A Travellerspoint blog

The view from the other seat.

sunny 25 °C

Stephen here, blogging my thoughts on our Mexican adventure.

I started the journey reading Ted Simon’s Jupiter’s Travels, who in the early 1970s travelled the world for 4 years riding a Triumph motorcycle. The book was full of his travel experiences; however to me its most interesting aspects were his interior dialogues. He chronicled his travel frustrations, sorted out his past life and tried to make sense of why he was doing this ride.

For me, this book clearly set the tone for the early part of the journey. Why was I doing this? What did I hope to find out about Mexico and myself?

I love the road trip, especially the occasional one taken without a map. As you have read, we went on some mapless adventures. It was a challenge to work through them all, but after the fact I enjoyed them.

Mexico is an under-appreciated and misunderstood country. We have met kindness and respect throughout. Mexicans work very hard, often undervaluing their work, consequently themselves. I watched three young men wash my car inside and out for over an hour for the equivalent of six dollars.

I am struck by the entrepreneurial spirit of the Mexicans. They sell anything and everything anywhere. Children sell fruit at topes and men sell green garbage bags at street corners. I saw a woman with a key cutting machine at a deserted street corner in Sayulita. Men set up car washers operations in mall parking lots or side streets by waving their wet towels to attract business.

There is also great hardship throughout this country. I often experienced heartache watching the young Mexicans working so hard or pushing their young children to sell or beg (if you don’t buy, then “give me a peso”). The children can grow old far too young.

Many of the homes in the mountain communities were difficult to see - barely shacks. Not sure how much judgement I should allow myself. I found it difficult to visit the indigenous communities outside of San Cristobal. Yes, they are keeping traditions alive but at what cost to the individuals and the communities. I struggle with how to understand it all. By visiting, I contribute meagre monies to the community, but am I also encouraging the continuation of the often difficult conditions they live in?
giant cactus

giant cactus

There is such great beauty in this country. I have enjoyed the twisty mountain roads, the beautiful beaches and staring at the night sky. Many of its cities have been beautifully restored and gained UNESCO heritage designations. They are a joy to wander about in.

What I will remember forever is the kindness. For example, the people at the Oxxo convenience store ( Mexican 7 / 11) in Toluca who got into a heated discussion about the directions we needed to take, all the time ignoring the growing line at the counter. The bookseller who approached us in Campeche and sang a beautiful song to us. The singer in the Patzcuaro restaurant whose emotional delivery moved Ginny to tears.

In the early days, I felt disconnected from friends and family. Friends have gotten sick, elderly parents have had medical emergencies and our eldest son Alex announced his engagement to the lovely Alanna. Life continues on without us, and we were not there to support or celebrate. It is a strange feeling watching lives from a distance.

Now as we enter into the final weeks of the trip, we have developed a nice road rhythm. We can efficiently load or unload the car, pack our bags quickly and find the closest Scotiabank for cash advances. Mexico is a cash society. Surcharges for credit card use are common; and if you want an receipt, they want to know why - is it for tax purposes or strictly for your records? The answer has an impact on the final bill.

Sometimes, it has been a tedious, but always an adventure. Not every day is magical but when it is, it really is.

We are looking forward to returning but not in a hurry.

When we get home, we get home.

Posted by millerburr 19:47 Archived in Mexico

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Bravo, Steve! You're both exceptional people on an exceptional journey. Vaya con dios!

by Peter Hoho

Great blog Stephen. Didn't realize that you were
BOTH so talented with the written word.Looking
forward to your next one.

by Keith

We are so glad you wrote this blog and have enjoyed your journey. We too have found in our travels that it is the people we meet along the way that really are the highlights of our trips. See you on Gabriola in April. J&S

by Hawkson

My eyes are dim, I cannot see and when you say at the greeting "Stephen here" I caught a glimpse of the figure on the passenger side and thought 'Stephen looks great but he has lost weight'. On second glance I saw it was Ginny. Ginny - you look great! I loved reading your thoughts, S., xomc.

by Mary Charlotte Wilcox

Great post Pops! Nice to get the view from the other seat!

by Alex

I don't blame you for not being in a hurry to get home! You still have plenty of magical places to explore on your way back. Looking forward to seeing both of you LOVELY people upon your return.

by Alanna

I loved reading about your impressions of Mexico, Stephen! Travel has a way of opening our eyes to more than we could have imagined and at the same time, reminds us of our roots and the hold they have on us. Enjoy the magic whenever it comes your way!

by Heather

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