Thursday, October 21, 2010

Where's your adventurous spirit?

While yesterday's idea was a bit of a flop (trying to get a bunch of people to answer a question)  a lot of people did take a look at that post and others, and the one answer I did get (from Todd) was really good.  Thanks Todd.

In that reply, Todd talked about the adventurous spirit that drew people like us to Mexico.  So, today I'm going to talk about the adventurous spirit and living in Mexico.  I'll start by talking about some things Todd mentioned, and connect them to my own experience, starting each point with a quotation from him.

"I have a touch of adventurous spirit in me. That´s what started it all."
  • This definitely started it all for me as well. I was all ready to start a degree program for graduate studies, and I decided to head down to Mexico City for a 3 week vacation, as one last adventure before getting more serious about life. That 3 week vacation has turned into 4 years, and many new adventures have stemmed from this one.
"Every day it seems like there is some new challenge to face."
  •  I met my first challenge when I met my wife (my main motivation for staying past the 3 weeks;) I didn't know Spanish and she didn't know English.  Since then, I think I have come across many new challenges, even when there's no adventure.  While it's definitely a challenge to be in a different country, there's something about Mexico that constantly presents life with new challenges.  My wife always says Mexico is the country where "everything happens and nothing happens."  Everything seems to be going wrong, and be far to complicated, and then suddenly you realize that life goes on, and it none of meant as much as you thought.  At that point you're ready for the next challenge.  This applies to everything from government bureaucracy to trying to help with social problems.  While this way of thinking can be frustrating when you want to see real change, I believe it's what keeps Mexicans sane.
"Moving to another country with such a different culture was a little scary (ok, a lot scary)"
  • I'll have to be honest; I wasn't scared.  I don't think I'm a courageous person, I think I just got lost in the excitement and adventure.  I also had the fortune of being with really supportive people, who took me to some places where most people would never dare go, and to other places where most people could only dream of going; all along they told me what to do, what not to do, and made sure I knew how to stay safe.  Even when I was alone, their advice proved very valuable.
I believe that people with an adventurous spirit don't find adventure.  Adventure finds them.  One thing that was similar between my life in Canada and my life in Mexico was that I constantly found unexpected problems, places that were real "hidden gems", interesting people and excellent friends, without ever looking for any of them.  One friend in Canada pointed out that whenever we travelled together, unexpected adventures abounded - both good and bad, but almost always fun.  There is no rule about what kind of things an adventurous spirit will find; each adventurous spirit has a different star guiding it, and will a whole different kind of adventure.

There are Americans, Canadians and Europeans who come to Mexico to live in a gated community, full of other people from the same country, shop only at Walmart (they probably won't even go to Mega - a Mexican store which is very similar and has an even nicer image I would say, with comparable prices), and only go to see sights and participate in events where they are comfortably with others from their own country.  I know some of these people and have nothing against them; many are very pleasant people, and I can enjoy talking to them and spending time with them as much as with anyone.  But they don't have an adventurous spirit.

In fact, they don't really live in Mexico.  They live in a home that happens to be in Mexico, but has little more to do with this country or culture. Adventure is unlikely to find them, even in Mexico, because they don't want it.  That's fine, because they're happy that way; I'd never wish for anyone to have to tie a muffler to a car with a coat hanger on a near abandoned logging road in northern Quebec, or have to walk through the streets of Tepito in Mexico City, if that person couldn't somehow find pleasure in the adventure or telling people about it afterward; half the pleasure of an adventure is being to share the story with others (hence this blog.)

Others arrived in Mexico or other countries because of an adventurous spirit, and started off with adventures, but later lost this spirit (click here to read a blog about this.) Although I've settled down, bought a house and had a kid, adventures of a new sort have been finding me, the kind I don't have to go to the isolated countryside or city slums to find.  I'll write about these some time.

What sets Mexico apart for me is the fact of being in "another fishbowl," as Todd said, is the randomness that permeates this country - or at least what seems to me as randomness - and experiencing it in a very direct and raw way; this randomness creates both annoying bureaucracy and rich cultural variation and brings wonderful people into your life.

Do you have an adventurous spirit? Do adventures find you?  Tell me about them ...

Click here to see Todd's original comment.


  1. Dude, we live literally ONE AND A HALF blocks from the MEGA!!! I go there almost everyday on foot. We always seem to buy only one or two days worth of food at a time, and I think that is in part because we are so close to MEGA. I´ll walk there in the rain, I don´t care. It is way better than the Wal-Mart stores back home.

  2. I like shopping at Mega better than Walmart; they have some great deals for produce on Wednesdays. When I lived in Cuernavaca, however, I shopped at the central local market; very fresh, very good food, for very low prices that made any grocery store look expensive. The shop keepers tried to rip me off at first, but once they saw that I was a regular, they even gave me some free stuff. The freshly roasted coffee was some of the best I've had! (This will be an upcoming blog.)