Day 16: Chetumal, Mexico
I had heard that it was easier to visit Belize from Mexico than Guatemala so I decided to head south to Chetumal. Unfortunately there was only one 7-hour bus that left at noon and I would need to stay the night in the border town.
While Chetumal is a well known border crossing, hostels are hard to find. After some searching I managed to find a hotel located directly across from the bus station from $10 a night.
I arrived exhausted and ready to crash. As described, the hotel was directly across the road and I walked over to find a group playing cards outside. I inquired about a room and they asked me to give them a few minutes. During this time I spoke to a very old woman who kept calling me blanca bonita and some other things I could not understand.
The room wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. Sure I knew it would be basic but this reminded me of a nightmare hostel I stayed in in Phenom Pehn. I forgot to take a photo of the bathroom, or rather the opening that was used as the bathroom.
The toilet had no seat and the shower was a hose from the wall into the tiled area. This was the only hotel I knew of that wasn’t 50 bucks a night, knowing that I was only staying one night I smiled and said I would take it.
The owner was a kind old man who then got me a towel and a bar of new soap, unaware that I would never step in the shower.
After checking the mattress for the telling bed bug rust stains I took a deep breath and decided if I stayed out most of the night I could just fall asleep and wake up early. While I’m usually strong and levelheaded during difficult situations, every so often I crumble and am seconds away from hyperventilating and sobbing.
I knew this could be one of those nights.
I held it together when the Internet cafe the owner sent me to was full and decided I could still walk around at dusk. Thankfully I finally found a nice Internet cafe and decided to park there for an hour. Afterwards, I ate a torta (chicken sandwich) and my stomach wasn’t feeling so hot. I couldn’t tell if I was dehydrated or feeling the effects of bad chicken. I started to pray to God/Buddha/Allah/Chuck Norris to spare me this one time.
I could not be sick in that bathroom.
On the verge of a massive breakdown there was only one thing to do. I bought water, a packet of cheap chocolate cookies and headed home. When I arrived I used the tape from my first aid kit to tape down the garbage bag covering a broken window and watched old episodes of LOST and The Office on my laptop.
Watching television gave me the comfort of some normality. Eventually the sugar high wore off and I fell asleep.
Some travelers don’t believe in electronics, but without that laptop I likely would have cried myself to sleep. You could argue that maybe I would have learned from that experience but I think all I would have gained is swollen eyes and a puffy red face.
In the morning it didn’t look so bad but I was so glad to leave. And whoever up there actually listened and I made it through without having to use the seatless toilet.