This article is from the October 1996 The Mexico File
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The Travel Dilemma
by David Simmonds, Editor
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I...
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The Road Not Taken
Iknow: Señor Frost was speaking metaphorically about life's choices that propel us all toward that inevitable last step off our own private piers. It's about making less popular decisions, less "traveled" by the masses. It often requires taking a risk, and you know what they say about those hell-bent risk-takers. You may at times feel vulnerable and a little lonely. You occasionally wonder if maybe you haven't made a horrible decision. But in the end there is an enormous glow of satisfaction, because you have explored that "road...less traveled by." And yes, it can make "all the difference."
We make the same choices when deciding our next travel sojourns. Mexico? France? DollyWorld? Do I fly, drive or take the train? Will I go to the cable-ready five-star hotel in Cancun, or should it be the white-water river trip down the Antigua in Vera Cruz? Boxers, briefs or sans? Hey, there are too many forks in this road...I'll just stay home!
But you know that you have to go...somewhere. For you and me it is often Mexico that wins the eight-headed coin flip. For some it is a matter of hearing of an alluring town, finding out how to get there, packing one bag and you're on your way. Who needs to know anything about the place? The discovery of things new is the real goal of travel. You can encounter many surprises this way and it makes for a fine, fun trip if you're that kind of person.
For others, it's best to research. You can accept a few inevitable bumps on the journey, but all in all, you like a game plan. This approach is often required if time is a factor. You don't have enough days for many errors or misdirection. If you have the poor fortune of relying on employment for your daily needs, this is probably your category.
Either way, your life is forever enriched for your efforts. I have met so many people over the years in my Mexico travels who have this independent spirit that leads them away from the tourist-oriented centers that are so well known. Our numbers are rapidly growing. It's never accurate to generalize about a specific group. But if I were to, there seems to be a huge group of confident people out there. I think that many are the much publicized "boomers" who took off for Europe with their backpacks in their early twenties and learned that the world really isn't such a scary place.
And then there are the older folks, who are finding Mexico to be a gentle country for retirement, a place where their savings and pensions can afford a wonderful lifestyle away, but not too far away, from their kids and roots. They seem not to fear Mexico and they easily accept the lack of "conveniences" we have come to rely upon. And is it any wonder:? These are the folks born in the Depression who went on to victory in WWII. They know a little something about uncertainties and overcoming adversity. Waiting in line for a pile of fresh tortillas can't seem too daunting a task.
And there are the younger travelers. If I remember correctly, the cranial wiring isn't quite complete at this stage of life, resulting in an sublimely happy travel warrior. There are absolutely no problemas that can't be solved. Having learned how to navigate the Internet, a three day bus ride to Oaxaca is a spontaneous lark.
These are the people I have met, and having done so I had a strong feeling there was a place for this newsletter. It's been one year now since the first issue and I have been one lucky hombre. We've had some terrific reviews and many personal letters of encouragement from you readers. You each have my eternal thanks for the support you have shown by subscribing and contributing.
Which brings us back to travel choices. Where will I be going this year? Will it be safe in Chiapas, Guerrero and Michoacan? I certainly hope so, because they're all on the itinerary. I'll also be in the Yucatan peninsula and the state of Vera Cruz.
The present political environment is about as unstable as it has been in years. The inevitable evolution of reform continues. Lines in the sand are being drawn, moved, removed and redrawn on a weekly basis. The latest guerrilla uprisings will probably continue and very possibly escalate into more serious confrontations. Fortunately, the tourist has not been a target of their discontent. All in all, I consider Mexico still to be a fairly safe country for the traveler. If traveling by car you will encounter checkpoints. You just keep your cool and act respectful and you will be permitted to pass, assuming you're not transporting a cache of weapons or a load of pot. And Mexico City has experienced a considerable crime increase in the last two years. So use your head and watch where you go and what you're carrying (expensive jewelry, cash, etc.). Try to avoid being a target. And if you are still scared to death, maybe you had better try a different country. Switzerland might be good. Just don't try to buy a good taco.
Hopefully, at some point, on one of your journeys, you will be lucky enough to find that very special place...that place where, for some unknown reason, you feel an unexplained affinity. It becomes your place. And you know that if you could, if things were different, well, you would live there. But until that day arrives, you can visit and know you have found a home. And it makes it easier to go back to your life and your work, because your special place will be there the next time you need it, if even in your dreams.
Jimmy Buffett wrote a song, "One Particular Harbour," from an album by the same name. Jimmy describes the feeling dead on.
I know I don't get there often enough
But God knows I surely try.
It's a magic kind of medicine
That no doctor could prescribe.
There's this one particular harbour
So far but yet so near
Where I see the days as they fade away
And finally disappear.