What I’ll Miss

13 Nov

When we crossed into Mexico one year ago, there was so much about daily life that took me by surprise. How I needed to visit 3 stores just to get everything on my grocery list. Why it was impossible for someone to give correct directions. Now, these once-annoyances are second nature. They are what give Central America it’s charm. The woman serving my meal licking her fingers–I’ll have a second helping please. Taking a long time to explain where to go sans street names and I still get lost–typical, but always my fault according to Hani.

We celebrated a year and a half on the road on October 25. As of today, we’ll have spent one year of that time in Mexico and Central America. Here are some things that I know I will miss dearly once we return to the States, things typical south of the border and of life on the road.
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I will miss…

The obligatory lone flip flop and dirty diaper left on a beach

Waking up in an unfamiliar place with nothing and no one around

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Meeting strangers…because you parked on their land

Making fast friends with people because they are traveling just. like. you.

$5 doctor visits and $2 round of antibiotics

Walking into a pharmacy and getting whatever medication you could possibly want dispensed to you, no questions asked

The culture

Hearing Spanish

Searching for THE BEST spot to park for the night

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Wondering what that man with his back to me is doing then realizing he’s peeing in the street

Cars with a loud speaker announcing a sale of eggs or campaign

Bargaining for everything, including but not limited to keepsakes and handicrafts, clothes, meals, produce, doctor’s visits, medicine, laundry, beer, museum admission, parking, camping spots, water…

Dollar fresh squeezed juice and smoothies with no additives

Drinking said beverage out of a plastic bag with a straw

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Beach venders approaching you selling knock off sunglasses, sarongs, drinks and food

Pick up trucks carrying 15 standing people in the bed

Bombas

Long days of nothing

The wildlife

Sleeping on a slight decline because you can’t get the truck angle just right

Festivals for everything at all hours of the day, even in the middle of the night

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Clos boxed wine, not because it’s good but because it’s $3 and who the hell cares

Foreign currencies that look like fake money

Collecting shells, rocks, and sand

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The smell of fire

Buying Jiff, regular milk, generic whole wheat bread and Aunt Jemima pancake mix and syrup and not feeling guilty because it’s not the all-natural organic versions

The excitement of finding kale, mushrooms, arugula and other “rare” produce

Jamming to dance music the DJ spins (turn tables, massive speakers and all) in the middle of a grocery

Cooking with limes because lemons don’t exist in Central America

Cattle in the middle of a highway stopping traffic

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Old men with machetes the length of their leg

Using those machetes to “mow” grass

The highway suddenly becoming a narrow road through a teeny town…and it’s market day

Spitting on the floor (in and outdoors)

Women in traditional clothes

Those same women balancing heaping baskets of food or bags of firewood on their head

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Teens (and adults) wearing Aeropostale

Trophy-headstone stores…winning and losing at its best

Town squares

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Soccer fields in every village, no matter how small the village is

Guards armed with massive semi automatic weapons at the entrance to a pharmacy or ice cream shop

7 shacks in a row alongside the highway all selling the exact same one item

People juggling fire at an intersection in a major city

Asking for the wifi password and making sure it connects BEFORE ordering

A long deserted beach all to yourself…until that asshole parks right on top of you blasting crappy music

Topes

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Streets with no name and directions drawn in the dirt with a stick

Vehicles pouring black exhaust into the air

The power of the stamp and border bureaucracy

Making photocopies for inflated rates when the person needing copies has a machine right next to them

Getting clothes handwashed, line dried and folded for $5

The local market, skinned animal carcasses on display and all, where open air stalls sell everything from underwear to bootlegged movies to live animals

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40 cent chocolate covered frozen bananas

Conch fresh from the ocean

The familiarity of eating at McDonalds

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Hearing random B-list 90s music on the radio

Relaxing anywhere, a beach, square, park, national monument, and being bombarded with people selling trinkets

Spying auto hotels off the highway and wondering what is really going on there

Amazing street food for pocket change

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Said street food coming out of questionable half broken down trucks

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Highway-side dining

Walking past a restaurant or food stall and having the entire menu recited aloud in fast succession

Chrome buses and tricked out tuktuks

The leash phenomenon: wandering dog–a kid will kick it. But put that dog on a leash, that same kid will fight his siblings to hold the leash and walk the dog in circles

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I’m excited to…

Have SPACE and be able to do cartwheels INDOORS!!

Blast air conditioning

And then control the temperature of the house

Have a freezer

Drink good wine from a bottle out of a glass

Drink water from the tap

A real steak

Eat real sushi and drink real beer

Not have to scour for a free wifi connection

Be able to just pick up my cell and make a call

Receive mail and physical magazines

Cook what I want to eat for dinner and not what I should make because it’s too hot to use both burners and the oven

See distances in miles and measurements in gallons because I STILL haven’t figured out kilometers and liters

Drive a car. MY car. And drive it over 50 mph

Flush toilet paper down the toilet instead of opening the trap door of our composting toilet or in the waste bin at a restaurant

Have money coming into my bank account

See dogs that are well taken care of and part of a family instead of starving on the street

The familiarity of being home

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