Sink or swim.

The biggest thing that I have learnt from my year living as an extrovert is the advice – ‘nobody waves, but everybody waves back’.

Sorry I’m late, I didn’t want to come – by Jessica Pan.

I recently read a fascinating article, on the British Broadcasting Company’s web site, about a young lady called Jessica Pan. Have you ever thought about going against your natural personality patterns for a year? That’s exactly what Jessica did when she embarked upon a year of ‘extroversion’ (she identifies as a shy introvert). She made a list of all the things that she had been scared of doing and faced each and everyone of them ‘head on’.

I can identify with her story. Being a naturally reserved individual, especially around strangers and large groups of people, I really have to make a concerted effort to break through my shyness. [Cautionary note; look out once I have broken through this barrier, I know I can be outspoken and a tad overwhelming!]

This type of personality is probably not that well suited to travelling round the world solo?But here’s the bonus factor. As well as satisfying my passion for travel, it’s also the vehicle by which to push myself out of my comfort zone; to confront my fears – ‘head on’. Last week, in Xcalak, was no exception. Sink or swim! It usually works out just fine!

Xcalak is located in the backend of nowhere – in the south east corner of Mexico, on a small peninsula, just north of Belize. The reason for my visit here – the excellent diving.

XTC Dive Center is at the centre of a Great Maya Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world. Scuba diving around Xcalak offers incredible diversity. There are deep and shallow walls, unique geographical formations, vast canyons between spur and groove reef systems, swim-throughs, caverns, and an exotic array of Caribbean marine reef creatures. I got to see them all during my week long visit.

I also got the chance to meet some amazing people – visitors and staff. I took inspiration from Jessica and tried to make the first move (most of the time). I made sure that I introduced myself to everybody, memorised all of their names, and genuinely showed an interest in their fascinating and sometimes complex lives. It was a hugely rewarding experience and I was definitely pushed out of my comfort zone.

As well as practicing my Spanish and improving my scuba diving skills (considerably), I made some great friends and I was extremely sad when I had to bid my farewells. One of the inevitable dangers of travelling!

Next stage: Chetumal > Belize.

About Richard Griffith

My first independent travel experience was a trip to Israel, in 1997, it was here that I caught the 'travel' bug! In 2001 I took an 8-month sabbatical and traveled around South East Asia. Since then I have managed to visit most of Eastern Europe along with India, Bangladesh, and a few other destinations in between. I love travel and I love meeting new people.
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