Mexico 2022: Rust: the process

One thing about salty tropical climates: everything that’s metal, rusts. If you’re lucky, for a few weeks you can ride around proudly showing off the gleaming chrome of your beach cruiser’s handlebars or invite the neighbours in to admire your new bathroom faucets before they both begin to succumb to the elements and look like everyone else’s beach cruisers and bathroom faucets. You can’t do anything about it, so there’s no point in worrying about it.

The withering heat and humidity of Caribbean Mexico feels particularly fitting, then, for me and my rusty old writing skills. Maybe here nobody will notice, much less care, that the gleam is gone.

Like so many elements of this latest crazed adventure of mine, writing feels so much weightier, and just plain harder, than it used to. I read old blog posts from my round-the-world backpacking saga in ‘08-’09 and envy whomever it was that wrote those silvery extravaganzas, because it couldn’t have been me, could it? Crafty turns of phrase flew out of my pen (I wrote everything in long-hand back then before hunting down an Internet shop so I could type it into Gmail (because auto-save) and then paste it into my OG TravelPod travel blog), and it all sounded so light and easy and uncontrived. I wasn’t trying to impress anyone or accomplish anything; I was simply keeping account of what was happening to me and around me as I roamed from country to country, continent to continent.

It was the same brave girl who just months before had quit her corporate job one Tuesday morning and put her house up for sale, then Googled ‘how to backpack’ and bought a backpack and thew her stuff into storage and bought a one-way ticket to Zagreb and left, all seemingly with nary a second thought or concern.

Shiny, happy Cara, ready for takeoff @ Pearson Airport, September 2008

Now it’s 2022, and suddenly, somehow, I, Cara, live in Mexico. But what I really want to know is, where is THAT girl? I bet she’s off living her best life on some fabulous little island somewhere, sipping rum out of a coconut.

Almost 15 years have passed since I chucked my old life aside and as anyone in my closest circle will tell you, this time around it’s been anything but light and easy.

I agonized as I tried to settle with the idea of pushing myself out of the too-comfortable nest (trap?) of my impossibly cheap apartment and leaving Montreal behind perhaps forever, while simultaneously Marie Kondo-ing 13 years of life flotsam and jetsam that had somehow managed to accumulate (again). I hadn’t even left, yet I was kept awake nights worrying about where I would settle when I returned to Canada. And before that: would I have enough work to keep me afloat financially for a year in my not-at-all-cheap apartment in Mexico? Would I be able to navigate Mexican immigration on my own with my very limited Spanish as I attempted to secure temporary residency status? Would my almost-19-year-old cat survive the 4 ½ hour flight to Cancun?

Then later, after the whirlwind that was The Move: did the movers pile things properly in the storage space? Or are my mom’s beloved antique dishes waiting for me to discover them in a year or two (or more or never), crushed under the weight of dozens of Lonely Planet travel guides and my chin-up bar? The thought taunts me almost daily.

Back in ’08, as I was preparing to leave, people would invariably ask me, ‘What are you going to do when you get back?’ and I would always respond the same: “Who knows! I haven’t even left yet. Maybe I won’t come back at all!”

Back in ’08, I never gave my storage space contents, or my future, a second thought.

Back in ’08, I didn’t edit or even re-read my blog posts before publishing them. While some of the anecdotes are actually pretty interesting, I wince now at the glaring grammatical/spelling/syntax errors sprinkled liberally throughout.

Damn that girl and her gutsy, carefree attitude. What happened to her? Is life just like a tractor pull, getting harder and heavier as we grind our way down the track? Or is it that, back then, I simply didn’t know enough to even know what to worry about?

Less than 48 hours before I left Montreal, someone asked me point-blank why I’m even doing this if it’s so hard and stressful. Caught off-guard, I threw out some kind of auto-response. I’m not sure I’d ever really asked myself the question.

I’ve thought about it a lot since then; and now, just over seven days and a thousand different emotions later, the true reason may finally be coming clear to me: I’m doing this to see if I can track down that gutsy, devil-may-care girl from 15 years ago and have a rum and coconut with her.

Can I lighten up and stop thinking so much about everything, all the time?

Can I let the dishes break and the money run out?

Can I write without endlessly editing and worrying about whether or not people will think it’s brilliant?

Can I let go, forget about showing off the gleaming chrome and just stand in my truth, rust and all?

You’re welcome to follow along on the adventure and find out.

6 thoughts on “Mexico 2022: Rust: the process

  1. Yes, you can write without endlessly editing and worrying about whether or not people will think it’s brilliant. It IS brilliant. No worries, you’ll find that girl. Maybe it won’t be exactly the same girl you wish you would find. Reinventing yourself could be the adventure of your life. Keep us posted how it went. Greetings from someone who has rediscovered himself over and over again. And is still looking for “that boy” from ’64 who, as a 15 year old, hitchhiked from Germany to Spain to meet the girl he thought would be the love of his life. She wasn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey my dear daughter ( known as Baby D). I certainly don’t notice any rust in your writing! You always have the talent and ability to paint a picture with words, make your stories interesting, and share all of that with us! You are on a new adventure, and down the road when the dust and “rust” settles, you will be able to relax and enjoy your tropical paradise. This is where you are meant to be!! Hang on to your bicycle (when it materializes)! There will be some bumps in the road, then smooth sailing! That’s when we will see our Island Girl!
    Love ‘ya, hugs,💞

    Liked by 1 person

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