Adventure, Corpus Christi, Texas, The Great Adventure, Travel

Texas is Terrible and I’m Going to Mexico

Photo by Nancy L. Stockdale

Texas has a lot of pride, but that may be a sign she has very little to be proud about.

Large families with a lot of siblings, for instance, tend to have a strong sense of family identity (“we Jacobs can all hold our liquor;” “Don’t mess with one of us Hesses”) yet, since their resources are spread over so many kids, they also tend to be poorer and succeed less than smaller families, all else being equal. I feel like that’s what’s happened with Texas—she’s gigantic, she collects few taxes and most citizens are stuck fending on their own. They’ll stamp a Texas logo on anything but you better hope you don’t need a doctor while you’re here.

I won’t go on at length about the casual racism, giggling homophobia, or everything-is-bigger wastefulness. And it’s probably not worth mentioning that Houston has a bronze statue of George W. Bush. The political climate and proud redneckery are things I expected before I came here. But I also expected some positives:

  • Texans are supposed to be more friendly. Unless you’re introduced by someone they know, they aren’t. (Lots of places have a reputation or super-friendliness, but travelers know it’s never true. Except Ireland.) I have made some good friends, but on the whole Texans are no friendlier than New Yorkers—and a lot more suspicious of strangers. Tip: if you need to hitch a ride when your bike breaks down in Texas, you’re better off just walking.
  • There’s supposed to be great food. I mean, it’s not like people speak of Texan cuisine in the same breath as Thai or Italian, but it is legendary for its barbecue, its excellent Mexican food, and its unique Tex Mex style. I’ve had to hunt hard to find just a couple good local eateries.
  • Beautiful landscape? Texas has wide open spaces: wooded hills in the east, prairie in the north, desert in the west, and endless Gulf coast here in South Texas. It’s all covered in sprawl, industry and Wal-Marts.
  • Culture. No matter where I go I try to seek out hot spots of local culture. It’s been very hard here.

I only stopped in Corpus so I could become a good sea kayaker, with the hope of switching from bike to paddle for the next 1,000 miles of coast. But that’s also had setbacks:

  • I have no companions for voyage, making it more dangerous than needed.
  • The costs for the gear are high. This was expected, but it’s a bigger factor as I consider whether it’s worth it for a risky solo trip.
  • Kayak training takes time away from Spanish practice, which is essential to the Mexico leg (and everything thereafter).

So what happens when you live in a place you don’t love, to do something you’re no longer sure you can do?

I Have Doubts

I’ve grappled with confusion over my purpose while I’m here. I have three main kinds of doubts: a painful loneliness, financial discomfort, and uncertainty about how to continue my Journey.

The loneliness reached a new peak as I bicycled away from New Orleans. There were always hard days on the road, back on the first leg, but now I was leaving a place that felt like home—and the woman I love. We had a fragile plan to attempt the long distance relationship (which, as a wounded veteran of past such conceits, I’ve always framed as “a special kind of agony to inflict on oneself”) with frequent back-and-forth visits: her to Texas, Belize, or wherever I am; and me to New Orleans.

I’m not exaggerating to say that most of the days on this last leg felt more like an act of endurance, than an act of bold venture.

Corpus has not been much different, though Ken’s personality and a new pair of excellent roommates makes it tolerable. (Roommate Blake, a philosophy student with a penchant for building beautiful gardens or any other structure he can envision, and his girlfriend Roommate Elise the shy-but-funny Journalism student and baker, have finally given me a sense of home here.) During the day I keep busy but at night my mind wanders away from my writing, torn between dreams of the Mexican coast and fantasies of a Garden District home with my lady.

Financial discomfort is not new to me, and by the numbers I’m doing great—I doubled my income from last year. But double a new writer’s salary is still a small salary, and the expenses of a life of travel are constant. I always expected to bootstrap this adventure, but I also expected to move much faster. I’m finding that I don’t fancy the idea of 2 or 4 more years of scrabbling by—it’s become important to me that I build a stronger on-the-road income. In storms of irony, taking the time to actually build up my writing career would require hunkering down in one place to work, work, work instead of training or traveling.

Perhaps uncertainty about the Journey itself is the most painful of my doubts. It’s not that I would give up: it’s that I don’t know how to go on. 2,000 miles in I have no companions to join me on the high sea. I pictured forming a little group, meeting bold people who would try this alongside me, training together and doing it together. Why haven’t I found them? And since I haven’t, do I do the kayak segment solo, which seems unwise but epic, or do I change plans and go inland on bicycle—or foot? 

These uncertainties plagued me ever since arriving here, even as I continued to go out and paddle as if the kayak voyage is a sure thing. Ken has been patient, waiting for me to decide.

So am I quitting? No.

I believe that travel changes lives. Heroes exist, and there is no formula to become one—but you can prepare, you can hone yourself. The more you push your own limits, the more ready you are to act for others. My Adventure is my way of doing that. 

My purpose in my Journey hasn’t changed, I’m only unsure about how next to continue it. Plus, now I have a timeline: I hope to be back in New Orleans by June for my first long-term visit to Jessica. I never envisioned my great trip would take this shape, but I knew it would surprise me many times.

What Should I Do?

I’d like your advice. Before anyone answers, “Do whatever you think is right, Rogue Priest, we’re with you no matter what you want to do,” thank you. That’s sweet, but the problem is I don’t know what I want to do. Certainly, I won’t commit to a plan purely because of the majority vote, but I could use a nudge. Here’s the situation.

I know I’ll kayak seven days to Port Isabel, the last town before the Mexico Border. From there I have two options:

Option 1: Bicycle and Risk
Ken is happy to meet me at Port Isabel when I complete the seven day kayak trip. I’ll give him back his kayak, and he could deliver my bike and my equipment. I would then set off overland, powered by my own body, toward my next destination—Guanajuato. Total covered (bike & kayak): 700 miles.

Advantagismos: This is a logical next step for my trip and should involve lots of good scenery and small towns. There would be a sense of accomplishment in pushing the Journey so far forward before returning to New Orleans. I’d have momentum again.

Negativos: My lack of Spanish. I’ve focused entirely on my paddling training and neglected my language skills. Northern Mexico is a war zone and a high crime area—limited Spanish adds unnecessary risk. Additionally, the time spent on the bike would reduce the time I get in Guanajuato before I have to leave, and all those weeks on the road would further pinch finances.
Option 2: Bus and Sabbatical
Instead, from Port Isabel I could take a bus to Guanajuato. This doesn’t mean abandoning the eventual bike trip—it only means delaying it. After the short bus ride I’d have months to write in a beautiful city.

Advantagismos: Many. I’d be able to live inexpensively while writing, focusing on my career and building my financial security. I’d also be able to perfect my Spanish skills in a safe city, so that when I eventually bike through the border region I’ll have much better fluency. And the bus trip would essentially allow me to scout the terrain for the later bike trip, giving me an idea of what to plan for.

Negativos: Substantial. I think the trip loses something of its original essence if I’m busing ahead over every segment before I cross it “powered by my own body.” It would also mean that I’ll have to go back to Port Isabel to bike through an area I’d already passed. It’s confusing, it looks like cheating, and it feels like going backwards.

What do you think, dear readers? Some of you have been with since the beginning, and know me well; others just got here for the first time because you Googled “how to adventure,” and that alone speaks highly of your judgment. Is either of these a good plan? Do you have some other even better suggestion?

Please leave a comment and tell me what you think. What’s the best way for me to proceed between now and June?

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62 thoughts on “Texas is Terrible and I’m Going to Mexico

  1. I can’t tell you which way to go, but I’m curious about something I see in your writing. I understand your commitment to journeying and adventure. I question, though, what’s driving you to do it “under your own power.” Now, if you were contemplating a plane ticket or another form of large-scale travel, that would be one thing. But wanting to adventure, and having to do it under your own locomotion are two different ideas, and they seem a little jumbled in your head. What is it that you find sacred about using only your own power to travel? What made you place that restriction on yourself? What corollaries does it have (ie, travel between towns must be self-propelled, but traveling while visiting does not). Will your adventure lose a completely irreplaceable part if you take the bus? Will you feel like you “failed?” Will *not* taking a bus imperil your adventure to the point of sacrificing the spirit to stick to the letter? Or is it not worth doing at all if you can’t stick to your personal rules?

    What’s your goal? I mean, your concrete, immediate goal. Is it “get to Guanajuato to continue my adventure,” or is it “do not use any forms of travel that are not self-powered?”

    • Aha, someone has found the million peso question. This is something I’ve asked myself a lot since July. I can tell you it was originally born of a college kid’s wish to travel, even though he had no money: “I can just walk!” Somehow it became more sacred than that. Would I be happier if I gave up that requirement? In some ways, yes. Would it be worth the regret? I don’t know.

    • Prof, it’s clear you didn’t read the post and your comment feels an awful lot like spam. But you have a real blog and you didn’t drop a link in like a spammer would. Can you clarify what you meant to say?

  2. Carla says:

    My two cents… because I am the way I am, I would do the bus trip… It kind of blows because it is a gray area between cheating and not, but it would help keep your finance stable (and work on them for future rides) and you could dedicate your time to make the right contacts to help you on your way south. Which I am guessing you will NEED given your way of working you will need to find the right people to be in towns where you will have internet access to keep working. As you go more into South America, you know this will be critical. Además, de que tendrás tiempo de practicar el idioma!

    P.S. anvantagismo is really not a word… the correct one is ventaja. :-)

    • Thanks Carla. That’s a good practical way of looking at it… I’m kind of leaning this way.

      P.S. anvantagismo is really not a word… the correct one is ventaja. :-)

      Sí pero, en Texas creatamos nos propias palabras…. er nuestros…. nuestras propias palabras :D

  3. Hi Drew,

    Ok, I’ll bite ~ My 2 cent comments:

    Opt 1: The lack of Spanish seems the most serious drawback… as does the lack of funds. Biking the route from Port Isabel to Guanajuato takes you thru Ciudad Victoria and some serious foothills. The term ‘un/ reasonable risk’ comes to mind and if you happen to get in a bad situation in that area, both drawbacks would surely come into play big time. Ciudad Victoria is also Zeta country -they lost their big drug leader last year (http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2012/07/ciudad-victoria-zetas-boss-dies-in.html). What’s the point, a scary endurance test where if {S.H.} you aren’t comfortable /adept with speaking the language just to say you did so on your own physical volition? While I realize you have a stake in doing it because you said you where going to travel on your own volition, I am not sure biking this leg adds to the Heroic Adventure in any more meaningful ways then does bussing (with it’s own challenges). Your physicality is already challenged by your previous biking & kayaking distances.

    Option 2: What I like about this option is that you could address the language/ fund thing head on & make serious progress in negating any (needless ?/ pointless?) challenges that arise as a result of a lack of them. You would also have some time to connect and make friends with the locals, something that might be a big asset at some point. I’ld like to see you seek & write about others you meet, preferably philosopher types with the ‘mark of a Hero’ or just unusual stories of their own they share with you that would make for poignant and intimate reading, well, for me. (just saying’!)

    In Deep Peace,
    Aza ~ ☾ • ˚ * 。 •

  4. Amy says:

    I vote option 2. The premise of riding is solid, and understandable, but perhaps it would be best to do it at a later time or in a different place where things are more stable. Riding through unknown country where people can and do disappear, that is in political or violent upheaval when you don’t have a strong grasp of at least the language, much less the environment you’re going into seems like stubborn refusal to accept limitations to me. I applaud your drive to keep your word, but one thing I’ve learned in my life is that you have to be elastic. Forcing a trip when you aren’t prepared won’t create the trip you want. Plus you aren’t on your own now, you have a lovely lady, and to risk yourself in that manner isn’t fair to her. Take a step back, take the bus, do the writing, live the experience and plan for the next stage when you can do it right.

    • Thanks Amy. It’s worth noting that I definitely am keeping my word, and:

      “Riding through unknown country where people can and do disappear, that is in political or violent upheaval…”

      …is something I’ll be doing no matter what. It’s just a question of (as you said) now or later.

      Your point is very well taken about the elasticity and needing language skills and the lay of the land… Thank you.

  5. Does the place you’re finishing the kayaking have a yacht harbor? Maybe you could get a ride down the coast with someone. It’s still slow surface travel. Otherwise, I think “bus and sabbatical” sound pretty good. As you’ve said before, this is your trip at your pace. And perhaps you could put a notice up on couchsurfing that you’re looking for some other people to travel that section with, and you can meet them whenever they’re available to go through; maybe something will come up.

    • Yachting is driven by wind so I’d still have to come back to the border and re-do it on my own power. (Huge respect to the physical challenge that sailors face, it’s just different than what I’m looking to do.)

      I do like the CS meetup plan. It’s also been suggested to me that if I stick to bike – or even better, hiking – and establish a clearer schedule for each segment, it would be easy for people to drop in for a day or a week or 500 miles of joining up.

      I’d like that.

  6. While I can’t tell you which option you should take, I can tell you that Guanajuato is a wonderful city and your Spanish will come along in leaps and bounds when you’re here. I’ve been based here for the last few weeks (leaving tomorrow, sadly) and I’ve found it’s a beautiful, safe, fairly cheap place to spend your time. Also, since hardly anybody speaks English other than the very occasional ex-pat or other international tourist that you might stumble on, you’ll be using Spanish all day, every day.

    Shame we won’t cross paths again, but good luck on getting here — however you do it!

    • Oh Dave I would’ve loved to meet up again! This traveler has learned a lot since Chiang Mai. I’d love to see how your own experiences have shaped you since then too.

      Even though we won’t be there at the same time, I’d be interested in picking your mind about the city—especially best areas to live in and where to find a furnished apartment on the cheap w/o living somewhere unpleasant.

      • It would have been great to meet up again — I suspect we’d both have a lot of stories to share since last time! Drop me a line about Guanajuato if you like — happy to chat whenever. :)

  7. Two things spring to mind related to your confusion:

    1) What makes you sentimental is the hard road and the insensitive people you meet on it, not the desire for status quo. In the first sense you’ve already learned something about humanity at large. In the latter sense, if you give in, you lose. You know what’s real, but you let yourself indulge in hoping. In ref. to your yearning for your love, I can say the following: the only way in which you can hack it is if both of you are on the same page as to what you want to give and take from each other. If you’re not on the same page, then dream on. As with any relationship, there has to be complete symmetry in play in order for it to work. All else is self-delusion and self-indulgence.

    About continuing with your travelling plans: while it’s clear what your goal is, you are not aligned with it. Working on and with your body, and trusting it to take you places and cooperate with you, is definitely something that appeals to you. But innermost, right now, you entertain more the idea of sitting and writing, Romantic style by candlelight. The picture that you paint for yourself here, of sitting in a small cozy town that allows you to play the flaneur and make your observations of the human nature is definitely something that seduces you. And as we all know, seduction is a mighty thing. Here you have two choices: 1) to give in and enjoy its life-force, and 2) to resist and be miserable. Oh, the freedom of taking the bus, and be rid of the hassle! [Sorry, I’m having a laugh right now, as I can’t resist. You must forgive me, but I love this sort of anguish].

    Ultimately it all comes down to assessing your moral and intellectual integrity against the backbone of hedonism. Then ask this question: is being righteous about my goal better than going with my momentary heart’s desire? A momentary heart’s desire can be quite momentous, and it can bring on lasting results, so never underestimate it. Though I can see the appeal to staying immutable in your initial plan, as that is precisely that one plan that will always square off against banality.

    But this is a nasty question, as it places you one step down from being above ambivalence. It makes you address the good and the bad in equal measure. And it’s not sure you can succeed in being fair. How tedious, indeed. To be your own judge and acknowledge the truth that stares you in the face. But you bring it on yourself, and therefore you must face it if you are to find peace of mind. So what you need to ask, if you want to bypass the trouble with being human is this: what does it take for me to remain neutral in the face of either choice I make? That’s the art, cavalier, that’s the art. To be neutral and yet utterly excited about it all. Good luck, my friend.

    P.S. I did a three-card reading for you with my specialty, the Tarot de Marseille, the Dodal pack from 1701. The cards say: Empress, Hermit, Emperor. You will say your goodbyes, wrap up your doubts in your hermit’s mantle, and with your sleeves rolled up you will realize your plan. It looks like your goal is higher than everything else. You will not take the easy road, but beware of your limitations, including those of the body. Sometimes the Emperor makes it more confortable for himself and does not allow himself to wail too much in skepticism and self-doubt.

  8. I won’t tell you what to do, I’ll just share what I would in this situation, I would choose option 2, as many others have pointed out. For me, getting someplace “under your own power” isn’t really a necessary part of adventuring (as someone who used to ride public transportation in a large urban area a lot, public buses have there own sense of adventure) in my mind. I believe you will find many interesting adventures while using the bus (e.g. the bus may break down frequently, meeting other interesting travelers and locals, etc.). Whichever option you choose, you will obtain many fascinating insights about yourself and others.

    • Thanks Aaron. I don’t know why I feel such a romantic twinge for traveling under my own power. I guess originally it was the idea of hiking the world. I have no snobbery about it—I certainly agree buses are adventurous too. It doesn’t make me any “more” adventurous to go by my own power. But it’s sort of my style.

      I appreciate the advice. I’m leaning toward the bus for now.

  9. Bro, Gandalf took eagles everywhere. Take the frikking bus. :)

    An adventure isn’t an adventure if you plan it out and then just fulfil the plan. That’s a shopping list. Bus, write, more adventures.

    “Battleplans never survive first contact.”

    • Ha. Well, I’m wary to throw out the purism of it—ideals might survive first contact, eh?—but I respect you as a fellow adventurer and your advice means a lot. I’m being swayed. Thank you, Gordon.

  10. mercyfire@gmail.com says:

    I’m interested to see who you might meet on the bus. Remember the man sitting on the pier at the “end of the world”? Maybe he’ll be there again. :)

  11. Pixi says:

    Something stuck out to me in the negativos of option dos when you said “It’s confusing, it looks like cheating, and it feels like going backwards.”

    To say it in Teaching Drum terms, I think you need to tune in and listen to your heart-voice. It already know which option you need to take, so what is it saying?

    As was already asked: Would the reason to not take option two be because you may feel like a “failure” (i.e. more ego-based reasoning), or does it feel like it goes against the spirit of the adventure (perhaps more heart-based?), despite all the logically appealing reasons it has.

  12. I often find myself wondering, as I read your posts, if you think for some reason that those who partner with a love, create a family, and find their life’s path are somehow not on a heroic journey. I know that everyone who gets married, has kids, and works a job is not reflecting deeply on the meaning of it all. Maybe even a lot of folks who do this. For some of us, doing these things are life’s most demanding and heroic challenges and that’s not because we cannot or do not go on long, literal adventures.

    I wonder if the call to go on a long journey is not also, for you, archetypal. It seems to me that a most significant love has appeared in your life. Is it easier to go journey away from her, or toward a life with her? Which of those options is “heroic”?

    • You raise a good point and it’s one that’s hard for me to talk about Bob. The distinction between adventure and non-adventure is a delicate subject. I’ll do my best.

      I’m going to leave heroism out of it because (a) I’m not heroic and (b) heroism does not require a journey nor adventure. Those are excellent training tools however.

      So I’m going to treat your question as: are those who settle down and raise a family adventurers?

      I think they often feel like they’re on an adventure and I can’t tell them they are wrong. For someone who does not regularly risk life and limb, anything challenging may seem like an “adventure.” Settled parents may feel indignant to think that mountain climbers or hitchhikers are “more” adventurous than parents are. And if the climbers and hitchhikers are arrogant about it, then that indignance is well placed.

      But to someone who does, regularly, risk life and limb… I personally do not see my family life as comparable, not even in the same category. This includes my relationship with my girlfriend, which is one of the most important things in my life. It is challenging, uncertain, exciting and rewarding but I could only metaphorically call it an “adventure.” Adventure is when I’m running over train bridges or paddling through waves taller than I am. When the adrenaline is live and every sense is stretched out to my surroundings, when my mind is alive making split-second decisions, that is adventure to me.

      The other things that people call adventure—love, family, missing the morning bus—those don’t do any of the things to me that adventure does to me.

      I’ll offer you a parallel example that might ring truer for you. Someone who raises house plants has every right in the world to think of themselves as “parenting” those plants. But if you voiced your heart on the difficulty of parenting and a child-less houseplant owner said, “I understand completely, I’m a parent too, I have 3 ferns,”

      ….could you really view their “parenting” experience as comparable to your own?

  13. My opinion? Well, it doesn’t really sound like you’re happy with either choice. It doesn’t sound entirely like you want to continue. But you feel compelled too. Choice two is much safer, not because of the physical risks, but because the mental ones allow you to opt out when you want to. That’s why it feels like cheating. Because you now are communicating that you view your journey as not something you particularly want to pursue, but something you are obligated to.

    If it was something you still wanted to pursue, you wouldn’t mind taking a bus, because the adventure and the journey were what drove you.

    I’d recommend option 2 and see if living in Mexico reinvigorates your lust for journeying. If not, figure out what you want out of life.

    It is ok to change your mind.

    • Because you now are communicating that you view your journey as not something you particularly want to pursue, but something you are obligated to.

      If it was something you still wanted to pursue, you wouldn’t mind taking a bus, because the adventure and the journey were what drove you.

      I’d recommend option 2 and see if living in Mexico reinvigorates your lust for journeying. If not, figure out what you want out of life.

      That is 100% crystal clear wisdom. Beautifully said and consider me taking it to heart. Thank you, Em.

  14. Alien Mind Girl says:

    My opinion is not clear cut… so… good luck making heads or tails of it, but it is the opinion of someone “from the south” so I think it might add to the information you are using to draw your conclusions from.

    As your reader, my number one desire is for you to Not Die. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love your noble quest and ideals, and I understand that others feel do-or-die while I only feel don’t-die. I can’t help but be reminded by Christopher McCandless’ story… because it was epic, and inspiring, and the book by Krakauer was fascinating and beautiful, but I truly wished that the outcome was to Not Die. If he could have been a little less noble, the book less epic, and he had Not Died, that would have been infinitely better. So basically I don’t care what your choice is so long as you survive your trip through Mexico. And that will not be easy, as I am sure you know. From here on your trip will be increasingly more dangerous. No matter HOW you make it through Mexico, it will be an adventure. Bus, bike, parachute, kangaroo riding, all cool to me… just No Dying.

    Although the real question is what is cool to you. It’s not my adventure. I agree with the reader who said it sounds like you at least partially no longer want to do it, and that it is ok to anytime change your mind. Your life to choose, all the way. Not mine.

    As a southerner (from Oklahoma, family hailing from Georgia, Texas and Arizona) I hear a lot of stories about traveling to and from Mexico and violence from Mexico spilling over into American borders, but I ALSO hear that there are some places in Mexico that are still safe, where you can ramble through the foothills and swim in wild lagoons and drink tropical beverage without worry. These are much less frequent than the other.

    If it were me, I would find a guide. And not just any guide. I know someone who spoke Spanish, went to Mexico with a guide – a person she thought she knew and trusted – and still escaped being sold into slavery by the skin of her teeth. A guide you trust deeply, with your life, to let you in on the best path you can take if you are to survive. The guide ought to know the safe oases where you can put up if you need to and the safest travel paths and methods, and insider tips for getting by in rough areas, as you will not be able to get through Mexico without passing through some. I don’t know if the guide will be easier to find in Texas or Guanajato but such a person would be a resource, not a cheat code.

    Personally, I feel you could have also used a guide through Texas if you were looking for great food, culture, and landscapes. Because all of those things ARE in Texas, but you can’t go just anywhere, and you certainly can’t route a path that only goes along the interstates and through the major cities and expect to find it. I highly suspect that the people who think Oklahoma and Texas (very similar sister states, despite what locals like to boast) have nothing to offer are those who stay primarily on the interstates and cities, and don’t have time to dig in and find what they are looking for… don’t know if that is what you did or not, but it’s a thing I’ve encountered in many others. I guess this portion of the country is different than most; things aren’t in your face or easy to find because culture-wise the extreme right wingers are loud and in charge (whether or not they are in the majority, which I sometimes doubt), and nature-wise the cities have been overrun with concrete and suburban sprawl, usually smack in the flattest easiest pieces of land we could find. Whether or not you choose to believe me, that other stuff is there… I guess I am used to the way things are in this part of the country but outsiders usually seem to need a magic secret key or guide to find those things.

    • Arden says:

      Just chiming in to agree with your paragraph about Texas. I mean, for god’s sake– Texas is *bigger than Spain*. And dude, you’re in *Corpus*. Everyone I know (in Houston) would grimace if they heard how long you were going to be there!

      Speaking as someone who’s sick of Texas and about to leave: Texas can be absolutely fantastic, but you’ve got to know where to go and what to do.

      I also think the guide idea is a very intriguing one, if you can find a suitable candidate!

      • This is a very fair point Arden. Even the local Corpus Christians agree Corpus is not the place to be to appreciate TX.

        I think it’s hard because when I travel I dream of the places that are overflowing with culture… the ones where the best gems may be hard to find, but just a walk down any street reveals so much that’s new and amazing.

        • Arden says:

          That’s absolutely understandable from a wanderer’s perspective — you have limited time!– but sometimes “overflowing with culture” just means “culture is caricatured and put on display for tourists.” New Orleans is one of the only places I’ve found that succeeds at making its display, for lack of a better word, “authentic”… and it’s a very special place for that.

          I’m hypersensitive to that because of formative experiences as a kid in Mexico (where the classism inherent in tourism is just brutal), and probably some dumb ingrained hipster notions– but a guide with taste is a good idea just about anywhere, I think. :)

        • Alien Mind Girl says:

          I understand that desire… One of the things that blew my mind the most about Ireland is that no matter WHERE I was, a short walk in any direction, city or countryside, turned up some unexpected gem, whether I was looking for it or not. I felt delighted every time. Part of it may have been the novelty of a new country, and part of it I chalk up to being just… old in terms of civilization… but regardless. It was precious.

    • Thank you for all of these thoughts, AMG. It means a lot.

      I want to Not Die but I’ve developed a higher risk tolerance than most people. It makes things interesting.

      On Texas: I believe you. My bicycle route avoided Houston and the only large cities I’ve been to (by bicycle) are Corpus and Galveston. I’ve also been to a half dozen mid-size to smaller towns, and passed through others. I did encounter tremendous generosity in Beaumont, TX and strong culture in Galveston, plus wonderful Couchsurfing hosts throughout.

  15. Been with you from the beginning—loved the bike adventures but thought you went too fast. Enjoyed the New Orleans adventures—like it when you dig into a city—touching people’s lives and being touched—extracting insights and sharing them with us—never believed the Kayak option—I hope you bus to Guanajuato—adapt, observe and share with us. Enjoy your philosophical ruminations best.

  16. Laura says:

    Long-time lurker popping out of the woodwork here…

    If there is one thing I have learned (and learned the hard way), it is that when life/the universe/what-have-you throws obstacles in your way, you need to stop and listen. Maybe now is not the time for the journey you seek or maybe your vision of the journey needs to be released so that it can unfold in a different way. Pushing through the obstacles by sheer force of will may eventually bring you to your goal, but it will be like slogging through mud and there will most certainly be unintended consequences. Don’t judge changes to the journey, whether they be related to timelines or logistics, as bad. Be open to what comes your way and everything will flow more easily.

    The journey itself is what is important, not the details. After all, just as the end doesn’t always justify the means, the means don’t always justify the end.

    P.S. If I had to choose one of the options, 2 gets my vote as well – perhaps it’s time to regroup. But regrouping can be accomplished in many different places. Maybe there is another town that would serve a similar purpose but would not be on your planned bike route.

    • Thank you Laura.

      Pushing through the obstacles by sheer force of will may eventually bring you to your goal, but it will be like slogging through mud and there will most certainly be unintended consequences. Don’t judge changes to the journey, whether they be related to timelines or logistics, as bad. Be open to what comes your way and everything will flow more easily.

      Pure wisdom.

  17. Beth says:

    I love what Laura just said. I know you well. You dream big, and once you set a goal, it’s hard for you to consider changing it. You can change it, but it takes a lot of time for you to come to peace with it. I would suggested that you take a sabbatical *separate* from the issue of what you are doing with the trip. Change your frame of reference. How can you put yourself in a new headspace? Frankly, you are currently not happy partially because of where you are. You hate Corpus, and it doesn’t feed your soul. It’s pretty hard to hear what your soul is saying about the long term if it’s mostly just crying because it hates the present day. Find some town in Mexico that will have the cultural underpinnings and social atmosphere that you feed off of. Take a bus there, because it’s not part of your literal journey – it’s a sabbatical for you to consider your options. Force yourself to learn your friggin’ Spanish, which you’ve been trying to do for a couple of years. That language ability is absolutely not optional. And use that time to fill your soul and let it speak to you. You can’t do that in New Orleans – you’ll just fall into your enjoyment of that place and you’ll never know if you really gave the other option a fair go. And you can’t do it while you are training for the trip, or you’ll always feel like you have to make an immediate choice.

    Give yourself the time and the space to really reflect on what is important about this journey to you. Honestly, Drew, I’ve always been a little concerned that you might not find the traveling companions that you dreamed of. Your sense of purpose on this is very unique, and it’s just hard to find people who share that drive. You need to take some time to reimagine what this journey means to you, because originally that idea of a companion group was a huge part of what it was about. THAT is what used to really light you up when you talked about this – how to lead that group, how to structure it, what it would mean to the participants. You are now facing the fact that it’s harder to get that to happen than you had imagined. I think you need to honor that and really give it space, and think about what that means. How much of the point of this is about powering by your own muscles? Was just about starting out, and maybe you’ve learned what you needed to and are ready to be done? How much of it was about having companions? And frankly, I think you also need to have some conversations with your teenage self. That’s the other thing you used to light up about, even years before you left: living a dream that you had put on hold so many years ago. I could never quite relate to that…the way I see it, we change as we live, so it’s natural that our desires change as well. But you have to talk to that part of yourself and figure out whether it needs you to do this, or whether there is a way to honor it while still changing your plans, in one of many possible ways.

    You have an abundance of spiritual resources to help you reflect on this, but you haven’t written about them much lately…seems to me like a sign that perhaps you’re a bit disconnected right now. And you can’t connect if you are spending all your time either obsessing about learning to kayak, obsessing about what you are going to do, or hating your current location and missing the place and person that you love. It’s time to hit the pause button on all of this and go on retreat. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says or even what logic tells you; if you are not feeling emotionally at peace with any of your options, then you’re not ready to make a decision, or you haven’t yet discovered the option that will work best for you. Don’t force yourself into a choice you don’t have to make.

    • Intense wisdom. Thank you, Beth.

      Honestly, Drew, I’ve always been a little concerned that you might not find the traveling companions that you dreamed of.

      I still have hope.

      But that does not detract from the points you made.

      • Beth says:

        You should absolutely still have hope. Otherwise you wouldn’t be you. It could totally still happen…just doesn’t surprise me that you are lacking in momentum given that it hasn’t happened yet.

  18. Whenever I have a hard decision to make, for me, it always becomes instantly easier to make by asking one basic question, Which would I regret most/least? Based on my answer to that I run with it and hasn’t failed me yet.

            • “De nada” means “its nothing” and french is the same, “de rien”, both of which is the customary response (usually informally with friends, apparently its different with strangers or in fancier circumstances) but I didn’t want to say “its nothing” I intentionally meant that you are welcome because Its my way of saying that I would gladly do it again :) Plus I fully acknowledge that I come from a different cultural sphere of interpreting the meaning of “its nothing”, so I openly express my different perspective as a way of opening discussion. Like you’ve just done ^_^

              • In Irish, the correct response to ‘thank you’ (which is literally “May good be with you”) is ‘good be with you too.’ But a lot of people learning Irish instead use the phrase that means ‘you’re welcome’ as in ‘welcome into my home’ or ‘welcome to New Mexico.’ This only makes sense in translation, and ends up being nonsense in Irish… but nonetheless is frightfully common.

                I guess I’m trying to figure out whether you’re saying that ‘bienvenidos’ is a Spanish reply to ‘gracias,’ or if it’s a similar situation to the Irish example. I’m not criticizing, I’m just not sure whether I’m getting a Spanish lesson or artistic license.

                • Neither? I’m saying what I’m saying because that is the way I want to say it, which is acknowledgeably going against convention. So no, its not a typical Spanish reply to ‘gracias’ and may be a bit confusing as to why it was used to those in the Spanish cultural sphere, but it would be understood for what it is – still keeping its meaning in translation. Bienvenue in Quebec French directly translates to the same meaning as “you’re welcome” in English, and with the Etymology of French having close ties to Spanish it can carry the same meaning in Spanish translation. Mind you different areas can interpret it differently. France french would be like your example of meaning “welcome to this place” kind of thing. Most would quickly understand that I’m coming from a different cultural sphere in my response which is kind of the point I guess. That being I want to express myself the way I culturally am, while at the same time being respectful in my weird quirky way. I’ve had a lot of fun conversations begin with such minor things in regular conversation, albeit its all previously been in French and have lost a great deal of being able to speak it over the years. At least what little I’ve had to begin with. Again this very bit of dialogue is an example of that. I think I enjoy it most because it brings about more information about how things are said in done in a language and culture that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise, being an intentional avenue for learning more.

    • Glad I’m not the only one who operates that way.

      Drew, I’m with Rua Lupa, but I add this thought that comes from something Beth said above: what are the gods saying to you? What is the Journey saying to you? What of this spiritual path – what is it speaking to you right now?

      Ask your Deity which is best for you. Follow that answer. If the answer is, “either plan will suffice,” then do what you’ll regret the least.

      • Ask your Deity which is best for you. Follow that answer. If the answer is, “either plan will suffice,” then do what you’ll regret the least.

        Well said. Thank you so much, Stephanie.

  19. Erik says:

    I think it would be a mistake to continue without improving your Spanish skills, so I would go with option 2. Isn’t part of this adventure about the people you meet, after all? That would be more successful with stronger language skills.

  20. Cindy says:

    I have a couple thoughts running through my head about your journey. And remember you asked for my opinion. 1) A journey isn’t always a physical movement across the land. 2) It seems that your journey might be a test to your relationship in your mind. And 3) What is the goal of your journey – is it to grow or is it to move physically across the planet. Stream of consciousness regarding each point follows.

    1) When you look at the epic journeys in history, they were more than a movement across the planet. Sure they involved movement but there was also great personal growth and epiphanies. Such as learning the value of honor, love and home.

    2) Will the journey you want to take to Mexico test your love relationship. I think from your own words, you realize it will. Are you worried that it won’t stand up to the test (yes)? Relationships are valuable and they require work. They aren’t a miraculous gift that either is or isn’t. The gift is more the opportunity than the actual relationship. Are you running from your relationship? Are you worried it isn’t right? Maybe it isn’t. But these are important questions that need to be meditated upon. Could you travel to Mexico in the future? Maybe. Will you lose the love of your life? Maybe.

    3) If your journey is about personal growth as well as travel, perhaps you have reached that metaphorical fork in the road. Do you pursue the physical journey or the mental/spiritual one. There is the relationship aspect but also how to deal with the mental component of not accomplishing something you had committed to do.

    Ok, if I were you, I would not risk the chance to build a life with my love for a physical journey I could either postpone or modify. I would more concentrate on the building up of my relationship and self esteem after not following through with my commitment to the physical journey.

    I may have completely missed the boat but if not, I hope this helps. If nothing else, then I agree with the commentor who requested you Not Die. Take the bus.

  21. Arden says:

    I’m going to vote Option 2, because to me it seems to press onward will only frustrate. As I recall you had these doubts when you left NOLA–and while you seemed much more inspirited after awhile, it seems that they haven’t completely left? And you’ll hardly be spinning your wheels; in addition to income/Spanish/lady you’ll be getting to know a new culture and having adventures in a new city.

    Good luck to you!

  22. Pingback: The Missing 10 Miles |   Rogue Priest

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