After seeing the incredible Mayan ruins and cenotes on the Yucatan peninsula, Eric and I decided that we were ready to head back to the U.S.A. We had met a few Canadians who regularly come down to mainland Mexico, and they recommended that we take Mexican highway 57 going north again. They told us that this road would allow us to bypass the craziness of Mexico City, as well as some of the towns in Veracruz known for corrupt police. They were right. Highway 57 was one of the best roads we traveled in Mexico. Although the tolls were a little expensive, we were happy to be moving along quickly.
While we passed close to Mexico City, we decided not to stop. Mexico City has strict driving restrictions that prohibit individuals with foreign license plates from driving during certain parts of the day. I have to admit I was a little wistful to be passing so close to Mexico City without stopping. In particular, I was sorry to miss seeing some of the artwork of Frida Kahlo… but perhaps some day fly we will fly into the city and visit some of the museums that have collected her art. The mega-city is just too daunting to visitors traveling with their own vehicle.
Additionally, somewhere along the way, Eric and I caught a nagging respiratory sickness, which sapped our energy and also contributed to the melancholy feeling of the trip ending.
We had been on the road traveling in our van for almost six months.
During Part One of our North American Voyage, we drove our van 10,628 miles looping around United States and Canada. During Part Two of our North American Voyage, we drove 8,259 miles deep into the heart of Mexico and back.
In total, we put 18,888 miles on our van. During our travels, we heard many fascinating and inspiring stories. We tried foods we had never tasted before. We met people living in deep poverty. We learned to live with less ourselves. We visited sites with deep cultural and historical significance. We were thrilled by natural wonders.
All of these adventures left us exhilarated, but tired.
While I loved ambling through cultural and historical sites, I missed being able to jog around the block without worrying about being hit by a car or tripping on a curb. While I loved the motley array of tacos available in every town, I missed being able to eat fresh salads and vegetables. While I loved improving my Spanish language skills, I missed being able to easily communicate nuanced ideas with strangers in English. So while we loved our experiences traveling, we also felt ready to come back to the familiarity of the United States.
I do believe that this overland journey has changed me in subtle but significant ways. At the top of the list: I feel as if I am more patient. 18,888 miles is a long way to travel! I think in order to go that distance, I had to become more mindful and comfortable just existing in the present moment. At first, it was not easy to be in the present moment as we travelled. I would find myself counting down the minutes and the miles until we reached our next destination. I would become frustrated with traffic jams or unexpected delays. I kept having the nagging feeling that I should check my email. The longer we traveled, however, I became more comfortable just savoring the present. Instead of anxiously looking forward to what came next, I tried to respect the beauty of the countryside that we drove through. I tried to take the time to learn and appreciate about the people, landscapes, plants, and animals that we passed.
In addition to the enduring memories from this trip, I hope I am able to to take away that feeling of being in the moment.