Travel Blog 32: Final Reflections

I received the ultimate welcome back to the United States by watching an amazing 4th of July fireworks show on the San Diego waterfront. Someone standing 
near me played the Star Spangled Banner during the second half of the 20 minute performance. It was very nostalgic and meaningful to realize... I just drove across Mexico.

On July 5th, I celebrated ‘free meter Monday’ by going to the Padres baseball game. Welcome back! Wandering the streets, I couldn’t help but observe every single person that crossed my path. Since it was Little Italy’s first weekend where people felt comfortable without wearing masks, everyone was out. I was legitimately in another world. I went from the cliffs of Mexico where I was all alone to high-end San Diego where a beer costs more than a meal in Mexico. The cheeseburger costs more than my hotels south of the border. Luckily for me, I had my mind prepared for this drastic change. It’s never easy to transition, but I must adapt. Everywhere is unique with various features. I won’t be sleeping on any beaches like I did in Mexico, but there are options for waterfront parking to avoid expensive hotels. The icing on the cake for me was reuniting with friends and family currently living in San Diego. I love creating fresh memories for our futures together.

Looking back on my 6 months in Mexico, January put me in the mountains up north. I’m still curious how I went from shorts and a t-shirt in Texas to wrapping myself up in the sleeping bag in below freezing temperatures an hour south of the border. I knew I needed to get to the coast. I challenged Blaze, my home-on-wheels, through high elevation mountain roads. We needed the 4x4 feature while charging down steep gravel roads where even the locals came up smiling to say, “Estás loco amigo!” I’d estimate over 700 speedbumps throughout our journey (not an exaggeration). Blaze handled several hundred miles of horrifying washboard roads. We crossed several rivers when navigation decided to send us on its own little adventure. The beautiful thing about fuel stations in Mexico is the attendant fills the gas and checks under the hood. They’ll fill air into the tires and wash the windows too. Gas station guys were some of the hardest workers and nicest personalities I’ve come across. I’m sure their wages aren’t great, but I think the busy spots clean up in tips.

My destination was always the state of Oaxaca. The city, mountains, and coast all have incredibly unique flavors. The creativity and genuine human-to-nature connection is something very special. Some of my favorite people reside in this state.

Then came the longest driving section. Highway 200 rides through Guerrero, Michoacán, and Colima into Jalisco and Nayarit. Cities like Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, and Manzanillo were fun and friendly stop offs, but there was one stretch of road that made me quite nervous. High grass outlined the narrow curving road with no beaches, no villages, and no fuel stations. The nerves of “Mexico” kick in during these moments. All I could do is put on happy music, handle the curves, and keep my eyes looking for speedbumps. From there, I hope for the best! Waiting on the other side was a week break with my sister and her family. Hugging my loved ones after conquering that drive was very refreshing and fulfilling. It also became an amazing opportunity to create memories for life!

When my family flew back to the states, I stumbled into scoring a fully furnished condo with gated parking and a swimming pool just two blocks from the waterfront pier in downtown Puerto Vallarta. The kind couple had the space open since covid took away their Airbnb guests so it became a wonderful victory for me. I spent 6 weeks there before transitioning further along the coast to the towns around Sayulita. I liked sleeping in my car throughout these communities and getting to see their authenticity from the ground level. I spent mornings on the beaches, afternoons in the communities, and evenings watching live music. I danced and grooved with strangers, enjoying the beach town vibes.

Then came Baja. I fell in love with the land and the people. Travelers in Baja California are some of the most down to Earth humans I have ever met. I hope to see them further on up the road! I reflect on snorkeling the rocky shores, surfing in the warm water, and eating seafood fresh from the boat. Parking on the open beaches invited folks to play guitar together, gaze up at stars, and enjoy this beautiful freedom of life on the road. It’s one that can’t be described; it can only be lived.

I’ll sum up my experience in Mexico with one word...Wow! That’s all I’ve got.

It was amazing

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