“Aren’t you scared?” It’s been such a common question since we left home 10 months ago. The simple answer is no. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things to be scared of, but being aware is key to staving off the fear. You can’t believe everything you hear on the news. No matter where you go, the same problems exist everywhere. They might manifest themselves in different manners, but ultimately, the problems that exist are the same.
People talk about the drug wars in Mexico and South America (usually you are told about the drug wars in Colombia), yet in America we have drug wars on street corners. Really, the difference is just the places these things are happening. We have gang wars in America just as they have in Mexico. If you’re aware of where these things are happening and you avoid these places, you won’t have any problems. When we would tell people we met on the Baja that we were planning on shipping to Los Mochis and driving through Sinaloa to Mazatlan and on to Nayarit, they would ask, “are you sure that’s a good idea?” The answer is no. We’re never absolutely sure about anything on this trip. We had a plan to avoid the state of Sinaloa when we started the trip. However, after talking to some people (ex-pats) who make the drive multiple times per week on the same highway we would be taking, we decided to take the chance and just go for it. We had absolutely no issues driving through the entire state of Sinaloa to Nayarit. We paid a total of $40 in tolls and didn’t encounter one police or military checkpoint. While in Baja, we encountered a military checkpoint in every town we drove through only to find out that Baja is a major drug trafficking route, more-so than any other border area at this time. Yet we felt perfectly safe in Baja. The cartels are not in the habit of harming tourists. It brings international attention to them if that happens.
What we’ve found for the last 5 months in Mexico is that most everyone we’ve met is very willing to open their homes and lives to show you their country. A country they are very proud of, regardless of their status. Status doesn’t seem to mean much in Mexico, most people are very poor. Of course, they will try anything to earn a penny, but we have to keep in mind, most of the people in Mexico earn the equivalent of up to $500.00 USD per month. So yeah, they have to try to supplement their income somehow, just to survive.
School in Mexico is not compulsory. Parents have to pay to have their children in school. This is an added expense many cannot afford. That’s why you’ll travel around the entire country and see children out selling things when (as Americans) we think they should be in school. Most children in school come from more privileged families. It’s like College for the United States. If you have money, you can afford to pay tuition for your kids and they can have the best education. If not, you either choose not to go to college or you go in debt to get the education. Many things are bought on layaway here in Mexico. They have payment plans for items that cost as little as $25 USD. They have year-long payment plans for that. People make-due with what is available to them and they shy away from the things that are luxuries that we as Americans consider necessities.
Are we crazy for wanting to see how other people live? Are we crazy for taking a chance and giving up the luxuries of the American life to live simply and be able to do what we want instead of what other people expect us to do? Are we crazy for taking our kid out of school and trying to teach him ourselves? Are we crazy to be living in such close quarters and being around each other 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Maybe. It depends on how you see it. I wake up next to my best friend every day. I get to monitor what influences my son and his reactions. I get to make corrections to him when he gets out of control and I don’t have to wait to see negative behavior. I can stop it as soon as it starts. I get to change my scenery every day if I get bored. I get to choose a new activity every day.
To some people we might sound crazy. To others this might seem like the perfect life. One they strive to have one day. The truth is, reality is somewhere in between. It’s not perfect. It’s not without its challenges. We have plenty of time when we get on each-other’s nerves and we just want to have a separate space. Traveling can be difficult. We never have a plan to stay anywhere. We literally make plans to stay somewhere the very afternoon we need a place to park. We fly by the seat of our pants. Sometimes it works out, others it doesn’t. Nothing is ever perfect and the only constant in life is change. The truth is, you have to be willing to adapt and overcome. This life isn’t for everyone. Very few people we know could actually give up their comforts to try something like this and that is okay. However, for us, like everything else in our lives, “great things never came from comfort zones.”-unknown
I know many of our friends who want to live vicariously through our travels. Mostly because they know they value the life they have and they enjoy what they have and what they’re doing in life. They are content and happy. For all of them, we envy you. I mean, we had a hard time living in the same town for 12 years. We literally averaged a house move every 2 years. As long as we were moving it was okay. Having the change of scenery was paramount to being able to live in the same place for so long. We envy you because no matter where we go or what we do, we will never be satisfied. We will always look for something different, something more, something better even though we know the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.