly well, though I realized later, his favorite phrase was, “No Problem.” We assessed the size of the trunk and he assured me both bikes will fit.

One hour, two bikes, three Mexicans and a little string later, I was on my way back to Tulum. The cruiser didn’t quite fit due to the handle bars, so my three amigos rigged the trunk door with some string and secured the bike inside. Hopefully. They also tied a red rag to the bike wheel which was sticking out of the trunk, - I suppose to indicate to others that I had a large load. I don’t know for sure about this, but I thought it was a nice touch.

Off I went on what might prove to be another adventure. My two fears on the journey were getting pulled over by the cops and ultimately robbed of the bicycles or the string giving way, the trunk flying open and the shiny new, blue bicycle flying out of the trunk onto the highway.

Thankfully, the ride was smooth. I arrived in Tulum with a half hour to spare before the Temezcal ceremony at 6pm.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Playa del Carmen

March 15

Today is my last full day in Tulum. The past few days have been gloriously calm and I feel that I’ve come full circle in my journey. I am no longer afraid, though I am perhaps a bit more cautious. I am connected to the warmth and beauty of the people here once again and for that very gift, I am grateful.

Yesterday, I made another attempt at motorized transportation; however, I went with a car this time. I drove up to Playa to run some errands for Karen. Who knew Walmart could be so popular in Mexico? It was an adventure as most things are in Mexico, although there were no ambulances or hospitals this time.

I had a few tasks to complete for Karen while I was here one of which included purchasing bicycles. Early on in my trip, I had scoured Tulum for bikes and was disappointed to find there were no cruiser bikes for sale. I had heard from others that Playa sold these bikes, so part of my mission yesterday was to find at least one of them to buy.

After driving around and a conversation with a very nice woman in the dive shop, I found the bike store in Playa. I purchased two bikes, one mountain and one cruiser. I was supposed to have rented a small SUV for the day, but in true Mexican style, there was only a large sedan available when I arrived to the car rental place in Tulum.

Initially, I was supposed to drive to Playa and pick up cushions for Karen’s furniture. The glitch in that mission was that I forgot my ATM card in Tulum and only realized it when I went to the bank to get money out to pay the balance. At the cushion store, Roberto offered to drop them off in Tulum since he and his family were traveling to the beach on Sunday. I obliged and was grateful because I had no idea there were so many cushions and frankly, with the car, all of them wouldn’t have fit!

The empty car gave me the option of possibly buying two bikes. I discussed this notion with the bike shop owner who spoke English fairly well, though I realized later, his favorite phrase was, “No Problem.” We assessed the size of the trunk and he assured me both bikes will fit.

One hour, two bikes, three Mexicans and a little string later, I was on my way back to Tulum. The cruiser didn’t quite fit due to the handle bars, so my three amigos rigged the trunk door with some string and secured the bike inside. Hopefully. They also tied a red rag to the bike wheel which was sticking out of the trunk, - I suppose to indicate to others that I had a large load. I don’t know for sure about this, but I thought it was a nice touch.

Off I went on what might prove to be another adventure. My two fears on the journey were getting pulled over by the cops and ultimately robbed of the bicycles or the string giving way, the trunk flying open and the shiny new, blue bicycle flying out of the trunk onto the highway.

Thankfully, the ride was smooth. I arrived in Tulum with a half hour to spare before the Temezcal ceremony at 6pm. More on that later.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Safety in Numbers

I didn’t sleep that well which is to be expected. I chatted with Renee on Skype this morning and tried to figure out if I should get out of here early.

Outside, I run into Joanna, Gina and Brian. Joanna is sweet and gives me a hug telling me she’s glad I’m okay. I tell them all about the latest information I found out from Janey last night.

“Don’t talk to anyone!!” Joanna urges.

Then she launches into a story about a worker of hers that got killed walking into town one night. The family of the worker wanted to sue Joanna because he was leaving the job when he was killed.

I’m not feeling well again. The tears come. “I don’t know if I should just leave today.”

Gina puts her hand on my shoulder, “Oh…no.”

Brian steps in and says, “You’ll be fine. Just stick close to us until it blows over.”

I feel relieved and like a burden all at once. “I don’t want to ruin your vacation.”

He smiles. “Ruin it? You’re not. It gives me a chance to be big brother.” Pause. “Plus, it’s never dull with you around.”

Joanna likes this idea and tells me to call her friend whom she told about the accident if I need any help. With the tears gone, I’m a bit more composed and I say to Joanna, “Well, maybe none of us should talk to anyone. The more people that know, the more likely they are to find me – if they’re looking.”

Brian and Gina are going to the beach which means I’m going with them. Twist my arm! I’m going to try really hard not to apologize every five seconds for being a tag along. They were sincere in their offer and I just have to believe it.

Hopefully, another day at the beach will finally wash this whole experience away.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Day After

I feel defeated and small. My eyes see Tulum differently now. I know that it is purely my imagination, but I no longer see the local people as friendly. I think they all know I’m the girl that ran over one of their own. I even checked the newspapers to see if I was on the front page. Silly. It’s such a head trip and I wonder how to move beyond it. I’d be remiss in thinking I could go back to the innocence I felt prior to yesterday. But I want to – I really do.

I’m also wracked with guilt. I’m so angry at myself. What was I thinking? How could I have been so stupid? These are the thoughts that play continuously in my head, like a loop. Being naturally hard on myself, I don’t need much help in buying into these voices.

Eventually, I will find humor in this. I always do.

Up to this point, traveling alone, I’ve encountered little to no mishaps that required nothing more than an attitude adjustment or two. Yesterday was different.

“Don’t be a Pussy,” was all that a friend of mine said when I emailed to tell him about the incident. For some reason this inspires me.

I am determined not to let this get me down. I have one week left and I am not going to spend it with my head down and my tail between my legs. No. I decline an offer from Brian and Gina for a ride to town in the morning and tell them I will meet them at the beach in a couple of hours.

It’s best to go back to my normal routine. Do everything the same – except renting another moped of course.

I spend most of the day at the beach with Brian and Gina. The ocean will heal anything, I swear. I began to return to the calmness I’d been feeling since the day I arrived. The day was beautiful and the ocean lulled me back to my center. I was ready to face the final phase of this nightmare – HERTZ.

Brain kept his word and accompanied me to Hertz. I, of course, would have opted to skip it altogether just to avoid revisiting the horror of the experience. But, we went and it turned out that I will have to pay the deductible which probably works out to be about $100 US. They only charged me for a day’s rental which made Gina mad. “You weren’t even on that thing for more than a minute!” Gotta love her. It was all pretty straight forward until we got to the part about the cost of retrieving the moped from the police station.

The agent had no problem shrugging his shoulders and telling us he had no idea how much it would cost to get it back. Brian, calm and very professional, gently pressed the issue. This annoyed the agent because I think he took it personally that we were asking so many questions. But shit, they have my credit card on file and it’s Mexico – best to double and triple check!
In the end, he said that Hertz would send me an email with the final cost. This didn’t provide much relief, but at least I was done with it for the moment.

Later in the evening, I’m walking through town.

“Is that Liz?” someone calls out behind me. I turn around and it’s the angel from the accident who gave me coke and found my shoes! I’m thrilled to see here because I’d been thinking of her all day and how I never really got to thank her properly and find out her name.

Janie. She’s with her husband, grandkids, daughter and son-in-law. I give her a huge hug.

“I am so glad I ran into you! I wanted to thank you for being such a kind soul.” We hug again.

She introduces me to everyone and it turns out she had sent her son-in-law to the hospital to check on me – he speaks Spanish – but they wouldn’t let him in. She also tells me that mother of the girl doesn’t like Americans and she’s talking about making me “pay”. And, to top it off, the family is friends with the Police Chief.

I’m not feeling so well suddenly.

“You showed nothing but concern for that girl, Liz.” Janie reminds me. She gives my shoulder a squeeze and says, “I’m so glad you’re okay. Don’t worry about this.”

I give her my email and ask her to contact me if there are any more rumblings she thinks I should know about.

Once again, I am freaked out. Should I just hop a plane tomorrow? What exactly does “pay” mean? Am I going to get yanked out of my bed in the middle of the night? I keep reminding myself that no one actually knows where I’m staying. I was purposely vague at the hospital because I didn’t know if I could trust any of them.

The father is a taxi driver and I’m acutely aware of this as I walk over to the bus station to retrieve one of the many taxis lined up waiting for fares. My mind is not working with me. I’m convinced that EVERY taxi driver knows about me and once they drop me home, they will report back to Bernard and my fate will be sealed.

I try to hunker down into more positive thought as I sit in the taxi. Score one for traveling with someone else – again.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Moped Madness

Kim, Sheldon and the boys from Saskatoon drop me off at the moped place after a nice lunch at Pollo Bronco. They’re such a nice family and I just love the boys! I bid them adios and they wish me well as I step up to the counter to claim my moped.

Renting it is fairly simple as I fill out the paper work and all that, the agent gets the moped ready for me. I’m nervous but excited by the aspect of having more mobility and facing my fears. This moped is simple – it’s basically stop and go. No clutch or gear shifts.

I get onto the moped, start it up and as I'm trying to get up and over the curb, I give it some gas and it lurches forward which makes me lurch my weight forward which makes me give it MORE gas. I’m squeezing the brakes and nothing is happening.

I end up driving straight into a souvenir stand at full speed, taking down a local girl, 14, whose family owns the shop, with me. Not good. It's chaos....everyone is screaming. I'm completely freaked out and not sure if I'm hurt or if the girl's hurt. She's on top of my leg screaming and crying.

Nobody speaks English thus far and check it, I'm the minority here, ya know?

They pull the moped out and the mother is screaming and the little sister is hysterical...it's bad. Finally, an American woman comes up behind me and offers me some coke - as in coca cola. I'm hysterical crying at this point and thank goodness for this woman who's trying to keep me calm.

All I'm saying over and over again, “I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry.“ Which, of course, nobody understands. And I’m holding the girl, her head in my lap, stroking her head, trying to keep her from moving, just in case she has a spinal injury. Her toe is bleeding, but that’s all that seems to be wrong from where I’m sitting. Fingers crossed.

The ambulance comes.

They take her off me first and then I'm wondering if my leg is broken because it hurts like a MUTHA. They put me on a board, strap my leg up to keep it straight and then my head to the board like on freakin' tv....but nobody's saying much except this nice lady who tells me my leg looks in tact and can I feel her scratching it?

She gets my purse and finds only one of my shoes and lays them on my stomach as they're putting me into the ambulance. Then I lie there, clutching my purse and shoe waiting and crying. I was so scared. It was awful. I felt so alone and powerless.

The nice American lady comes back and climbs into the ambulance and says, "I'm breaking the rules, but here's your other shoe." Total angel.

I couldn't move my head so I don't what's happening. Finally we start moving, but nobody says anything to me. My mind is racing and I’m worried that I'm going to end up in a dumpster somewhere.

We get to the hospital and I use that term lightly....more like an infirmary. There are people outside taking pictures of me. I feel like a criminal.

None of the doctors speak English.. And my limited Spanish is a dim memory. I’m so scared I can barely remember English.

They start to hook some bag of something up to me and I'm asking "que est a?" They answer, but I don't know what it is. All I'm thinking is they're going to drug me and take me to some gringo whorehouse or something.

Finally, I find out that it's saline so I say okay. Then, they try to give me some medicine and I say, “NO WAY!”

I don't care if I was bleeding from the head....no way. They get that.

I'm there for about 4 1/2 hours. The girl gets stitches in her foot. I try to walk, but it's hard and though I know my leg isn’t broken, I’m still not sure if I have a sprain or something. I have minimal scrapes and bruises on my leg and foot.

The worst part is that I'm sharing the "emergency room" with this girl which is kind of uncomfortable. Oh yeah, and I'm still crying wishing i never went on this trip solo.

The girl's father speaks English which is helpful. He was nice too.

The insurance guy comes and he doesn't speak English – shocker. I end up signing all of these papers. Fuck if I know what I'm signing and I can't argue because who's going to explain it to me or even know that I'm arguing?

Plus, I'm still waiting for the cops to come and take me away.

In the end, I think I understand that they're ruling it an accident and insurance will cover the medical stuff.

They're going to take the girl to Playa del Carmen to get her checked out. I opt not to go because my leg is feeling better – just stiff. My hand hurts a lot, but I think it’s from the IV.

And then the entire family shows up which is like 6 people! They're all giving me dirty looks while eating chicken, laughing amongst themselves and hovering over the girl. I feel like a total outsider and a complete fool.

I finally get to leave and I basically walk out of the hospital onto the street. I had no idea where I was and surprised to find out that I’m fairly close to the apartment.
I take a taxi home and thank goodness for my little family here who were all sitting around in one of the apartments. I come in and tell them the whole story and they are sweet, feeding me beer and potato ships. Brian tells me he'll take me to Hertz the following day to straighten out the damages. Everyone agrees that I shouldn’t go alone. Once again, I am grateful for these nice people and their kindness.

We say good night and I am finally in back in Karen’s apartment. I am exhausted which is probably a good thing. There’s way too much to process and I need some sleep. I do however, note to myself before drifting off to sleep, how lucky I was and offer up some gratitude for that.

Though the last thing I remember thinking before I fall asleep is how guilty I feel about the young girl.

March 8

A much better day today! I went to the beach with Brian and Gina. I just love them. It’s amazing how in spite of barely knowing them, that I am so comfortable around them. They took me to a stretch of beach they like to frequent. They had an extra beach chair which felt like decadence! We took a cooler full of baby Corona’s and the boogie boards. Unfortunately, the bikini I had on was not going to hold up under the boogie boarding experience, but I did not care.

The beach was beautiful! The beach here is beautiful all around, but this particular stretch was spectacular. The ice blue water, the waves, the white sand that feels like butter under my toes, a nice breeze and endless sun – complete heaven.

It was also really nice to be around people as I was a little sick of myself yesterday. 

Moped rental tomorrow – for sure. I’m ready to face my fears!!

Ups and Downs

The dead dog still has me rattled. Today was the first time I felt lonely. Solo travel definitely has its ups and downs. I do it because it’s still mostly ups, but when there are downs, it sucks. Especially when bad things happen and there’s no one to tell about it. I have the people here at the apartment, but I don’t want to ruin their vacation with my bad experiences.

I’ve been using Joanna’s internet at the apartment, but today, there is none. I feel isolated and more vulnerable since yesterday. Vulnerability while traveling alone can’t really be an option. As a woman, it’s especially important to remain rooted in your power. Sure, it’s mostly an illusion, but fake it ‘til ya make it, right?

I took a self defense course several years back. I remember expecting to feel powerful and invigorated by the newfound skills that would aid me in protecting myself if the need ever came up. Instead, I felt more vulnerable. It was as if the learning of proper skills smashed the façade I’d created for myself of being of a tough New Yorker. Being thrown around on the mat by guys in big padded suits made me acutely aware of just how powerless I really am.

The dead dog chipped my little façade of being safe. It reminded me that there is consequence. I’ve got to get my confidence back or else I’m screwed for the rest of the trip.

Traveling alone is full of challenges and overcoming such challenges give me power. I don’t like to be afraid of things and when I am, I try to face it head-on. I want to rent a moped here, but I am bit afraid. I’ve only ridden one once before and that was a long time ago. But I refuse not to do something just because it scares me. So, tomorrow – a moped rental it is.

I just returned from town. I had some dinner and then hit the internet café where I was able to chat online with my friend, Matthew. GOD bless technology!! It was just what I needed. We had a terrific chat and he had me laughing out loud in the café. I also ran into my dog/dolphin trainer, Fernando and we made plans to catch up on Monday. I feel rejuvenated and ready for a better day tomorrow. Thank goodness for good friends.

March 7

There was a strange vibe as I walked into town today. More people waving and beeping at me than usual. I feel like up to this point, I’ve gone fairly unnoticed on my walks to town. And that’s not easy considering I’m an American walking along side the highway and against traffic. I’ve felt relatively safe on the road even though there are no sidewalks until I actually reach town.

Today, I wasn’t afraid. I was just aware of a different energy on the road. And then I saw it. I thought at first, it was sleeping. I say “it” because I have no idea if it’s a him or her. It wasn’t sleeping – it was dead. The dog was dead.

Now, I’m second-guessing myself. Maybe I should have checked to make sure. What if it was still alive? It couldn’t have been alive. It was lying there in the grass on the side of the road very still, on its side. His right eye was open almost like one of those plastic eyes that stuffed animals once had in the 70’s. Its eye was kind of glazed over with a surprised expression to it.

When I realized it was dead, my breath caught in my throat. I think I even made a sound; I’m not sure. I know that it shook me – hard.

I don’t like being so close to death. It scares me. I don’t know why. I suppose to understand it better I’d have to stand next to it and I just can’t. Today, I just kept walking. And as I got further away from it I wondered, “Will it be here tomorrow?” “Will I have to see it everyday rotting in the hot sun?”

I look up and see a police SUV coming toward me on the highway. I wonder if they’ve come for the dog – pretty silly of me to think so. This is Mexico – they have bigger fish to fry. My mind starts to speed up as I think about tonight and the walk back into town in the darkness. “I should rent a car,” I think to myself.

I try to keep my mind from wandering to the last time I saw a dead dog.

It was last year at the vet. My sweet, sweet boy. But I can’t think about that, let alone write about it. Not yet. Not today. But it haunts me. Just like the dog on the side of the road.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dirty Girl

March 6

Still no hot water.

It’s been three days. Joanna assures me there will be new hot water heater installed tomorrow. Although her word doesn’t hold as much as weight as it did earlier in the week when she told me it would be fixed by today. I’m surprisingly okay with it. I guess this vacation thing really works.

Everyone else around here has been really kind offering me the use of their shower. We all gather around the pool in the morning with our coffee. It’s a nice way of getting to know one another without it feeling forced.

There’s a family of five from Saskatchewan Canada. They are renting. Kim and Sheldon are the parents – very friendly. They own and operate an amusement park back home as well as a batting range. She drives the school bus for the local school. Her kids are very nice – all boys ranging from seven to thirteen. Kim and Sheldon drink Bailey’s in their coffee each morning. I love that. They’re such nice people and it’s refreshing to be in that energy – open and kind of innocent, but not stupid at all.

Gina is an owner. She and her husband Brian are also from Canada. They’re from Winnipeg. She offers me her shower which I think is so nice. We chatted quietly this morning about all of the strange stuff that’s going on in the apartment complex with things not being finished and the conflicting stories between Joanna and some of the workers. I tell her my take on the situation just based on my experience with Joanna and the water heater. We bond over this and promise to have a drink later and share stories.

There’s another owner, whom I haven’t met officially, but he and his wife are Yeller’s owners and supposedly cool too.

Kim and Sheldon invite me to the beach on the following day. Kim is fascinated by the fact that I am traveling solo and tells me that she doesn’t know how I do it on my own.

No Hot Water

March 4

There’s no hot water. I don’t do cold showers, though I did in Panama, but that was because there was never any promise of hot water. Joanna assures me she’ll have the plumber look at the water heater today and figure out what’s what.

It’s my first official day in Tulum and my plan is to head into town to inquire about purchasing bicycles for Karen’s apartment. She asked me to get two which makes me wonder how I’ll get both back to her place, especially with limited Spanish. After that, I plan on heading to the beach. I love the beach here. It’s my favorite beach in the whole world, so far. The water is so blue it looks fake. And it’s always warm – at least when I’ve been here.

After a great breakfast at Empanada Joe’s, I head down the main street in Tulum in search of bicycles. It turns out there are two places that sell them. The problem is that either place doesn’t have a set. One place actually has a set, but they are baby-aspirin pink and I doubt that will go over so well with male renters. Plus, the bikes for sale are all mountain bikes and the ones I’m seeing everywhere are more of the cruiser types. This definitely warrants some more research, but it will have to wait because I have a date with La Playa.

I hail a cab and direct the driver to the hotel where I stayed in ’06. I figure if nothing else, I can use their chairs on the low. The beach is about a 10 minute ride from Tulum Pueblo. It’s been a few years and as we head towards the beach, it all starts to come back to me. The beach road has all of the main hotels. The best part about Tulum is the hotels are not mega-properties, in fact some are a few cabanas on the beach with thatched roofs and a hammock. Some of the more sophisticated hotels are eco-friendly and the one I stayed in the last time I visited turned their electricity off at 11pm every night until 8am the following day.

We make our way down the beach road past the one block stretch of restaurants, cafes and a few souvenir shops. Just as we pass Zamas, a well-known hotel and beachfront restaurant, the road opens up and I get my first look at the ocean. She is spectacular and I am almost moved to tears. I am so happy to see her and to be here!!

On the beach, I decide to walk down a bit and explore my options. There are several hotels that also serve as beach clubs and with some you can pay a small fee to rent a chair. Others let you lounge for free as long as you buy drinks and food. I’m looking forward to the freedom of going topless as it is legal in Mexico, so I opt for a more secluded spot on the beach where I can lay my towel and chill in peace.

It’s a beautiful day although a bit windy, but I don’t care. I’ve got my sunscreen on, my top off and the sound of the beach serenading me to sleep.

A few hours later, I decide it’s time to pack up and head back to Tulum Pueblo for some food and a beer. It’s been a great first day on the beach and I happily take my time walking on the shore back towards town, letting the water splash on my legs as the waves crash against them.

Two beers and an order of guacamole later, I’m back in town. I stopped into one of the internet cafes to check my email and am ready to make the walk back to the apartment for hopefully, a nice hot shower. There’s a small supermarket on the road leading back to Karen’s. I stop in for a few things, mainly those mosquito coils that we used in Trinidad which helped keep the mosquito’s away. As I’m leaving the supermarket, I notice a beautiful dog walking along the road with a young man.

The dog looks like a cross between a Great Dane and Labrador retriever. She’s black with tiny speckles of gray and bronze throughout her coat. I decide against approaching the owner to ask if I can pet her. I’m not sure why I make this choice, but I do. However, I admire her as they pass with a smile.

“Che’s fren-lee”, the young man says as he steps towards me with the dog. I’m surprised by his accent because he looks more American to me than Mexican. I stop and pet the dog asking its name. “CaRO-lEEN”, the guy replies. I kneel down to pet her. “Hola CarolEEn.”

We fall into step with each other and the guy begins to tell me how stressed he is because he’s training this dog, who happens to be worth 25,000 pesos and just an hour ago, she got loose and ran into the jungle. He tells me that he had to run into the jungle looking for her amongst the wild pigs who can kill you. “Wow, “ I reply. “You could use a drink, huh?” He smiles. “Jes!” And before I thinkt about it, I invite him for a beer.

We dip into a local restaurant just down the road towards the apartment and sit down to have a beer.

My new friend’s name is Fernando and he is from Mexico. He trains dogs all over Mexico and has only been in Tulum for a month. He’s also a dolphin trainer and works at the Xel-ha, which is a big water park/reserve in the area. He’s very animated and his English is excellent.

He’s come to Tulum to open up a dog training facility and has been living in a place just next to Karen’s where he has his “pack”. I swear this guy is like a Mexican version of the Dog Whisperer. He’s totally bohemian as he tells me about the last couple of months of moving around and existing on potato chips. I’m fascinated by the fact that he’s an animal trainer and I want to hear more about it.

“Ju should come to house and I show you my pack.”

Okay, not that fascinated. No deals buddy. It’s still Mexico.

We finish our beers and I tell him about myself and he’s also a writer. It’s amazing what a random meeting can bring into your path. He tells me he wants me to come to Xel-ha to see his “dolphins show.” I’m psyched. We walk the rest of the way down the road and his turnoff is first. I bid my new friend good-bye and continue on to Karen’s.

Not bad for my first day in Tulum.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


I’ve been in Tulum, since Tuesday and my love for Mexico has not changed since my last visit in ’06. There’s an energy here that I’ve always connected to and as much as there is danger and corruption, there is also warmth and light.

I arrived in Cancun on Tuesday afternoon after being delayed in New York by a day due to snow. At the airport in New York, there was a delay because one of the flight attendants was stuck in traffic – who knew they’d hold a plan for one flight attendant? I was nervous because I only had about 40 minutes between my arrival and connection in Detroit. I waited a bit and then finally asked the gate agent if I should be worried. She looked down at her watch and simply replied, “Uh, yeah.”

They put me on a new flight through Atlanta which got me into Cancun only an hour later than my original flight. Tulum is about 90 miles south of Cancun, so my journey was not yet complete. I wanted to be as economically conscious as possible, so instead of a private taxi ride ($50), I opted for the public bus which cost a total of $10 with a transfer in Playa del Carmen. I was a little apprehensive just because I wasn’t sure if I’d end up in some remote Mexican town simply because I didn’t understand an announcement or something.

I arrived in Tulum around 5pm. The bus station is towards the end of town on the main road. I had a general idea of where Karen’s place was, but I didn’t have an address – just some general directions. Taxi’s line up outside of the station, so getting one was not difficult. Communicating with the driver was the difficult part. I thought that I’d written down the name of her apartment complex, but I didn’t so it was the first moment of adventure potential as I got in the taxi and asked the driver, “Donde es la playa?” He pointed behind us. I knew she lived on the opposite end of the beach, so I pointed ahead of us and off we went.

From the conversation Karen and I had a few weeks back in NY, I knew that she lived at the end of town. According to her directions, I was to turn right at the 100km sign. So, there I am, with my new friend, the taxi driver, slowly making our way out of town looking for the 100km sign. At one point, I realized we were no longer even in town and I began to second guess my decision to follow my instincts. And just as I was about to ask him to turn around, there it was – the 100km sign. It might as well have read, “WELCOME TO TULUM LIZ!” because I squealed with delight while the taxi driver smiled victoriously. We turned right at the sign and pulled up to mi casa for the next two weeks.

Upon my arrival, I opened my door but decided to look for my money before getting out. As I fumbled around in my purse, a large, kind of goofy dog loped his way over to the car. A dog! I knew I was going to love it here. I decided he was my welcome wagon and I guess he read my mind because without any hesitation, he poked his head right into the car to say hello. Once outside, I paid the driver and stood there for a moment, looking at the apt. complex wondering which unit was Karen’s.

“HI Liz!!” a voice called from somewhere inside. I almost called out, “Hi Person!” but decided to eliminate the person part.

“Hi!” I called back.

“I’ll be right down.”

That must be Joanna, I thought. Karen told me about her, the property manager and strange bird of the bunch. At the same time, dog’s owner came out to greet me. I introduced myself as Karen’s friend and she walked me inside. On the way in, we met Joanna.

There are about 14 units in the complex and only four are occupied during my stay. Joanna is the Property Developer. She currently lives in the model with her three dogs – all rescues and two cotamundi’s which are Mexican raccoons. Joanna’s an interesting lady. She’s quite energetic and friendly. I learn rather quickly that there’s a whole cast of characters in the complex. I settle in, open the bottle of wine I bought at the duty free in the airport and sit back on the balcony happy to be back in Tulum.

Though there aren’t many people staying in the complex, there is quite a bit of activity. With four dogs in total running about freely, I learn early on that, if your door is open, you’re sure to have company. I’m thrilled with this as I welcome any kind of dog energy at any time.

I decide to venture into town for my first meal of the trip. The apartment complex sits just outside of Tulum and is about a 10-15 minute walk along the highway. There are no sidewalks and I wonder how it is in the dark as I make my way towards town. I pass several locals walking in the opposite direction and I figure it’s cool if they’re doing it, it must be safe.

I dine in an Italian restaurant of all places! Plenty of time for Mexican fare. The food is excellent and cheap. The wine is even cheaper! $4 U.S. for a glass of Chilean cabernet. Oh how I love Mexico!! I indulge in two glasses and a delicious meal before setting off to find an internet café of which there are several.

At home, I’ve never had to check my email remotely and the experience is new in addition to the navigation through the language. It turns out to be fairly simple as I learn it’s 10 pesos (around 50 cents U.S.) for 20 minutes online. I’m just happy to have access to my people at home as the only internet access in the complex is Joanna’s. I’m definitely working that angle, but in due time.

One of the keys to traveling solo, is access to the people you love. At least for me it is. They are my anchor. Without that anchor, I feel completely alone and it takes the fun out of the exploration. I tell myself I will limit access to the internet to an hour, but I know I won’t. In fact, who cares, really? Balance is balance.

After checking my email, it’s onto the store to get some staples for the apartment. I decide on eggs, milk, coffee and water. The eggs are not refrigerated which I find to be an odd thing. There is no real milk, but thankfully, my time in Trinidad prepared me for this. In Trinidad, people drink instant coffee with condensed milk. Now I’m not coffee snob, but I like my coffee. The idea of instant coffee was scary but I had no choice and in the end, it wasn’t bad at all.

So, warm eggs, instant coffee and canned milk it was. At least the water came in a bottle. My first night complete, I was happy to hail a cab and make my home for a good night’s sleep.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Dream....Last Night

Create sacred space for yourself. Remember, not only is the space sacred, but you are sacred in this space.

I transcend relationships. Or at least, these kinds of relationships I have. I sacrifice myself, my own feelings, my own needs to allow the larger power at hand do its thing.

K is here and I feel like I’m on the outside, not necessarily looking in, but if I listen to my ego, I will be pissed and jealous.

I realize there is another choice – detachment; transcendence. They are playing house and I am watching. Instead of anger, there is curiosity. I know nothing about N and watching him interact with another woman brings up a bunch of different feelings for me. I am at a crossroads. I am standing between the woman and the girl. The “GEURL”, as they say here in Trinidad. The woman sees that this interaction between two people holds no importance to her soul. It is young and diluted. It is not direct and it is unstable. It is full of tension; tension that overshadows the excitement. Or perhaps the tension is the excitement.

It is bathed in pain, disappointment and riddles instead of joy, authenticity and presence. As a woman, I see it all. I feel it and feel removed from it all at once. I’ve been here a thousand times before; hoping for a sliver - a sliver of some hope – feeding my obsession with his potential. I would bask in the glory of each fleeting moment of implied interest – is it real? I think so. He certainly never said thank you before.

As a woman, I see this. I smell it. I feel it and realize that it’s not so far behind me. He calls out from the kitchen because he knows there is an imbalance – this is one of the traits that makes him appealing – though never reliable. I can feel a small sense of delight in his acknowledgement of my potential discomfort. However, the men in my life now would never even put me in this position – they want me all to themselves. The woman in me remembers this and smiles because she knows she never has to take crumbs again.

The child in me sees red. She is raging and raw. She feels cheated and bamboozled - cast aside. She’s wise enough to know, thankfully, that fighting for him is not worth it. The girl in the kitchen wants him too much. She will fight for him – this is very clear.

The child feels left out and constricted in her throat. She tries to stay centered as her demons shoot at her soul like arrows to the target. She dodges them, tries to breathe and focus on other things – things that make her proud and powerful. It’s like being on a hamster wheel. She needs help. She needs a hand.

“I’m here baby. I got you.”

The woman is holding out her hand, letting her know in a soothing voice that “I am here to protect you. I am here.”

She looks up, the little girl does, but she’s not sure. Can she really trust this woman and why does she feel drawn to the pain of staying in the kitchen? Why does she feel somehow in familiar presence, standing on the side with knots in her stomach and pain in her heart?

I have no desire to compete. I can smell the competition on her breath. I’m a pro at reading competitive spirit. He knows it too. The potential burning in the corner of the room. I stand in my woman. The stronger I stand in the energy of the woman, the stronger I appear. But the best part is that it’s not just appearance, it’s truth. And the truth speaks louder than anything else – always.

I notice he goes to the technology when he gets uncomfortable. He can’t keep up with her energy. Ten minutes ago, it was exciting and feeding his ego. Now, he’s envious of my “zone” – my detachment to the story.

The little girl would have engaged and fought hard to the death for crumbs of attention and glimpses of recognition. She would have played hard and fought dirty – if she had to. The woman is calm and quiet. She is steady. She is in charge. She watches silently as he puts on a video in the hopes that she will settle down and be distracted. Like the parent who raises their child in front of the TV. “At least she’s washing the dishes.” The little girl says. “Yes,” says the woman. “My manicure will last after all.”

He is starting to get slightly uncomfortable because he knows I’m not paying attention. He sees me at my computer, focused and removed. This is not usual behavior as I’ve been mostly attentive for the week. The balance is starting to restore. The best part is that I am removed. I am with me and it is fine.

I know who I am. I know who I am!! I am a woman who deserves the full attention of a man. I am worth it and it is nothing less than I would ever offer. I am an exciting and capable woman who is confident and not afraid to stand in that confidence no matter what is happening around her.

I am a woman who transcends her ego and allows higher energy to work its magic, because it is only in the higher self can we find the truth.

There is a silent battle between K and the threat she thinks me to be. I am no threat. I do not want him. I have passed through the need to receive only crumbs. I am only interested in abundance. I used to accept crumbs because that’s all I thought was out there – No, I think I’m done here.

Tales from Trinidad

Saturday, February 28, 2009

It’s my final day in Trinidad. I can’t believe how fast the week went. It seems like just yesterday, I was walking through the airport in nervous anticipation of what it would be like to stay with a guy I barely know, for a week.

Well, it’s been interesting as I knew it would. Ng been a good host, cooking fantastic foods like, roti, curried iguana, potato pie, shrimp fried rice, stewed lentils and chicken. I’ve not eaten this well in a long time. Truly delicious. He’s also introduced me to other delicacies of the island such as doubles, which are curried chick peas surrounded by two pieces of fried bread – that’s for breakfast. Then there’s the Bake and Shark at the beach. Fried shark on bread topped with pretty much what ever you want – tamarind sauce, garlic sauce, cucumbers, tomatoes, shadow benny sauce, which is similar to cilantro and soooo good.

And I won’t forget the coconuts. I love the coconuts. There are stands everywhere to which you just walk up and tell the guy you want a coconut. He’ll ask you if you want “jelly” which is the meat inside the coconut. This is important to specify because the younger coconuts have less jelly and more water whereas the coconuts with jelly inside have less water. I pretty much always opt for the jelly. It’s great because the entire experience is completely self-contained. The guy cuts the coconut on both sides with a huge machete – kind of hot to watch. Once you drink the water from the coconut, you give it back to him and he cuts it open. The best part is that he also cuts a little piece of the coconut off to use as a spoon. All in one – ya gotta love it.

Logistically, Trinidad is like most islands I’ve visited. Things move very slowly and not necessarily forward. But, it seems to not matter to anyone as that’s just how it is. Last night, we went out to a trendy spot in Port of Spain called Aura. This place is big with the older set. Older meaning over 30, I suppose. I sat down at a table while Ng went to get our drinks. It wasn’t crowded at all and there were three bartenders behind the bar, so I’m thinking it won’t take but a few minutes. Well, twenty minutes later – I’m not kidding, he returns with our drinks. No complaints. It’s just how it is.

The crowd at this place could have been from anywhere. It was surprising to me in that I figured it would be less trendy and more island-like. But these people looked like they could’ve been out in the Meatpacking District.

I drank a lot of wine and thoroughly enjoyed myself. As it got later, the music got louder and I couldn’t help but get sucked into the Soca. Soca is a dance music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago and is derived from Calypso. It’s got a great beat. Think of reggae with a beat. Ngl would kill me if he read this. As you might imagine, Trinidadians take their music seriously. It’s a big no-no to lump reggae and soca into one category. In fact, I’d venture to say it’s downright insulting.

The thing about Soca, is once you start dancing to it, it’s very hard to stop. I could’ve danced for hours, but lucky for Ng, who was tired, Aura was closing. We could have gone upstairs to the dance club, 51 degrees, but it was late and we had a long way to drive home.
I slept better than I have all week, thanks to the wine. You’d think it would be quiet and peaceful here in Trinidad.. I sure did. Between the dogs barking all night long, the birds chirping through the night and into the morning and the roosters crowing continuously, a sound sleep is hard to come by. The dogs are the most annoying. People here keep their dogs outside. Everyone’s got gates, so the dogs stay behind the gate. There are usually at least three dogs to a home and they rarely bark at people. In fact, we got out of the car last night and they were all resting comfortably behind the gate without so much as a wag of the tail.

It’s the stray dogs that really get them going. And I mean really. There were times I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of fifty or so dogs barking like crazy. I thought someone was getting attacked. It was crazy. This goes on all night long. The stray dogs roam the neighborhood and the dogs with a home scream at them. It’s like living across the street from a kennel.

At least we didn’t run out of water today. Water, apparently, can be hard to come by, if your tank isn’t big enough. Each tank holds up to 600 gallons of water. Some homes have up to four tanks. Ng has one. Once he gets his washer/dryer installed, he’ll have to get another tank. Wednesday night, we ran out of water. There’s been four of us staying here and I guess we used up all the water. The tanks are refilled through the main line on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. There’s a main line that runs to the tanks and on those days water is replenished. Like magic. When I asked Ng what do people do if they run out of water on a Wednesday afternoon, he simply replied, “They wait until Thursday when it comes.” Gotta love it.

The water isn’t the only oddity in the plumbing factor here. I got my period on Friday and was unclear on whether I could flush my tampons down the toilet as I do in the states. Ng wasn’t sure either as this hasn’t come up for him since he’s had the house. At first he said to just flush them, but then as an afterthought he said, “Ya might as well jooost ‘trow them away.” Ooookay. Should be interesting, considering the one garbage can in the entire house is in the kitchen.

Now, the first day of my period is no joke. I bleed a lot. The idea of retrieving my tampon into some toilet paper and carrying it through the house to the garbage didn’t really appeal, but the rules are the rules. I already have anxiety about staining Ng’s bed or anyone else’s for that matter as this sometimes happens if I don’t wake up in the middle of the night to change my tampon. Now, I had a whole other set of anxiety to add to the mix as I wondered how I would wake up in the middle of the night, change my tampon, make my way downstairs to the kitchen, without waking Ng up who is sleeping in the living room, which is just off the kitchen.

I decided to take a plastic bag upstairs with me and create a secret makeshift garbage to house my tampons until the morning. So there I am, waking up in the middle of the night, carrying my little bag of tricks to the bathroom, catching my tampon with some toilet paper, wrapping it up and throwing it into the bag. Once finished, I tie the bag up and bring it back to my room for safe keeping. Good thing my nerves kept me from forgetting its presence. Imagine leaving that behind.

In the morning, I try to wait for everyone to be out of the kitchen/living room area before hurrying down the stairs with my plastic bag. When the coast is clear, I tiptoe to the garbage so as not to call attention to myself and throw the bag away. Mission accomplished. Well, almost. I have to get a new bag for the next night. I grab a new one, ball it up in my hand and rush back upstairs to stash it in my suitcase.

Changing my tampon throughout the day is not as tricky logistically. It’s just more embarrassing. In a house full of three other people, who know I have my period, discretion is hard to come by. Each time I go to the bathroom, I retrieve my tampon into some toilet paper and then wad it up with more. I put in a new tampon, flush the lame toilet that can’t handle my damn tampons and wash my hands. From there, I take a deep breath, open the door and hold my head high as I walk straight to the garbage and discard my little wad of feminine love. Thankfully, nobody says anything, but I know they know. How could they not? Oh well. In Mexico, you can’t even flush the toilet paper down the toilet. Imagine the bag I’d have to carry around for that.