As I read other bloggers’ posts on the year-end/year-beginning, I realize that I can’t even begin to touch on the deep insights and useful instructions for New Years’ resolutions that many have written. And I’m a little weary of reading them, so I fear you may be too.
So I will say that this first year (almost) away from the familiar, mundane, routine of home in the USA has been one of the best ever for me/us. It has been an amazing year of new insights, sights, sounds, tastes, musings, friends, cultures, understanding, misunderstanding, shock, outrage, comfort, discomfort, on and on.
Was it worth leaving home, friends, family, job, paychecks, comfort and routine behind? YES! Though we often miss you greatly, our family and friends, the rest is just the “normal” we left behind to explore a different way of life and being to discover how other people in the world “be.”
Life housesitting in Chapala was a fairly easy introduction to life in a foreign country. We spoke only enough Spanish to get by and had no idea how things worked in Mexico. There, there were enough English speakers and ex-pats that we could learn something of the culture and how normal life works. We learned how to shop in the markets and tiendas and large stores, how to get around, even how to never throw toilet paper in the toilet. We had a wonderful, friendly, helpful Mexican maid and gardener to practice our Spanish with and learn from. Then we ventured to San Cristobal de las Casas.
We were lucky enough to fall in with some local travelers and residents and make wonderful friends, and three or four days turned into six months. In a foreign place, you all learn from each other as life happens. As, one by one, our friends leave the area, we are saddened, but that is just the way the travel life is. Having friends all over the world, keeping in touch with the internet, is a wonderful thing.
Living in one of the overall poorest (also one of the most beautiful) states in Mexico, Chiapas, there are many severe contrasts, and it is often unsettling. I have seen that literally dirt-poor, dirt floor villages of people are just as happy, if not more so, than big cities of money-people so busy running here and there under pressure. The Maya work hard for what little they have, little cinder block homes with dirt floors and yards and precious little inside, a few chickens, a little plot of corn and vegetables, the village fields and livestock, but they are seen in the evenings laughing and playing with their kids as the food cooks on a grill. Not so different, really.
They live in villages where they all prosper or suffer together. No one can afford to wall themselves off in selfishness, the “I have mine, you get your own” mentality, like we in the US do. In poverty in the city, of course, others are seen in abject misery too, with no help from the government to help them eat or get medicine, especially if they have no family. But in the villages it seems they prefer to live as their culture has for centuries, self-sufficient, only coming in to sell their wares so they can buy some staples and “luxuries.” They want their independence and autonomy to live as they see fit, not in a society that degrades them wants to dictate to them. They are poor, but they are a proud, industrious, and intelligent people.
As 2013 comes into being, we have plans to leave Mexico behind and explore the tiny country of Belize for a while. I believe Belize is the first place we dreamed of retiring to. My, how plans change!
I meant for this to be a very short and sweet post, but that didn’t happen either! So may all of you have a wonderful and prosperous 2013 and discover the things you seek! Salud!