Puerto Escondido, Mexico
The ice cold Corona sat there taunting me. I could hear it whispering, "Drink me," (in Spanish of course) as the condensation languidly trailed down its curvaceous exterior.
The moment of truth had come.
Having retired from my illustrious drinking career a year earlier, I rarely thought about that sweet, sweet nectar. But when, after a long journey from Winter in a landlocked country, you find yourself barely with your shoes off before someone puts 12 freshly shucked oysters in front of you, to be washed down with the aforementioned liquid, resolve is not so forthcoming.
"Oh, thank you, I don't drink." I made it sound as light and airy as I possibly could given the circumstances, but the declaration choked me up a little, and as the defeated Corona was being carted away, it lowered its voice and said, "You may have won this time... " (in Spanish).
Mustering resolve is only half the battle: in St Anton I am inevitably required to follow my statement of refrainment with an explanation, for which I have a repertoire, "I know! Very un-Australian to not drink! They took away my passport." "I'm not thirsty. " And so forth.
With the Corona gone, I waited for the deluge, and then it came. "You don't drink." "Nup." "Fair play," and that was it.
That was in my first hour in Puerto Escondido in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico, and that was also the amount of time it took for the first tension to be released from my shoulders. I knew it wouldn't be instantaneous because I am pretty strung out, even by bitter middle-aged women standards, but not being questioned gave me hope that some point in the near future I could say, "Just chillin'," and mean it.
Why had I chosen Puerto Escondido, you didn't ask? Well, I had been tampering with the idea as so many people from St Anton go at the end of the ski season, because Sunset Point—best described as a self-contained retirement village for people nowhere near retirement—is owned by Chris Rex (Rexy) who spent 20 years in St Anton. As I was not quite ready to throw myself into the solo travelling thing, I thought that Puerto could be my training ground, as there would be familiar faces, base camp if you will.
Actually, that is not entirely accurate (such intelligent thought never went into it, just how it turned out). I was so exhausted from the ski season that I simply wanted to wile away my days—without having to be overly polite to people—whilst sitting in a hammock; or, if I was feeling active, go to the beach and perve on hot surfers whilst mango juice trailed down my fat rolls like condensation down that ice cold Corona: lascivious cougar style. During my extensive research, I ascertained that both were possible. "Are there hot surfers?" "Yep." "Sold." And so that is exactly what I did.
For a month.
I stayed there for double the intended time, as in this vortex, time slows down, and it takes pretty much a whole day to do anything, except for a game of darts: that only takes half of the day, and normally you play a couple of games. The longer you stay, the slower time goes: you start preparing to go out for dinner five hours before, even when you are not hungry. You see, by the time you have decided what you are going to eat, where you are going to go, how you are going to get there, then incorporate time for stragglers (invariably as you are just about to walk out the door someone else wants to join but has to have a shower first) it is already getting late. But then you have to acknowledge that it is not just you, it is the Mexican surf community, and everyone is running on the same time. So by the time you get there, sit down, order, and then wait two hours for your food (which takes no time to eat as by then you are very hungry) the day is over. But it didn't bother me: I had come a long way.
After about two weeks, as I lay in a hammock doing absolutely nothing, I lazily speculated that perhaps some time in the near future I should think about maybe thinking about moving on. "No point this week," Rexy said. "That cyclone that was supposed to hit here is heading for Chiapas. You don't wanna get caught up in that." I grunted in agreement before eating another avocado. A week later, the same scenario (possibly in a different hammock). Same speculation. Similar response, except that the cyclone had hit, and the roads were not great for an overnight bus trip. Again I grunted in agreement, then ate a mango. Maybe next week.
By the time I did leave, I was relaxed and happy: just chillin'. Many of the forced St Anton behaviours had washed away, and I felt equipped for my adventure, with an awesome tan to boot.