Eating and drinking my way through life and learning all the while

Escaping the UK and getting home to Spain the long way

This my story of escaping the UK and getting home to Spain the long way via Mexico & the USA.

I usually love a little detour, finding those fun spots that can break up a journey and turn a bad connection into a good time. Mexico is certainly up there with the best detours I’ve decided on recently.

I needed to get to NYC for a meeting, Europeans aren’t allowed in if they have spent the previous 14 days anywhere in Europe, but if I detour via the Caribbean or Mexico I can get in.

Mexico currently has no test or quarantine requirements so was a better bet than the Caribbean, and so I booked the flights LDN – MEX – JFK – MAD.

This trip was also the only way I’d be guaranteed to get back home to Madrid and be with my husband in time for Christmas. After missing his birthday and our anniversary already this year due to COVID-19 travel restrictions I really needed to not leave him alone for Christmas as well – we’d already decided going back to the UK for Christmas to stay with his parents like usual would be too risky this year.

If I stayed in the UK there was a real possibility I’d be stuck there in terrible hotel rooms indefinitely. After so many broken promises I have very little faith on the travel restrictions being lifted by December 2 and if they are whether there would indeed be any flights to Spain by then!

During this UK November lockdown, international travel is banned for anything other than business purposes. I still can’t quite get my head around how the UK government can effectively ban me from flying back home when I don’t even live in the UK full time anymore, forcing me to pay expensive London hotel rates, but I’m not going to go there…

I’d planned to take a little apartment for a couple of weeks in Mexico City. It would be close to the park so I could run every day, take a yoga class a few times a week, self-teaching I feel is reaching it’s limits, eat some good guac and you know, check out couple of my fav cocktail spots at the weekends.

But like all good plans this year they went array, I read in the NYT that all bars and restaurants were to close in Mexico City for two weeks. Shit, do I really want to be in an effective lockdown in a new city, after hating it so much in London? Not really!

So, I change my plans, I had a few other spots on my Mexico hit list, and decided to check out one of them. Oaxaca!

Oaxaca was interesting for a number of reasons:

1. The COVID cases were low, some of the lowest in Mexico, I’m still travelling but I don’t want to catch this shit

2. It sounded like real Mexico – not tourist Mexico, no offence but places like Cancun or Tulum have zero appeal – I try and avoid certain types of Americans abroad as much as I do Brits abroad

3. It’s the heart of Mezcal – and there is nothing I love more than combining my love for travel with my love of good liquor.

So that was it, the flight to Oaxaca was an hour from CDMX. I’d book a night in CDMX either side to avoid tight transfers and spend the rest of my time in Oaxaca.

So colour me surprised when I get the taxi from the airport and drive past block after block of bars and restaurants that are all open – although bars stop serving by 9pm. Damn the NYT, if I’d know the bars were open I would have stayed in CDMX longer. But I have one night now and another one in a week or two, best make them count!

I head back to the hotel and take myself out for dinner and enjoy a bloody beautiful three course meal and margaritas  – stunningly fresh, amazingly flavourful – it’s my first proper meal in weeks after surviving on corner shop fair in London, it’s heavenly.

The next day, I take a wander around the city, observe anti govt protests, get a beauty treatment or two and jump on a plane for Oaxaca. I have the name of one good cocktail bar – Selva – and that’s about it. But I realise that’s all I need these days, one good bar usually leads to another…

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