Sunday, November 8, 2015

Rest Days

One of the things about traveling is that I really want to enjoy every last second of my time. Alright, fair enough, those of you who know me and are currently laughing - maybe it's not just when I travel. The last few years in San Diego were quite the whirlwind of activities and plans and sports and concerts and whatever else I could fit in.

One thing I struggle with - both with travel and with my daily life - is  being able to just take some time to rest.

Puerto Escondido was supposed to be my rest days. I got a bungalow on the beach, I avoided making plans to take a tour, I didn't look up any interesting things to do on the internet or in guide books. I just got a nice hotel room across the street from the beach, with a pool.

And then... well, and then Puerto Escondido happened.

So when I woke up Saturday morning to head out, I wasn't really that much more rested than I was when I got to Puerto Escondido. And the goal was to make it to Tuxtla Gutierrez soon, which was at least two days of riding - so I got on the bike, rode all day (with a quick stop to change my oil), and when I saw a hotel on the side of the road near dusk, I stopped. I spent the entire evening in the hotel room (with marvelously fast internet) only leaving to get dinner at the restaurant connected to the hotel lobby.

But I felt guilty about it. I was on the outskirts of a town (Juchitan) which probably had some interesting things going on, but I was sitting in a hotel room watching sports and Netflix. So I resolved to get up early the next day and get to Tuxtla Gutierrez early and do some things with my day.

...Instead, I stayed up past midnight, and didn't get moving til 10 the next day, so by the time I arrived at the hostel in Tuxtla it was already mid-afternoon. After my customary post-ride shower I sat down to work on a blog post.

...Instead, I played video games for an hour or so, until one of my roommates came back and interrupted. I talked with him a while, and then sat down to work on the blog post again.

...Instead, I played more video games. The rest of the night, I tried to work on a blog post, or look up what I should do in the city while I was there, but I just couldn't motivate myself to.

Eventually in the morning (after a little more computer procrastination) I finally worked up the motivation to do something. First stop: Cañón del Sumidero, which was really the main reason I was stopping in Tuxtla anyway. So I rode my motorcycle out of town and up the side of the mountain that borders the canyon. (Incidentally, one of the first times I've ridden the motorcycle without all of my things strapped on since I started the trip.)

I rode up to check out the five "miradors" (viewpoints) along the way. As I was riding up, I got quite a few good views of the city below, and thought I caught some of them with the GoPro on my helmet.

Turns out this is about the best one I got.
I made it to the first viewpoint, and checked out the view - not bad, and it made me even more excited for the others which were supposed to be better.

There was some cool geological info on how the canyon was formed as well.
I got back on the bike, and headed up the mountain farther, but found myself (for not the first time on the trip) riding through clouds so thick it was almost hard to see the road in front of me. I had to ride with the visor up because it kept getting covered in tiny droplets, which meant my face was getting pelted by the little droplets instead. Eventually, I made it to the second viewpoint, and walked over to catch this view.

See the canyon? Me neither.
Not exactly what I was looking for. I stayed for a minute, and then hopped back on the bike hoping for clearer views down the road. The next stop involved hiking down a muddy trail - there was a "grava" or "natural" - so I skipped the gravel trail and went for the natural one. Hiked my way half a mile down a rough trail in motorcycle boots, to get to the viewpoint and find... the same exact view.

At least the trail looked cool, though I took the gravel trail for the way back.
For the rest of the viewpoints, I didn't even try to take a picture, because there was nothing to see.

I got back to the hostel and showered, and then looked for something to make my day seem at least a little worthwhile, since my original plan had been a bust. I looked up information on the zoo which I'd heard was good: closed on Mondays. Looked up information on the coffee museum: close to the hostel, but when I walked over it was closed for the holiday (Dia de Muertos).

The day just wasn't going as planned at all. I almost just called it a night and sat in the hostel for the rest of the night, and honestly probably would have except that there wasn't a decent common area and there was no one else in my room, so I would have been all alone the entire night - which I know from experience doesn't help with days like this.

So I got ready and headed out to Plaza de Marimba - the last thing on my list of things to see in Tuxtla. And I'm glad I did, because it was the first thing that actually worked out - there was a live band playing music, people dancing, and a ton of vendors selling food and crafted goods.

A band, and a dancing skeleton on stilts.
It's hard to take away a lesson of "stay in when you're tired" when there's nights like Puerto Escondido where I was about to call it an early night and ended up having an amazing party night until 5:30 in the morning. But I think "trust my instincts" is a better lesson. In Puerto Escondido I was tired, but still found myself wanting to go out. In Tuxtla I had energy but found myself wanting to spend it on the computer instead of going out.

I've spent a lot of time cultivating a philosophy of "just say yes," but there's power on the other side too. Being able to say "no" to certain things is what opens us up to the possibility of saying yes to others. And as much as I find myself later appreciating the times when I've been a little bit miserable at what should be something fun, I need those rest days too.

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