A Voice

I'm not exactly sure what to talk about today. All that I know is that I was awake for most of the night with my head spinning on a whole lot more topics than it should have been. We've been in Mexico for two weeks now, and it seems that almost every day there is something exciting that should be shared. We are in new and exciting places with new and exciting people and we are doing new and exciting things. The problem I'm having though, is that the election still has me reeling. Just like half of our country and the majority of the world, it has me in knots.

When I started this blog a couple of years ago, it was more than anything a way for us to bring our family and friends along on our journey. My intention was to share our experiences, maybe a few photos, and my thoughts on the places we were visiting. What I've found along the way is that I really enjoy writing this blog. It's given me a voice that I didn't know I had.

At the beginning, I thought the blog was yours. It was for you after all. But after 2 1/2 years of traveling and me typing away trying to bring you with us, I've learned that it is mine. It's my thoughts, it's my experiences, and it's my personality being presented to you. I'm not trying to please anyone and I'm not trying offend anyone. Like it or not, it's me on a page.

I've been debating whether or not I should get into the election with you and try to describe what it means to me. Even though it's got me spinning, I'm not going to do that. The election isn't about me. And as much as I hate to admit it, it realistically won't affect us in the slightest. It affects the way people across the globe view the USA, but again, it probably won't have any affect on us personally. We'll be out of the country for the foreseeable future, so any drastic changes probably won't trickle down to us while we are bobbing around in the ocean. We'll be in our own little bubble while we explore the far reaches of the earth.

What I want to talk about today is the fact that we are in Mexico, on our boat, far from regular internet access or cable "news" channels, and living in the country that shares our southern border for at least the next 6 months, trying to experience the real Mexico (if you didn't catch the parenthesis around "news", then you missed the point. I'm going to briefly explain it to you now. Cable "news" is not news. It's hype and drama pushing an agenda in a 24 hour feed - and it's depressing no matter which side you are on).

If you aren't aware, Mexico is full of Mexicans. You can trust me on that, it's science. Just like in the United States and every other country in the world, the overwhelming majority of the people who live within it's borders are decent, kind, and hard working people. They are just like you and I, only they speak a different language and happen to live within a different border. They love their country, their families, and their communities. And contrary to the opinion of our new President elect, all of them are not trying to flee Mexico to live in the United States.

Sure, most people here want better opportunities, a better education, and a better life for themselves and their families. But who doesn't want that? That's what every person across the globe wants.

We were recently in a little town halfway down the Baja Peninsula called Bahia Tortugas. It's not your typical tourist town that caters to visitors in a 5 star fashion, it's a real Mexican town with real people living a real life. The town is home to a dwindling population of less than 2,000 residents that is barely surviving on the fishing industry, it's dusty and dirty and looks like it came from an old western movie set, and it has one of the few protected anchorages on the Baja coast which made it a perfect place for us to stay for a few days. But more than anything, it's great. It's exactly the type of place we were hoping to find during our time in Mexico.

In Bahia Tortugas, there is a tiny little restaurant called "Maria's". As you might guess, it's called Maria's because it's actually Maria's. Maria is a beautifully pleasant and welcoming woman who has opened up her home to feed the random sailor who stops in her tiny port town. She greets you with a warm smile and a handshake that without a doubt, lets you know that you are welcome. With the help of her family, she'll whip you up a home cooked meal while you sit on her patio overlooking the ocean. It's a magical place which also has cruiser's gold - internet access.

The night of the election, we were getting text messages and emails through our satellite link from friends who were trying to keep us posted with incoming results. After the election was finally called, we did our best to get some sleep which didn't come. The next morning, we took our dinghy to shore to have breakfast at Maria's and to get some internet access so we could read the news and get more details on the election.

While we were having breakfast and reading the news, Maria's son asked who won the election. When we replied "Trump", his jaw dropped, he ran into the other room to share the news, and the family started talking in loud and rapid Spanish.

Maria's family is a boisterous bunch. You can tell without a doubt that they are a close knit family and the news they just heard was shocking. My Spanish language skills aren't the best, but I am pretty good at picking up what someone is throwing down. I can read most people like a book and the book at Maria's was wide open that day. But sadly, I could actually understand enough of what they were saying to piece together sentences and feelings without having to infer any meaning.

What they got from the election is that America hates Mexico. Plain and simple. If we as a nation could elect someone with as much vitriol towards the Mexican people, then how could the United States as a country have any respect for Mexico?

It was an awkward morning for me to sit in a lovely family's home, eating a meal that they cooked for us, as they debated why this could happen. All I could say was, "I'm sorry. I don't have any answers. Americans don't hate Mexico."

In our last 2 1/2 years of traveling, we've spent time in 7 countries. Most places we've been have had a skewed vision of what it's like to live in America. In Kiribati, one of the poorest places on earth, and a place where TV shows from the United States are passed around on DVD's, they think all Americans live in mansions, drive fancy cars, carry mini poodles around in their purses, and act like the Kardashions. Trying to explain to someone who lives in a grass hut with dirt floors and no running water that we don't all live in mansions was hard for me to do. It's all relative. The fact that we mostly live in houses with walls, floors, doors, water, and electricity, is something that most people in Kiribati can't comprehend. The fact that we own more than one pair of shoes is way beyond their aspirations since most people there can't even afford a pair of flip flops.

Being at Maria's the day after the election felt to me like being in Kiribati, trying to convey a message to people with a skewed vision of what it's like in America. The big problem for me was trying to convince myself that we as a nation really aren't that screwed up. We did after all just elect someone who's main platform was building a wall to keep the evil Mexicans out, and oh yeah, they are going to pay for it.

Brenda and I are taking on this voyage for lots of reasons, many of which we've covered many times before. Some of the biggest and most important reasons are part of what it means to be human. We want to learn about and experience how other people and other cultures live. We want to see what real life is like for someone with a completely different background than our own. We want to see, smell, touch, and taste new places. We want to share a meal with complete strangers. We want to show kindness to others just like kindness has been shown to us, for no other reason than that's just how it should be.

Just like this blog, traveling has given me a voice that I didn't know I had. It's allowed me to be an ambassador from the United States to people who may have a skewed vision of what America is like. Or, maybe they have an accurate vision and I want them to see what I think we can be. I want to show kindness, compassion, and understanding to random strangers for no other reason than that's just how it should be.

We are currently anchored outside a little village called Bahia Ascuncion on Mexico's Baja Peninsula. It's an incredibly beautiful place where few tourists or sailors stop. As we pulled into the bay, just as we were dropping our anchor, 2 fishermen zipped over in their panga to greet us. They were thrilled to see a visiting boat and told us with huge toothless smiles and excitedly waving arms that we were welcome in their tiny village. In my best broken Spanish, we had as much of a conversation as I knew how to have. To them, it may not have seemed like a big deal to come over and welcome us, but to me, is was a small gesture that made a huge impression. It was a random act of kindness, from one human being to another, that reminded me why we are doing this.
Home sweet home in Bahia AsunciĆ³n.


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