There’s nothing like a trip back to “the old country” to remind you of what you left, what you miss, what you have now and where you are. Although we’ve been in Mexico for less than a year, and we’ve made a few one-day trips across the border for various reasons, being “up north” for ten days was different.
In late June, we made a road trip to see family in various places and ended up traveling 4,000 miles to do that in a circle from Rosarito north to Seattle, east to South Dakota, south to Utah, west to San Diego and then home with a last stop in Barstow, California, which I don’t recommend unless you absolutely have to do it.
We made stops along the way and had a good time introducing each other to the relatives on both sides of the equation. And we did learn a few things along the way.
For one thing, traffic. We’re both road trip veterans but neither of us could remember as much traffic as we encountered especially in previously light traffic stretches where the image of “road trip” is breezin’ along with the breeze. Being stuck in traffic or at the very least being paced by all the other vehicles on a six-lane freeway is hardly “breezin’ along.”
Prices. Yikes! We’re so spoiled down here that we were mildly stunned to be reminded that one reason to head south was better prices on so many things.
The Mexico caché. When asked where we were traveling from, we watched the faces when we answered “Mexico.” Wow, that’s a long way from… wherever we happened to be. And despite visits to family, we did miss our local friends who greet us when we stop in for breakfast or lunch or a margarita. We missed the little old lady we pass on our walks, a lady who sells candy for 5 pesos. We missed the kids and the quick hugs from strangers and the smiles and genuine charm.
We learned that “Full breakfast” has many meanings in the lodging business these days. And when we got caught without a reservation during a big quilt convention and had to settle for a less than desirable room, we learned that “guest library” and “pleasant furnishings” also have different meanings.
We also remembered the good, the bad and the ugly that infects towns and cities on both sides of the border. When people see real pictures of urban Mexico – not the ones in the tourist brochures – they’re often put off by what look like hovels or unpleasantly trashy neighborhoods, but we passed through these, too, on our trip. There’s no need for Americans to get uppity about conditions south of the border.
One of the main things we learned was that 4,000 miles in 10 days is pushing it for a couple of semi-retired folks who are more used to a walk along the beach or sitting on the balcony looking at the sea than strapped into a vehicle doing 75-80 on the freeways (when the traffic allows). We loved seeing all the family, but on about Day 8, we laughed that we’d signed on for something like one of those “See Europe in 10 days” trips. If it was Saturday, it must be Spearfish!
We’ve asked ourselves from time to time if we want to return to the States in the future. We haven’t come to a definite conclusion on that, but if we do return, the Oregon coast and the Black Hills of South Dakota are in the running. Neither one of us is considering a big city this time around. Time will tell.
As with most things in life, there are no perfect answers and no perfect places. Trade-offs, always trade-offs. Our time in Mexico has many pros, but also the cons. We know if we stay we’ll be moving to a new place not adjacent to a party beach where most of the entertainment is rappers with big amp systems. And where professional quality fireworks explode well into the night just yards from our windows. Sleeping is difficult.
We like the little Mexican bands that play during the day on weekends and we enjoy seeing families having fun on the beach on weekends, too, but the party crowds are different. We’ve learned not to try and walk downtown on Saturday or Sunday, and we know full well what an open sewer smells like. Living in our fine condominium doesn’t mean we miss any of this. We could have been warned by the agent who rented us the place during the winter, but we were not, so someplace else is in store for us on one side of the border or the other.
Neither of us, it turns out is quite ready to fully retire and would like to work just a little longer, but both the language and the work laws make that nearly impossible down here.
Pros and cons. Pros and cons.
Meantime, a sense of humor still prevails most of the time. We have not only the good, the bad and the ugly. We’ve also got the weird. Here’s proof.
Stay tuned for more about our adventure. If you have questions, please include them in a comment and we’ll try to respond.
Adios, amigos y amigas!
Michael and Molly