A few months ago, after eighteen months in Mexico, I left to continue my adventures in other places. While I was there I fell in love with the country and the people. I fell hard. The more I discovered the more I loved. From the gin colored waters of the Caribbean to the highest mountains in Chiapas, I fell in love. It is not just its remarkable diversity of people, landscapes and traditions but it is also a feeling. I learned to embrace the “life is for living” attitude and was hopefully able to adopt other aspects of the spirit that makes the Mexican people so appealing.
Yes, like every other place, Mexico has its problems but the trick is to not let them obscure the beauty that is everywhere. Also like in most places, people with positive attitudes and an ability to adapt are the ones that thrive. I traveled Mexico from the border of Texas to the border of Guatemala. I spent time on the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. I visited mansions and slept on the kitchen floor of a shack in a tiny indigenous village. I enjoyed fine dining and ate a ton of street food. I saw a few things that through the prism of the American mass media fear machine appeared to be scary but not once did I ever have any serious problems.
Since I have been visiting the United States I have had a number of people ask if I could live forever in Mexico. The answer is an unequivocal, yes! However, I know there is a natural tendency to for some people to fall in love with a place and I know I am not immune to this phenomena. That is why, even before I arrived, I committed to spending only a year there then force myself, no matter how great things were going, to move on and discover another place. I truly did have to force myself to leave and I have left a piece of my heart there. Luckily my heart has grown enough to accommodate other places.
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When I started my travel adventure I knew I would discover new people and new lands. What I didn’t know was that along the way I would discover things about myself too. Travel is about adventure and discovery and that implies emotion. Among the new ones, a greater sense of empathy and a greater sense of what is a community. Sometimes travel is thrills and excitement, sometimes it is hardship, sometimes it is wonder, sometimes it is making amazing new friends and relationships, and sometimes it is loneliness. But at its core, for me anyway, even at its most difficult, it is a magnificent thing.
Some say home is where the heart is and I completely agree but that need not be limiting. With a big enough heart, you can adopt the whole world as your home. Home is not a place but a feeling. It is where you know you belong and where you can be yourself. It is not about comfort or being surrounded by your things. Home is not even about happiness because a truly happy person brings their happiness with them, wherever they go.
I am fully aware that my vagabond life isn’t for everyone and that is okay. Some people find comfort in convenience or being surrounded by their things. Others find it in familiarity, repetition and routines. In my mind comfort is, on a fundamental level, little more than a mindset. Animals that have been caged long enough will return to their cage for comfort and security long after the doors have stopped being closed. I choose not to live that way. As the character Andy Dufresne, in the movie, “The Shawshank Redemption” said, “It comes down to a simple choice, get busy living or get busy dying”. I completely embrace the former. It is time to move on. It is time to fall in love all over again! I am moving to Asia.