Yesterday was a normal day here in San Miguel de Allende, although more obviously normal than usual, in a good way. I am used to aspects of this culture related to patience and kindness and honesty. Cars stop for you to cross no matter how safely they could go first. People on the street make a point of quietly greeting you or smiling. It is more likely that a vendor will chase you down the street to give you the six pesos you left behind than to overcharge you.
But yesterday was an unusual bunch of goodness.
My first flight from Athens to Lesvos. The beginning of something life-changing.
I get a thrill every time I feel the three-second gravitational pull of a plane taking off. In 2019, I felt it 17 times on flights between the US, Mexico and Asia, and I plan to feel it another dozen times in 2020.
Some people, like Greta Thunberg, might wonder how I can justify traveling all over the world in an airplane. My upcoming flight from San Francisco to Barcelona will cost the environment 1.6 metric tonnes of carbon emissions. That’s just my share. To put that in perspective, hyper-consuming Americans use about 16 metric tonnes a year for everything.
I am in rural Louisiana this week to get some inspiration for the finishing touches on my novel. I have gotten some inspiration alright, but not the kind I was expecting. Truth is truly stranger than fiction, but if I tell you why, somebody might have to kill me. Joking. But it occurs to me.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, is one of my favorite places on earth. The city’s historic center is gorgeous and walk-able and friendly. On any day, you are likely to find parades and processions and music. But, partly because of its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city’s historic center follows an elaborate set of rules…. how you can decorate your building, the colors you can paint your building, the kinds of signs you can hang, and the kind of noise you can make, among other things. It’s ordered and traditional.
But a few blocks from the historic center in barrio Guadalupe, the rules don’t apply….
Children dressed for street party in Juchitan, Mexico.
Shortly after I began my nomadic life, I wrote about the difference between tourists and travelers. https://kimmie53.com/2014/09/06/lady-who-lunches-or-lunch-lady/ Four years later, my travels have taught me a little more about how to have a deeper experience, to feel a part of a place, and make connections with people. My strategies don’t all work in all situations or for all people, but you get the idea….
On the path of the Temple Walk near Tokushima, Japan
Today is my last day of almost 4 months in Asia. I am feeling sentimental about it….so many special moments, beauty, pathos, fun, learning, unbearable heat and food I didn’t like. Here are a few photos that I haven’t posted previously .
A week is not enough to understand anything in depth but, in travel, it’s usually enough to form some impressions. Taipei? The language and the style is Chinese but most Taiwanese don’t think of themselves as Chinese. They are Taiwanese. But what is Taiwanese?
Busy street in downtown Taipei, Taiwan’s capital.
On my first day in Taiwan, I asked a young Taiwanese woman in my hotel what she thinks about Taiwan’s relationship to China. She looked the other way and lowered her voice to a whisper. The next day, my taxi driver eagerly downloaded his decidedly progressive political views until I asked him about Taiwan’s future. Then he paused and lowered his voice.
Because sometimes in life, the best way to deal with disagreement is to just keep a low profile and do what you want.