Mild anxiety and homesickness kicks in again

I’m in the third city out of 13 and I’m already feeling homesick for Colima. Not a great feeling when mixed with a fresh batch of mild anxiety.

The beginning of my trip could not have gone better. My host in Quéretaro, Amira, is an absolute joy to be around. She’s bubbly, friendly, thoughtful, great fun, and generally a really lovely gal. My last night with her and her friends felt so comfortable and relaxed that I really was not looking forward to leaving them the next morning. We were sat around the table that night, eating curry (which I made from scratch of course), drinking chelas, and narrating all kinds of stories. A really great bunch.

After a couple of days in Zacatecas where I stayed with a really sweet couple, I’m now in Aguascalientes. It’s a bit strange to be shifting from people’s homes every couple of days, but all my hosts so far have been really thoughtful and caring, and they really understand the concept and ideology of Couchsurfing.

Aguascalientes is a very large city, but its city centre is quite small but pretty with lots of character. The problem I faced today as I ventured out on my own was a mix of the hordes of people surrounding me and giving me strange looks, the confusing bus routes, and the extremely strong sun. I know this a problem that always hits me really hard; here in Mexico especially, something I came to realise on my first short solo trip to Guadalajara. I know ways to deal with it like deep breathing and reassuring yourself that there is zero rush and no need to get all panicky. But for some reason I sometimes struggle to put these practices into place. Today wasn’t too bad, but it shocked me because it hadn’t happened for a while.

The other big problem affecting me at the moment is homesickness. Not for London, but for Colima. I’d set up a really good lifestyle back there and really was not ready to leave. I keep thinking that after these two months I’ll be back in my cute flat, back to going on day trips with friends, and back to normality. But after two months I’ll be returning to my London home which seems very distant and a tad alien. After a little while being there living with my parents again, I’ll be moving into my new uni home in Southampton. A lot of moving around.

Back to Colima. I’m missing one person in particular, and it’s hurting me a tad as I’m in two minds as to whether I should be missing them or not. I feel like I don’t have the right to miss them. I dunno. Anyway. Equis. As they’d say about a lot of things.

Update: Alice is now here, and will be with me for about a week, which is gonna be fab. We can recreate the pretty wild night we had back in Mexico City five months ago.

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Colima, te voy a extrañar

Today marks my last day in Colima. If you’d told me eight months ago when I arrived that I’d actually be sad to leave, I definitely wouldn’t have believed you. Those first couple of weeks were stressful, unsettling and quite lonely. But I was proactive. The message thread on Couchsurfing where I put myself out there saying I was new to the city and wanted to meet people has been a godsend. Honestly, some of the loveliest people I have met here were as a result of the few words I posted on the site. I’ve met so many people during my time here and I’m hugely grateful to each and every one of you for being patient with my Spanish, welcoming me with open arms, and teaching me about Mexican life. But there are a bunch who definitely need a proper mention. No names and not too many details to avoid tears on my keyboard…

  • One of my first ever ‘students’ who introduced me to great bands like Bloc Party and Phoenix in our first ever convo, rung me up out of the blue to tell me he’s outside my flat to take me for some chelas, and has been begging me to take him in my suitcase for months
  • My first travel buddy in Mexico, who took me to my first salsa bar, invaded my kitchen to make a mean load of vegan tacos, and made work at the university bearable
  • Couchsurfer girl who’s completely on the same wavelength as me. She introduced me to one of my favourite places in Colima for some artisan beer and many chats about music, travelling and being an open and free spirit living in quite a close-minded city
  • Couchsurfer swinger couple who have just moved to one of my favourite cities, Granada. We definitely didn’t meet up enough
  • Another couchsurfer who has the loveliest, warmest smile, works with organisations to help underprivileged communities, and will hopefully be in London next year for a few months. I have high hopes that she’ll get into the LSE Women, Peace and Security programme which sounds perfect for her
  • ColimaFest, our small side group from the large exchange bunch. Outings to rivers, spontaneous nights out, cultural stuff around the city, and a five-hour group outing to get inked
  • One guy from the exchange programme in particular who’s so easy-going and fun that I feel great around him. His laugh is wonderfully contagious
  • One Columbian gal in particular who, despite working way too hard and always being late, is great company and will always chuck advice at me even when I don’t want it
  • My French cinema buddy, who I will 100% be visiting in Paris next year. I finally got to see her drunk (from the very pricey tequila she bought for me) on her short visit back to Colima. That definitely has to happen again
  • Tinder Lawyer Guy  who, despite our confusing and annoying couple of months talking, then not talking, then talking again, somehow managed to get too emotionally attached to me. (Long story. I’ve actually written a whole thing about it but decided against posting.) His attitude to life has definitely made me question mine for the better
  • And last but not least, a few of my students who never fail to make it to La Boquita on a Thursday night

Despite a couple of things I’m not going to miss about Colima, like waking up in the middle of the night to scratch the shit out of my mosquito bites or arriving to every class/event a hot sweaty mess, the city will remain close to my heart. I know it’s a major cliché but I’ve learnt a lot about myself over the last eight months living on Mexican soil.

Although I’m hugely looking forward to seeing friends and family again, returning home is going to be hard. I need to prepare myself for some serious reverse culture shock; moody commuters, everything in fast motion, overpriced avocados, beer, transport, EVERYTHING. Not to mention, reintegrating into the uni life.

But for now, I’ve got two and half months of travelling to look forward to. A couple of cities on my own doing some couchsurfing to begin with, then reunited with my Southampton travel buddy for a few more, reunited with my brother to visit Mexico’s beautiful coasts and Mayan ruins, and a few days in Guatemala together before I escape to a sustainable eco-project for a month. Keep an eye out for photos and more posts.

So in a few hours I’ll be on a coach to Querétaro, my first stop out of 13, leaving this small, hot, but lovely city, what has been my home for the last few months.

So long, Colima. Te voy a extrañar.

Lessons learnt: living in another country is hugely rewarding, I need a job to fund future travels, and paths will always cross.