The other day I went to lunch with my company’s CEO. “I think you should see a shrink.” It was obvious what he thought of our idea to drive Nacho around the world. “I’ll even pay for it. Just lie on the couch for an hour, and let’s see what happens.” We receive a wide variety of responses, but this one was unique. It suggested that, as my friend Gabe put it, our desire to live means that we must be crazy.
The response from Sheena’s coworkers fell to the opposite extreme. She told them all at the same time as one big group, which resulted in the entire accounting department breaking into tears. The following day one of her coworkers wrote her a poem about our trip and laminated it. I guess accountants are more emotional than CEOs.
I enjoy observing the responses people have to the news of our trip; a person’s reaction is telling of their experiences and outlook on life. If they’ve never traveled, they tend not to see the point in our decision. The young and well traveled tend to be enthusiastic and encouraging. Those who have done something like this before become nostalgic and evangelistic in their encouragement for us to get underway. Members of my grandfather’s generation have the most predictable and consistent response; their eyes relax and seem to focus on some distant object, they nod their head, and say something to the tune of “Do it now before it’s too late.” My actual grandfather had this same response, but then followed it up with, “But you’ll never make it through the Middle East because they’ll set your car on fire.” Thanks Grandpa.
So far our biggest detractor has been a woman named Donalie from Florida. We’ve never met her, but she made the following assessment;
“…considering all the people who don’t have a car of any age to live in or the gas to go from one town/state to another, I don’t give a hoot. I guess you just don’t get it, Brad…There are much more important things to do than to go traveling for years. The one good thing is that they quit their jobs, hopefully opening up jobs for people who need and want to work. I wish them well but I don’t admire them.”
I haven’t been able to figure out what must have been so bad about her life to give her this kind of outlook. We tend to find the advice of people who have been in our shoes more motivating and relevant. The letter we received from Todd on The Samba was more encouraging.
“I will definitely be following your blog, so keep at it! Reminds me of the trip I took in a different mode of transport. After college I fitted out my 26ft sloop and headed over the horizon to points south from Morro Bay, CA. I was gone for the better part of the year, cruising the coast all the way down to Zihuatanejo and back, solo. Of course I had my mask, fins, and sling, not to mention a quiver of boards. Otherwise, I didn’t have a clue. Literally. See, I had not sailed at all before this, and had acquired my knowledge from books. Oh the horror I put my mother through… Sorry mom, I love you
What I got was an adventure of the grandest sorts; what 23 year old wouldn’t? I loved Baja – my favorite place by far. So many good right hand point breaks, lobster, and amazing sunset/sunrises. Eventually warmer water called, and I ended up posting up at an anchorage in Puerto Vallarta. It was heaven. Good anchorage, good wave, little town… Of course the people are super kind and friendly as well – something you’ve come to find out already. You will have more of the same.
One thing I found out was that exploring and riding waves from a boat is a very romantic idea, but very difficult. A boat can get you into some places where a car cannot, but for the most part, all of the good breaks down the coast are reachable by 4 wheels. And guess what? There is no rocking or creaking when the swell is up. No worry of dragging anchor into the impact zone or out to sea. No wondering if you’re going to find that sandbar that shifts with the rain and tide.
Sorry for the ramble/reliving the past, but I’ve done what you’ve done. Pinched the pennies, scrapped and saved. Gone against the flow of the norm to do something that leaves most people with more questions, even after you’ve answered them all. I told my then girlfriend and now wife (I can’t believe she married me after this story I am about to tell) that I couldn’t take her out to a nice dinner, because that meant another week in Mexico. Mind you, this is one of the last times I would see her before jumping over the border. The family pressure and guilt can be heavy at times, and seems strange and misplaced because in the end, you’re fulfilling and living out your dreams. Just keep telling them you love them! And hey, with Skype, wireless, Facetime, etc, the world is a lot smaller in many regards.
Finally, I met so many older couples who reveled in what I was doing. I specifically remember Peter from Canada who said, “You’ve got it figured out Todd. Take off now while you can. While your body is still young, while your mind and perspective are still fresh. While you’re open to everything.” While I still don’t think I have it figured out (I mean, I bought a Vanagon…) my trip, my experiences – the people and places I visited and met – will be with me for a lifetime. In the end, that’s what it’s all about.”
I prefer to think that our experience will be more in line with Todd’s. I hope that our trip helps us to understand people better by appreciating their culture and sociopolitical situations. I doubt that any shrink could provide this kind of insight, so I think we’ll stick with the original plan.