A few weeks before I left for Mexico I started to get really nervous. I'm a single female, travelling to a third world country. What the hell am I thinking? Never mind the fact that I lived in an Islamic Republic, in developing West Africa for nearly two years....Or that this is my fourth trip to Mexico in the last three years....
I solved my anxiety by searching for a book about a woman, who had done the same thing. And while I couldn't find any books about the exact same trip, I did find a book called, "All Over the Map" by Laura Fraser.
As soon as I picked it up, I was shocked by the similarities that ran through our lives, our philosophical beliefs and our luck with men. Not to mention the love for travel and adventure. I highlighted furiously for the first few chapters of this book:
"I don't feel comfortable anywhere. My desires- to be free and to belong, to be independent and to be inextricably loved, to be in motion and to be still pull me back and forth."
"My parents raised me to carry a pack in the wilderness without complaining, and be competent in the wilderness and everywhere else. As a result, I've never been able to use the charming helpless card with men, to let them feel heroic, or even useful, because I can manage almost anything perfectly well on my own."
She kept referring to growing up this place called "Littleton." Surely, she couldn't mean the same Littleton, Colorado that I grew up in? Yup, same place.
I am pretty sure that if I was born just ten years earlier, that her and I would have become teenage best friends....
I had to put the book down a few weeks ago, as I became too overwhelmed preparing for this trip.
I picked it up again last night. The next chapter? She goes to San Miguel de Allende and buys a house.
(At this point I totally Facebook stalked her, wrote her a long winded message about how much we have in common, that I am currently in San Miguel, and if she is too, that I would love to buy her a drink. I'm pretty sure I came off as totally nutso....)
Her undying love for San Miguel, however, is where her and I differ.
San Miguel is beautiful, and if Trump is elected, I might seriously consider moving here. However, it does not make my heart twitter-pate, like it does for so many of the expatriates here. Maybe it's because this is not my first visit to a colonial town in Mexico. Maybe I have fallen too hard for city life, and San Miguel is just a bit too quaint for me. Maybe it's seeing the vast difference in wealth between Central San Miguel and it's suburbs. I was not aware that a Mexican neighborhood, in Mexico, could be gentrified....
While I have not fallen for the city itself, and gave up on trying to find that perfect shot of "La Parroquia" I have found a lot to love. The colors, the light, the people. I have become comfortable with my camera, which, sadly, is often neglected in the US.
Nilo and I leave for Veracruz tomorrow, and I already have a million monarch butterflies in my stomach. This is not something particular to Mexico for me, or particular to driving in Mexico. It is something that has always happened the day before I travel, as early as my first trip to Dakar, in places as safe as Vietnam or Thailand, and sometimes even just camping alone in Colorado.
I have to stop myself each and every time, and ask myself what I might be scared of. Some fears are more realistic than others. For instance, an encounter with a bear while camping in Colorado, might actually be more probable than my car breaking down in Mexico.
It's the unknown, that is both terrifying, and yet gratifying. Confronting that fear of the unknown, only to discover the most amazing places and people, is what makes it all so worthwhile.
I'm Lauri. Teacher for nine months of the year, vagabond for the other three. I've traveled to France, Russia, West Africa, SE Asia and all over the US. This summer I'll be driving to Mexico with my little dog, Nilo.