Back in Europe. This is the moment, I have blocked from my mind entirely for the last year or so. Many, especially some of the old school people asked me about what will I do when I come back before I left. I kept saying that I don’t think about it because there are far more interesting things on my mind right now, vast majority of which were naturally about the trip.
And now? Now I’ve been too long in ‘the right here right now’ mode for me to adjust to a more long-term practical future kind of planning. I mean that it’s not easy to lose such an ultimate freedom to Monday mornings just like that 😉 Furthermore, I now know that it’s not easy to lose that warm touches of humanity one can observe in the Latin World to the northern European rush and general individualism.
But it’s not all that bad, on the contrary as I’ve mentioned here before, I’m looking forward to many things, such as comfort and privacy (as for my own place instead of a hotel room), financial stability (as for an income), some sort of structure in life, friends, culture and so on. Overall, except the expected post-travel-melancholy that is hitting me quite hard right now, I’m rather excited about being back because I like Europe – it’s not perfect and there are many things to improve here but at the end of the day – what or who hasn’t?
When it comes to reality, unlike many people from some troubled parts of the world, some of us privileged gits from the ‘developed’ world have quite a big chance to say what that reality will be. What have you picked?
People ask me: did the trip change you?
I would be the last person to judge that. I personally believe that people don’t really change much, unless there’s some sort of trauma involved. But I think that people can grow and mature. In my case, I believe that I was enriched in few fronts. Funny thing is that the major part of that enrichment was in the area in which I thought I was already doing quite well: understanding people and how things work in various cultures. One way or another, I’ve still got a long way to go, but don’t we all?
To me it’s a no brainer. I’ve lived 1/2 of my adult life in cosmopolitan London, after which I’ve spent 5 years working in an international school. I’ve travelled to some SEA countries and now I’ve made it from Tierra del Fuego up to Yucatán. I guess it’s quite clear that I thrive on diverse communities. I just like the variety and I also believe that we can learn from each-other’s differences as opposed to holding them against each-other.
However, I must admit that few things, or let’s say my attitude towards few things have altered, mainly concerning my original plan.
My original plan
Originally, I’ve had this semi-romantic idea of finding a place to open a café or some sort of an open office space with few rooms above. But the more I was moving around, the less I was driven by that idea. It’s because of several aspects. Firstly, the ideal places I would otherwise consider were either overcrowded or empty and my capital wasn’t exactly what can one call ready for few hype-building seasons.
Except from that, I was put off by how things worked there from the distribution of wealth point of view in this part of the world. In connection to that, it was also certain kinds of volunteering, which was meant to be my way in to see how things work before I commit to something long term financially that didn’t help either. I have realised that it is, in many cases, just a free-labour AKA taking jobs the locals can be paid for by richer people whom are not in a survival modes themselves.
As a matter a fact, I’ve found myself doing small deeds in order to do a tiny balancing of the massive economical imperfections of this world by for example preferring to give a dollar to a struggling local lady selling chewing gums on the same corner for 15 years, rather than to a young Canadian couple who busked in the bar.
I’m aware that such acts are nothing within the bigger picture but small things matter, they really do. I am also aware that the Canadian busking couple were not wrong to ask for some small cash, it was their right to ask for it, just as well it was my right to pick someone else to give my dollar to.
But the main doubt, which made me to give up on my original plan was that I wasn’t longer sure if working with the majority of travellers was exactly the thing I wanted.
I’ve basically drifted further and further away from the majority of my fellow travellers because I begun to see it mostly as a gringo experience of the Latin World. People there appeared that they prefer to meet each-other and have fun. I mean – it’s not a bad thing to do – after all it’s everyone’s choice to search for places and things they’re after – I just searched for slightly different experience.
I was more keen on getting to know the local culture, how people live there and how things work in their world. So I went more for the different types of hotels (mixed mostly), family-run Airbnb and places like that. I’m trying to say that I’ve mostly moved on the fringes of the travellers’ society.
I haven’t avoided them at all cost and from time to time it was refreshing to talk to people with whom I’d have the same cultural references and so on – but overall I haven’t spend many nights in the “cool” hostels where everyone went to talk about where they’ve been and how was it. Where the music was always the same and where the beer pong tournaments grew so big that they’ve had their own free T shirts.
I have nothing against people having fun in their own preferred way – I mean why would I – on the contrary, I’m happy for them. I just think that one doesn’t have to cross half of the planet to meet people from his or her country and talk about what he or she would do back home or on their Ibiza holidays, if you know what I mean. But as I said – why not do so if such thing is your cup of tea?
But as I said, I’ve became fascinated with the way of life in the Latin World, mainly its tremendous humanity that illustrated itself from the simple things such as shared smiles over witnessing small funny everyday situations with for example pets or babies or by passing the children on in the crowded buses to sit on strangers knees because there was no space, up to helping each-other with heavy loads or helping to push someone’s car if it couldn’t start and so on. All the things I sadly begun to believe we have nearly lost in what we like to call ‘the civilised world’.
So yeah, I became rather eager observant (and a tiny participant either) because I really wanted to know how on earth they could be so happy, while often living in rather miserable conditions. Those were the elements of the travels I’ve preferred to what I’ve seen as a gringo experience of Latin Americas, to the endless hostel conversations that quickly appeared one-like-another to me.
Please, do not get me wrong, there is no disrespect intended, I believe that I wouldn’t be very far from the truth if I said that most conversations in the backpacker hostels are similar. The main four subjects would be covering:
- What places have you done? As for what have you experienced and what places have you visited
- How to get to…
- Which hostel holds the best party
- (after few drinks) sex would pop up in the conversation
I might sound rather miserable or judgmental here – please trust me I am not. I’m just over 40, which means that I’ve been around – I still like those subjects in conversation sometimes – but I’ve had so many of them in the past myself so there’s not much that can surprise me within the subject, I therefore now prefer broader themes 😉
As for this site
Nearly a month ago, I was reporting to you from the beautiful Lake Atitlán. Since then I’ve visited few more places in Guatemala, crossed Belize on bus with only a short stop in Belize City just to decide to move on to Mexico, from which I’ve only seen a tiny fraction, which is unfortunate, because it appears to be a great country to explore. Maybe next time?
As for the near future content on this site, you can expect texts covering these ultimate locations I’ve visited, namely it will be: Antigua, a nice colonial town in southern Guatemala; the beautiful and friendly Lake Atitlán, Semuc Champey, a fantastic place in the middle of Guatemala; Flores, a nice colourful little town on the lake in the proximity of the Indiana Jones-like Tikal ruins and the few places I’ve visited in Quintana Roo, the youngest Mexican state on Mayan riviera.
FYI, I’ll try to deliver at least one text a week – you have told me that Sunday afternoons are good for you to spend some time reading…
I am also nearly done preparing some more complex retrospective texts about one of my ultimately favourite countries I’ve visited: Colombia. Furthermore, you can also expect some statistical pieces such as miles covered and monies spent as well as few features regarding my observations about Latin World, some practical pieces regarding itineraries, border crossings, public transport or the most important things to pack for you travels and so on.
In case you wanted to know – this will not be the end. I’ve already have few ideas about delivering some information about travelling in Central Europe, which is in my humble opinion very underrated location because it offers many beautiful places, activities and beers that are sold at 1/2 price if compared to Mexico or just a 1/3 of what you’d pay in Guatemala 😉
In the meantime, I’ll be working on an alternative plan, while dealing with the melancholy 😉
I hope you are all well, wherever you are 😉
Love, peace and understanding ;j