My canvas didn't start out entirely blank, though. It started out a Caribbean blue. The color of the the turquoise waters stretching as far as the eye could see. As we descended towards the airport in Cancun, endless blue, turned into a light green, then into sandy white beaches, large hotels, and finally a long runway. My eyes acting as the paintbrush.
I always tell people, I don't get excited about traveling till my plane is about to land. When the wheels touch down, that's when my body, mind, and soul start firing up.
From Cancun airport, I jumped on the ADO Bus Line, for 48 pesos, and it took me into town. It's always a bit of a culture shock stepping from a bus terminal and being thrust into a foreign land. Nothing is familiar everything is different. There is a different pace of life, different smells, different sounds.
Arriving at the Hostel Quetzal took a bit of detective work, meandering down streets and across parks. But checking in, was like checking into base camp for a two month expedition. I sat on my thin heavily worn mattress and took a deep breath.
Someday I would like to go back and travel in luxury. Enjoy every one of the 5 stars. Splurge on a room with a great view, room service, and a big comfy bed. But for now the simple hostel life, the basic single mattress, one hopefully washed bed sheet, and stuffed in with 8 other bunks,and complete strangers is just fine with me.
Traveling alone, I prefer to stay at a hostel. I don't sleep much, so a big hotel room just seems like a waste of room and money. Just give me a room in a corner where I can recharge and I'm happy as a clam.
Within an hour of arrival, I was on the roof deck, in the sun drinking coronas, talking world politics with people from all over the world, right where my adventurous soul wanted to be. It never takes more than introducing yourself in hostels before you have made new friends. All telling stories of some distant places, where they are from, and where they just have been.
Hostels aren't just for the cheap and the poor. I've met plenty of travelers who were well off, who just like staying at the place because of the vibe, the atmosphere, and the company. I ended my first night having dinner with 25 new friends, at a long table.
Everyone sharing stories, laughs, and enjoying cold drinks. The British making fun of the French, the Germans bragging about inventions and how much they can drink, the Dutch talking about drugs and amazing places to travel to, the Aussies making us all laugh with Steve Erwing jokes, the French Canadians pretending they don't know English, and the Americans always coming together to defend their fellow countrymen, that we aren't as ignorant, sheltered, and self centered as we all seem. And that usually means swallowing our pride, and having to apologize for electing George Bush for two terms.
But at the end of the night, politics never gets into the way, and we never forget to remember why we are all here. To soak up the culture of a new place, to create memories and experiences we will never forget, and have a blast along the way.