Swimming with Whale Sharks in Mexico


If you’ve read Part 1 of my Mexico adventure, you might remember that I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to creatures of the sea. Well a week into our trip we were heading to an area near Holbox early in the morning to go and swim with Whale Sharks in the deep blue sea. Only two days before this I was acting like a complete ninny because a fish the size of my hand was brushing past my leg so this was a B.I.G deal.

I remember that I had mixed feelings as we bumped over the waves on the speedboat. One part of me was charged with excitement and the other half of me was absolutely terrified. If it wasn’t for Sarah, I’m honestly not sure I would have went through with it so I’m glad she gave me that little nudge that I needed.

Can you see the shadow?

Can you see the shadow?

Hello beautiful :)

Hello beautiful :)

We saw some dolphins too!

We saw some dolphins too!


I did it! There’s no photographic evidence of me having a cup of tea with them but it’s all up in my little noggin…or well, it’s a vague memory due to being so overwhelmed at the time. It’s hard to describe how it feels to be beside something quite so majestic. I was scared and that feeling didn’t disappear but I was really proud of myself for facing something that really challenged me. As for Sarah, she could have been swimming with a goldfish she was so unafraid! I admire that :)

If you want to change your life, you must first change your mind.

So yeah, go and swim with whale sharks and tick it off your bucket list :)

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That time in Mexico: Part 1

Twenty feels like a lifetime ago now. So many new experiences have enriched my life since then and still I look back at Mexico and remember what an amazing time I had with my childhood friend, Sarah.

It was the first ‘big’ holiday I had ever had and we had booked one of those all-inclusive (and exclusively touristy) packages to Playa Del Carmen, described as one of the hippest places in the Yucatan Peninsula. I vaguely remember arriving and Sarah having to tip the entire contents of her luggage out at the airport before we could proceed any further…do blonde people look more dodgy? It was morning when we left the UK and it was early morning when we arrived in Mexico. We decided to head straight for the beach and relax; although the jet lag wasn’t much of an issue it was still going to be a longer day than usual.


After settling down a bit, we decided to take a look at the excursions. By the end of the first day we had booked a considerable amount of tours – the operators must have loved us!

Here are some of the places we went and activities we did:

Tulum – Built between the 13th-15th century, Tulum, formerly known as Zama meaning City of Dawn stands tall on the edge of a cliff along the east coast facing the Caribbean Sea. In its heyday it was an important hub for trade particularly in turquoise and jade. It’s also one of the few Mayan cities protected by a wall. The word Tulum itself is the Mayan word for fence, wall or trench. There’s a couple of theories for why the city was surrounded by a wall – most obvious (to me at least) would be to protect the area from invasion. The second theory is that only the high and mighty ones (priests and nobility) could reside within the walls. The peasants were left outside.

If you like history, you should go ahead and check this beauty out. Word of warning though, it gets incredibly hot and humid so be sure to bring a sun hat and plenty of water!

Isla Mujeres aka Island of Women If I remember correctly, we took the catamaran here! It was lots of fun and we got to do a bit of snorkeling in the middle of the luscious turquoise sea While we were swimming the weather turned pretty dark and ominous and the currents were pretty strong so I was quite worried that I wouldn’t make it back!

Xel-Ha – A natural aquarium park full of attractions for everyone. You’ll get the opportunity to come up close and personal with many different species of fishy’s. Before going here I pretty much pooed myself (please don’t take this literally) when in the vicinity of fish. When you’re in the water at Xel-Ha, there’s pretty much no escape! Let’s just say I’m a lot more confident these days. As well as snorkeling, there’s also tubing and so many other activities. You can click here to be directed to their site. I recommend it!

In my next post about Mexico, we’ll be swimming with Whale Sharks!

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Haunting me – Auschwitz & Birkenau


I wrote this on the evening after visiting Auschwitz & Birkenau and I felt that it needed to be shared. I was feeling a little ‘creeped out’ by the whole experience so excuse the mournful tone.

I’m having trouble sleeping tonight. Every time I close my eyes all I see are visions of Auschwitz & Birkenau scorched into the back of my eyelids. Today we visited two of the death camps that I’ve heard so much about. It felt so wrong that the sun was shining on this place, yet despite it being a bright and sunny day full of curious tourists I still felt an eery stillness walking around.

Before arriving there, I kind of felt it was a little wrong to visit a place which was the resting place of millions of Jews. Did people really get a kick out of this? I wondered. Now I’ve been there however, I can’t emphasise just how important it was to go and see the camp with my own eyes.

We need to remember. We need to be educated. We need to pay our respects for those who perished and the few who risked their lives for the sake of others.


Inside one of the buildings at Auschwitz, there was a wall of photos of some of the men and women registered into the death camp. Some, though only having just arrived showed signs that they had been beaten; some wore a blank expression and some (and the ones that really got to me) were faces of men and women wearing genuine smiles with what seemed like no inclination of what was soon to happen to them.


One of the gas chambers at Birkenau

Of about eight hundred jews who tried to escape, only about one hundred and fifty managed. It didn’t matter how long it took to search for an escaped prisoner, the Nazis would carry on searching even if it took a whole year.

We learnt about the medical experiments performed on the jews for various purposes and how a lot of the prisoners would end up physically handicapped and thus  would meet their end much faster because they could no longer work and were therefore deemed useless to the Nazis.

We learnt about Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish priest who died as a prisoner in Auschwitz. When a prisoner escaped, the prisoners in the camp would be punished. This was to discourage other prisoners from having even the notion of thinking about escaping (and also because they were just merciless bastards). On this occasion there were ten jews selected to be eliminated in the starvation bunker including Franciszek Gajowniczec who began sobbing for his wife and children. Maximilian stepped forward and asked to take this mans place. Oddly enough, the officer agreed and the priest was thrown down the stairs into the starvation bunker and left to starve. Whilst the other prisoners were gnawed at by their thirst and hunger (often drinking their own urine and licking the cold walls) the priest would pray.


After two weeks only four of the ten were still alive.  The Nazis grew impatient as they needed the cells for more victims so an executioner was sent to inject a lethal dose of carbolic acid into each of the men. Maximilian was the last to die and whilst fully conscious, he lifted his arm to receive the shot. A true saint

Franciszek Gajowniczek survived to tell the story and died in 1995 at the age of 95.

After putting pen to paper, I finally managed to get some sleep. I won’t ever forget my visit nor will I forget the fluttering wings of the butterfly that danced past a gas chamber that day.

On another note; try to be respectful if you go. Taking pictures of you smiling next to a display case of glasses (or whatever) just makes you look like a fool.

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