After nearly 24 hours of straight travel, Spencer and I made it to Oaxaca City around 5 p.m. this evening. Later, I’ll regale you with some of the things I’m excited about and the sights and sounds we’re seeing, but since I’m exhausted right now, I’m going to cheat and do a listicle thing.
So, here’s 10 Things You Learn As a Budget Traveler in Mexico That Might Surprise You (now with photos because the internet started working at a normal speed again):
1) Two hour layovers at LAX seem generous, until you realize your connecting flight is in a terminal that requires you to sprint across 4 lanes of LA traffic and re-clear security before you can get to your gate. Flying separate airlines = cheap as hell ticket, but man was I sweaty when I got on the plane.
2) Watching The Imitation Game and Finding Nemo can, in rare instances, substitute for a full night of sleep.
3) If you and your significant other are planning to take separate flights to a foreign country, you should definitely not assume your cell phones will be able to send or receive texts when you land, even if your phone company explicitly promised you otherwise. (I had to sweet talk some federal police to even be allowed on the shuttle to Spencer’s terminal since I didn’t have a boarding pass: “Tengo que recoger mi novio. El no habla espanol.”)
4) Also, you should designate a more specific meeting place than “arrivals,” especially at a large international airport you’ve never been to.
5) That said, there are few things more exciting than seeing your significant other’s dorky backpacking clothes across the room from you and running over yelling “SPENCER!!!! SPENCER!!!!” after you’ve been searching for 15 minutes and had started to give up hope.
6) You get what you pay for with a second class bus ticket. In our specific case, that meant unexpectedly pulling over about two hours into our seven hour trip and waiting for half an hour before learning our bus had a radiator issue and would not be going anywhere. Another bus from the same company came to pick us up, though, and we ended up with more leg room and a working bathroom on board, so I’d call that a win.
7) Double-check your final destination. We got off the bus in what we thought was Oaxaca City (we’d been sleeping and weren’t super attentive), only to discover from a cab driver that we were actually in Nochixtlan, about an hour away. Fortunately, the bus hadn’t left yet, so we were able to get back on after giving the driver a sheepish grin.
8) Nine times out of ten, if your cab driver says, “Eh, I think I know where that is,” you’re actually going to be fine. So just chill. But maybe also bring a map with you.
9) Even if you’re starving because literally all you’ve had to eat all day is an energy bar and some almonds, it’s still worth wandering around the plaza and downtown for a few minutes before settling on a place to eat.
10) Beware of retreating to the roof terrace of your hostel to write after a long day of travel. The view is gorgeous, but you will be eaten alive by mosquitos.