Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Travel Advice

Travel advice. Don't go.  That is the simplest answer to all your travel worries. (Have you ever read the travel warnings put out by the federal government? Scary.) Stay home and just pretend that you went. Be safe.

I am finally finished with my taxes. I have booked my flight back to Ajijic for the 31st. Now, of course, all my travel worries are kicking in. My head is swimming with them. It is past midnight and I am up worrying. So many things to worry about. So little time. Just one week to try to cover all of them. And my imagination can never cover all of the things the world has to offer up to me. Both good and bad things but the bad has more power over me. I see the glass as half empty. Sorry, but that is the way I am. Maybe because then I am not so disappointed or shocked when bad things happen. Anticipation eases the way. And my surprise at the good things is always a blessing.

I am reading a book titled The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.  He wrote many interesting things about traveling, too much for me to quote in this small post. One part of the book was about a man who had decided to stay home after taking in all the considerations. He put travel posters of the place he was thinking of visiting all over his walls. He ordered special meals from that country to be delivered to his door. It was just as if he had gone but he was safe at home. The best of both worlds.

He also wrote about the WHY of travel. He said in much better language the same things I have been writing about in this blog. When you travel, you take yourself. That is the most important part of the equation. You could be sitting in a paradise but if you are having an argument with someone or if you have worries on your mind, paradise is meaningless. You are still in a hell world. Portland is beautiful and interesting but I have spent a lot of time being bored. That is because of me and my fears, not the fault of this City.

One of my friends wrote to me saying that I am not deep enough in what I say. That I am too kind to Mexico and to critical of the States. That may be true. As Alain de Botton says, some Countries are better fits for our personalities than others. Just because a person is born in one Country, that doesn't mean it is the right one. The values of Mexico fit my personality more than the values of the States. I am writing in broad brush strokes now. I am writing about the warmth of the people and the more relaxed lifestyle in Mexico.  And about the importance of spending time with friends and family instead of running around in cars to shopping centers, buying things. This is a generalization. But it is the way I experience the two Countries.

It is past midnight. My friend is sleeping in her bedroom. Her twenty one year old dog is sleeping in this room. I have learned a lot from that little dog. She only wakes up a few minutes a day but then she stares in wonder at the world. She sniffs the air and walks around slowly on her weak legs. Everything seems to be new to her. The sunshine on her face is so strong and shocking that she falls down. As I watch her little three to five feet walks I am reminded to take deeper breaths and to smell the fresh air and to be thankful for my own short life here on this earth.

One of my fears is that I have not loved my family and friends enough while I have been here. Some friends I didn't get a chance to see at all because they were too far for me to travel to this time.  And maybe for one reason or another I might not see them again. I worry that they will put me out of their hearts because I wasn't able to make it there. But I have been trying to conserve my energy and money while I am here on this trip. I have been dealing with some family issues and those always take a lot of energy. This has not been a pleasure trip, although I had some good times in between all the problems to be solved.

I doubt if I will see Winnie, the twenty one year old dog, alive again. My mother passed away when I was out of the States. Her thirteen year old dog passed away when I was out of the States. Friends and other family members have also left this world and I wasn't there to help out. Not that I could have stopped their passing. But my guilt and ego make me think I could or at least should have tried.  Things change so rapidly. Life doesn't stop up here just because I am not a witness to it.

Maybe the answer is to have some faith. Maybe leaving this world isn't such a bad thing. I have so many fears about going to another Country and when I finally get there I laugh at my stupid fears. Maybe it is the same for crossing over from this life to the next. It is a journey we are all going to take. We can't decide not to go.

I don't know what is over there. It is some kind of ego trip on my part to think my worrying could in any way affect the lives of my loved ones. They have their own paths, just as I have mine. I believe the best way I can affect the lives of those I love is to fulfill my own dreams. They can look at me and think, If Patricia can do it, so can I. Because Patricia is filled with fears and worries. She gets turned around just walking into a store. She talks to strangers. She eats street food. She lives on very little money.  She gets distracted easily and is vulnerable. She loses things.

I can't get inside of them, no matter how much I try to change anything about what they do or how they live. If I see them headed for heartache or ill health, I can't stop it. Trying only alienates them. Self will is God's gift. We either use it wisely or not. Unconditional love is our gift and that takes a lot of courage and faith to do. Okay, it is impossible to do but we can try. And try and try.

I can just do my best to feel my fears and do it anyway. Maybe that is the most loving thing I can do for everyone concerned. And to have faith that there is a higher power in control here. Trust is a very difficult thing but it is worth the effort. Otherwise, life can be awfully scary and I might as well just take that couch sitting option instead of the actual trip.

Above are three photos of Winnie. When I woke her up with my flash on my camera, she made a little cave for herself. I guess she has learned something in her twenty one years here. When life gets stressful, hide.


  1. Excellent observations and thoughts, Patricia. I am so glad you are finally going back to our beloved Lake Chapala. I can't wait to get back there, but we are in the middle of selling our house, moving our kids/grandchild to Fayetteville, AR, etc, etc. So many things get in the way.

    We may retire to F'ville and summer in the Lake Chapala area. Hope to see you soon. Buena suerte.

  2. Dear JJZ, Thank you for your comment. See you in Ajijic, hopefully. Patricia

  3. Patricia,
    Awaiting your arrival in Ajijic is total unconditional love on four legs.
    Little Chico has missed his best friend and companion, not to mention his daily walks!
    Sure wish I was returning with you.

  4. Good work, Patricia. I esp like the analogy between traveling to Mexico and dying. As Hamlet said, death is the "country from whose bourne no traveler returns. And as Walt Whitman said, more cheerfully, "To die is different from what anyone supposed, and lucker." I think that Mexicans have this sense of luck or fate. Sure, we'll all die. And we cannot choose when. So why not celebrate that occasion, too? Isn't it part of life? And isn't every Mexican ready for celebrating, having a fiesta, at the drop of a pin or pinata?

  5. Hi John, Thank you for writing. I was just talking about you with Marie. I was telling her about our adventures there and our skype calls every morning. I sure miss you. Patricia

  6. Hi Greg, Thank you for your comment and the quotes. Just reading what you were writing brought a knot in my stomach, reminding me of my fears. Yes, and how I somehow think of travel as a death. I need to learn to look at things in a more positive light. Patricia