Me on a throne in Utila

And just like that, a year goes by. January 1st marked the one-year anniversary. I barely noticed the day pass, apart from the fact that it happened to be New Year’s Day. I spent it with some folks I met only a few nights before, for Xmas. We spent the night on a rooftop bar, eating food, drinking, and watching the evening’s entertainment.

I didn’t feel any kind of affinity with the marking of the year of travel. I think, maybe only a few months in, that I had figured a year was only going to be the start of what will hopefully be the rest of my life. Now, I no longer see the trip as a journey away from home but instead as my home. Returning back to the UK would feel more like a trip to me I think.

The year flew by so fast, despite how incredibly rich and fulfilling it was. I think this also takes away from the gravitas of the anniversary. I’m not saying it was an easy year, but the word difficult also doesn’t really describe it either. It has been a year of struggle, strength of will, pleasure, discovery, love, excitement, and that blessed western-white-wet-dream: self-actualization. Either way, despite its fullness, it felt like I only left the UK months ago.


I think the most glaring highlight of the past year is coming to terms with something I have always struggled with throughout my life. I have found a way to scratch my itchy feet. All through my life, I have had a nagging anxiety in my chest to move, move, move and never stop. I think it stems from how endlessly nomadic my life was growing up. The constant house moving has resulted in never feeling settled in one place and obsessively looking for the next.

Now, with the life I have built, I not only have no need to stop but I am forced on by endless visa limitations. As each tenancy comes to an end, I have the whole world laid out in front of me and the means to get there. My work travels with me, and everything I own fits on my back. If I find somewhere, which I often have, that makes me feel peaceful and calls me to stay, I can do just that until the nagging quietly makes itself heard again. I think I am making it sound lonely and restless, but I have found it to be anything but.


One of the hardest things to leave behind when leaving Bristol, or anywhere throughout my life, is the people I collect. I still have contact with one or two friends from years ago, and even now, I regularly talk to the people I love from before. However, not following your wants and needs for the sake of losing friends isn’t something I would consider healthy. As hard as I find it to meet new people, I knew I would inevitably find my folks.

From the moment I landed in Mexico City I have been meeting wonderful people to share my travel with. Slavek and I met in Mexico City and ended up staying in the same building in Peurto Escondido. He was my first Canadian friend, but not the last. He helped highlight the vast difference between the US and Canadian mindsets.

Oaxaca gave me Delicia. A wonderful, if not completely nuts, woman on a journey that I think even she didn’t really know the direction or endpoint of. Either way, she brought energy and love to every room she entered, be it grabbing a Victoria in a dive bar with me or tearing all-night Salsa bars to tatters with awestruck Mexicans. I was so happy to drift along in her wake, soaking up the many and varied people she unearthed around her. Her philosophies and outlook have stuck with me and still play a part in the way I conduct myself.

Chiapas gave me the shits.

Campeche ran me into Georgia, who showed me that you can endlessly travel while being constantly at work and never without someone to go to bed with. She is a powerhouse of employment, energy, sociability, and experience, and she has a carbon footprint the size of a medium-sized Chinese industrial city. Georgia is a true inspiration. We still reach out to one another now to catch up and get advice on destinations and decisions.

Guatemala was an unbelievable wealth of friends. Coco became a sister within minutes of moving in with me. She would spend days laid in the hammock in our outdoor rooftop kitchen, overlooking the lake and volcanoes, demanding coffee, and chainsmoking $1 cigarettes. We spent hours putting the world and her love life to right. She helped me realise that, in actual fact, Germans can have a sense of humour. She could just be a freak, though. At only 18 years old, she has a tenacity and will that I rarely see in people, even 10 or 15 years older.

Alyssa caught my eye and still holds it. Thankfully, I got loads of eyes, and they move like chameleons. Either way, we had a wonderful time together, and she may be the most down-to-earth New Yorker I have ever met. Despite the fact that I resisted shouting Midnight Cowboy quotes at her, she still found herself parroting my accent. The time we spent smoking, walking, and drinking together definitely helped make Lake Atitlan what it was for me. Now, after her jaunt into the wanderer’s life, she’s off on her own journey into the unknown.

In Belize, Lisa and I met, and through her, I learned a lot about not only portrait photography but also the importance of the culture surrounding the lake I had been living beside for the past few months. She had been studying the people there, with sights to completing a book, having heritage connected to the Mayan people. We spend many days and nights on the Island of Cay Caulker enjoying the parties, swimming in the sea, and the silence of the starry nights. She is spiritually rich and patient with my hard-nosed lack of it.

Bogota introduced me to Christina in who I finally found someone who likes to get as wrecked as I do. We spent far too little time together due to circumstances both mental on my part and timing-wise on the way of the universe. Our time isn’t finished, and my liver knows this.

Medellin brought Steph and I together on Christmas Eve after speaking for only a few minutes the night before. Her hospitality was second to none, and she’s turned me onto travelling to her country of Bolivia. Her openheartedness brought people in like a magnet and helped me hugely with my Spanish.

Finally, Landon. I met him through the house I was staying in during my time in Medellin. We immediately bonded over our love of drinking and chatting absolute breeze well into the early hours. It had been a long time since I had met another man I was able to enjoy the company of so easily. He has a lot to say and is very switched on a lot of ideas, contrary to my own.

A refined taste

Honestly, there are far too many to mention, and some I would rather not. Travelling, rather than making me lonely and desperate for company, has had the opposite effect. I love my own company more than ever, and the choice to give it away is higher in price than it ever has been. Now, I’m not saying my company is stellar or better than anyone else’s. I have just learned the importance of not wasting my valuable time on vapid people.

I often wish I had the confidence of Slavek or Delicia. They are blessed with the ability to approach anyone in the street, bars, or beaches we frequent and strike up a conversation. However, I have since come to terms with the fact that this probably just isn’t me. I can do it stoned, and drunk me is a lout, but sober, my mind clams, and I become very shy. It’s a work in progress, but as I said, my periods of loneliness are usually due to reasons outside of my control.


If anything, this trip has been an education. I have learnt safety in adverse environments. I have learned Spanish, but not even nearly enough. Also, I have learned that Suncream is, actually, absolutely a government mind control serum. And I have learned why everyone, the world over, calls English food bland and inedible.

Solo safety

Ever since my first days in Mexico City, frequenting ‘The most dangerous street market in the world’, I have learned how to watch my back and keep myself gunshot-free. My instincts have always been on the sharper side when it comes to my surroundings, and I have learned to trust them. Knowing who to stare down when they’re weighing me up and when to put my head down and get to somewhere with a crowd and some bright light has undoubtedly saved my skin many times.

I wouldn’t describe myself as reckless by any means, but in the same sentence, I am far from risk averse. Many of the best parties and trips I have been on have been from simply saying yes. Meeting someone in a bar and being invited to their next party, dropping work for a day and jumping on the next boat to an island, or saying yes to the weird jungle trip have often left some people behind but always resulted in a story to tell for me.

Despite what everyone thought before I left, I haven’t been recruited by the cartel yet, and so far, I haven’t had to transport any serious amounts of drugs up my rectum. The closest Mexico came to killing me was with food poisoning and the criminally disgusting water of Chiapas.

A language barrier

Learning Spanish has been such a fucking struggle. I think the shyness I mentioned earlier doesn’t help. Talking to new people is enough of an effort without throwing a second language into the mix. The funny thing is, whenever I speak Spanish to Latinos, they respond in such positive and supportive ways, quite unlike their belligerent European counterparts.

Perhaps I don’t give myself credit for how far I have come, but I think in one of my first posts, I mentioned that if I couldn’t speak Spanish by this point, I may as well just give up. I am not going to give up, and I think I am just one Spanish-speaking girlfriend away from being conversational.

Suncream is a government conspiracy to track white people when they leave their country and control their minds

I don’t think I need to elaborate on this. I never wear it and rarely wear more than a vest and shorts. Me and my cancerous skin scoff at your obsessive spending on worthless government control paste.

Culinary chops

I mean, starting in Mexico was like that bit in the book ‘Room’ where the mother and child finally come out of their captivity into the light, except my mind was the mother, and the kid was my tongue. My mind knew there were flavours out there beyond what I had tasted, but my tongue had been locked away in my mouth my whole life.

From the minute I hit Mexico, I have been teaching myself how to cook the delicacies. The ingredients available at every street corner bodega or sprawling city market are beyond comprehension, and every single one has a fantastic flavour. Learning to cook on my way through my travels has been a dream I didn’t even think about before leaving.

I have learned everything from Oaxacan Mole to Mexico City’s tortillas, Colombian chocolate and cheese, El Salvadoran Pupusas, and Guatemalan chocolate. However, I miss English cheese like a limb, and I would kill for a cold cider.


Culturally, the last year has been a marvel. Europe is, of course, wonderfully diverse and interesting. Nobody can say the culture of Greece is the same as that of Scotland, but the experience I have had while living in and among the worlds of Latin America has been eye-opening. To speak about it in anything but an entirely long and detailed post would hardly do it any kind of justice. Alas, I summarise:

Endless sound

From the moment I landed to the first moment of silence in Chaipas, my life was full of constant sounds. Dogs, chickens, pounding music, all sorts of salesmen, car horns, unmuffled engines, gunshots, fireworks, sirens, children, adults, dancing. They never stop and never have in all my time away. At first, it is exhausting, and then it just becomes part of the wonderful sensory tapestry of the various countries. Just as every country has its own smells, each also has its own cacophanies. I could sit and listen to a recording of many of the cities I have lived in and tell you where it is without ever being told.

I can remember the few places in my trip where I heard nothing. They are special and serene places, but also usually have an energy about them that demands silence for whatever reason. They are ancient and force a silence when it’s required, although it rarely lasts for long and mainly serves as a pause for breath before the orchestra of environment starts its next song.

Hard histories

Everyone has their atrocities and glories in their history, and none quite so much as the stories surrounding Latin America. The visible history of my whole journey has been both that of the much more recent colonials and also of the incredibly ancient and still very relevant peoples prior.

The original people of Latin America are still around today, reaching back as far as 7000 BC. Their history dwarfs that of Europe tenfold, and they still carry an incredible amount of relevance today. In certain parts of Mexico, there are Mayan Universities teaching the many things their culture has to share. The rich histories and knowledge that have been passed down from beyond time are incredibly important to the understanding not only of their culture but also of the world they have survived in far longer than any other civilization today.

Each and every country, from Belize to Nicaragua, has its own political history that has shaped the way the people and countries form. Seeing the queen on the Belizian dollar was a shocker, but learning why she is still there was even more so. Talking to the drunks in the bars of Nicaragua opened my eyes to the things they are still forbidden to talk about on pain of ‘disappearance’. Every country struggles and takes pride in its own successes and failures. Some make you want to stay. Others turn your stomach each time you see a cop.

Any excuse for art

The rich graffiti of Mexico City blew me away from the very beginning. The gigantic murals spread across multiple towering buildings could be taken in for hours. Entire blocks were painted with vast works of art ranging from political to gang-driven and everything in between. The style made sense, with Mexico’s rich history with the mural and Diego Rivera.

However, the street art didn’t stop. From then on, the streets have been filled withworks, each city and town bringing its own flavour. A favourite has to be the streets of Chiapas which has leant heavily on its psychedelic mushroom culture and produced mind-bending pieces that stretch down the cobbled colonial streets and around every corner. However, Bogota comes in a close second. They have taken street art and decriminalised it, turning it instead into a way of expressing themselves on the grey concrete of the whole city. There is rarely a minute that goes past when you’re not standing beside a masterpiece.


I could sit and wax lyrical about my last year for another 2.5k words without coming close to summing up the experience I have really felt. Of course, I know my lifestyle isn’t for everyone. It is disjointed, nomadic, and fleeting, like the flight of the Colibri, but it suits me just fine right now.

I have my moments of sadness, loneliness, self-doubt, and worry, but I would have these anywhere, they’re just a natural part of existence. My life, the one I have built, is perfect. I want for nothing major for the first time, and I find every day so full of opportunity it’s often hard to pick where to start.

One day, maybe, I’ll find somewhere or someone that makes me want to stop. Currently, temporary breaks of a month or so somewhere like here in Taganaga are enough. Small towns and villages with hot weather, $1 beers, and a source of swimmable water are enough to become grounded and collect myself.

I have become tired over the last year from constantly moving, endlessly making new friends, adjusting to new water and foods, packing, unpacking, packing again, and always battling against not being able to speak the only spoken language. But, the struggle against these pales in comparison to how hard it was to wake up every day in a country that only took from me and gave nothing but friends in return. Knowing I don’t have to wake up in a cold, damp house and trudge through miserable, dead-eyed streets, only to work myself to death for a company that wouldn’t notice if I died, makes any kind of struggle I may endure here feel like a light summer breeze.

I took the time, at the year mark, to reflect. I had chosen to take up my childhood dream of being a writer and seeing the word. 365 days later; I am making it work with more money in my pocket than I have ever had and a name you could google and see only my articles.

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