When the Calm Meets the Storm

The last few months in my life have been pretty uneventful. I went to Oaxaca, Mexico in late January and stayed there up until the beginning of April, mostly working, eating, and watching sunsets.

It was peaceful, but it wasn’t travel.

When I posted my “A Day in Oaxaca de Juarez, México”, that pretty much repeated for the majority of these past two months.

I went on one small trip to San Francisco for work but did no exploring, so I also wouldn’t call that travel either. Travel for work, I guess. But not content worthy to be on this blog. Because this blog is messy, raw, and real. I’m telling you about the days in Paris I spent crying on a balcony or working until 12 AM because I was within a different timezone and my work schedule was not very forgiving of that. Or the first time that I went to Colombia was solely intentional to visit a friend, but we had a falling out two days into the trip. The various sick days because of my infamous Ulcerative Colitis that doesn’t allow me to “travel” (AKA drink and eat to my heart’s desire) like most people. The first time I rode a motorcycle in Colombia and ended up scarring the majority of my calf with an infected burn wound. The times I was scared. The times when my phone’s data wouldn’t work and I had no idea where I was. The times when I have to rely on the kindness of strangers for my livelihood.

When the calm meets the storm.

Travel is blissful, but it’s not easy. What was easy was sitting in the house from 9-5 in Oaxaca, Mexico working on the computer, getting a shower, and doing my makeup by 6 in the evening to leave around 7 for dinner and drinks with my “personal chauffeur” (an Oaxacan stud driving me around in a motorcycle). What I lived these past two months was easy. It was calm. It was how a majority of expats live their life. That’s why I don’t consider myself an expat. I always tell people, “I don’t have a home base, I live everywhere” because I find that to be true. Even if I spent 6 months out of a year in a country, that still feels like being a tourist to me. But a majority of the time I don’t even make it that long. For instance, when I left for this trip, it was unplanned, and the time didn’t really make sense.

Because I stopped focusing so much on the calm and gave in to the beauty of the storm.

The storm was me up at midnight checking flight prices, making Google Documents to share my plans with family, reaching out to friends that I wanted to visit who of which lived in the country that I was headed to. It was hours of research to plan a good trip on top of my already busy work (and life, I mean, why do we have to file taxes anyway?) schedule. Hours of buying tickets, of making accommodation arrangements, of re-installing all of my nifty traveling and budgeting apps to help me along the way. Because, unlike some may think, travel is not at all easy. I am by no means living “the good life”. 

Quite actually, when I travel, I usually choose a life that’s harder than the one I would live at home. That makes me more uncomfortable and anxious and scared. Because that’s how you learn about a culture, meet local people, and create real experiences. Travel for me is not the calm of a luxury resort, months at the beach typing away on my laptop. Travel for me is local buses, street food, late nights hanging out with new friends, just because you haven’t learned something new yet that day and surely you will from other people. For me, travel isn’t tranquility and luxury. And I don’t want it to be. I’m quite happy in the storm.

In the storm, you find kind people. Hospitable people who will share with you all of the good that they know about the place where they live. They will want to create memories with you, to ensure the ones you live with are the best ones. 

In the storm, you find beautiful places. One time a friend from Medellin said to me, “What are you doing in the mountains of Minca? Shouldn’t you be traveling to Boston instead?”, and it made me laugh. Yes, Boston would be the calm. Minca with a burnt leg, no medical attention, and a top bunk wasn’t the most ideal scenario, I must say. Here is where I found the storm. But in this storm, I saw the most beautiful places and spent sincere time with beautiful people. People who, in a few days, I will be able to make new memories with again. Sure, I could find that in Boston too, couldn’t I? Yes, but it would be unfavorably comfortable.

In the storm, you hike active volcanos. In the storm, you jump off cliffs into waterfalls. In the storm, you run on the beach at 3 in the morning, afraid of the alligators you saw just a few days before lurking.

Travel for me is a storm. A scary storm. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. 

I’m on my way from Mexico City to Bogota right now, and I will be updating the blog with all of my adventures in the country. I’ve got a lot planned. Stay tuned.

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