My Year in Review: 2023

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Wow, I cannot believe this is the ninth year in review post! I’ve been doing this blogging lark a while now (although it wasn’t until six years in that it was a job rather than a hobby).

I rounded up 2022 by saying that I’d had a crazy year of travels (letting off steam from not being able to travel in 2020 and 2021, for obvious reasons) and needed some downtime.

This year has definitely been more chilled with more structure, although it’s had its crazy moments too, of course.

Living in Mexico City

For the whole of 2023, I have lived in the same place: a lovely apartment in the Roma neighborhood with two great roommates and their dogs. It’s the first time I’ve rented an apartment since 2015 (before I first quit my London 9-5 to backpack and begin this untraditional lifestyle).

If anyone’s been following that long, I spent 6 months in Mexico City from late 2019 to early 2020 and fell in love with this city and made great friends. When the pandemic hit, I went back to the UK and got stuck there for a while. It was always my goal to return and pick up where I left off.

In 2023, I loved having stability, a base to return to between trips, consistent friendships (rather than fleeting travel connections), and access to a decent kitchen so I can eat healthily. After almost a decade of travel, it’s been good for the mind and body.

Saying that, paying rent while also paying for accommodation when I go on trips is expensive, so I’m planning on taking a break from rental life in 2024 so I can do a big trip…

Hosting my first group tour in India (Feb-March)

This was easily the highlight of my year! It’s been almost five years since I was in Asia and I miss it so much. Getting to host a tour with my readers and see India through their eyes was a dream come true. Celebrating Holi festival for a second time in India was a blast!

A company handled all the logistics so it wasn’t stressful for me, I just had to hang out with the fantastic guests. I loved them all! Everyone was chilled and funny.

It also felt like a measurement of how I’ve come, on my solo travel journey and with my blog. I reflected that I first visited India with a friend in 2015 when I had never travelled alone and didn’t yet have a blog. I came again in 2019 (solo which felt like a challenge at the time) with my blog as a hobby that wasn’t yet monetised. In 2023, it’s my job and I was back as a career opportunity!

The tour visited Delhi, Jaipur, Pushkar, Jodhpur, and Jaisalmer: all places I’ve visited before (some twice). When it ended, I flew down to Goa (where I hadn’t been before) for beach chills and a week at a yoga retreat. Each day started at 6am with meditation and yoga in silence and, after a vegan brekkie and lunch, more yoga and an early night.

It was a nourishing experience, though I was happy to sleep in and eat cheese again after!

UK and New York (on the way back to Mexico from India)

I got back ‘home’ in a very convoluted way…

Since flights from India to Mexico transited in London, I decided to stop off to see friends and family… and eat some fish and chips (the vegan Goa life didn’t last long, unfortunately).

Then, since flights from London to Mexico usually transit in the US, I decided to treat myself to a weekend in solo in New York. Even though I mainly ate snacky foods like pizza slices and bagels AND stayed in a hostel, it was the most expensive 3 days of my life! But it was fab.

Belize & Guatemala (September)

After spending the summer working and eating my way around Mexico City, I took a month off to travel to two countries I’ve been dying to visit forever! In fact, the whole of Central America is high on my bucket list since my 2020 trip got cancelled due to the pandemic (watch this space in 2024!).

solo travel guatemala
Lake Atitlan

Guatemala highlights:

  • Wandering and drinking coffee in the idyllic city of Antigua
  • Caving and swimming in the Semuc Champey river region
  • Admiring 4th-century Tikal ruins
  • Spending 10 days on the banks of Lake Atitlan, moving between picturesque towns.

Belize highlights:

  • Hanging out on Caye Caulker Island (pictured above)
  • Snorkeling with manatees and nurse sharks in the Belize Barrier Reef
  • Seeing Mayan sacrificial skeletons in the Actun Tunichil Muknal caves near San Ignacio

LOWLIGHTS included being bitten by a pack of dogs at 3am (Lake Atitlan) and going to the hospital. Also, falling down some stairs in a hostel and scrapping off half my toe… Then sticking it together and going hiking and caving in Semuc Champey!

Canada (October)

Since I have two good friends who live in Vancouver, I’ve been saying I’ll visit for ages. So, I found some very reasonably priced flights from Mexico City and took a hand luggage-only trip for 10 days.

It was my first time back in Canada after I did a semester studying there almost 12 years ago so I was thrilled to be reunited with poutine and Tim Hortons donuts!

Since I was there to see friends, I mainly hung out around the city but we did go on a 2-night trip to Salt Spring Island known for goat’s cheese and cider production! We also did a couple of hikes including the super beaut one pictured above to Joffre Lakes.

Starting my Mexico travel blog!

I still don’t know if this was a savvy or crazy idea! As if running one website wasn’t enough, I decided to set up a niche website all about Mexico travel. Since I live here and love the culture and food, I thought why not!?

I want to keep Where Goes Rose? focussed on solo female travel and I find niche websites always do better, so I wanted a space where I can talk everything Mexico.

To start from scratch and hope to monetise My Mexico Trip, too, is going to be hard work… Let’s see how it goes!

Places I visited in Mexico this year

Having my new Mexico blog means travelling to create content! What a chore 😉 In 2023, I went to…

  • San Cristobal de las Casas (January) – this city in Chiapas state had been on my list for ages. I made pals at the hostel and took trips to breathtaking Sumidero Canyon and indigenous villages separated from Mexican society.
San Cris
  • Cholula & Puebla (May) – I spent a long weekend here, just 2 hours from Mexico City. Puebla is a charming city while Cholula is famous for its huge underground pyramid predating Spanish invasion. I also did a cool cooking class with a local chef and, since I was the only person on the tour, ended up eating a huge feast!
  • Huatulco & Mazunte, Oaxaca coast (July) – along with my roommate and her guests from the UK, we hired a house on the coast in Huatulco and did fun excursions like boat trips. Then, I spent a solo week in Mazunte beach town.
  • Oaxaca City (November) – it was my third time in Oaxaca for Day of the Dead, one of my favourite cultural events in Mexico! Whether you visit for the festival or not, this city is idyllic with world-class cuisine, plus there are great day trips – I went hiking this time in a stunning region.
  • Valle de Guadalupe wine region (December) – a friend and I visited Baja California Norte for a few days. We didn’t love Tijuana or Ensenada (apart from the fish tacos) but the wine region was wonderful, although hard to get around on foot. On one memorable occasion, we recruited a local fireman to drive us to the next winery!

What’s next for 2024?

For the first few months of the year, I’m going to be staying local in Mexico City and doing all the things I enjoy like seeing friends, visiting new coffee shops and restaurants, and maybe taking a few mini trips.

But mainly I’ll be working and saving up my energy for April when I’ll hopefully depart on a big trip through Central America! I’ve been dreaming of this for years. Then, I hope to spend summer in the UK because it’s been ages since I spent a proper chunk of time there.

Then, I’ll hopefully return to Mexico for winter. Let’s see what the year holds!

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