Central America | Mexico | Istmo & Gulf of Mexico | Chiapas | San Cristobal de las Casas – heading ‘home’, as they call it.
wow it’s been a strange ride, i must say. but then again, that’s to be expected – isn’t that, after all, that THING some of us search out, that THING that seems to be the answer to an undefinable angst derived from sitting still?
to say i had no idea what to expect when i left new york two years ago is an understatement. to say i had any idea it would go this far, well, let’s just say this. getting my tail out of new york city was a monumental endeavor, but i knew it had to be done. i had no idea why, all i knew was that i was being called elsewhere and eventually, i would be brought back somewhere south of the border. i knew this like a child prodigy knows he was beethoven in a former life.
when i left portland, oregon last october for a pot farm in northern california, all i knew was that i would leave at the end of that month with somewhere near $2000 in my pocket, a ride headed as far as Belize if i wanted to and some random destination south of the border… i got out of the car in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, and never looked back.
what a packed year it’s been, obviously. i had no idea it would go this long or that i would make it this far (granted, i never made it past Guatemala – and to think i thought i’d make it all the way to Tierra de Fuego and back!). but i made it far, i did, let me tell you – i came here with just a few goals – to TRAVEL, not to tour, which meant, often enough, sitting still so i could soak up the vibe of a place and its people. to learn and speak spanish. to support myself as an artisan. i did all those, in addition to learning how to weave like a Mayan, give a shiatsu massage, and whoa hey guess what else? i can make a mean mixed drink. i’ve even got my own specialty now, tho i am probably ruined for employment anywhere in our over-regulated United States.
i had no idea that my presence, eventually, would make an imprint in peoples’ lifes – that i, for some reason, would move quickly through like a windy catalyst, leaving memories and small gifts only to come back somewhere, months later, like i never left.
i had no idea i would buy, and then five months later, SELL, a business in guatemala (all for the price of a used car). that that business, also a backpacker dream, was to fizzle out quickly (tho profitably) as i realized that hey, i’m not really into the hospitality business as such. turns out i’m a far better bartender and really enjoy my personal space and privacy (and, as such, have discovered that for only 10 pesos more than a dorm bed in a nice san cris hostel, i can get a charming and immaculate hotel room all to myself).
that was all part of it, tho, you see – living the dream, hitting the road with no destination, no plans, and no return date, only a heart to follow and a desire to do so, to remain open to whatever life presented… to learn, and to grow, to encourage fearlessness and wonder in myself and other people.
wow, what the hell guess what? i did that – fully aware of the privileges i have – a guardian angel that’s gotten me through the worst (no money, no plan, no place to stay), a little blue book that lets me into almost any country i please, a green bill or two that seems to purchase just about anything despite the fact that it’s the only thing from my country anyone elsewhere really wants to see (and believe me i can understand this at this point – i am happy to be where i am right now, watching my obnoxious country make the stupid mistakes of youth from a distance).
despite it tho, i am on my way back to that obnoxious country – like so many people i’ve met south of the border, i am headed there to spend some time with family, go to a wedding, and then head off to work on the farm again, to make more money, to get myself back south of the border, perhaps, if that’s what life’s got in store for me. because i can live here, like i can’t live in the United States. I can afford dental care here, like I can’t afford in the United States. I can avoid the doctor and go straight to the pharmacy here if I already know what’s wrong, or I can skip it altogether because plants as medicine are still regarded as effective cures here.
I can learn things here, like i don’t have time or can’t afford to do in the United States because I am too busy in the United States working to afford dental care and education. hell, i am too busy in the United States working just to keep a roof over my head, at times and I find something deeply wrong with that – a form of slavery, if you will. The road is anarchy. The road is freedom. The road is my house, my affordable house, no mortgage attached. The road is where it’s at for me, American Gypsy.
until god, the force, the universe or whatever else you want to call it, says ‘sit still’ or ‘go elsewhere’ i have nowextended my home to the central part of the landmass – from North Carolina to New York and on over to Oregon and south to California, down to the mountains and beaches of Oaxaca, to the narrow streets and sidewalks of san cristobal de las casas, to the dirt footpaths and amazing Tzutujil Maya people and funky laid-back gringo community of San Pedro la Laguna, Guatemala, to the smoggy streets of Mexico City and its dreadlocked Raztecs and tattooed hiphoppers and the arid hot days, freezing cold nights and otherworldly visions of Real de Catorce. i know, now, that i am always, always home. My house has just gotten a bit bigger now.