emerging from paradise

A week ago today my daughter and I emerged from our dusty Mexican paradise village and got dropped into an American summer. I have been spinning since. And it has taken me a week to feel empowered enough to write about it. In my mind I keep saying, ‘ ‘Things are so different now….’


That person still works there. That playground is still on that corner. That spaghetti is still on the menu. That cop still sits there waiting to lure. Out of our time and space warp and realizing… No no… nothing at all has changed.. nothing is different. its WE that are so different now…

The thing about extended cultural immersion travel is that it CHANGES you. Things dont change. You do.

We were living a simple life in a tiny village town called a pueblo. Without a car. or iPhone. Without house wifi or laundry machines or full length mirrors. Without hot water, a kitchen, a debit card, or even a computer. (as mine broke a month ago). A place where streets didnt have names and people didnt have expectations and the sun didnt have a filter. Where the water was as teal as my daughters eyes and the sand as white as her pure soul. Parking lots were for bicycles and restaurant floors were made of sand. Bathrooms were in palapas, money was in pesos, and happiness was in the adventure of it all. Everyday was a challenge for the soul. Every person was from a different country. And every food was in a different tortilla.

Sometimes days were hard, but sometimes days were amazing. And it was these amazing days that kept us there. But it was these hard days that kept us alive. And grounded. Humbled, dirty, free, and strong.

In re-emerging into American society (only for a month) I have been sure to take notice of everything. Every sensation, every excitement, sadness, joy, longing, missing, wonderful feeling that this would entail. Because we havent just been living abroad. We have been living ground down. Denying ourselves conveniences. Communication, hot water, air conditioning. I made our lives more difficult on purpose. So that we could be real.

Here is my list of things I took for granted before leaving America for this adventure. All things I denied myself when there in order to gain what I wanted from the experience. Humility, perspective, happiness, love, truth, strength, courage, adventure, and paradise. All things I craved. And along with my list, I have also included what these denials have come to represent. In my analytical dichotomous mind, of good and bad and happy and sad. Here is my list of what we went without. And how each denial transformed our existence. And if we hadnt sacrificed each and every one, we never would have seen the beauty that we saw.

1. Hot water. Faster showers and not wasting water.  Or time. Conservation. Cold water=Natural coffee. 🙂

2. Fully understanding the language. Critical thinking is required everyday in order to translate the world around you. Nothing is face value. You translate everything in your mind and then spit out the meaning. After processing in 2 languages. Everything takes thought and consideration and processing. Nothing is easy. And everything is exciting. ‘Wait, whats going on. Where are we going, why, with who.’ Just shutting up and waiting to see what happens. Because you dont understand anyway. And the adventure is in finding out what happens 🙂 Patience. Challenging thought.

3. Air conditioning. Surviving in discomfort. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone! Strength.

4. Sewage systems. Respect for the environment at the sacrifice of human smell and selfishness. In Mexico toilet paper is thrown in the trash can and not in the toilet. This takes environmental protection to a whole new level, as we sacrifice our human values and views in order to give a little slice back. Respect.

5. Cars. No car, more exercise. Walking, biking, being outside, smelling nature around you. Smelling Mexican food cooking in the streets and hearing the music around you that you would otherwise not hear being locked in a car with the windows up, alone, isolated, barricaded from the outside world. Sense of community.

6. Large comfortable house. The smaller the house, the more you are outside. The less you spend on a house, the bigger your adventure fund. Living life!

And so, our mission is now accomplished. For a year and a half, we denied ourselves a world we knew existed, for one that we had to explore. We denied ourselves of a world that had so much, for a world that would give us more. And in doing so, we became part of a spectacular paradise world where dreams come true. Where fish are turquoise. And life is free.  

In coming home to America, after this grand adventure, we are left with feelings of change. Feelings of resurgence  and missing paradise. Feelings of difference. Wanderlust, internationalism, the bigger picture. Feelings of gratitude for simple comforts missing when we went without. Missing adventure and soul quenching days. Yet thankful for proximity to family. Thankful for my moms sweet car to drive, and the air conditioner cranking. The granite countertops look so shiny. And the grocery stores have so many lights. The tv’s have so many channels. And the wifi is so fast. But the beaches arent spectacular. Conversations dont satisfy. Friends arent on an adventure. Children arent trilingual. Roads are paved. Bicycles are for racing not transportation. Feet have shoes on them. My legs crave exercise. My brain craves translation. My heart craves humility. And my soul craves strength. But my hair is thankful for good water.

It’s uninteresting, non-challenging, and unfamiliar. Its easy, but its not a game. Each day is planned out. Each feeling is foreseen. And each dollar is already claimed. The sense of freedom disappears, and is replaced with comfortable couches and microbrews. I like microbrews. And turns out I even like comfy couches. But not as much as my soul. The compromise is a tradeoff.

I have turned our life into a grand adventure. And sitting idle requires skill. And so we pack for our next adventure. And find excitement in the suitcase filling, symbolizing possibilities and secret missions in the Pacific. Recalling a life not long ago of bare feet and turquoise horizon and international culture.

But then I love things here too. Like those microbrews. Fresh food. Sailboats and pine trees and old friends. Seeing River hugging her cousins. Good wine, music, and the never changing American summer.


Next stop: The Marshall Islands .

If you are not already part of our international adventure, please join us!

Facebook: The Blonde Mexican Project.

Cheers 🙂

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Thomas Ryefield August 23, 2014 at 4:33 am

You are a great writer, and are leading such an interesting life. Gor for it, I enjoy following your posts, since I have traveled extensively and lived in 3 different countries, in addition to the nearly 40 countries I was fortunate enough to visit in my lifetime!!

crystal blue August 24, 2014 at 12:41 am

hey thomas! thank you for saying hi and for reading and connecting. please get in touch on my facebook page The Enlightened Globetrekker if you use facebook. Would love to stay in touch. cheers komol tata

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