Carried Away in Mexico


“On a scale of 1 to beheaded, how unsafe to you feel right now?”

SONY DSCI burst out laughing.

This was day 3 of our 10Day, over the New Year, “Bad Idea” trip south of the border. We were walking back to our B&B from having an amazing meal in a converted monastery from the 1600s, and a kid on his trike just passed us on the street with a group of adults laughing in his wake.

Yes, it was slightly insensitive joke. The idea that Mexico is unsafe is frankly quite laughable… if it wasn’t such a sad commentary on perspectives.

Jen can easily quote you the statistics about murder and crime rate comparisons to cities in the US. From my own life I have had my wallet stolen and purse stolen, been jipped by a cab driver, and been threatened and harassed on the street… all in the US and not even in NYC. To say nothing of experiences in the “safe” cities of Europe. With the sad news out of italy recently, it brings even more to the fore one hard truth: bad stuff happens everywhere.

We are never as safe as we would like to believe.

We can let that prevent us from experiencing life, or accept the reality and go anyway.

Situational Awareness

SONY DSCI am not advocating hopping a plane to some war-torn region or wading into the unknown without some preparedness and sense. I’m just advocating that we look at the whole picture and not close ourselves off categorically out of fear. I wouldn’t suggest you go to certain areas of Mexico City just as I wouldn’t suggest you go to certain areas of LA. Saying “oh, don’t go to Mexico, you might be beheaded or kidnapped” is just as ignorant as saying “oh don’t go to California because you might be shot in a gang drive-by.” But one happens far more than the other.

Don’t forget to pack your common sense when you go on vacation. Don’t ignore your “spidey-sense” when traveling. Be unbound but be aware of your surroundings. “Don’t get drunk, act recklessly nor do stupid stuff” is good advice no matter where in the world you are.

I was surprised upon return from Mexico to have a pretty educated and worldly friend ask me about the trip and say “well as long you stay on your compound, your fine.”

Um, we didn’t go to a “compound.” The closest we came was a fenced in area in a monkey sanctuary.

IMG_6116Hugging Mimi the spidermonkey was by far the highlight of my trip and something that I would have never had the opportunity to do had we stayed “safe” in some polished and white-washed all-inclusive, indistinguishable-from-the-suburbs compound.

Why bother to go to Mexico if you’re not actually going to see it?

No Compounds. Be Unbound.

Look, I get — we get — that sometimes you want to “not have to think about it.” That is what a vacation is for right? It’s the opportunity to unplug and disconnect and turn the brain off for a bit. Sometimes we don’t want to expend the energy to be situationally aware or experiencing the new.

As Jen recently wrote though, not venturing into the unknown to embrace the local means that we are lose out on some of the best experiences — that goes for Texas as much as its neighbor to the south. It is, for the most part, not a sacrifice I am willing to make.

I rather push myself outside my comfort zone to live and experience as much as possible, especially when traveling. It isn’t always easy, but it is worth it.

We did have a rather harrowing drive in the dark in the rain dodging pot-holes the size of kiddy-pools… but other than that the only thing that hurt at the end of our trip was my smile. The only thing we were in danger of was having too many delicious tacos — from the hole-in-the wall places off the beaten track. The only thing I feared was the impending deadline to leave beautiful, wild Mexico.

IMG_6217We weren’t kidnapped. We weren’t beheaded. I don’t even think we were overcharged once — although the toll on 180D gives the Jersey Turnpike a run for it’s money.

We did have real, authentic experiences like seeing this beautiful abuela light her candle to participate in a troubadour parade at 11 at night on the mean streets of Merida. We were most definitely out of place but we embraced it and joined along when encouraged to do so. The memories of this beautiful, candle-lit face and my encounter with Mimi are ones I will treasure always, and I would have never have made them from the confines of my comfort zone.

Ever outward.

Where have you gone that pushed you out of the “unsafe” into the extraordinary? We are always looking for our own blind spots and to expand our horizons, tell us where to look.

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