Notes from one month in Mexico

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If there’s one word to sum up why I love it here so much it’s community.

People gather in parks, outside churches, on corners, and actually interact with each other. Social interaction doesn’t have to revolve around bars, spending money, or “productive” activity. People value their time off and spend it together. Salsa in the central park, or just taking their kids out for ice creams. It’s “work to live” not “live to work.” People don’t have fenced in backyards so kids play in public. People leave their front doors open to the sidewalks for air, not secluding themselves from the vibrant street life passing by.

Businesses are small, simple, and locally owned. Shopping and eating are more fun because of the abundance of choices and vendors, all specializing in something unique. Creativity flourishes in a country where barriers to opening a small business are low. Because there are so many “mom and pop” type businesses, you can find almost everything you need without supporting huge corporations.

After about a month in a country I can usually reach the point of feeling at home. The challenge of communicating becomes easier and even though we’re not fluent we can usually understand what’s going on around us. Operating in a second language, in an unfamiliar place keeps your brain and senses fully awake in a way that most Americans are forever missing out on. We know where to go for basic necessities. We don’t have to constantly be touring, but can just enjoy soaking in the art, the vibes, the music of a place, wandering aimlessly through city streets. I much prefer this slow style of travel with the opportunities it brings to fully step into a different culture, a new way of doing this thing called life. Everywhere I’ve been I always want to linger longer, wanting more language, more friends, more dusty day trips. I hope to always want more, to always be curious about what’s around the bend, to be equally pulled in new directions as I am to return to all these temporary homes I’ve had.

“Travelers don’t know where they’re going; tourists don’t know where they’ve been.” – Paul Theroux