Hello. It’s 15 of January, the third Monday of the year. Did you even realized that it is the famous Blue Monday – the day claimed to be the most depressing one in the whole year?
Exactly. I also wouldn’t notice if a friend hadn’t told me during a boring lecture. And it just probably popped up on her Facebook wall… Yes, if noone told us to be unhappy, maybe we would not be unhappy?
My day was totally fine. Good breakfast, succesfull appointment in student assistance office, a not-bad lecture, fruitfull meeting with my supervisor, watching a great movie (Like stars onEarth, I can recommend), first yoga after the holiday, hot chocolate in the evening. What could make me depressed today? Nothing which wouldn’t get my down yesterday, tomorrow or in this period of time in general.
This is probably the biggest success of my mind – finally, even having second thoughts, concerns bothering me, worries about the future, fears of unpredictable – I deal with my mind. Most of the times I can turn it off, mute it for a sec or even convince myself that it’s not a real reason to worry.
If I manage to live with everything which happens in my mind, why would anyone tell me that exactly today I should be sad and misereable? And even if it is statistically proven, why would I conform to that?
Fun fact, there is even a mathematical formula proving that the third Monday of January is the worst day ever (yes, my brain got so ‘engineerized’ that I really found it exciting).
Cliff Arnall published it in 2006. The formula uses many factors, including: weather conditions, debt level, time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action.
where Tt = travel time; D = delays; C = time spent on cultural activities; R = time spent relaxing; ZZ = time spent sleeping; St = time spent in a state of stress; P = time spent packing; Pr = time spent in preparation.
If I was to calculate that (and had any idea how to do it), I would rather rely it on: time until the next travel, amount of chocolate around, number of new episodes to watch and prices of the coctails in a bar, but maybe that’s why I am not a mathematician…
Stay happy, Monday is almost over!
Of course this formula is bulls**t. You can read about it HERE. But this shows another fun (or rather sad) fact – average person will believe it automatically cause ‘if it looks like Maths, it must be true. It’s science!’.
When I told Ana and her family that I want to go to Tampico for a day, their reaction was very clear. ‘Why the heck would anyone visit Tampico?! There is nothing there! It’s far! It’s dangerous!’. I almost listened to them… But the emotional value of this city won with my common sense.
I went to Tampico to visit Israel and Malu (isn’t Maria de la Luz a beautiful name?!) – Mexican friends I’ve met in India and raised and helped to survive on their first days. And it was a great choice!
As an economical person – both time- and money-wise – I decided to take the bus during the night. I slept almost whole 7 hours of the journey, since the Mexican buses have amazing, semi-sleeper seats and even provide you with snacks and beverages before departure!
I woke up at crazy 6 AM, jumped like crazy seeing the guys again and went with them immediately to see the sunrise on the beach! Well, my luck… When I went to the place with the great beach, it was cloudy and almost rainy for the whole day. However, I’ve seen racoons hunting for the trash and ugly dolphins (forgot the name of the species, but they have really ugly faces!) and was super excited anyway!
It was the long day! We started with breakfast in Malu’s house. Meeting her family and finally pushing myself to talk only in Spanish was lovely, but there is one more thing… Childhood photos!
It is funny everywhere, but Mexico is special… All the girls celebrate their Quinceniera – 15th birthday party is thrown with such glory that it reminds me almost of a wedding! Or at least it’s rehersal… And those dresses! And the make-up which makes this 15yo look older than me…
During the da we walked a lot, saw the nearby lagunas and took a ferry on one of them to see the crocodiles. Can you believe that they really do have crocodiles in the middle of the city, like we have ducks in pond in the parks?! I was so surprised and terrified!
Next, we headed to the fish market, since Tampico is famous for delicious crabs called jaibas. I had lots of fun watching the pelicans fighting for the left-overs. Ah, and I got some food for free! That’s the privilage of being a blond ‘gringa’ or ‘guerita’ in a town where there are NO tourists.
The oldtown looked almost the same as in all the Mexican (and Spanish) cities – the main square with cathedral, city hall and a little park. Thanks to the Reyes Magos (the Three Kings, 6th of January) celebration coming the next day I could see the huuuge rosca – cake which Mexicans share with friends on this day. The fun fact is that there are a few little figures of Jesus hidden inside, and the lucky ones who find them in their piece of cake need to cook tamales (another local dish) for the others in the beginning of February.
Than I had probably the most Mexican meal of my whole stay! As the only child I am not used to the table buzzing with laugher, MANY people eating together, the brothers making pranks at each other and a strong Mexican mother to govern all that. Well, in Israel’s house I could experience all that and also feel like at home!
I was exhauested but after the dinner we met some more people for huge, 1 liter drinks (that’s misleading, though. The amount of alcohol is the same like in standard ones) and went to dance salsa before my departure. Then, I’ve spent another night in the bus to reach Mexico City again.
Yes, yes, I know, it’s the most pathetic, but also the most meaningful title for the NY post… I have already done kind of summary of 2017, now it’s time to start 2018 properly.
I welcomed this year with one of the best parties of my life in a gorgeous place and with great people. And although the evening of 31st of December was a bit depressing (maybe I am getting old but I really felt nostalgic about one more year passing by that quickly), I welcomed the New Year with a huge smile on my face.
What changed? Not much and a lot at once.
I will be 23 this year and to my surprise – I don’t really care. After 18 and 20 birthdays are not touching me that much anymore. My mom will be 60, though, and that IS surprising. I still remember her 50th b-day… My oldest cousin will turn 18… And my lovely little niece, whom I vividly remember in her mom’s belly, will be 12 years old. So if everyone around is getting older, maybe I am getting old too?!
Like never before I am feeling the end of the old and beginning of the new chapter. Looking back I can see clear periods. Careless childhood ended probably when I was 13. Then my rebellious teenage years, which ended around the age of 18. Next – theoretically being an adult but still a big kid.
Dividing that differently, I can see all the sub-chapters of my life until now, corresponding to the schools I went to and therefore – groups of people I was surrounded with: 0-6, 7-12, 13-15, 16-18, 18-22… And then BANG. Now I definitely see the chapter coming to an end. I WILL BE GRADUATED (hopefully, hue hue). I will start a real adult life. And it will all be in my hands. And I will have so much freedom with so much more responsibility! Exciting and terrifying at once.
How was the first days of this year?
No NY resolutions. It’s so pointless for me to make them… I have made plans for this year a couple of months ago, achieved something big an important in the last two weeks of 2017 and did NY room cleaning and re-organising just today, on the 11th… I was never crazy enough to say ‘I will start going to the gym’, but remembering all the previous years: ‘lose some weight’, ‘be more patient’, ‘worry less’… All this sh*t didn’t work anyway! 😀 I have noticed that yes, it all comes to me sooner or later, since I need it and feel the lack of it, but does not depend at all on the calendar… It’s all about the particular moment, the period of time connected to some minor or major change or event… At least for me. Do resolutions if you need. You know I love check-lists anyway!
And when it comes to room-cleaning… I LOVE IT. No, no worries, I don’t mean polishing windows, vacuuming the carpet etc. (I’m not crazy yet… Or well, fun fact, I really enjoy washing dishes!). I really enjoy throwing away the things I don’t need!
2 years ago, before moving back with my dad, I was able to fit all my belongings (excluding bike, skies, etc.) in my old VW Golf III. Yes, it was a small car. I was so happy about it! That’s how the freedom feels for me.
My ultimate minimalism started a few years ago, when I made the decision that sooner or later I will move out of Poland. I looked, for instance, at all my childhood books… All the Harry Potter books. Yes, I love them! But would I take them with me if I was to move to Australia tomorrow? Obviously not. Nowadays I can find them online, if I want to read it again, or – more old-school – borrow them from someone. In this way I sold 90% of my books, earned quite a sum of money. Very important books, for example those with dedication, which were the gift from someone important, are safe in a special box in my mother’s closet. And it feels very comforting.
Once in a couple of months I go through my wardrobe and look critical at everything. How many times did I wear this since the last remanent? Not even once? Immediately out. Sometimes to charity, sometimes to a friend, as the piece of sewing material or just to the trash bin. I don’t care. I am not sentimental anymore, I am practical. The less things I have, the more mobile I am. That’s how the being free feels. Especially if you are my type of person – if you tell me that in two hours I am leaving to travel to the other side of the world, I will be back in one hour, with the luggage packed and enthusiasm in my eyes.
This cleaning session was NY-edition too… I have decided to throw away a few postcards and to cut in pieces a few photographs. Maybe it was my way of saying good-bye and finally dealing with unclear, never-explained situations? With a bit of harmless revenge?
I smiled a lot reading again the little memory-stickers from my friends from Sweden… A few days ago it was exactly one year since I moved there. I won’t ever forget it! And it will still take a while until I lose the sentiment about the material things reminding me of this period.
I still kept a few very important letters and pieces of jewelry, too… It’s been a couple of years when I just misplace them. No matter how minimalistic I wanna be, I will probably never lose sentiment to some objects.
Maybe I am weird. Well, I love blue cheese, do not own a hair dryer, prefer paper calendar to the iPhone app and always wait until tea gets cold to drink it… But it’s been the longest period in a couple of years when I am feeling so well, so myself and have so many plans and hopes for the nearest time period. Cheers to that!
Sleeping properly was never in plan for Mexico. Having the flight at 6am, we were just preparing ourselves for looong siesta on the beach. Ana, Chiara and me took a 2-hour flight from Mexico City to Cancun. To my surprise – they are in two different time zones although in one country, so we were one hour closer to Europe.
We decided to stay in Playa del Carmen, which is cheaper, a bit less touristic and not as ‘Americanized’ as Cancun itself. Well, on the streets we have seen mostly tourists from the US or South America anyway.
Playa del Carmen is located in such a place that if you swim around 250 km you get into Cuba and when you drive 250 km South along the seaside – you reach Belize.
We started the day with tacos and beer for breakfast (holiday mode on!) and got into the Airbnb – really fancy one, we even had a swimming pool with panorama on the rooftop! Perfect for fancy pre-party photos.
The first impression of Yucatán and Playa del Carmen? Combination of Goa’s style (just souvenir shops, local products, tattoo studios, restaurants and bars), Spain’s atmosphere, Bangkok’s nightlife and Maldives’ weather.
After fixing serious stuff such as food and tequila supply and a travel agency for the tour next day, we went for the walk on the beach and found a great party place – you could party with your own drinks ‘using’ the music coming from the bar nearby. We were not the only ones to do that!
The most interesting thing in the town was the spectrum of people around – on the beach, in the street, in the restaurants. From the rich American families, through the old Germans, groups of 3-5 single gringo ladies like us, handsome and sporty guys in their late 20ies, teenagers on their first holiday alone, to typical Gonzalez – our term for the stereotypical Mexican family.
Trying to cook the dinner in the evening we figured out that NO, it’s not possible to cook pasta on the pan (even the Italian didn’t succeed), so we ended up eating chips with guacamole (made by the Polish, while the Mexican took care of margaritas!) and the quesadillas with Oaxaca cheese (something between mozzarella and Polish oscypek) for the rest of the trip. And I would never guess that I will be FRYING water on a pan to make a coffee.
The first evening we were very lucky – we came across the newly open club called The Hidden Bar, offering the free entrance and drinks as their advertising. Music was great and most of the guys handsome, what to want more?
The next night we obviously went out too, but did a tour between a few different clubs. At some point we ended up in a place filled with presumable sons of the Narcos and the waiters doing everything to make us entertain them… well, we were escaping pretty quick.
Nevertheless, coming back home around 2-3 am I still didn’t feel in danger. Maybe it’s misleading but I still felt like in Europe, not crazy and mysterious Latin America. The only thing is that the streets were not patrolled by the normal police, but fully armed and really serious soldier-like officers. It made me feel insecure, as if there really was something to be afraid of, but Ana explained me that it is in case of some public mess or rebellion. What in Europe would be just a fight of two groups of friends or hooligans supporting the opposite football teams, with Mexican temperament tends to convert to the huge massacre of the crowd.
Not counting the excursion, all the four days of our stay in Playa del Carmen were about beach, rooftop pool, all night long parties, sleeping a couple of hours to start from the beginning. We ate very good seafood too! And obviously tacos. We even went to a very local family restaurant serving food directly from their garage. Real Mexican spirit!
I couldn’t get over chilli, though… it’s insane, they put in even on top of fruits. Not to mention any kind of sauce! The sensation is different from the one of Indian masala, but still – even if you can feel the real taste of food, you still get fire in your mouth.
The New Years Eve party was one of the best ones in my life. We cooked very good dinner, drank cocktails on the rooftop and then headed out. The streets were never that crowded before! All the masses of tourists and locals went to the beach to see the fireworks coming from one of the hotels. The show was really amazing. We also wanted to follow the Spanish-Mexican tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight but we pretty much screwed that, not counting the grapes correctly (‘Wait, isn’t that number 13? How many did you put in my cup?!) and forgetting to make wishes eating each of them. Then we decided to walk by the beach and search for the promising group of people to join. We were not disappointed!
I always claim that couch surfers are different people. Thanks to them I never feel alone. I always feel as if I was part of some huge family! We’ve met a group of CSers on their New Year’s event and spent a wonderful time!
When we started getting cold on the beach, we all headed to the main street to search for the party, but the party found us first. Every bar was playing loud music so people were dancing on the streets. And it wasn’t a few people… Huge groups, like on real dancefloor!
It was magical to dance salsa on the street. When one bar closed, all the people were just heading to the next one and that’s how we have spent time until the sunrise, when we got back to the beach.
In the evening of 31. December I was feeling pretty upset – again one year older, still not having anything stable… This party definitely raised my spirits. I’ve started the year 2018 with a huge smile, traveling, in the middle of another crazy adventure.
Since Ana didn’t let us rent a car (‘Mafia, Narcos, traffic, jungle, DRAMA!’), we decided to go for an organized tour, like lazy tourists. We were picked up from the apartment and everything was provided to us and easy like for kids. Nice, but too boring for my style of traveling. By chance we ended up in the group run not only in Spanish but also Italian, so Chiara was lucky!
The first stop was the Maya village. I was so surprised about their culture! Primary gods, colorful stylistic, natural medicine and great respect to nature. We even had a chance to learn a toast in Maya language! Not that I could repeat it…
I was astonished by how much of this civilization remained until today… Their first language is still Maya, many women on the streets wear the traditional clothes, the monuments, buildings and paintings are very well-preserved… It all started in 2000 BC!
One of the best points there was Cenote – natural underground lake in a cave, with water filtered by the ground and fish swimming inside. Swimming there was an unforgettable experience!
Next point was the must-see! Chichen Itzá – one of the 7 World Wonders, is located around two hours drive from Cancun complex of pyramids built also by the Maya, as a temple and a place of paying tribute to gods.
Incredible how much they knew about astrology and mathematics such a long time ago! One pyramid is built in such a way, that twice a year – 21st of March and 22nd of September the shadows form a snake, which is the symbol of luck and wisdom. In the other pyramid raising sun goes exactly through the middle of god’s monument twice a year.
Seeing another World Wonder raised in me an ambition to see all of them… another bucket list!
In the end we went to Valladolid – a town built basing on the city of the same name in Spain, and founded by the Spanish conquistadors. Quaint and lovely place, perfect to see the sunset!
The entertaining thing about organized tourism is observing the people from your tour. We had lots of fun making up stories about their lives
We came back pretty exhausted, went out for dinner (sorry Mexico, I can’t even look anymore on any variation of tortilla…), had a cocktail by our rooftop swimming pool and headed to another party.
This year was special. Well, every single one is, but 2017 was different for me than any year before.
I’ve spend 9 months abroad. First on my awaited mobility semester in Sweden, then quite spontaneously in India, plus all the smaller and bigger trips I’ve done. Can you believe that I have been to 19 different countries this year?!
This year I realized that I am actually living the life I always wanted to have. Ambitious plans, lots of traveling, great people around me, discovering sooo many new things, experiencing each moment.
I wish every year could look like this one – 9 months in the far-away and totally different places and 3 where my roots are. That would give me a lot of peace and equilibrium. Let’s try to convert a wish to a plan? Maybe.
Sweden thought me how to slow down. Both physically and mentally. I don’t need to be socially EVERYWHERE anymore. I let myself just relive everything. I strive for balance, I’m good to myself and others. I am still over-demanding for myself and sometimes I stress out to much, but maybe it’s something I can live with, if it makes me running?
India thought me A LOT. I didn’t even expect how much. I look differently at the first world problems. I appreciate Europe much more. And I really see how lucky in life I am.
In India I became a fighter, too. Not that I couldn’t stick to my rules, but now I can fight for myself and others like a lion.
I really got into yoga and I don’t ever want to lose it! Meeting people at my classes who practice it for 20 years and watching what they do with their bodies at their 50ies is really motivating… So is the feeling I have after each class.
My official uni graduation will happen already in 2018, but I feel it now very strongly too. It’s not about the crazy struggle of writing the final thesis and for the first time in my life – working on ONE project ALONE, constantly during 6 MONTHS (did I ever mention how easily I get bored?). I feel that graduating will be a big step in my life. Not that much will change (well, I won’t have insurance anymore so I need to remain in good health XD). I just feel the difference in my approach and the view for life. Uni was a school like all the others before – there is something to do, to study, some homework, timetable to follow. Apart from that – great student life! So many possibilities, activities! Meeting new people every day! Partying like there is no tomorrow, but also so many interesting projects! Well, there is no Erasmus for high school kids for instant…
I guess that ‘adulthood after graduation’ will be more responsibility, less spontaneity, but still more freedom and independence! I can’t say if it will be better or worse… For sure just different. And I look forward to it.
I also understood that everything changes. What was supposed to be forever blurs away suddenly, and some little insignificant things get a lot of meaning in broader perspective. Maybe it’s also adult life? Or just universe in general?
There are no mistakes, just lessons we need to revise. And although I’ve noticed that sometimes I do the same thing multiple times, I learn something new every time. And I still rarely regret anything.
I learnt a lot about people in general. I made many new friends, I believe some of them will stay forever. I’ve lost some people too, I’m not proud of it.
I still have plan for the nearest 1-2 years. Some people can’t believe it and are scared how obsessed I am with having A PLAN. I also scare myself sometimes, but I guess that clear goals give me some sense of stability, and result from my ambition and fear of missing out (if not now, when?!). Nevertheless, life is much more about the journey than about the destination… So I still don’t know what will happen and what I decide on my way 😉
I wish you all the best in 2018! Good health, inspiring people around and your dreams and plans coming true. Follow your intuition, that’s the only way to go!
Hello hello after Christmas! I’ve realized I really enjoy being offline on holidays. No notifications bothering me for the whole day, no need to check anything ‘important’ immediately. The post of Paris is yet to come, right now I will go with the wave of Mexico.
I’m not the biggest fan of flying. I don’t mind it, it’s still much better than HOURS in the bus, but not really exciting. 11.5 hours of my first transatlantic flight from Paris to Mexico City were not that bad, though.
After watching Netflix, reading magazines and eating all the snacks served by the flight attendant just out of boredom, I felt really excited when I’ve seen Florida from the window. That was the moment when I really felt how important this moment was – I’ve been waiting for this trip for the last 7 months and it was finally about to happen! And I was just approaching the North America, so the new continent was to be ticked on the list!
I faced the worse jet lag ever. 7 hours of time difference and the high altitude of Mexico City made me feel as if I were drunk.
I’ve taken the bus to Querétaro, where my Erasmus friend Andrea lives. Claudine from Canada was already there, and was much more energetic than me (just 1h difference…).
On the first day we went, accompanied by Andrea’s brother and his friend, to La Peña de Bernal – a huge lonely stone located around 40 min drive from Querétaro, surrounded by the quaint village full of unique handmade souvenirs are very weird snacks.
Important fact about Mexico – I’m surviving! Food is as spicy as it was in India, but it’s easier to find a more eatable equivalent. And I do not poison myself on every corner like in Asia… Nevertheless – Mexican food is kind of weird! I mean – obviously delicious, but it’s all just about different combinations of tortilla bread with meat, rice, beans, tomatoes, avocado and onion.
The top of weirdness was chilaquiles: the typical breakfast dish Andrea ordered for us on the first day – kind of Dorritos, bland and soaked in chili sauce with the fried egg on the top and lentils on the side. It was delicious, but how did they even come up with this idea? XD Not to mention super spicy and super sweet Mexican candies and lollipops… Or michelada – a drink made of beer, tomato and chili. This country is really inventive!
After the walk around the village and admiring the stone (which looks like it was thrown from the sky by the aliens), during which I almost died of the temperature and altitude, we headed to La Redonda wine plantation, where we had a really nice picnic in the sun. You can imagine how my face looked like in the evening… I am one of those people who have just two shades of skin – sour cream or fried shrimp.
Next we have visited the lovely town of Tequis – full of Mexican tourists enjoying the last hours of Christmas. We ate the first tacos (the food and drink check-list is quite extensive here!) and headed home… well, not successfully.
On the way we ran out of gasoline and spent one hour on the side of the road waiting until our friends get us some. At some point I was just wandering who will be first – them or Mexican cartel willing to sell our organs to get drugs. It was an adventure though
We were planning to go out in the evening, but ended up too tired to move from the couch. We finally tried the Mexican tequila, though, and I would really be happy if I can open the business to import it to Poland! Even the cheapest Mexican tequila tastes better than the one we have in Poland.
Next day was pretty lazy – after the long sleep and burritos for breakfast (me and Claudine were very motivated to try all the Mexican food so we didn’t differentiate between meals and its content), we took a walk in Querétaro city center, drank amazing tropical margaritas and took an early afternoon bus to Mexico City. Claudine, as a YOLO tourist without the plan, decided to go with me.
In Mexico I feel pretty proud of my Spanish. I am able to communicate everything I need, and their accent is not that hard to understand – even when speaking fast. I try to learn new words every day!
I don’t feel in danger – maybe because I’m with the local friends all the time. However, there are prison-like fences and quite a lot of police on the streets… Andrea also said that she wouldn’t walk out alone at night.
I got rid of jet lag pretty easily – 2 nights of more-less proper sleep have let me adjust quickly. And it’s quite funny that when I call my parents just after waking up, they are already finishing dinner…
Overall first impression of Mexico – great. Exotic but civilized. Friendly people, sunny weather, lots of differences, local traditions and cute places. But my opinion is the same like about Spain – great country to visit for holidays, enjoy the atmosphere and then go back to the more organized place… it’s just all too slow, not serious, not punctual, disorganized and easy going for me!