|Six months ago, I was leaving Montreal, leaving behind the normal life most of you enjoy. After six months on the road, what did I enjoy most? What did I enjoy less? What are the problems or challenges I encountered? What would I change? What did change in me? What's my favourite city or sight? These are all questions one has to ponder about when closing a first milestone in any long-term project. Just as I marked each of my first few months on the road, I will mark this one too, sharing with you my impressions.|
But first, some statistics... that's
the nerd in me who needs to express himself :-) Out of the 22107 km I've
logged since I left on June 15 (counter started once I landed in St.
John's, Newfoundland, not from Montreal), I've done more than 18 100
km in bus and 3 100 in trains, the rest being done in car or in boat.
Mexico City where I'm now is my 73rd city since I left
Montreal. I've slept in 55 of them, the rest being just transit
points, in which I didn't spend much time, much less a night. I've
visited 20 UNESCO World Heritage sites. In total, I've slept in
about 61 different 'beds'... including 3 nights on buses, 2 on
trains, 1 on a ferry, a few couches and various beds. Split over 183
days, I changed bed every 3 days in average and travelled about 362
km after each of them.
What did I enjoy most? Discovering the
new sights along the way, and sharing them with you. I enjoy both
nature and city sights. Nature ones are very nice, but often tricky
to reach without a private car or taking expensive tours. In the
cities, I mostly enjoy walking in the cities, discovering the
streets, the smells, the sounds of the city, watching the people come
and go, distinguishing the tourists from the locals, eating local
food. For me, eating local food is an important part of the travel.
I enjoy tasting about anything and everything. On many occasions, I
had the privilege to be with locals who helped me understand a few of
the dishes I encountered, that helped... since I don't mind trying
out weird stuff... but I do like to know what I'm trying. And I like
to write and share with you my experiences.
What did I enjoy less? The rush in
which I did the Canada and USA legs. I've mentioned that before, and
it's still true. I'm open to do more fast travelling when needed,
but only in short bursts of a few weeks... never again for 3 months
and a half. Since I've entered Mexico, I've taken a much slower
pace, and I enjoy it very much. That gives me more time to work on
projects I have, relax and get more into the living-like-a-local
What are the problems or challenges I
encountered? There were a few minor ones regarding my gear, like I
had to replace both my suitcase and my camera bag, way earlier that I
was expecting to do it... but that's okay. I got an injury at my
left foot while I was in Chicago (5 months ago) and it's still not
fully healed... that causes me problems walking. I will probably go
see a doctor next week to see what can be done about it. I had major
problems at first to acclimate to high altitude. I have lived all my
life at sea-level and had only ventured up to about 1 300 m in the
past, for short vacations. So far, I've spent days and weeks at more
than 2 300 m... and I'm getting used to it, I sleep much better.
I just found out I'll have a major
issue with shoes. I knew I'd have problems finding shoes outside
Canada/USA... but I didn't expect to be that hard... it's impossible!
I'm wearing size 14 US, which is hard to find even in Canada/USA
because most stores stock up to size 12. So, I was careful and I
bought an extra pair before entering Mexico. I was confident that I
would find some shoes here in Mexico City, a city of 22 million
people! Statistically, there has to have enough people with large
feet to have at least a few specialized stores. But apparently store
owners don't have the same vision I have about statistics! I've
spent two full days visiting all the American and Mexican brands of
shoe stores all over the city. I've talked to employees in about 20
of those stores, I even asked two men on the street whom I thought
had big feet, but no one knows about a large-size shoe store in
Mexico City. The same with the Internet searches... zilch! So, if I
can't find shoes in a city of 22 million people, what are my chances
to find them in my future capitals... which are 10 times smaller?
Zero. Hopefully, I had prepared such scenario, I just didn't think
I'd have to use it... and I'll have some friends shipping me shoes
What would I change? Short answer:
nothing. No, it's not the party every day. I'm not on vacation, but
living on the road, meaning there are ups and downs. When you're on
a journey like mine, the mindset is totally different than when
you're away from home for just a few weeks. I'm extra careful with
money and unless it's absolutely necessary I don't take tours, it's
not like I can overspend then return to work to pay out my credit
cards. Like everyone else, I have days when I don't feel well and I
prefer to stay inside. Such travel mode doesn't change the way you
normally live... just the decor changes. But would I drop that to
return to a routine work status, doing 9 to 5 for a boss who doesn't
care about me? Would I return in the winter with snow while I'm
experiencing a Xmas season in the 20s C? No.
What did change in me? I've put to the
test my decision to become more zen before this journey began. I
take everything with a grain of salt and never worry much about
anything really. I lost my cool only twice in six months, so that's
a good stats in 6 months of perpetual changes. I'm much more
tolerant and more open-minded about the way of life in Mexico. It
was a shock at first, but it grew on me. I'm not saying I'm
embracing the Mexican way of doing things... but I'm able to be at
ease with it and really manage to get what I need.
What's my favourite city or sight?
That's a tough one. Especially since in the USA, I've mostly visited
cities I already loved very much. I'll take the approach of picking
my favourite city in each country so far. In Canada, my best city
has to be Vancouver (although the food was better in Victoria). In
the USA, my favourite all time city probably remains Chicago, and a
new one I've visited for the first time would be San Diego. In
Mexico, it has to be Guanajuato, hands down. On the natural side,
Yellowstone National Park is in my eyes impossible to beat for now.
But enough talking! I've prepared you
a selection of pictures to see places I've been to and things I've
saw during those six months. I invite you to watch the following 3
minutes slide show video. I hope you enjoy!