Sunday, 4 April 2010

Be careful what you wish for

Be careful what you wish for - or so they say. Well for the past few months I couldn't wait to get away from the crap British weather, and escape to somewhere warm and sunny. Of course I would have settled for a little bit of sunshine in the south of Europe somewhere, and temperatures anywhere in double figures - instead I hop on a plane and travel for 19 hours to Mexico. Since I arrived I haven't seen a drop of rain, or needed to wear any more than a tee-shirt. Daytime temperatures have consistently been around 30 degrees and even at night it's still really quite warm. I'm sun burnt (despite applying suncream regularly, and avoiding the sun as much as possible), and my ankles are huge!

I walked into the city on Thursday, and it was so warm my hands swelled up like balloons (I'm really not used to having fat hands). Here's the photographic evidence:

Now I'm not complaining! All this sunshine makes a pleasant change, and if I get bored of the heat, I'm sure that the temperatures in Mammoth Lakes, where I'm heading next, will make me feel a little more at home!

Not only have I had the heat to contend with, a 19 hour journey to recover from, and a 7 hour time difference to get used to, but I've also had the altitude to acclimatise to. And that of course is why I'm here. Though I've done the whole altitude thing before (5 times to be precise), I always forget how good that first 10 minutes of the first run feels, and then how it hits you like somebody has punched you in the ribs. I'm slowly adjusting though, and just done some 100m strides today, which not only breaks up the routine of easy running, but reminds me how much I love running fast. I just can't wait to get fit enough to race on the track this summer - I definitely have some unfinished business there!

I've just noticed a sign in the reception of the hotel reminding guests to adjust their clock by 1 hour tomorrow morning for daylight saving - after forgetting about British summer time last weekend, very little and I would have missed out again. That will be the 5th time I've had to change my clock in just 8 days! (British summer time, NY, Huston, Mexico, and Mexico daylight saving time). Not that time matters much these days!

How not to travel around the World
I've just been doing a bit of reflecting on all the things that I've done wrong so far this trip - and given that I'm just 4 days in, there have been quite a few!

1. A few days before the trip started I realised that my credit card was about to expire, and that the new one had probably been sent to my old address. I ordered the new one, but there wasn't enough time for it to arrive, so I'm travelling without a credit card. I really should know better!
2. When I went to confirm the dates of my stay in Mexico with the camp that I was hoping to stay at (3 days before I was due to leave), I learned that they were booked out. I'm not sure where I get this reputation for being organised from.

3. I didn't have enough time to locate and book alternative accommodation - now that's taking 'no fixed abode' to a whole new level.

4. I arrived at Birmingham airport at 6:30am on Tuesday morning after having far too little sleep the previous 2 nights, and having just finished work 13 hours before that. At least that explains some of the lack of organisation above. Starting a 19 hour journey on 20 minutes sleep really isn't a good idea.

5. I forgot how annoying the questioning can be before boarding a flight to the US. Travelling on an Irish passport, from the UK, with no current UK address, and no current employment, doesn't go down too well. Going on vacation on my own is not viewed as normal (well maybe it's not), and 1 large suitcase, a rucksack, and a large carrier-bag is not viewed as adequate for someone that's going to be away until June (little do they know, that I'm travelling unusually heavily for me). Oh ya, and a Jordanian visa in your passport gets you noticed for all the wrong reasons.

6. When checking-in for my flight I completely forgot to request an aisle seat and was put next to the window. The confinement of my seating was compounded by the fact that it was just a little plane, and I couldn't stand and stretch during the flight. Now, I really should know better!

7. When I arrived in Newark airport, I attempted to book accommodation, but realised that the only way I could get internet access was by paying for it with credit card, but as we know I don't have a current one of those! Luckily, when I got to Huston, I was able to get a complimentary 45 minutes, and managed to book myself in for 2 nights.

8. When I arrived at my final destination, San Luis Potosi Airport, I couldn't find my baggage. The one with the film wrapped all around looked closest, but wasn't it... or was it? Yes, the helpful baggage man confirmed that it was indeed mine. The handle for pulling it had been broken off in transit, and the whole thing was about to burst open. Note to self: before travelling, make sure that suitcase is in full working order.

9. When I arrived at the hotel they had no confirmation of my booking, and had not received payment. Luckily they had a room, but at 10pm (5am British time), and potentially nowhere to stay, I really was living life on the edge.

10. My mobile phone hadn't worked since leaving Birmingham, so I couldn't let the people that I had promised to text know that I had arrived safely. Maybe the £18 phone isn't that good afterall!

11. And finally, as I wrote yesterday, my debit card was stopped by the fraud people. Hopefully this was the last in a long line of things to go wrong.

So, now that I've learned what not to do, hopefully the rest of my trip will go swimmingly.
Take care for now, and Saludos de Pascua


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