Now comes the big question. Would I make this trip again? The answer, without much deliberation, is a resounding yes. I learned things about Mexico that I did not even know I waned to learn. I saw Mexico with new eyes and will never think of this country the same way again.
Mexico is a vast region of changing scenery and topography. I guess I never realized this before. I had expected the drive to be long and flat and mostly coastal. It was far from that. At times it seemed like something new greeted us at every turn.
Mexico is a third world country and I am convinced that it will remain so for quite some time. Unless they completely overhaul their political system, but that is a totally different subject. It is definitely a country of those that have and those that do not, with little in between. I saw huge haciendas surrounded by miles of wall and some architecture that was breathtaking. But I saw more poverty than anything else. People living what seemed to me to be lonely, desolate lives, miles from anywhere. Eking out a living as best they could from the land. People piled on top of one another near to and in the cities in shacks that passed as suitable housing. It was eye opening and once again made me thankful that I was born American, and, although certainly not rich, one of the haves, not have nots.
Jaimie told me once on the trip that Americans are considered just beneath the category of Gods by most Mexicans. When asked why, he said because we are all rich and have whatever we want. This led to an interesting discussion, but I don’t think I changed his mind. I think this was one of our best discussions on the trip. After that though, I did pay attention to how I was treated at the various places we stopped or ate versus how Jaimie was treated. There was a difference. I seriously doubt, looking the part of his Mayan ancestry, that Jaimie would have even been allowed in most of the places we stopped. Especially some of the hotels. I hate that this blatant prejudice exists here.*
What would I do differently? Study, study, study the map! The roads are not clearly marked and the towns one would think would be listed on signs are not always the ones listed. A working knowledge of all town names along the route would have come in handy. And I would definitely take pictures. Mexico has no rest areas like in the USA and very, very few scenic overlook points. You have to make these yourself by risking your life and pulling over to the side of the road. I would take the time to pull over and take pictures of some of the fantastic views of the countryside, places and people we saw along the way. I regret that I did not do this immensely. Lastly, I would try to keep my impatience under control. As a result of just wanting to get the trip behind me and be home, I did not take the time to really explore some of the places or cities as much as I would have liked to or should have. I told myself that I would be taking other trips in Mexico and could stop to smell the roses then.
Finally we have Jaimie. Despite a few exasperating moments, I could not have made this trip as easily as I did without him. He proved to be the good friend and companion that I thought he would be when I invited him along. He rarely lost his sense of humor or adventure. I saw things with fresh eyes, catching his child like amazement and enthusiasm for all things new and different. He truly was a joy to have with me.**
* I have since seen many versions of this Americans as God theory. Once, while shopping in Cancun with a Mexican friend, we were all wearing backpacks. We were allowed into the store with them. Our friend was stopped and told he had to check his at the counter. We started to take ours off and the guard assured us we could keep them with us. We assured him that we would not be shopping in his store.
** Sadly, I no longer count Jaimie as a close or valuable friend. We still greet each other with friendly hellos when we chance to encounter each other. But that is it. I needn’t go into details, but suffice it to say that he developed a drinking/drug problem later on and did some things that were not very nice.