The Good Husband Saga

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Last edited: 25th April 2019.

In March 2018 I wrote a blog about my relationship with my then boss/recent ex, ‘How To Date An Arsehole’ https://wp.me/p9u5hw-4K. As a consequence of writing that blog, I lost my job and had to leave Dubai, my home for 11 years. I made a complaint of professional misconduct to my company as he had abused his position of power and been emotionally abusive, which negatively impacted my health and my career. I was told to trust that they would deal with the matter. A year later, in April 2019, I learned that I had been misled and he is in fact staying with the company. In response I updated the post ‘Letter to the CEO’ https://wp.me/p9u5hw-1AD and wrote this blog post. #TruthMatters

In an ideal world I should not have had to blog about my boss/ex, AKA The Good Husband, to get the abusive cycle of our relationship to end. When you tell someone many times that their behaviour is hurting you and you hear endless sorries but they still persist, when they don’t leave you be when you ask them to, when you try to walk away but they don’t let you without repercussions in the workplace, then you get to a point when you will do anything to make it stop. Writing the blog post ‘How To Date An Arsehole’ was an act of desperation and I am grateful it led to me leaving a bad situation in my life.

Also in an ideal world I would leave ‘The Good Husband’ blog posts down. My dad passed away in February and something like that makes you reflect and reconsider everything. I made the choice to remove the posts in March as I felt it was best for all of us involved, and I was happy with that choice. I’ve moved on. I don’t condone what my ex put me through but I do forgive him. That doesn’t make what he did OK but it does mean I don’t hate him. Holding on to anger does nobody any good. Only he and I know what really went down between us and he has to live with everything he did. I ended the relationship multiple times trying to do the right thing. After the first time he ended it, I asked him to stop all personal contact and to only contact me when necessary for work to allow me to move on. He sent me this:

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He didn’t respect my wishes – I have messages telling me how he felt about me until the end of the relationship in 2018. It’s this kind of smooth-talking persuasion that suckers you back in. In an abusive cycle, when you try to break away, they talk you round, you want to believe them, things get better for a while and then the behaviour begins again, and it is often worse than it was before. That was my experience throughout the three years. One nervous breakdown, a lost job, post-traumatic stress, panic attacks and nightmares, broken friendships, sleepless nights, many many tears and much trolling later, I wish I had walked away sooner. Friends don’t ask for sex, repeatedly lead you on and knock you back when they feel like it, guilt you into staying in the relationship when you try to end it, deliberately hurt you, or undermine and make it difficult for you to do your job when they don’t get what they want – and neither should your boss. Abusive relationships are complicated. I still protected him when I left – I shouldn’t have. I felt strongly that a complaint of professional misconduct needed to be made as silence is complicity but I didn’t want to cause trouble for him and his family so I just asked for him to be spoken to to ensure he doesn’t do it again. I did not, however, expect for him to be rewarded with a new job, particularly after the way the company treated me. I’m baffled by that. What a slap in the face. Count yourselves lucky the school is not in the UK – I would have taken him to an employment tribunal. A national UK newspaper did contact me about covering my story but I declined. Telling the truth in my blog is enough.

My heart breaks for his wife and kids, especially as I kept my mouth shut for so long to protect them and stuck to my decision not to sleep with him. They don’t deserve to have to deal with repercussions from this shitshow. I’m so sorry. We’ve all been through enough. To be clear, I do not have a vendetta against him, no desire to ruin his life, but everyone needs to take responsibility for the things they do; I have but he evidently hasn’t. He hasn’t been held accountable and that’s not right. I don’t know if he intended to resign but they wouldn’t let him (the CEO’s deliberately misleading leaving announcement in September said he was going to pastures new; a school run by a different company or in a different country would have been a true fresh start for everyone) or if he still doesn’t feel as though he did anything wrong, which worries me but it’s not my problem anymore. As I have said before, if my complaint had been acknowledged, followed up, and I had been heard, this whole situation could have been properly resolved in private. When dealing with HR last year after I left Dubai, I always felt fobbed off and suspected there would be no consequences for him. Time has proved my suspicions correct and it looks like I was the last to know he will be staying with the company. They never had any intention of holding him accountable. For that reason, the blog posts have been re-posted and will have to stay up. I’m no one’s scapegoat – punished for speaking up while he got a public pat on the back. I will not be made out to be a liar when I was not even spoken to. I was ignored and expected to go away. That’s not OK, not in 2019. Women with truth and evidence on their side expect to be treated better than that. I can’t work out if I wasn’t believed in the first place, or whether I was believed but the company didn’t want to address it. I do know that the truth did not fit with their agenda and they didn’t want to hear it. I don’t think anyone would fight this hard to be heard, and take so much shit for it, if they weren’t telling the truth. No one would break an NDA if they didn’t feel it wrong to stay silent. People are angry I went public with his identity and I was made to feel guilty for it, but the company turned a blind eye anyway, which makes me feel vindicated and glad I kept speaking up. I only went public with his identity AFTER the CEO publicly supported him, despite being informed of his professional misconduct – we were kissing in his office when he asked me to have sex on his desk, very happy to commit adultery in the workplace (2nd November 2015). Thank God I said no and never allowed myself to be in that situation with him again. All I ever asked was to be treated with respect; instead I was fucked around, lied to, misled, and portrayed as an unreasonable unstable woman who needed to be silenced.  Just FYI, justifiable anger over dealing with bullshit does not make a woman a psycho. We are not living in the Dark Ages. Gender equality matters in this era of TimesUp; women no longer tolerate being ‘muzzled’ for blowing the whistle when power is abused. 

I appreciate that it is difficult for others to fully understand what I went through because you didn’t go through it but that does not mean that you get to troll me or discredit me because you don’t want to believe what I have said. You were not there. You haven’t seen all of the messages (the manipulative mean ones are quite something; completely incongruent with his ‘Mr Nice Guy’ image). You don’t know everything that happened. I have made some things public because I wanted to be believed and I want to help others to recognise that they could be in equally harmful personal/professional situations, to encourage them to speak up and escape. I could easily share more messages/emails, tell more about all the crappy things he did, but it’s just not fair on his family to do so. I can only imagine the lies he’s told. I know first hand how convincing he is – the fake empathy act, the ‘I’m speaking to you as a friend’ spiel used to get colleagues on side, and how special he can make you feel. It’s all smoke and mirrors. Eventually I saw through it all, stood up to him and paid a heavy price. I actually tried to make peace with him after Dad passed, through grief and my own tendency to always want to make things better for other people. I momentarily forgot who I was dealing with. I won’t make that mistake again. I can’t respect a man who doesn’t take responsibility. The ‘boys will be boys’ mentality has let – and continues to let – men get away with shit for years; it has to stop. 

I don’t foresee writing any more blog posts about this relationship and its aftermath but who knows, maybe one day I’ll write a book about it all. I have the perfect titles: ‘A Matter of Principal’ or ‘How To Date (& Leave) An Arsehole’. One good thing that has come out of this experience is opening up the discussion about emotional abuse. Until I had counselling, I had just perceived our relationship as toxic but it was a game-changer realising it was more than that. As I have written in an earlier post, ‘Invisible Scars’ https://wp.me/p9u5hw-Sf identifying a relationship as emotionally abusive is not about labelling yourself as a victim but instead recognising what unacceptable behaviours occurred and getting the help necessary to heal. It’s a work in progress. The revelation that my boss/ex has been allowed to get away with abusing his position of power triggered unpleasant memories this week that I have tried hard to put behind me and sent me back to a dark place. And people wonder why it mattered to me that I was not heard and he was not held accountable. This article explains why emotional abuse needs to be taken seriously and suggests ways to set yourself free for any of you experiencing this   I fought back. You can too. There is life after emotional abuse.        

The best revenge is being happier without them and I’m definitely enjoying living a new chapter in my life. I will never go back to Dubai – the hypocrisy of the place repulses me and there could be legal consequences for me if I returned. Things are what they are and nothing I say is going to change anything. I’ve wasted too much time on this man and this whole saga. I can’t keep trying to convince people to believe me when they just don’t want to listen. People always believe whatever they want in the end, regardless of the truth. Proud of myself for holding him accountable when others haven’t. He’s welcome to stay where people know what he did. He’s made his bed. No smoke without fire. You can’t say I didn’t warn you if he does it again, though I doubt very much that he would be that stupid. His family and I deserved better; he let us all down. I’m grateful I got away and he can’t hurt or manipulate me any more. I’m leaving this to karma. What goes around comes around. The blog posts speak for themselves. After everything I’ve gone through, I’m happy and healthy, and that’s all that matters to me now. Complete closure, finally. Good riddance 😉

Peace & love.

Lisa.

This blog post links with: Letter To The CEO https://wp.me/p9u5hw-1AD; For The Record https://wp.me/p9u5hw-18C; How To Date An Arsehole https://wp.me/p9u5hw-4K; Get Lit (Not Gaslighted…) https://wp.me/p9u5hw-Gr; Invisible Scars https://wp.me/p9u5hw-Sf; From One (Ex) Mistress To Another https://wp.me/p9u5hw-1zN All of these posts have been updated for the final time. 

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Welcome to Nashville, y’all

*I will update this post as I discover more recommendations and things to do during my stay.

  • Stay: March and April 2019
  • Accommodation: Nashville Downtown Hostel and Music City Hostel.

I first visited Nashville back in October 2018 and then was fortunate to be invited to be an Ambassador at Nashville Downtown Hostel and its sister hostel, Music City Hostel in Midtown. This means I get to live in this fabulous city for two months and I will be writing a couple of blog posts in the coming weeks to help travellers get the most out of a visit to Nashville. Nashville is one of the fastest growing US cities, with an estimated 100 people moving here daily, and it is a sprawling city with distinctive areas that offer different vibes and attractions. For this first post, I’m going to focus on Downtown Nashville and the key tourist sights.

Honky Tonks

Nicknamed the Music City, Nashville is indeed a vibrant city full of aspiring musicians and great live music venues throughout the city. Most tourists who come here spend the majority of their time in Downtown, enjoying the Honky Tonks of Broadway and 2nd Avenue. Honky Tonks for those of you that don’t know, are bars that play country music and the ones on Broadway are always busy and very lively. A Friday or Saturday night on Broadway is quite something, with the street packed with revellers hopping from bar to bar. Don’t make the mistake of thinking Broadway’s Honky Tonks are quiet in the day time – when these bars open at 10 – 11 am, the live music and drinking begins. Always carry ID if you intend to go as it is standard to ID all patrons regardless of how old they look. You are spoilt for choice in terms of which bars to visit but Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge is a must do, Nudie’s has the longest bar in Nashville, you can sign up for free line dancing lessons at Wildhorse Saloon, Jason Aldean’s Kitchen & Rooftop Bar offers a great view of Broadway from its rooftop and friends tell me Robert’s Western World is their favourite Honky Tonk. On Friday afternoons there is always a long queue to get into Margaritaville as the radio show Buzz Brainard’s Music Row Happy Hour is recorded live here.

Key Sights

  • Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum: I’m not a big country music fan per se myself but this museum is excellent. There are always several temporary exhibitions on as well as the permanent displays of costumes worn by big names in the industry. $25.95 Adult ticket or $40.95 when combined with the Studio B tour.
  • Music City Walk of Fame – FREE – located near the Country Music Museum, this is a small ‘walk of fame’ featuring artists such as Elvis, Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash.
  • Johnny Cash Museum – a must for Johnny Cash fans (such as myself). This small museum boasts the largest collection of Cash artefacts and memorabilia. $19.95 general admission.
  • Ryman Auditorium – the original home of the famous Grand Ole Opry. You can take a self-guided backstage tour for $24.95 or catch a concert here.
  • Printers Alley – FREE – historic alley way home to a number of bars, notably Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie Bar and Skulls’ Rainbow Room.
  • Nashville Public Library – FREE – a lovely space to study and escape the cold/heat outside. The second floor has a large reading room with a view of the Tennessee State Capitol but the highlight is the Civil Rights Room, a room dedicated to documenting the Civil Rights Movement in Nashville compete with a recreation of a lunch counter (a nod to sit-in protests) and video library. I highly recommend a visit to enhance your understanding of Nashville’s history *Don’t be alarmed by the large presence of homeless people on the third floor or by the fascinating eloquent homeless man who likes to have debates with the two statues placed at the top of the staircase. This is a safe place to be. It also has a nice outside courtyard.
  • Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum – often over-looked by tourists in favour of the Country Music Museum, this museum honours musicians regardless of genre or instrument. I haven’t been here yet but I intend to go as I’ve heard it’s excellent. $25.00 Adult ticket.
  • Tennessee State Capitol – the seat of government for Tennessee. Closed on weekend and state holidays. Free guided tours offered. I haven’t been yet but I plan to go.
  • Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park – FREE – located near the State Capitol building, this park was opened to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Tennessee’s statehood. The park aims to tells to the story of Tennessee’s history through plaques, a war memorial, fountains and tours – FREE tours take place very Wednesday. I enjoyed exploring this site.
  • Tennessee State Museum – FREE – a short walk from the Bicentennial Park, this museum is definitely worth a visit. Dedicated to telling the history of Tennessee, the exhibitions are informative and engaging. I spent about two hours here and will probably go again before I leave Nashville as there was so much to take in in one go.
  • Nashville Farmer’s Market – FREE – good place to grab a snack after a visit to the State Museum. Various food options available. My favourite place was Butter Cake Babe Coffee Cafe, a cute cafe selling varieties of gooey butter cake, amongst other treats. Batch sells cool and quirky Nashville souvenirs. A night market takes place every 3rd Friday 5 pm til 9 pm.
  • Frist Art Museum – located in a beautiful art deco building that used to be the post office, this art venue is worth a visit. $15 Adult ticket. If you don’t fancy forking out for the ticket, just pop in to have a look at the interior of the building.
  • John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge – FREE – spanning the Cumberland River, this bridge offers lovely views of Downtown Nashville and the riverside.

Food Recommendations:

  • Sun Diner – spot on breakfast place next to the Johnny Cash Museum – open 24 hours on weekends. My Eggs Benedict was fab.
  • Oscar’s Taco Shop – good budget option on Church.
  • Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant –  Tasty Southern food with live music. Can get very busy but solo diners can eat at the bar. My fried chicken main course with mashed potato and green beans was delicious.
  • Merchants – Southern food served in a casual bistro downstairs and more formal dining room upstairs. I had Mac n Cheese in the bistro and it was the ultimate comfort food experience.
  • Martin’s Bar-B-Que – Had a kitchen tray of chicken tenders with sides of mac n cheese and green beans washed down with a beer. So good!
  • The Diner – a six storey 24 hour restaurant perfect for late night eats. Casual dining can be found on the 6th floor.
  • Pinewood Social – hip hangout where you will find a trendy eatery, coffee shop, bowling and cocktails.

*If you need to buy groceries whilst staying in Downtown your only option is H.G. Hill Urban Market on Church which closes at 9pm every night. It’s a decent supermarket so you should be able to find everything you want here.

Getting Around Nashville:

Nashville is very spread out so you won’t be able to get everywhere you want to by foot. Here are some transport options:

  • Old Town Trolley Tours –  Hop On Hop Off 15 stops $39.42 online on their site. Fully narrated tour. Good option if you are short on time as it includes a stop at the Belmont Mansion.
  • The FREE bus – MTA Music City Circuit operates two routes.
  • Electric Scooters – can be booked through apps such as Bird and Lyft and are an easy way to zip between the different areas of Nashville.
  • Uber/Lyft also operate here.
  • Pedal Taverns and various party specialist tour buses can be booked for groups coming here to party – a frequent sight up and down Broadway on weekends.

The Nashville Bucket List

The first week I arrived I was given this list of Nashville must-dos – so far I have done three of these. Let’s see how many I can do before I leave at the end of April 🙂

  • Drink a Bushwacker
  • Go to a Predators Game
  • Go to The Ryman to watch a show
  • Sing Karaoke at Wannabe’s
  • See the city from Love Circle
  • Honky Tonks on Broadway – done
  • Get drinks at The Patterson House – done
  • Stop by The Loveless Cafe for some food
  • Go to Piranhas and get a “Donut Burger”
  • Take in some art at The Frist Museum – done
  • Go on a Full Moon Hike
  • Watch an outdoor movie at Elmington Park

Adding my own Nashville Bucket List suggestions here:

  • Eat a Goo Goo Cluster – visit the store on 3rd Ave S
  • Queue up for fried chicken at Hattie Bs – 19th Ave S
  • Get your photo taken with the ‘I Believe In Nashville’ street art mural – 12th Ave S, opposite Reese Witherspoon’s store Draper James.
  • Catch a movie at the Belcourt Theatre.
  • Eat a sweet potato cupcake from The Cupcake Collection in Germantown.

Selection of pictures from my stay:

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Letter To The CEO

Last edited: 25th April 2019

In April 2018 I was suspended from my teaching job in Dubai as a consequence of writing a controversial blog post, ‘How To Date An Arsehole’. A year on, I wanted to write a letter to my ex-CEO.  Here’s the letter:

Dear CEO,

It’s almost a year since I left your company. You know who I am. I’m the woman who reported the Principal of one of your schools for professional misconduct and then went public with his identity when I was fobbed off. We met several times over the years I worked for you and you liked me I think, usually giving me a hug and having a chat with me whenever you visited our school. I had a great deal of respect for you, working as a successful female CEO in Dubai. As a woman, when I made my complaint, I had thought that you would have my back, but that was disappointingly not the case. I expected more from you, hence this letter.

As you know, I had an emotional affair with my boss, a married Principal, a man I have nicknamed The Good Husband. This was a consensual relationship. He made a move on me within weeks of us meeting and I was hugely flattered. He is an ambitious, driven man who expects to get what he wants and I was very much under his spell for a long time. But I’m not a ‘Yes Girl’, I speak my mind and stay true to my values and beliefs. I didn’t always agree with the things he did in school and given the closeness of our personal relationship, I felt I could share my thoughts with him which didn’t always go down well. It meant the relationship was marred by frequent conflict as he tried to control and get his own way. The state of our personal relationship would often impact on our professional relationship. He allowed his feelings for me to influence how he treated me professionally. When happy with me, especially in the early stages when he was pursuing me, he was complimentary and actively encouraged my professional aspirations (making promises of promotion etc) but when he was upset with me, he would sulk and fail to support me, treating me differently to other teachers, particularly during those times I tried to end the relationship. The promised promotion didn’t happen. It became a difficult environment to work in, which after three years took its toll – in the third year I had a nervous breakdown – and eventually I had enough. I was broken.      

Let’s recap the events of last year. In a moment of anger, I wrote a blog ‘How To Date An Arsehole’ https://wp.me/p9u5hw-4K about two of my exes, one of which was my boss. If any other teacher had written that post and complaints started to come in from parents, that teacher would have been told to take down the blog post immediately and the situation would have been managed. That didn’t happen in my case. I was thrown to the wolves and suspended when the complaints escalated. The night before I left Dubai, I reached out to you to request a meeting. You did not reply. When I told HR that I wanted to make a complaint about my boss, I was told to submit an email with some details. No one was very interested. I sent in a detailed complaint with screenshot evidence. Nothing happened. When I asked about my complaint I was told it was confidential and would be dealt with. I only know he was spoken to about it because he told me. Again I reached out to you, giving you details of the relationship, explaining how it had negatively impacted on my career and again I got no reply. You just didn’t want to know.   

And then I read your gushing announcement. For writing a blog, I lost my job and had to leave the country I lived in. I took responsibility for my actions. Despite an inappropriate extramarital relationship, including a kiss on school property, him asking me to have sex on his desk (I declined…) and unprofessional behaviour that was detrimental to my wellbeing, my boss was allowed to have one more year in his job at our school and received public praise by you. I have since learned that you have now allowed him to move to another school as Principal within your company so your announcement about him leaving was a complete lie and a deliberate attempt to mislead (you said you would miss him; not true given that he is not actually leaving the company!). A shocking double standard. Why lie if you are so sure he did nothing wrong? How do you know he did nothing wrong when you have never spoken to me about him? Was the truth just inconvenient for you? You said you were proud of him. I was gutted when I read that. You obviously hadn’t believed me and here you were, publicly supporting him. You didn’t even give me the courtesy of a phone call. All that apparently mattered to you was preserving the positive image of the school, not the truth. I had panic attacks and nightmares for months after I left, as a result of the relationship, as I struggled to deal with the aftermath – still loving him but trying to come to terms with how damaging his behaviour had been to me. Counselling helped me to understand that aspects of our relationship had been emotionally abusive, though, I honestly don’t believe that he realised that, until I blogged about it. 

Everyone believed my ex to be a nice guy devoted husband and father, so when I spoke out and shattered that image, I received a lot of abuse. I understood why people felt the way they did and I do regret the pain caused to his family – his wife has received heartfelt private apologies from me. But I wouldn’t have felt the need to speak out if you had not so publicly condoned what he did and fobbed me off. I would not have made a complaint if I couldn’t prove everything. I told you I had hundreds of emails, transcripts of WhatsApp conversations and screenshots that I could supply as evidence to back up my allegations. When the relationship started to become toxic, I realised how vulnerable my position at school was and kept everything in case the day came when I would need to prove the nature of our relationship. I never expected to have to use any of it but unfortunately my worst fears came true, though I had hoped to resolve the matter privately. I have never said anything publicly that wasn’t true and couldn’t be proved. I didn’t even sleep with him yet I have been trolled and called ‘a homewrecker’. I did not want to go public but I had to speak out about the unprofessional manner he treated me in the workplace and subsequent damage done to my career as a result of our relationship. 

By stating publicly that you were proud of him, you made it clear whose side you were on and what you thought. You like him and think highly of him. As someone who loved him, I get it, but he did abuse his position of power, and as sorry as he is about that, it wasn’t OK. I’ve been made out to be a liar, a disgruntled employee who just wants to cause trouble, an attention seeker, a scorned woman looking to destroy her ex, and that’s not fair and not true. Dubai is not a place of equal opportunities, irrespective of the marketing the government likes to do promoting the image of Dubai as a happy safe place for all, a tourist Mecca, the Vegas of the Middle East. Dubai is a place where women cannot report a rape because they will be jailed. That’s insane. I should have known that when I made my complaint of professional misconduct to you that it would just be swept under the carpet. Rather than supporting women, all you are doing is reinforcing the skewed values of Dubai. You should have spoken to me. You should have listened to me. You should have believed me. You should have supported me. If and when another woman comes to you with a similar complaint, please take her seriously. Don’t just fob her off, try to silence her with a non-disclosure agreement like you did with me and expect her to go away. The whole situation was handled so poorly; you made a bad situation even worse.

A year on, I am in such a good place mentally and emotionally and have made my peace with the past. My ex and I both made mistakes but we’re only human. That’s life. I’ve learned and grown; forgiven him and myself. I hope we both wish each other happiness and that he too is in a good place. Feel I should end this letter by saying thank you for suspending me. As traumatic as it was at the time, everything has eventually worked out for the best and all is now as it should be, and as it is meant to be.

All the best,

Lisa.      

P.S. I wrote this letter before I learned about his new job within your company. Disgusted and hugely disappointed. I was told my complaint would be taken seriously. That was obviously a lie. I was also told by HR that I should trust the company to deal with the matter. I didn’t trust you and it’s apparent now that I was right not to. Now I understand why you made me sign that NDA (I had no choice – you held the money I was owed hostage). Bravo. Unfortunately for you I refused to be silenced. What a bunch of hypocritical bastards you all are. He has evidently never taken responsibility or been held accountable. Instead you have protected and patted him on the back. Other people at the school have been fired for having affairs (my ex told one couple I know of to leave) so why choose to make an exception for him and reward him with a new job? I find it hard to believe that you’re OK with a married member of your senior staff asking a colleague for sex in the workplace. Forgiving him did not mean I condoned his unacceptable and unprofessional behaviour; I never will. I had taken all of the related blog posts down as a gesture of goodwill, for his family’s sake, but as you continue to condone his abuse of power and emotional abuse of me, I’ve put the posts back up as a matter of principle (excuse the pun) – I don’t want anyone else to go through what I did. The truth always speaks for itself, no matter how hard people try to sweep things under the carpet. You’ve just let him get away with everything, thereby conveying the message to other men that they can behave this way and probably get away with it too, and left me feeling unheard, let down, and discredited. Your actions have told the world that what happened to me doesn’t matter. It matters. Anyone who has been in any kind of abusive relationship knows how much strength and courage it takes to speak up, walk away and heal. I am stronger and wiser for all that I have been through. I’m going to continue getting on with living life on my terms, grateful for the happier experiences and the supportive friends I have in my life now, and leave it to karma to work her magic… 

This blog post links with: The Good Husband Saga https://wp.me/p9u5hw-1DE; For The Record https://wp.me/p9u5hw-18C; How To Date An Arsehole https://wp.me/p9u5hw-4K; Get Lit (Not Gaslighted…) https://wp.me/p9u5hw-Gr; Invisible Scars https://wp.me/p9u5hw-Sf; From One (Ex) Mistress To Another https://wp.me/p9u5hw-1zN All of these posts have been updated for the final time. 

Tulum, Mexico

Click here to access the full list of Artbird Network properties and other travel promos https://uncagedartbird.com/artbird-network/

  • Stayed: February 2019
  • Accommodation: Mama’s Home Hostel – loved this place! You are immediately made to feel welcome and part of the hostel family when you arrive. The staff are brilliant. It’s easy to socialise here and meet fellow travellers. The hostel runs activities every day such as free drinks nights, family dinners and cenote tours. The breakfasts are amazing – it is served to order and it is different every day. Highly recommended!

Tulum has become a prime spot in Mexico for tourists and for that reason I wasn’t sure if it was going to be my kind of place. Having spent months travelling round Mexico, enjoying places such as Guanajuato, San Cristobal and Valladolid, prior to my visit Tulum just sounded like an expensive tourist haven with nothing distinctive to offer me. Although having a good time in Tulum can be much more expensive than some of the other parts of Mexico, I did actually have a great experience and I’m glad I spent time here.

Your visit to Tulum can be tailored to meet your needs and your budget. If you are looking for a luxury beachside resort and don’t mind paying a premium rate for your ocean view, then you can easily find that here as multiple hotels and resorts line along the coastline. If you are travelling on a budget like me then you are likely to have to stay in Tulum town, an hour’s walk from the beach itself. Bikes are easy to rent here though (around 100 pesos per day) and most people use their bikes to access the beach and Tulum’s Mayan ruins – one of the most iconic images of Tulum is of the ruins perched overlooking the beautiful blue water. From Tulum town a taxi to the beach should cost no more than 150 pesos each way if you don’t want to walk or bike it. A minute walk from my hostel I was able to get a colectivo for 15 pesos.

The beach in Tulum consists of lovely golden sand though seaweed lining the shore is regarded by some as a problem. I didn’t mind it myself as it looks natural but high end beach resorts try to clear the seaweed away, leaving it pilled up in mounds, so their guests can capture unspoilt beach Instagrammable photos. One thing to be aware of is the lack of public beach access. The majority of places along the coastline charge for beach access so you will need to be careful about where you go at the beach if you don’t want to end up forking out an expensive fee. The Santa Fe entrance for a public beach is close to the ruins so this is a popular area. My favoured place to go was OM Hotel which is free to enter and you can buy cheap food (tacos, quesadillas etc) and drinks here – it gets very busy so go early to snap up a free-to-use sun bed. For those of you who don’t mind paying for ‘luxury’, you might want to check out Coco Tulum – on the day my hostel buddies and I visited, we were quoted 700 pesos just to access the beach! Shocking. As the weather was cloudy though, we were allowed to sit in the swing chairs for no charge, as long as we bought a drink. A glass of wine was 250 pesos and a beer was 120 pesos. Ouch. As lovely as this place was, my advice is save your money and just go to OM Hotel down the road (just keep in mind that this is a cash-only place and ATMS in the area charge ridiculous withdrawal fees so get your money out in town).   

Tulum town is quite compact. There are loads of eateries, bars, shops and supermarkets around so you will be able to find everything you need here and I really liked the street art dotted around the place, giving it some character.

My Itinerary:

  • Day 1 – Beach day – spent time at Coco Tulum and Om Hotel
  • Day 2 – visited Cenote Corazon del Paraiso (so-called as it is heart-shaped) organised by my hostel. Twenty of us went and we paid 250 pesos for entrance, food and all you could drink. Lots of fun!
  • Day 3 – A trip to the Mayan Ruins of Coba. See details below.
  • Day 4 – a trip to Akumal. See details below.
  • Day 5 – hangover day (free drinks nights in the hostel the night before…). Watched movies in a hammock all day.
  • Day 6 – Beach day – Om Hotel.

Visiting Coba

Coba is known for its large pyramid and it really is worth a visit.  My friends and I were told we could get a colectivo to take us there but we had problems trying to locate where to catch it. My advice is to take the second class bus from the ADO station in town (we took Mayab there – the bus was packed so we had to stand all the way there – and then Oriente back – 50 pesos each way). The drive time is around 45 minutes and you will be dropped off a minute’s walk from the entrance. You get the bus back from the same spot. Entry into the site is 75 pesos. 

Visiting Akumal

Akumal is a coastal resort about 25 minutes drive away from Tulum. My friends and I ended up visiting Akumal by mistake but it was a happy accident! We set out to go to the Gran Cenote and had been told you could catch a colectivo to it. We stopped several buses on the main street in Tulum town, were directed to keep walking to other stops and eventually a driver told us to get in. After 15 minutes he stopped and told us to get out – we were not at the Gran Cenote but another cenote on route to Akumal and Playa del Carmen. Not pleased to have been misled, we decided to continue on to Akumal, which is a really lovely beach and a great spot to snorkel with turtles. The colectivo was 35 pesos each way. We paid 100 pesos entry into Tsuuk Parque Natural and then paid 150 pesos to use a sun lounger all day. We were quoted 500 pesos to snorkel with turtles with a guide but were happy to just enjoy the beach. Definitely worth visit.

Foodie Recommendations:

As with Tulum itself, you can find multiple food options to suit your budget in the area. Here are some places I particularly enjoyed in Tulum town:

  • Sabor de Mar – fantastic seafood place. The shrimp salad and shrimp tacos were amazing! I ate here a couple of times.
  • El Rincon Chiapaneco – budget-friendly and very tasty local food (located next door to Sabor de Mar).
  • El Mariachi Loco – very touristy and not cheap but the food and service were both excellent.

*Note – I was surprised to be charged 560 pesos at the airport when leaving Mexico. I was expecting to pay an exit fee but I had apparently not been given the correct visa when I entered Mexico from Belize. Tourists usually receive a visa with an allowance of 180 days which is what I had been given when I entered the first time at the airport. This time I had entered by land, after taking a shuttle from Flores, Guatemala to Chetumal, Mexico (via Belize) and had only been given a 7-day visa. I’m told it is at the discretion of the officer at the border as to how much allowance you are given. At the border, the official was on the phone the entire time, did not speak to me at all about how long I was staying and nowhere on the visa slip did it say I only had 7 days allowance. This meant when leaving Mexico I was charged for over-staying my visa as I had spent longer than 7 days in the country. Lesson learned. Always check what time allowance you have been given rather than assuming you have been given the 180 days you are entitled to.

Selection of pictures from my stay:

From One (Ex) Mistress To Another

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Last edited: 25th April 2019

No little girl grows up aspiring to be someone’s mistress. I know I didn’t. Despite how I feel morally about extramarital affairs, I have actually had relationships with three married men – twice knowingly and once without my knowledge. Fear not dear reader, I’m not writing this post to try to justify my involvement in these relationships – there is no excuse for getting involved with someone else’s partner. If you choose to pursue a relationship with a married man, you will get hurt and it will be your own fault. That’s just how it is. Reading the stories of Jordyn Woods’ entanglement with Khloe Kardashian’s baby daddy Tristan Thompson recently made me want to shake her and hug her at the same time. She has been vilified for betraying her best friends’s sister, which is of course unacceptable. I’m sure we have all wondered how she could do such a thing, especially so close to home. As a former mistress though (a fact I am not proud of), I know how much hormones and emotions can cloud your judgement and the lies you tell yourself to help you live with doing wrong. You can’t choose who you fall in love with but you absolutely can choose what you do about it.                    

I was in my mid-twenties and married myself when I fell deeply in love with an older married man who was friends with my now ex-husband and I. He offered me a bar job when I was completing my Masters and as my marriage crumbled due to various factors (crippling debt, lack of physical chemistry etc), I found myself developing feelings for my friend and boss. He would rota himself on shifts with me and the more time we spent together, the more obvious it became that we harboured feelings for each other. I am a loyal person incapable of cheating so I refused to act on my feelings until I ended my marriage. The fact that I had feelings for someone else showed me that I did not love my ex-husband but I had too much respect for him to go behind his back and cheat on him. We went our separate ways and I began a relationship with the older man. We had rules – I never contacted him first, never called him. The only contact we had was to arrange dates and hook ups. We were very discreet. He was honest with me – he had been with his wife for a long time and still loved her but she no longer excited him or ‘ticked all of his boxes’ he said. They had a daughter he adored and there was no question of him leaving as he knew he would not be allowed to see his daughter. I did not want to break up a family and made it clear that I would never make him choose between his family and me. Who wants to be with a man who would leave his child anyway? We were together for two years until I got my first teaching job and had to move away, a blessing in disguise. Although he made me feel beautiful, loved, admired, I always struggled with the guilt of being a mistress, a dirty little secret, and it was a relief to free myself from that weight and start a new life. We parted on good terms, with love and gratitude, but decided not to keep in touch for both our sakes. I vowed to never sleep with another married man…

My second experience with a married man was not with my knowledge. I met a handsome guy in a bar and there was an instant connection between us. He was smart and funny and swept me off my feet with romantic dates and a luxury naughty weekend away. He was in Dubai (where I used to live) for business, didn’t wear a wedding ring, and I had no clue whatsoever that he was not a single man. I knew he had a young son but he had told me that he was no longer with the boy’s mother and I had no reason to suspect otherwise – until he dropped the bombshell. We were lying in each other’s arms after sharing a rose-petal bath and champagne in a glorious hotel when he suddenly decided to tell me that he was falling in love with me and therefore needed to be completely honest with me. I felt sick when he told me the truth – not only was he married with a young son, his wife was currently pregnant with their second child! He had the audacity to ask me to continue the relationship and told me he was prepared to extend his stay in Dubai in order to spend more time with me. In no uncertain terms he was told to get stuffed and to get his arse back to his wife. Ladies, if a guy appears to be too good to be true then they are probably hiding something. I was devastated to have been lied to and to have slept with another married man.         

So why did I then get involved with a third married man?! Good question. The Good Husband was not wearing a wedding ring when I met him but that said, when I learned that he was not single and wanted to pursue a relationship with me, I willingly went into that situation and that’s on me. We had rules about contact and the nature of the relationship – we said we would always be open and honest about our feelings but both agreed after weeks of messaging and a kiss that we would not sleep together. As strong as my feelings for him were, I just couldn’t cross that line again and I’m glad that we stuck to that agreement. However, as straightforward as the situation should have been, this particular relationship became complicated, personally and professionally – as I have written in other blog posts – and no matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to fix it. He pushed me too far, working together became impossible, and I ended up reporting him when I left our workplace. It was a sad and painful state of affairs for all involved. I should never have consented to the relationship in the first place. Like I said at the start, there are no excuses. I loved him but so did his wife and he was always hers.

When you get involved with someone else’s partner, you are only cheating yourself. You are settling for a ghost relationship, an illusion, stopping yourself from finding a relationship with someone who can fully commit to you, love you, and meet your needs. When you date a married man, you are always going to be second best. There will be disappointments when they let you down, when they naturally have to put family first, times when they can’t speak to you, and there will be highs and lows. If you are a good person with a conscience, the guilt eats away at you and the weight of it sits heavy on your shoulders and in your heart. At times you will feel needy because your needs can never be fully met in such relationships. You settle for scraps of affection and for seeing them when they can make time for you. You will never be a priority in their life, despite the promises made and heartfelt expressions of feelings.             

You deserve to not be someone’s secret. You deserve to be with someone who is proud to have you by their side, wants to show you off and openly tell the world that you are theirs. You deserve a love that is loyal, honest and supportive. Anything less than that is not worthy of your time, and not worth the heartache that comes with being the ‘side chick’ or ‘special friend’ as I was once called. And what if they did leave to be with you? How could you trust them? How can any relationship that is formed in shady circumstances properly flourish? As Khloe Kardashian has now discovered, cheaters don’t change their spots, though they may choose to put on a show of best behaviour for a while… Funny how the ‘other woman’ often seems to get more of the blame than the married man does. Perhaps because there is a perception that men are weak simple creatures ruled by their d*cks and desires whereas we seem to expect more from women; we expect them to abide by ‘girl code’ and thus judge them more harshly.   

Learn from my mistakes. Don’t be a mistress. Be a boss. Take care of your heart and only give it to someone who is fully available – mentally, emotionally and physically. Love someone who wants to be, and is able to be, yours. Know your worth ladies and don’t settle for less. I certainly won’t again, that’s a promise.

Take care,

Lisa.

📧 uncagedartbird@gmail.com

My Father’s Son

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*Picture is Dad holding my two-months premature baby brother.

What do you think of when you think of ‘family’? For some of you this word will conjure up images of famous families: The Waltons (showing my age here ha ha), The Kardashians, The Obamas etc. These families appear to stick together through thick and thin, always have each other’s backs, openly love and support each other. No family is perfect but shared values, memories and experiences seem to be the glue that binds them together. I’ve been thinking a lot about what family means to me lately. When Mum passed away in 2007, that just left myself, my younger brother and my Dad. There had been some conflict amongst Mum and Dad’s extended families over the years for various reasons so with little contact with aunties, uncles, cousins, the Family Hawkins became a small unit. With Dad passing away a few weeks ago, that leaves just my brother and I. You would think given the circumstances that we would now be closer than ever but sadly that couldn’t be further from the truth. In the same week we lost our Dad, my brother told me he doesn’t want to speak to me ever again and in shock, I retaliated and told him I felt the same. The Family Hawkins is no more, not something I ever thought I’d say.

Human beings can be complicated creatures and that can make family relationships complex and challenging. We all grow up hearing that blood is thicker than water and family comes first, phrases I used to wholeheartedly endorse, but the reality is sibling relationships do not always transition well with the transformation from childhood to adult life. My brother and I were actually incredibly close when we were young. Six years older than him, he idolised me and I in turn was very protective of him. He was a kind, sensitive soul and there was never any conflict between us. We always got on and genuinely liked and loved each other. As Mum and Dad’s marriage grew increasingly volatile, I tried to shield my brother from the worst of it and comforted him when the nightly rows escalated. However, when I left home for university, our relationship began to change. He struggled being at home without me and admitted later that he had felt abandoned by me, even though I was just trying to live my life in the adult world. Mum and Dad were in a bad financial situation after Dad left the Army and I gave all three of my university student loans to my Mum and Dad to help them whilst I worked shifts at a restaurant to financially support myself during my studies. One year they had no money to buy my brother the computer console he had asked for for Christmas so I bought it for him and we said it was from Mum and Dad. I don’t think he ever knew that I did that for him. After my brother dropped out of university, a decision I supported for the good of his wellbeing and mental health, he found it hard to make ends meet. Wanting to be there for him, I invited my brother to live with my now ex-husband and I to help him get back on his feet, even though we were in a dire financial situation ourselves. Unfortunately he didn’t respect the room we had given him, leaving dirty plates, full ashtrays etc littered around, causing friction between him and my ex, and my ex and I. When my marriage ended and I left my ex-husband, I took my brother with me, and he lived rent and bill-free with me whilst I did my teacher training and dealt with bailiffs and banks harassing me for my ex’s debts. Getting my first teaching job was a much-needed light at the end of the tunnel but required me to relocate from the North of England to the South. I didn’t want to leave my brother stranded so I let him stay in my house and asked him to look after my cats temporarily, until I got settled and could bring them down South with me. He said he was happy to do that and I sent him money to cover the cats’ expenses – until a phone call with my Mum informed me that my brother had given my cats away without consulting me. I was stunned. My brother knew how much I loved those cats – what kind of person just gives away another person’s pets? When I confronted him, he told me he hadn’t been able to cope with looking after them; in response I told him that giving them away was not his decision to make and I would have collected them if he had told me. He apologised but it was a difficult thing for me to forgive. The selfishness of his behaviour made me view him differently, and the loss of my cats hit me hard.

When I moved to teach in Dubai a literal and metaphorical distance grew between us. We had grown up and grown apart. We didn’t really know each other anymore. Birthday and Christmas cards would be exchanged. We would intermittently SMS or leave a comment on FB pictures but that was about it. When my brother got engaged I was over the moon for him and told him I would fly back for a wedding whenever it was arranged. This seemed like a good opportunity for us to reconnect. However, months before they got married, Dad and I both received an email asking if we would mind not coming to the wedding as my brother and his fiancée just wanted ‘to keep it to close friends’. Dad and I were shocked and devastated. I erupted at my brother over his rejection of his family, who had done so much to support him. I asked him what he thought Mum would think. Clearly feeling guilty, my brother responded by ripping me to shreds via email. It was an attack I had not seen coming and the pure venom in his words cut me to the core. I didn’t go to my brother’s wedding – why would I go to the wedding of someone who hadn’t valued me enough to want me to be there – and we were estranged for over a year. I was pleased though that my words must have gotten through to him as my brother relented and allowed our Dad to go to his wedding. Dad said he felt awkward and unwelcome but he was glad he had gone to represent the family. It made him happy to see my brother happy.   

My brother and I patched things up eventually on a superficial level, mainly for Dad’s sake, but I never really forgave him for not wanting me to be at his wedding after everything I had done for him, or for the vicious emails he had sent me when I had tried to explain to him how gutted I’d felt. He wasn’t the kind sensitive brother I had grown up with anymore. He was essentially a stranger to me, as I was to him, and we got on with our individual lives. Just because someone is family, your sibling, that doesn’t mean they can get away with treating you badly, taking you for granted, or being mean, and my guard went up with him after the things he had said and done that hurt me. I maintained a relationship with my brother out of respect for Mum and Dad and because of the close relationship we had had as kids but I honestly didn’t feel fully emotionally invested in the relationship anymore. I cared about him and wanted him to be happy and healthy obviously, but it felt easier to conduct our relationship from a distance with pleasantries exchanged via social media and email.    

Being committed to working abroad meant that when Dad’s health deteriorated, someone had to step up and take care of his finances, his medical decisions, and so on, and I was incredibly proud to see my brother maturely taking charge. I felt that in some way it might be the making of him. To his credit, he packed up Dad’s belongings in his flat, dealt with all the financial arrangements, found an excellent care home for Dad when he was discharged from hospital and took on medical power of attorney. He did once ask if I would like to transfer my savings into his account to pay for any expenses that came up for Dad which made me uncomfortable but I just said no, I was prepared to contribute financially as and when needed, which I did, making monthly payments of £100. The whole situation must have been extremely stressful for him but he just got on with it all and did our Dad proud. What I didn’t expect though was for all of this to be thrown back in my face when Dad passed away. I have written various blog posts about my chronic illness and what my life was like when working full-time with my Fibromyalgia at its worst – the struggle to get out of bed, to cook for myself, to fully function, just existing in survival mode all the time. When I was diagnosed, I shared this information with my brother so he could understand how challenging my life had been. When I told him of my plans to go travelling, to remove stress from my life and to heal, for the good of my health and wellbeing, he had appeared supportive of that decision. During the years my brother stepped up and took care of Dad’s stuff, I did what I had to do to take care of me. That’s what life with a chronic illness requires. Just because I wasn’t constantly sitting by his bedside, that doesn’t mean I loved my Dad any less than my brother.  I had thought my brother had done everything that Dad needed out of love; I hadn’t realised it was a competition and that I was being judged the ‘uncaring selfish daughter’.

I was in Antigua Guatemala when the first email from my brother came telling me that Dad had been rushed into hospital with an infection and his condition was critical. We had been here before. From the time my Dad had his first stroke, over a four year period, he was in and out of hospital, and I had received news before telling me to prepare myself for his passing. This time felt different though. I replied to my brother, sending him my love, and delicately made it clear that if the doctors asked about intervention to prolong life that I would support a decision to let my Dad go in peace. He had been through so much and he had had no quality of life for a long time. I knew doctors had asked about intervention when Dad had begun having his strokes and my brother had told them that Dad would have wanted them to do all they could to prolong his life. I privately disagreed with that decision (due to poor life quality as the strokes became increasingly debilitating, robbing Dad of who he was and his ability to do basic things for himself) but understood that my brother was not ready to lose his father and that he needed more time to come to terms with that loss. I knew my brother needed to feel that he had done all he could for our Dad and I wanted to support my brother. My brother replied that he was on the same page and I began to emotionally prepare myself for the loss of Dad. I was a wreck, on edge waiting for news. I was grateful to be in a hostel with lovely staff who took care of me and my friend Meghan who was my rock during that week. I didn’t hear anything for two days. I emailed my brother asking for any news but didn’t get a reply for 24 hours – an upbeat email telling me Dad was stable and asking me what I’d been up to, implying all was well. I was furious I’d been made to wait so long for news but didn’t want to cause a fight so I didn’t reply. Gut instinct told me this was not like all of the other times and I was right. The next day I got an email telling me Dad probably had days to live at the most. Stunned to get this news after the upbeat email the day before, I had a melt down and Meghan and I went out to get drunk. I couldn’t deal with my feelings so I just shut them off, and sank tequilas and glasses of red wine until the night became a blur. The waiting was unbearable and I knew it was too late to try to make it back to England in time so waiting was all I could do. What I didn’t know was that my Dad had already passed away at that point but I hadn’t been told. I wasn’t informed until the next day. My brother claimed he had tried to call me (I had no phone service in Guatemala, but when I got to the US and had service, there were no missed call or voicemail waiting notifications from him) and then told me my Dad had passed away in a one sentence email: ‘He passed away on Friday morning’, was all it said. I was livid not to be told until 24 hours after my father’s life came to an end and too upset to speak to my brother. Aware we were both grieving I also didn’t want to say anything that would cause a fight so I did not reply.

After a few days, I made the decision not to go to my Dad’s service. There were several reasons for this decision and it was not an easy decision to make. Flights back to the UK are expensive, I have a professional commitment to honour in the US and feel I have said goodbye to my Dad in my own way. The service is taking place in the city my brother lives in, a place with no links with my Dad whatsoever, and I just don’t feel comfortable grieving with strangers. I knew when I told my brother of my decision not to attend that it would not go down well; I expected some anger, I expected to be made to feel guilty, but I did not expect a savage email informing me that he never wants to speak to me again, ripping me and my work to shreds. You see my brother is also a writer and a poet and it’s clear that he has been harbouring a lot of resentment and jealousy. He is not pleased to see me happy after a tough couple of years and not pleased to see me achieve any success. The inferiority-complex chip on his shoulder finally fully revealed itself and this was the excuse he needed to tell me what he really thinks of me and my work. Oh well. It was probably time to cut the bullsh*t, to tear apart the veneer of our ‘happy family’ and stop pretending we have a meaningful supportive sibling relationship as adults. It is what it is. I’ve had so much loss in my lifetime I’m used to people coming and going out of my life. How many times can you let someone hurt you before you call it a day? I’m not prepared to be my brother’s punchbag just because I’m his sister. I don’t need that sh*t in my life.

At this stage of my life, family doesn’t mean the people I share blood with. My family are a trusted group of people who have my back, have proved their loyalty by being there for me through the good and bad times, are proud of me, know who I am and what my values are, and just want to see me happy. They know who they are – I thank you and love you. Not everyone is fortunate to belong within an harmonious and loving family unit but as adults we can choose who we consider to be family. Will my brother and I ever reconcile? I really don’t know if I have it in me to open up my heart to him again but I am an eternal optimistic and what will be will be. I wish him all the best in the meantime and will be thinking of him on the day of Dad’s service.

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*Me with my baby brother.

Take care,

Lisa.

📧 uncagedartbird@gmail.com

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Bacalar, Mexico

  • Stayed: February 2019
  • Accommodation: The Yak Lake House and Xibalba Hostel. The Yak Lake House is a party hostel and I had a fun time there. You get a welcome alcoholic drink on arrival at the bar beside the lake and there are daily activities, such as Mojito cocktail making, to encourage the social aspect. The dorm was nice, with a sliding door that opened onto the lakeside deck. They play loud music all day until late though so not ideal if you want to get an early night. Xibalba is better for for those looking for somewhere quiet to enjoy the lake. It is a 30 minute walk from town which makes it a bit inconvenient, but perfect if you want to be away from it all. There are free bikes for guests to use to journey into town and two kayaks that are also free to use. The dock was lovely, a great place to contemplate life by the lake, and this was lit up at night with fairy lights. This place was let down by the showers (the shower upstairs is a joke – it spits water at you in a trickle; the shower downstairs is fine, though its shower head was missing) and uninterested attitude of some of the staff – not what I expected from somewhere that apparently prides itself on giving guests ‘personalised attention’. Feel this hostel is currently coasting on its beautiful lake view and past reviews but if they sorted out the showers and staff, it would be an excellent place.

Bacalar is an open secret – I confess I hadn’t heard of it until I began travelling around Mexico but once in this amazing country, it’s clear that this lakeside town is an essential must-do on any Yucatan coast traveller’s itinerary. Located beside Laguna Bacalar, also prettily known as the Lagoon of Seven Colours, the town itself is cute and compact. There is a fort to visit, Fuerte de San Felipe, which is now home to a museum, and a town square with a few bars, restaurants and shops dotted around. The real star of the show though is obviously the lake – it is absolutely stunning! Find yourself somewhere to stay with a dock, hammocks, and prepare to spend your days watching the light dance on the waves of the lake, enthusiastic paddle boarders and kayakers traverse across the vast multi-hued blue waters, and various boats shuttling tourists around on pricey boat trips.

I made food for myself during my stay at the second hostel as it was not conveniently located to the town but I do have one foodie recommendation for you – Mango Y Chile, a vegan restaurant, that makes burgers, tacos and smoothies. My falafel burger was huge, delicious as well as healthy, and I loved my mango smoothie. Go treat yourself!

Another highlight for me was the street art dotted around the town – see pictures below.

*there are only a few ATMS in Bacalar and they don’t always work so keep that in mind when you come, especially if you have to pay for you accommodation in cash on arrival like I did. There are two ATMS in the town square and one in the OXXO.

Selection of pictures from my stay:

Street art pictures: