Saturday, February 19, 2011

Risk Assessment

Living is easy.  It's the challenges that make things interesting.  We learn from them.  They make us stronger & they create change for better or worse.

I was contemplating this as I was working in a community garden in Puerto Escondido.  Wake up before the sun, then manual labour until the sun beats you down.  It felt really good, really constructive to be working with my hands, keeping busy, learning & having something to show for it.  We transplanted a banana plant!  I felt like I wanted to see how the time I put in developed - the literal fruits of my labour - which was impossible for me, but a good feeling.
I was also contemplating this on an island in the Lugunas of Chacahua with the Escondido crew (Lucas, Andrea & Omar).  Hammocking, watching the surf.  Feet in the sand.  Where everything is easy.  Stars so thick you could jar them up & send them home.  The sparkles of bioluminescence in the water at night, like it's trying to keep up with the sky.  Mosquito guts all over my legs from the nightly massacres.  I digress...

4 days offline means 64 unread messages on Monday.  Two messages from home gives me an unsubstantiated hollow feeling creeps in.  I should be ready, but I take a breath & it still winds me when I read it.

Thursday before the weekend my cousin was in a major car accident.  He was in critical condition, but has since been upgraded to stable.  In my limited knowledge of anatomy & injuries, & based on what I've heard, it sounds like it was almost as bad as it could possibly have been.  He is lucky to have made it to the hospital.

I know that if you're away for a long period of time, something bad is bound to happen.  It was so hard to be away & to hear my family struggle.  You want to reach out to someone who is not there.  I couldn't sleep all night.  I have come to terms & embraced loss of control & powerlessness at times - it's comes with hitchhiking.  It was not easy to decide to come home, & I know I am powerless whether I am on the road, or in the hospital room.  Think of it in selfish terms:  I am not coming home because you ask me to or want me to, I am coming home to reassure myself.

These sorts of challenges can be contradictory.  On one hand, it is hard to be away.  On the other hand, it's hard to go back.

It's time to go home.


Take Your Time Coming Home.

When I talked to my dad on Skype, he said "Don't let this cloud your judgement."  Yeah, yeah...  Then I hitchhiked for 25 hours straight.  From Puerto Escondido to Valladolid = 1,522km.  I seem to disregard the simplest advice alot.

I was inspired by this hitchhiking race I heard of in Europe.  Meet at 8am, then again in 2 days at 8pm; 60 hours to get as far as possible, then return to the same location.  Travelling quickly can be fun, with a goal at hand.  In my case, I was trying to get to Cancun by noon Thursday to make the cheapest flight home.

It was taking forever to go up this road down the coast of Oaxaca, then north.  The rhythm of Los Fabulosos Cadillacs guide my feet along the highway.  In the middle of my lunch as a Sol cervesa truck driver stops & agrees to take me to the main autopista to the North, then radios a friend to get me the rest of the way to Coatzalcoalcos.  A super nice father-son sales team get me to Villahermosa, and now I'm back in a city.

Since spending so much time in the country, islands, surf towns, pueblitos - I prefer them much more than the cities.  Yeah, I can see how the cities are dangerous & people are constantly afraid & worried.  With my McGuyver-like skills of whipping up a sign with ketchup packets, I got a ride at around 2:30-3am...probably within 2 hours, but I've come to realize I have very little concept of time & am extremely patient - both qualities acquired by HHing.  Truck drivers are constantly my heros.
"What?  There's a bed back here?  You don't say!  You mean, I can use it?  Wake me up in 4 hours please!"

When I woke up we were only in Campeche, not even halfway to Merida - translation, going much slower than I had hoped.  At around 1pm I was under a bridge in the rain like a troll outside Valladolid cursing the Yucateca Mexicans for being way less Mexican than all the others west of the penninsula.  Scoffing at the flight listings over lunch, I resolved I could make it on the 7:40pm flight.  I did know it was 4pm.  I didn't know the airport was 2 1/2 hours away.

I spent the weekend trying not to think about how stupid I was - on a tropical island off the coast of Cancun.  I would hate to be stuck in my least favourite city in Mexico, the furthest point away from my favourite city in Mexico, so I took up a suggestion to let the ferry wash my worries away.  A bird with a Boston accent keeps chirping in my ear: "Are you shitting me?  There are worse places to be stranded.  You could be in Buffalo.  It's cold as a bastard there!"

3 days later he whistled my way onto another flight, only to lose my passport in the Toronto airport.  I am a scene going through security, wearing a wifebeater & shorts riddled with holes with mismatched socks (no shoes) while carrying on a sleeping bag, tent & a plastic bag.  (They made me check my bag because my duty-free tequila's not allowed on my layover.  Damn loopholes!)

I arrive home on a 3 hour delayed flight at 3am to gorgeous -1C temperatures.  It is my first time seeing snow this year.  The February cold will grip me soon, I'm sure of it.  I'm ready for the 55C difference.  I hope.

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