I have heard it said that getting there is half the fun. Well, what if you never get “there?” What if “there” just doesn’t exist? What if “getting” is the whole thing? Do you miss half the fun?
What am I talking about? I’m not totally certain myself at the moment. So, let me back up and start at the beginning. Recently, I boarded a cruise ship and took a voyage down the coast of Mexico. While I had a very nice time, most of my vacation was spent travelling from one place to another without any real destination in mind.
The vacation started on a Thursday morning. I got in my car and drove for two hours to San Jose where I caught a shuttle van that drove me for an additional hour to San Francisco. In S.F., I boarded a massive cruise ship which carried me down the west coast of California and Mexico for four days. On the fifth day, the ship stopped in Puerto Vallarta where I got into a taxi and drove around the city for a few hours before getting back on the boat.
The ship then made three more stops over the next three days. I rode tour busses, taxis, and shuttle boats for a few hours each day, then re-boarded the ship before it left port at 5 PM every evening.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
So, is it really a vacation if you never actually get anywhere? If you are constantly moving forward with no end point to the journey, is it really a journey, or is it just travel? There was no set destination or arrival point on this trip, instead there was only a parade of vehicles moving me from one place to another. Cars, cabs, boats, busses, and more walking than I care to remember, just to travel for ten days and end up exactly where I started: My own front porch.
And let’s not forget the four thousand bucks I spent to do it. It apparently costs a lot of money to go nowhere.
I enjoy travelling. That’s why I agreed to the cruise in the first place. And, frankly, I would happily do the whole thing over again. During the trip, someone else did all the cooking, cleaning and bartending so all I had to do was eat and drink until I passed out, then sleep until I was rested enough to start eating again. Who can complain about that? Me and my three extra chins had a great time.
There was excitement on the trip as well. For example, I really wasn’t sure if I was going to survive the taxi ride in Puerto Vallarta. The driver kept talking to me over his shoulder while he drove along streets of a city where car lanes were more suggestions than requirements. He would veer from left to right, whipping past pedestrians and other vehicles at high speed while telling me in broken English that the house we just passed belonged to his cousin who owned the best bar in the city, and all I needed to do was say the word, and he would take me there for some tequila.
I passed on the offer. Based on his driving, I figured he had already had enough to drink.
At one point, I heard a siren from somewhere nearby, and I started looking behind us for an emergency vehicle trying to pass the taxi. I soon discovered I was looking in the wrong direction. A moment later, I spotted an ambulance with its lights flashing and siren blaring, moving past my window in the lane right next to us.
We were passing it.
My taxi flew by the ambulance like it was a little old lady that got in our way while out for a Sunday drive.
I vowed then and there, that if I ever got badly injured or sick in Mexico, I would never call an ambulance. I was going to get a cab. It would probably save me ten minutes getting to the hospital.
The entire ride was a roller coaster of excitement, dread, and a growing queasiness in the pit of my stomach as I imagined the car I was in becoming part of a twenty-car pile up in the middle of a busy intersection. In fact, the only time the driver slowed down and acted like a human being behind the wheel was for the thirty or so seconds it took for a police car to drive past us. I don’t blame the guy for being cautious either. Police cruisers are a little bit more intimidating in Mexico than in the U.S.
(Don’t believe me? Just take a peek at this week’s cover photo above. I took the picture myself during my adventure.)
When we finally crossed the finish line of the imaginary race in my driver’s head, I stumbled out of the taxi and sat down on the curb until my heart rate returned to normal. I told the driver he should put a video camera on his dashboard and record his trips through the city. I imagined that many of his passengers would be willing to pay good money to get a copy to show their friends back home. I know I would love to have video proof of the harrowing events I survived that day.
During the ride, I thought about using my phone to make a recording, but I realized that would require me to release my death grip on the car seat in front of me. So, instead of video, all I have are a couple still photos, frequent night terrors and a pair of permanently stained underwear to remind me of my brush with mortality.
Getting back to my original point, I guess sometimes the journey, all by itself, is enough. Or to be more specific, surviving the journey is enough.
If there is only one thing readers remember from this week’s blog, I hope it is this: It’s hard to care too much about where you end up when you are just happy you arrived in one piece.
That, or maybe, if you are ever in Mexico and need an ambulance, flag down a taxi instead.
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