Viva Mexico – Manchester bound

I can’t believe it’s been less than a week since I was back home in the UK, pouring pints and labouring on a building site. Now I am chilling out in a hostel in Tulum, Mexico having ticked off one of the seven modern wonders of the world. I’m going to share some of my experiences on my travels and many thanks in advance for those who read. I hope you enjoy!

Monday 28th June 2018

I set out for Manchester, to catch my flight to Cancun that was leaving early on Tuesday. Some research on skyscanner had helped me to locate a one-way ticket to Cancun, for just £210 with Thomas Cook.

I would just like to point out for those wondering, it was only a one way ticket because I don’t know my plans going forward and not because I don’t intend to return!

My trip to Manchester was pretty straight forward, I’d booked my ticket with ‘Mega-bus’ (or Mega-shite-bus as my good friend Loz refers to it). Obviously it wasn’t the fabled £1 that they advertise but no-one has ever seen but £14 wasn’t so bad. At the bus stop I met a traveller from New Zealand. I’d barely left my home and here I was next to a fellow traveller.

Now there are a few different types of traveller that you find out there. Some laid back, some keep themselves to themselves, some love life and all the beauties that it has to offer especially the parties. This particular traveller was none of the above. This was the type who feels the need to share his life story within the first 3 minutes of meeting (including, for some reason, the fact he only had 4 pairs of underwear with him). If you’ve met this type of traveller before you will know that he has definitely done everything that you’ve done in your life and if he hasn’t he’s heard of someone that has!

When the bus finally arrived, I strategically positioned myself far away from that dude and settled in for the 4 hour journey via Coventry and Birmingham.

When you stop being in a rush and have nowhere in particular to be, a four hour journey can actually feel relaxing and the time flew by. I arrived in Manchester and found my £11 accommodation: ‘Hatters on Newton Street’ and found somewhere to set up camp for the afternoon and watch football. I spent as much on two drinks as I did for a night’s accommodation, but the pub I found had a good atmosphere!

A lot of people hate the stress of travel but the only stress I felt all day was watching England play! Even surrounded by Manchester United fans, the much loved Lingard was taking abuse for missing so many chances (the place nearly erupted when Rashford came on). I’m willing to give Sterling a free pass for playing so badly as at the moment he seems to be shouldering all of the ill will and harassment from the British press which is usually spread out across the whole squad during a big tournament. He’s taken one for the team there.

After Kane’s stoppage time winner, the pub erupted as though we had won the whole tournament and the Mancs broke out into verse of ‘football’s coming home’. I grabbed some food and went to get some sleep before my early flight.

Hostels can be great or a nightmare depending on your luck. In my room with 8 beds I was sharing with four people. At about 4am I heard a Scottish voice shouting ‘hey, buddy, can you stop snoring’. No I wasn’t the one snoring, but I was the one that got woken up by his shouts. Not once but 3 times over the next 20 minutes.

The guy snoring was going at it. He was in a hibernation type sleep that any bear would have been proud of. ‘Hey, BUDDY, can you stop snoring please.’ at least this dumbass was being polite with his request but as the rattling snores continues I wondered what was the point in asking someone that can’t hear you to stop doing something he has no control over. ‘hey buddy, buddy! HEY BUDDY!’

That was it for me ‘dude shut the fuck up! I can deal with his snoring but you shouting the whole time is too much!’ I heard a little whimpering reply ‘well I’m sorry, but I’ve been laid here for hours’ I wasn’t feeling very sympathetic by this point so replied ‘yea well next time don’t be so tight and get yourself a private room!’

The rest of the night was uneventful before waking up at 6am to get to the station and airport.

We’re all the same, just, different – cultural differences around the world

I’ve been back in Oxford for about four months now and have loved seeing friends and family and being mothered by Mrs C, but those who know me will realise that I’ve been getting itchy feet again. So before I set off on my next trip, to Mexico and Cuba to start with and who knows what after that, I thought I’d get back to my blog after a lengthy break.

One of my favourite things about travelling the world is the opportunity to meet so many amazing people that come with different cultures, customs and beliefs. Without any intentions to offend, I thought I’d share some of the observations that I’ve made over the years.

What better place is there to start than the way we all sound! Being from Oxford I have the unshakable presumption that I am ‘posh’. I actually begin to believe it myself when working on ships with those that come from further north in the UK, be it as far north as Scotland like my colleague Gemma who has to work extremely hard to tone down her accent when addressing confused looking parents from all over the world, or Jack from Biiirminghaaam who feels the need to elongate words all the time.

Being British means that I am useless at learning any other language. If I, or a lot of other Brits, attempt to address somebody in their language they are likely to laugh, before launching into a better English than we speak. So I have untold respect for anybody that can speak a second language. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have hours of fun with pronunciation mistakes. Here are some of my favourites:

I had a South African friend who would talk about ‘deck six’ on the ship. If you weren’t listening closely it would sound suspiciously like a conversation about ‘dick sex’.

I heard a story, rather than witnessed, about a Ukrainian youth staff who was on the microphone during a sport session. She repeatedly shouted ‘focus guys! focus!’. Those within ear shot would turn to look for who kept shouting ‘fuck us guys! Fuck us!’.

I had Chinese colleagues that had difficulty distinguishing the sound difference between ‘shit’ and ‘sheet’. This was especially fun when parents arrived and were asked to fill in the ‘sign in sheet’.

As I said before I have huge respect for those that speak a second language, especially when they can understand me better than a lot of Americans for some reason. In the American’s defence I speak very quietly and they come from a country where everybody seems to shout everything they say.

Australia and the UK have a shared history which probably goes a way to explain some of our similarities. We drink to excess, love sport and have very sarcastic sense of humour. The only difference is that the Aussies can be annoyingly happy and upbeat all the time where us Brits love to moan. I wonder if having the sun all year round compared to wind rain and clouds has anything to do with it?

You’ll have to search long and hard if you want to find a more friendly and sharing people than the Filipino. There is no party like a Philippines party, it will have more food and drink than you can imagine, everyone is welcomed and it’s likely to end in karaoke.

Other extremely friendly races that I’ve encountered would be the Indian’s, full of life and love to dance and the Japanese an extremely humble culture that embraces the spirit of hospitality. It is an amazing country that is unbelievably clean and tranquil. I’ve had multiple experiences of Japanese people helping me with directions despite not speaking a word of English.

My favourite destination still remains Costa Rica with it’s people so friendly and welcoming. It would be wrong of me also not to mention the laid back culture of the Caribbean where people openly great strangers in the street just for the sake of saying hello. A very strange concept if you grew up in the south of England.

Finally a word on one of my favourite cultures. Passionate about everything to the point of argumentative. Some of the best food in the world. They know how to dance like no other race. The Latin American culture is one of a real love for life. They go out on nights out to just dance. They don’t even need a drink to give them the courage to get up and dance in the first place!

So that’s where I’m going now. Sat on a bus toward Manchester before flying from Manchester to Cancun to sample some more of the Latino culture. I’ll try to keep you posted of my progress.