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Jessica from Turquoise Compass is a teacher at heart, but her true passion is traveling (especially to turquoise beaches), adventure, and trying new things. She has been to 32 countries and is ready to see more. She has completed hundreds of items on her bucket list and encourages others to live life to the fullest, while taking advantage of every opportunity that comes up. She attempts to try something unique in each country/destination that she visits. As you can tell, this hyperactive traveler loves visiting beautiful destinations whether abroad and locally. She shares her wonderful trip to Mexico with us this week.

Over to you, Jessica…

CompassWhat do you look for in a holiday?

Turquoise, Turquoise, Turquoise! A turquoise beach is the place for me. Turquoise Compass encapsulates everything that is significant in my life and connects all of my themes well. Turquoise being my favorite colour reminds me of the ocean, the beach, the earth (the natural turquoise gemstone), and my travels. I usually do not travel too far from the coast. Even if I do I find my way back to the sea. After any inland vacation I often find my way back to the beach somehow. There is something magical about being close to the sea. It is as if I am “at home”. Sometimes I wish I could live and breathe underwater. My true passion is traveling (especially to turquoise beaches), adventure, and trying new things. I’ve been to 32 countries and I am ready to see more.

100_4738Where did you go?


Why Mexico?

I wanted to go somewhere different, off the beaten path and I went for my first solo backpacking trip.

Where did you stay?

I decided to backpack for 6 weeks, while taking local transportation around the country, and staying in youth hostels. I thought it would be a journey. When I landed in Mexico, alone with my backpack in tow, I took public transportation for a few pesos into Cancun city (not the touristy Cancun) with locals, and walked to the hostel from the central city bus station with illegible directions written on a scrap of paper. It’s no wonder nothing happened to me that very first day. With visitor stamped on my forehead, I naively traipsed through the narrow streets until I found my unmarked hostel after a few wrong turns. With sweat dripping down my brow, I was proud of myself that I accomplished something. I did it, without help from anyone. I took a chance that I could do something brave and out of the ordinary.

100_3792Tell us about the accommodation

I used hostelworld.com to help guide my decisions in finding adequate hostels, but I mostly trusted suggestions from other travelers I met along the way. Without knowing where I would go next or for how long I would stay, I knew that it would all work out somehow. I only booked my first hostel and only for two nights to get me started. From there, I had no idea what I would do (or what I would want to do). I decided that for the first time in my life that I would let chance and faith take control. I would attempt for the first time in my life to not worry about the planning, but let life happen. Life indeed happened, and it changed me.

Your most memorable moment/s of the trip?

Landing in Mexico for the first time as a solo female backpacker went surprisingly smooth, with the odd transition here and there. It was much easier than I thought it would be arriving at the airport and finding my way to the hostel (by myself – without speaking much Spanish). Prior to departing Canada, I spent so much time telling everyone how fine it would be with me traveling alone, yet it wasn’t until the airplane was making its descent for Mexico that I realised how scared crapless I was. My heart was racing, my hands were clammy, and I started thinking of the worst things that could or would happen to me. It was in that moment when I realised: this is real.

100_3489What did you get up to?

The province of Quintana Roo introduced me to amazing off shore snorkel spots where I would see incredible colourful schools of fish, sting rays, barracuda, and amazing coral. My first couple weeks in Mexico had me swimming with whale sharks, visiting animal sanctuaries, a turtle sanctuary, seeing lighthouses, ruins, riding on the back of a scooter, taking in cultural spots, and seeing the best beaches and sunsets that I had ever seen at that point in my life. I was in a place which allowed me to completely be myself, while finding parts of myself that were once masked and hidden.

I learned that traveling alone can be rewarding and enlightening. I was able to go where I wanted to go, stay for as long as I wanted to stay, and do exactly what I wanted to do without any compromise, while still meeting amazing people along the way. I was able to get an incredible amount done in a short amount of time as a hyperactive traveler, yet still had time to relax on the beach every day (yes, that’s a priority of mine when I’m traveling to a turquoise destination). My Mexican travel journey changed the way I looked at life. I realized then that is so much more to life and that I’m up for the challenge of finding those things.

100_3586Was it good value for money?

With an abundance of cheap hostels, public transportation, and food markets my trip to Mexico was by far the cheapest trip I have ever taken.

Your top tip/s for the area?

Must dos in the province of Quintana Roo:

• Hike some of the 25 kilometres of beaches along the Cancun Island Strip
• Mayan Ruins: Chichen Itza
• Swim in a cenote
• Drive through Mayan villages
• Eat typical Mayan Food
• Explore the small fishing village of Puerto Morelos
• Visit the island of Cozumel (take a ferry from Playa del Carmen and snorkel in one of the top rated reefs in the world).
• Mayan Ruins: Coba- Rent a bike and explore some of the 105 kilometres of jungle covered ruins. If you get lucky, you might just see some crocs and iguanas in their natural habitat.
• Kayak in the turquoise waters of Playa del Carmen
• Stay on Isla Mujeres (the Island of Women)- the sunsets are out of this world
• Swim with whale sharks
• Visit Isla Contoy- A bird sanctuary

Favorite PictureWhich photo is your favourite and why?

Mayan Ruins: Chichen Itza- It’s by far one of my favorites because it represents Mexico: culture, history, and beauty.

Would you recommend to a friend? Would you go back again?

One of my favorite countries is Mexico! As much as I love visiting new places and new countries, there is something special about Mexico that keeps luring me back. I’ve been to Mexico on three different occasions, with each trip lasting 1-8 weeks in length. Each adventure took me to a new region in the country and allowed me to explore more within one of the most beautiful countries I know. It’s been 4 years since I’ve been to Mexico and I am already feeling the pull back to the country. I’m surprised I didn’t land there a fourth time during my 14 months of full-time travel. It won’t be long before I go back. It’s a must. It’s already in the works. Just waiting for the perfect moment. It’s a place you have to see at least once.

100_3586What are the five holiday essentials you couldn’t live without?

• GoPro Hero 3 Camera & XShot
• EOS SLR Rebel T3 Cannon Camera
• Laptop
• Yoga pants
• Bathing suit

 What is your most favourite place in the whole world and why?

Have you ever been somewhere and left a part of yourself behind?  Mexico is that place for me. My heart belongs to Mexico. Mexico is the place where I first backpacked and traveled alone, learned to be myself, and allowed myself to start fulfilling my dreams. It’s Mexico that has molded me into the person I am today. My decision to backpack alone throughout Mexico and Belize in the summer of 2008 would become one of the biggest turning points in my life. I was tired of doing what everyone else wanted to do, going with the flow (other people’s flow), and not following my full potential. At that point in my life, I had never backpacked alone and had only done one backpacking trip prior to Honduras and Nicaragua, which was partly a volunteer venture. This trip meant going off into the world alone, ready for whatever the world would throw at me, and ready for one of the best adventures of my life. This first trip to Mexico changed me (I’ve been to Mexico three times now). It instilled a desire in me to see more of the world and to make it happen. And I did.



If you would like to be featured on Holiday Snapshots, please email me at [email protected] and I look forward to including your travel stories.