It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything, I feel like I say that a lot, but this time I think it’s more true than the other times. I'm not going to attempt to update you on everything, there’s so much that has happened and so much that I’ve been contemplating since I last wrote; one of those things being that I haven’t really written anything with much content in a long time. Yes, I’ve provided plenty of content to be viewed, but many of my blogs as of late have been more of an update about my whereabouts and the things that I’ve seen in my travels. One of the things that I love about traveling by myself is that I get piles of time to think through things in my life. The first two weeks of my travels this winter I was moving around pretty quickly, trying to get set up for my trip into Mexico and meeting new people along the way. I didn’t feel as though I was allowing myself a lot of time to just think, instead I’d spend the day outside talking with people around me, trying to photograph everything that I saw and then at night just settling in with a book before going to sleep. In the time between my last blog and now I have traveled to the Southern tip of the Baja peninsula and back, admittedly it was quick and I was moving a lot, but I had a lot of time to think on the long drives. As well, for the first time in my life I experienced something close to a third world country and a non-white culture. So, here’s my dirtbag traveler cliché that I’ve alluded to in the this blogs title, I have returned from Mexico a changed man with a new outlook on life.
I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting to find in Baja. What I knew of the peninsula was that it was a largely white populated part of Mexico due to the influx of traveling American’s from Southern California in addition to the myriad of travelers from all around the world that come in search of Baja’s epic white sand beaches and vast and relatively untouched wilderness. I figured that once I got down there it would be fairly similar to what I’ve known throughout the South Western states, I would be able to communicate in English with most people, there would be a well-developed civil structure etc. I can assure you that the culture shock was pure and well realized the minute I crossed the border into Mexicali. From the organized and maintained streets of Calexico you are ejected into the hustle and bustle of a busy and crowded Mexican border city. Suddenly I could no longer read the signs, people were driving anywhere and everywhere without using signals, horns were blaring, people were trying to get my attention from every direction to buy their wares, it was like nothing I had experienced before. I recognize that there are possibly American’s reading right now that have done the crossing numerous times and no longer believe that crossing into Mexico is such a harrowing experience, but for this white dude that’s never seen anything other than first world countries, it was a shocker.
Traveling throughout Baja I found that I began to develop a real thirst for the culture and everything that Mexico has to offer. First off, I almost instantly fell in love with how anything goes on Mexican roads. It’s so easy to navigate because no one cares what you do or don’t do. So often we’d just pull off to the side of the road to consult our maps, park side by side still jutting out onto the road, obviously obstructing traffic a little and people would just calmly drive around you. You can swing u-turns pretty much anywhere, speed limits are more of suggestions to Mexican drivers and the various modified vehicles are so much fun to look at because, again, anything goes. I also fell in love with the food, if you’re smart(ish) and willing to pull off the road at any random taco stand you can discover some of the most fresh and delicious ingredients in your taco or burrito or enchilada, and then pay a few dollars USD and walk away with a full belly. I was also so stoked on how everything is so affordable if you’re traveling on the USD, by the end of the two weeks that I spent in Mexico I was almost $700USD ahead of my daily budget and that was while driving almost every day, purchasing groceries every few days and buying the odd tourist trinket. Then there’s the language, Spanish is such an exciting and enticing language. I now actually have a desire to learn a second language which I certainly didn’t have before. All of these things are the immediate things that I learned and experienced, but the long lasting thing that I took away was the how this initial trip into Mexico has opened my eyes to what else is beyond the borders of North America. For about two years now I’ve been saying that I just want to travel the United States and Canada and I didn’t really have a plan beyond that, but now I have a very real desire to complete my own Pan America trip and then possibly to travel throughout Africa and Europe one day.
I’ve long known that I don’t want a conventional lifestyle. The thought of settling down with a family, having a good job and owning a house doesn’t (right now) appeal to me. So, for the past few years I’ve slowly been developing on my solution for how I will live a life of adventure. My plans have gone as far as about five years into the future, after working for a long period of time I want to live on the road for a year and travel throughout North America. It will take a couple years of prep to afford a cushioned budget for the year of travel and then the year on the road itself will get me around the time that Alison will have gone to the Olympics once and we’ll be working towards the next; however, I hadn’t really planned past that. Now, I have a mission, Patagonia. I have a lot of friends now that have done or are traveling to the Southern tip of South America. Before, when I had thought about doing the same trip I was scared off by the prospect of having the difficulty of communicating with the people as I traveled South. I’ve realized now that learning Spanish was my only obstacle and it has now become an obstacle I will willingly conquer. Traveling with my Swiss friends has also made me realize that I could possibly live the rest of my life traveling the world and how many experiences are out there waiting to be had, it’s just a matter of stepping beyond my comfort zone to find them.
So, now with my new mission I have a focus for the future and I can begin planning for more epic adventure. On another note, I've been back in the US for almost a week now, I've spent a few nights in my favorite spot on Prewitt Ridge near Big Sur and met some incredible people. Alison and I have traveled to Arizona for Valley of the Sun stage race, from there we'll drive to Utah to explore some of the National Parks.