It's been long overdue that I submit another post. Truth is, I've been really busy trying to get things flowing down here. Settling in has come with it's fair share of obstacles and re-realizations, but I'm getting into the swing of things. So, what have I been doing all this time? This post is meant to get you caught up on my life down here and fill you in on what life is like after being in Mexico for over three months now.
The biggest change in my everyday life is my line of work. No longer am I slave to the restaurant industry. After holding onto my TEFL Certification for nearly three years, I finally got a job teaching English. I was in tears when I learned I got the job. It satisfies a life-long desire I've had to work with languages for a living. I'll admit- it pays me next to nothing, but every time I teach a class, I walk away with a smile on my face and a sense of rewarding accomplishment in my gut. I'm providing the gift of education to people- which I've come to learn is one of the greatest things you can receive in this world. It also affords me the opportunity to educate myself further; I can take an unlimited number of foreign language classes for free, at my leisure.
If you've kept track of my older posts, you'll remember that my reasoning for making the move to Mexico was all about going after the things we love to do, the things that make us happy. I may be working for pennies, but my job makes me happy. So getting the job at the language school has been a huge accomplishment for me, a great first step.
Since I don't get paid all that much at the moment, money has been rather tight these months. There's a lot of night life here in Playa del Carmen- akin to Miami. So abstaining from "having a good time" has been somewhat of a challenge, as it's sort of a catch-22. I need to go out to meet new people and make new connections that could lead to friendships and/or work opportunities, but it also costs my wallet and my body dearly. It's hard to find a balance sometimes.
I get bored easily when I choose to stay in. It gives me a lot of time to reflect on my life and what I'm doing with it. The hardest thing is being away from my family. I miss them a lot and none of us are particularly good with communication. I think of my three-and-a-half year-old nephew, who I get to Skype/FaceTime with on occasion, and it's hard to explain to him that I can't come over and play because I'm "very very far away." This life can be romantically sad as it can be romantically beautiful. Such is the nature of our experience.
Despite the emotional battles that come with my journey, I know the benefits of my experience are going make me a "wise old man" someday. My adventures have been full of mistakes (which I call "learning experiences") as well as awe, all contributing to my future story-telling abilities that might inspire my intently-listening, wide-eyed grandchildren. Alright, children, count to one hundred! That's how many mosquitos attacked me in my sleep one night!
If there's one thing that living in the jungle during summertime has taught me, it's how to kill a mosquito. Let me just say that I consider my approach to life in-line with Buddhist philosophies for the most part, and I really don't like to kill anything- I've even made peace with the cockroaches (they're still unwelcome in my home, however). The mosquitos, though, are truly an evil creature in my mind. And so, I've found yet another reason to wear a hat. It's now my weapon of choice, functions like a boomerang, and helps me to pick off my tiny enemies at reaches beyond my humble height. The moment you aren't looking, those fuckers are coming for your blood. One must adapt, or die!
I won't hide the fact that this overwhelmingly annoying feature of living in the jungle is in some way contributing to my growing desire to ultimately move once again and continue the search for a place I'd call Home. It's not the only reason I know I won't settle here, however. Although this city is booming with a potential for new business, it feels like a shallow endeavor, fed by condominium complexes, time share schemes, and strip malls. Tourism opportunities are controlled by the street mafia, who claim entire sections of the town, and will run you out (or worse) if they catch you trying to infiltrate "their" market.
Opportunities for foreigners are therefore relegated to talents or skills that can't be found easily here, which, in my case, is the ability to produce high-quality video content and branding for other businesses, as well as teaching English. These are problematic too, however, as they pay next to nothing to teach English, and they have little idea of the real costs and value of video production. Actually, my steadiest and most lucrative source of income has come as a surprise to me. I've been fortunate enough to find myself in a situation where I can rent my apartment on AirBnB. After befriending the landlord and redesigning my conveniently-located apartment, I've found a way to keep the income flowing in exchange for a humble sleeping situation on a broken futon in a nearby apartment I warmly refer to as The Bunker.
I might wake up with a stiff neck or back from time to time, or snap out of bed here and there due to a hyper-sensitivity to any sound or feeling which stems from a fear of cockroaches, but I remind myself that it could still be much worse, that things were harder in Thailand, and that if I can stick out the grueling summer, rewards await me in high season, when I'll be able to charge five or six times my rent on AirBnB and afford a nicer "home away from home." The income from this sacrifice also allows me to teach and make videos for the sheer fun of it, which was the goal.
So, in a nutshell, the trip here has been well worth it, it's worth staying for a little while longer while I turn the corner, and it has allowed me to realize the initial goal that I set out to accomplish in coming to Playa del Carmen: to do what I love to do for a living.