Take the Colectivo through the mountains of Chiapas. Youll take winding roads up & down, through & around, & itll be so green & natural & youll see clouds making love to mountaintops. & youll pass shacks, towns of wooden shacks, towns of stone houses w/o roofs where you would be surprised that power lines even run to & where people live lives you know nothing about. Poor towns; maybe not even towns; villages that look like they exist only to make you pity them. @ the speed bumps, the topes as they are called in each of these mountain villages & throughout Mexico, children bang on the sides of the van & the windows, trying to sell you ears of corn & hands of bananas. & you will see other children just standing by the roadside, watching you pass, & you will wonder what an average day for them, an average childhood for them consists of. & between these clusters of children watching you, you will notice an older woman sitting there, maybe a mother or an aunt, grandmother w/ a wrinkled, telling face, twiddling her thumbs, & you will wonder how long she has been sitting there. Youll pass goats & pigs & chickens, & dogs that look malnourished & black around the mouth, & youll see women in colorful dresses & youll wonder what they are so dressed up for, & youll notice tiendas selling Cokes for 6MXN, & the guy beside you on the bus will fall asleep on your shoulder, & youll make eye contact w/ that one kid holding a machete that is as big as he is, & that image will scorch itself into your memory, & youll never forget him, youll remember him more than any of the other people you saw up in those hills, where the skin is dark, sun-soaked & orange-tinged..
Do that, & then you might know something about Mexico..
After a month here, I will tell you that I have seen no deserted Mexico; I have only seen this country lush & green as fuck. After a month here, from hitched ride to hitched ride, Ive seen a country go from unsightly to gorgeous. After a month here, I have found that Ive learned about a world that I previously knew nothing about, & through this I have embraced & become a part of that world..
Jeff Kaiser, a friend of mine, told me he felt when names like Mexico & South America were mentioned that people were instantly reminded of drug cartels, media publicity involving kidnappings & beheadings. He told me that he didnt believe that people would think of beautiful rain forests, lush fauna & rich cultures. He told me that perceived threats to mortality can be an overwhelming factor when deciding whether or not to throw chance to the wind & grab life by the balls.
I dont know if Jeff was right about those things, & Ive come to know now that even if two people inhabit the same adventure that those two people will never share the same experience, but these are a few things that I personally have seen, experienced, been through, lived through &, perhaps more importantly, died through in this past month in Mexico..
The ease of hitchhiking through Mexico turned me into a dog that always felt like it needed to be let loose, ready to sweat again to the heat coming off the road, & when I was not in motion these feelings were almost unmanageable; but I managed them..
& still, thoughts of walking through towns, down dark alleyways & spider-crossed sidewalks, licking gutters until I felt lost flooded my veins, always..
I had my hair washed by one of my CouchSurfing hosts. This was an experience I have not previously written about because I still cannot truly wrap my head around my time w/ David. But the wash was liberating, & I have trusted people for much more..
W/ a friend, I went to see the new Star Wars movie. Through the movie, I tried to focus on the Spanish subtitles, but I could not help but get caught up in watching the magic that played out above them..
Before Mexico, I thought that I liked spicy food; two weeks in, I realized I had never had spicy food in my life, & I challenged myself to regulate my palate, to toughen my tongue..
I hear a story about a car crash & how the police robbed the person in the accident, the person who told me the story, & how when that person woke up in the hospital, scarred on their arms, elbows, head, they had nothing..
I hear a story about a band of zapatistas, bandits stopping a bus, a bus that took the same route that a bus Id taken that day had, & how the zapatistas emptied the bus of its occupants & then proceeded to burn the bus..
Payaso comes to be my favorite word in Spanish..
I threw a slice of a mandarin orange to an iguana & it ate it in one bite..
I ate fresh fish tacos on a beach one day..
Perhaps every 3 or 4 days, for a month, my stomach felt not-quite-right..
Almost all the outlets I used in Mexico were shit, in my opinion; the plugs never stayed in..
I spent a string of a few days lying by a pool & then @ night watching television, Malcolm in the Middle & DBZ, both Spanish dubbed, & in between these shows ran ads for missing people, mainly young women..
I stop considering my writings as unlikely stories & dub myself the Gypsy Joker..
I write down that ‘the poorest people tend to be the nicest, in my experiences..’
I write down ‘everything is a mistake until it is a lesson..’
I meet a man who Im told is the most wanted, in one United State, & I tell the man who tells me this that everyone is in Mexico for their own reason..
I met many a European, & each time I did it put a smile on my face to tell them I was in their country only a months ago..
Of the bathrooms I remember using, other than that of the Walmart in Playa del Carmen, it is considered just here to throw your used toilet paper into the trash can & not into the toilet because the pipes are so old & the plumbing is such shit..
Kellie & I overpaid for some magic mushrooms in the jungle of Palenque, & then in San Cristobal we cooked them into a tea, because Kellie wanted to kill any mold that may or may not have been on them. After drinking the tea, we sat for a few hours, waiting, looking around in anticipation, wondering what was going to be the first thing to get weird; in the end, the mushrooms only turned out to have the potency to reduce my motor skills by, perhaps, 2% & I saw nothing..
In Mexico, I slap hands & then immediately afterwards knock fists w/ a lot of bros..
Many mornings began w/ the screaming of chickens & the barking of dogs..
Kellie & I meet many travelers twice over; everyone seems to hit the same places on the route from East to West through Mexico..
In the mirror one night, Im staring @ myself & realizing how much Ive gotten around; my pants are from Mexico, my bracelets from Germany, Denmark & New Zealand, my tattoos from New Zealand & the States, my travel blanket from a Lufthansa flight..
Over the course of a month, I build a list of generous strangers that I must pay back in great, golden ways..
I begin to believe that the more money I have, the more trouble I can get into. I begin to wish to be poorer, & to live that way. Rich or poor, I will live & experience the same amount of life, but to live richly would be to write a life that so few can relate to. I really almost dont even care about the money I spend down here because, one, it is cheap to live ignorantly here &, two, Im feeling like I might just travel until the money runs out anyways..
One thing I am truly learning now is that money is nothing, & if you let it control you then you are nothing as well..
Most everything cost so little in Mexico, & I find I buy & eat all the sweets that I want. & through this simple exercise, I learn that I am a creature of instant gratification, & that it is only my discipline which keeps me from becoming a monster. Constantly I am weighing whether somethings juice is worth the squeeze &, more often than not, I am finding that it is not..
Despite the sweets, Im never really hungry during my month in Mexico, my body begins to eat itself & yet I am indifferent. Why? I enjoy starvation; it clears my mind, keeps it sharp, though I know not how it is able to do this. It just does. & still, Kellie went out of her way to tell me that she was impressed by how fast I ate; & I told her this was simply because of the times Ive starved..
There is always a part of my body that itches during my month in Mexico; mainly my feet or ankles. All I find I can do about the bug bites is to not itch them & just let them drive me insane or disappear..
I thought I was tough before; I am tougher now..
I thought I was aware of what this world has to offer; I am more aware now.
I thought I was as open as I could be to this worlds teachings; I am a doorway w/o doors now.
Even before I was this way, I knew, years ago, that I would have to be ready for what the world was going to throw @ me; I knew that I wouldnt necessarily have to be ready for how the world threw itself @ me, but that I most importantly had to be ready for the fact that the world would throw itself @ me.
&, in my opinion, a clear, open mind is necessary when traveling; though, I find it is also a result of traveling.
You gotta be ready for that shit that you cant anticipate happening.
It will happen.
But thats the best part of this fuckin game; not only the game of travel, but the game of life.
The best part of experience is learning how much you have yet to learn through all that you have learned.
The best part of it all is when you problemsolve, grow &, above all, LIVE.
& I am living..
Sure, w/ all this travel that I do, all this adventuring I try to wade through, sometimes I wonder if I am still alive..
I ask myself, what am I working towards, if anything, in the end..?
& I suppose that I do not understand the concept of the journey being better than the end, @ least as well as I thought that I did, years ago..
& then I suppose that perhaps I do understand the concept, ignore it & choose to focus on the crown jewel of this planet that I could be down the line, & the status among my fellow human beings that could earn me the gold-plated headstone, the gold-plated death that I yearn for..
Know that I know that my life has handcuffed me, & what I want does not matter. I know you know this because I have written it so often; & I know that you know that for me there is only the mission.
& the mission is to free you.
When you read these next words, it saddens me to think you will believe them, but..many people tell me that you cannot be helped up, saved, freed..
But when you read these next woods, it gives me hope that you will shed a tear in sweet hope: the idea that you cannot be freed does not compute w/ me.
I will better your life or die trying.
But I caution you, I beg you not to chase your dreams to prevent my death; do it to prevent yours..
There is no road home that I can any longer see, & I have searched the plains around me as far as the horizon. I am lost in the world, w/ no way home to any place I ever knew & called home. I am lost in the world, not knowing what I am doing, only knowing I must do it. But it has been this way since I turned 20, & I am now 23..
Sometimes I turn void of reason; I know not why I do things, anythings; I just do them; & write them..
But, alas, despite sometimes constantly feeling like I have fallen & that I cant fall again, I do, somehow, know that I am alive.
Thats how life is; you just kinda keep going & learn things along the way..
About the world..about yourself & your lovers..
W/ so many people telling me that they are living vicariously through me, sometimes I must cut through that noise & realize that if I live vicariously through myself then I will be dying.
In turn, I suppose this could mean that if my living vicariously through my vessel self opens the high probability of my souls death, then you doing it puts your soul @ a terminal velocity as well.
Life is the dream of the dead & the living dead, who I consider to be the same.
But if I could resurrect someone like Kellie, if I could take someone who worked the same job in the back of a shop in the Rockingham Mall for 16 years into their mid-30s, if I could take that person & show them a month in a country, in a world considered dangerous by so many, & open a universe to that person via hitchhiking, backpacking, via the smoky, wooden taste of mezcal & some ugly fuckin spiders, via the kindness of total strangers in a totally strange land, if I could take that person & change their life, & if I could do that through my writing, get one person to feel something & radically change their life through & because of my writing, & I know now that I have done this, then I can do it for thousands.
But it occurs to me that you still do not understand who I truly am, & despite my writings piled upon writings trying to explain it I only further alienate you.
I am afraid that you do not take the leap, simply pack up your shit & get on a plane to anywhere, everywhere & nowhere, or whatever your truest dream may be, I am afraid that you do not do this because you think that I am someone that I am not, & you do not believe you can occupy the space in this universe that I do.
You think I am someone who knows a real something about this world, & I can only tell you, in the clearest way I have come to recently be able to tell it, that I am not.
It makes me sad that I may live in a world where I am considered powerful, willful, strong; & I believe that, if this is the case, it is because so many people fear so much that they know truly nothing about.
& though when I look to the horizon of any sea I now see it unevenly, I want you to know that we are the same.
To those who have read me before, perhaps I have led you to believe that travel will solve all the questions you have about life. But I was wrong, to an extent. If youre just a kid who walked the same streets that I did, then travel may answer all the questions you have now, & give you momentary clarity, but the more places you go, the more the questions will build. If you imagine the questions as a mountain of skulls, the mountain will grow @ a rate that will far surpass the answers you feel out through your newfound enlightenment. You will find no happiness, no peace through awareness. You will only find more pain through knowledge, as I have..
This is no gift I carry; it is a curse. & once you get to where I am, once you carry the knowledge & the pain of the world, you always will..
But if this entices you, if you want to be living a life that those who are dying envy, then come find me in the world & I will try to light the way a little further down the road for you..