In life we all face adversity.
It's part and parcel of living on this earth.
Sometimes that adversity comes from within ourselves, other times from government structures, and other times from other people.
When we set out on this "different" lifestyle two years ago I had no idea the kinds of adversity we'd face.
Sure I expected some border crossing issues, and visa issues. I even expected some financial adversity (things sometimes cost more than expected).
And we faced a little bit of adversity last year flying around the world, it wasn't much but it was there.
However, I never expected the adversity we're facing right now.
We've been dealing with this for an entire month now, last week I broke down because of the immense power of words people were using against us. (Read on for examples). I got to the point where I said to Becky, "Perhaps we shouldn't do this trip, perhaps we are insane." My dear wife is amazing at dealing with my weaknesses, and eloquently asked, "Why?, What has changed?" We discussed it and we're moving forward with our plans as they are. I'm now writing this post for anyone who comes behind us, who is interested in a different lifestyle and who faces adversity. Hopefully you'll find encouragement by seeing how ridiculous people are being to us.
Not Judging Your Lifestyle
If you love your lifestyle, Awesome! I've never said everyone has to live my way. That would be stupid. I have however co-founded a support network for location independent families because we've faced so much adversity that I/we needed the support of others making this lifestyle choice.
But just because I choose not to live in a midwestern suburban setting with a 30 year fixed, and two cars doesn't mean I'm judging you for choosing that lifestyle. And I'm not suggesting that you have to make a change. I'm assuming you love your lifestyle. If you don't... well then it's up to you to change it. That's exactly what happened with Becky and I. We loved our lifestyle, until we didn't. So we changed it. And I doubt I could go back.
There are positives and negatives about each lifestyle choice. We have lots of negatives about living full time in an RV, but we also have a significant number of positives, so many that they outweigh the negatives, and so we enjoy our lifestyle. Despite the thousands of things that break down on the RV, and despite me breaking down and questioning our lifestyle, there are amazing things we've been able to do and see as a family. We've had some incredible conversations with our kids which would have never happened had we been stationary.
Please Don't Judge My Lifestyle
So here's the deal. We're not living a scripted out lifestyle.
There are a couple of normal plot lines for the culture Becky and I grew up in, like a movie script these are well defined but allow for ad-libing.
- The one where you get married, have kids, live in one house for 10+ years, keep your kids in the same (good) school system, work steady jobs and do the soccer mom/dad thing.
- The one where you have family troubles, get divorced, remarried, his hers and their kids, and you do shared time with some or all of the kids. Working jobs to pay child support and take care of the kids, cannot move outside of x number of miles unless the court approves it.
- The one where you're in debt on your cars, boats, RVs and house.
- The one where you get in trouble with the law and no one talks to you anymore, can't get a job can't seem to keep a job.
- The one where you are barely scraping by, hoping to save money, hoping to get ahead and constantly get kicked down by old cars that break down, jobs that get downsized, and kids that get sick and need hospital visits.
The plot line we're following is not normal for those. It involves some core points which are really counter cultural to that.
- Sell as much of your stuff as possible.
- Fly, drive, or sail. (or hitchhike, bike, or walk)
- Rent, pitch a tent, couchsurf, or sleep in an RV
- Experience life in person, see cool new things every couple of days, get to know a new culture, have some travel stress.
Is it safe?
I'll borrow a quote from Narnia: “Safe?... Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” and paraphrase it to be: 'Safe? Who said anything about safe, Of course this lifestyle isn't safe, but it's good.' However, this lifestyle is no more dangerous than anyone else's lifestyle choice. There's danger everywhere!
If you listen to or watch the media you'd believe that Mexico is the pit of hell right now. Guess what, that's what gets you to watch the media.
In reality, there are parts of Mexico we're going to avoid. And there's one part of Mexico where we cannot logistically avoid. But we've been in touch with the U.S.Consulate in Mexico and will be heeding their advice. Oh, and by the way, their advice was NOT "avoid going to Mexico, turn around and go home." (Just in case you were wondering).
But to say all of Mexico is a warzone and we will be shot at is like saying Detroit is a warzone and you shouldn't ever go there. Yes, there's a lot of poverty in the D, and yes, some people have moved out. But I've been to Detroit over a dozen times in the last 4 years. Never once was I shot at, or in a dangerous situation. And yes I was in a bad part of town, and yes I did go walking after dark. Nope not one bullet. Not one mugging.
But the media would have you believe otherwise.
The same is true for Mexico.
Shoot, just yesterday Becky and I had to challenge our own perspectives on Columbia. We remember the old Columbia, where it really was dangerous to be there. In our current plans we were trying to avoid it. However unless we have a huge windfall between now and arriving in Panama we have to ship Gracie to Columbia. So we challenged our thinking and realized that Columbia is just as dangerous as Mexico... or in other words Columbia is just as safe as Mexico. (We have a large network of single friends living in Columbia giving us on-the-ground experience there).
Let's not even start to talk about South Africa, where there is always some unrest going on and where car-jacking, kidnapping etc is a daily occurance. Yet for some reason people in the US think South Africa is awesome and wonderful (it is! we love it there!) But they think Mexico is the pit of hell. Except of course for the touristy areas... those are of course, safe. (In reality the most crime to foreigners happens in or near the touristy areas, the crime between locals happens elsewhere.)
I just want to yell at the world, YOU'RE NOT SAFE. NOT ANYWHERE! You could die young of a heart attack, you could get killed in a car accident going to walmart, you could get shot watching a movie in the movie theatres, you could disappear with an entire plane full of people or your kids could get abducted on their way home from school. PEOPLE, get a rubber room, and stop eating, cause you could die from e coli, salmonella or some other bacteria in our massive food system. You could slip of the road in icy weather and get killed by the next driver who slams into your car.
Life is dangerous.
Some lifestyles are more dangerous than others. Can we say basejumping? Or shark diving? Or Surfing, or snake handling, or being a police officer. But just because a lifestyle, job, or career is dangerous doesn't mean we need to tell people "hey, don't do that" or better yet "I wouldn't do that if I were you" -- really? You're not me, and I don't want to be you, so I'm glad I'm doing something you wouldn't do, that makes me, *gasp* different!
There's a meme on the internet about eating popcorn. It means people are watching because they believe a good, funny, crazy, etc scene is going to happen. Like they believe a movie is unfolding in front of them. It means "this is going to do down in flames and I'm gonna watch!".
I envision that happening with a lot of these people making these comments.
They're just waiting for us to fail, to collapse.
Feels really supportive! (dripping with sarcasm)
Are they going to say "I told you so"? Do they believe we're going to change our mind after researching this lifestyle and hearing one person's fears? Do they think we will say, "You're right we weren't considering the safety of our kids, this was a stupid lifestyle choice, and wow I'm so glad you told us."?
I'm not looking for your support, approval or anything like that, I'm simply sharing my life with those who are inspired by it. And yes it's not all roses.
The Comments We Face
So, yeah, I was upset at the amount of negative comments we have been getting but I have decided to look at it a different way. I am confident in our choices and can now see these comments in a comical light.
So here are some samples of comments we're facing about Mexico and our lifestyle. . these are shared here so you'll laugh with us, and see just how bad the adversity can be. Some of these are from friends, some from strangers. All of these are copied and pasted. (the verbal comments are not included in here, mostly because we don't get as many of those).
Better to have your problems in the states. Once you get into Mexico a ways it will be much more stress when you break down.
A lot of people think and say that. But I disagree. There is always stress when broken down, and somehow I'm getting used to it. It's really a state of mind. Am I going to be uptight or be a hippie? The rest of our lifestyle resembles the hippie lifestyle so when we break down I just have to choose that mindset, no matter where we are.
We had to wait 4 weeks for a new Tranny in Atlanta... sure that wasn't awesome, but seriously, 4 weeks? In the US? Sure you can say well it'll be worse in Mexico... where'd you get that Idea? Our RV is made in Mexico. I suspect we'll be facing waiting times, but do you really have knowledge of this or are you getting a "feeling" from movies, and the media?
A point another friend makes: "I'm pretty sure Mexico is filled with excellent mechanics and good people. Heck, it would be much easier to get a part or mechanic in most parts of Mexico than in many rural areas of Michigan, Wyoming, Nevada ... The list goes on!" -- Thank you, friend....Couldn't have said it better myself!
I would give it up and find something else to do.... My message has been pretty consistent: I don't want this adventure to end badly for you and your family. That's the only message I want to share.
Like I said, you're not me! And what are you going to do, say, "I told you so?"
I hope you ask [for forgiveness] for taking your family down there man [you] must be losing your mind I know two people that were murdered and Central America believe me it won't be the last
What? two people were murdered somewhere in an entire 7 country region?? What were they doing? Drinking, Drugs, ??? How were they murdered? What If I knew a dozen people that were murdered in the US... man you must be losing your mind for living there!
Don't travel into Mexico, especially with a family, the police are not to be trusted . Lots of kidnapping for $$$. You look like a rich american family! Take a plane and fly south as a family.. Good luck, hope we don't see your family in the news..
Mexican police are not to be trusted?? Yes some are not, but some US police are not to be trusted either (Fergusson anyone?) Yes we look like a rich American family, and how will flying help get rid of that? I actually hope you DO see our family in the news, like here and here and here.
How can I even act on this "advice"?
Those 6 months could be the rest of your life.
Wow, you're right! I could die of a heart attack, or a rip in my esophagus, or in a car crash within 6 months. I better get out there and snorkel, or give my kids a great adventure and introduce them to a new way of thinking before I die... Thanks for the great advice!
Yeah, I doubt that was his intention!
I would think twice about Mexico.
Believe you me, I have, I think about Mexico everyday, multiple times a day. But I bet we're thinking different things, more of a longing then a fear.
Prayers for your safety, they don't like us pass the boarder, stay safe.
Correction: "They don't like people like me" -- seriously people!! so much fear, so much hate. Don't you see the irony in your own statement here... you don't like Mexicans in the US... It's fears and the culture like this that has driven us from this country. We do NOT think US of A is the best country ever. There is rampant corruption in our government, there is a ton of hate and prejudice. This is NOT where we want our kids to grow up.
Don't go Mexico is unsafe and drug trafficking is so bad they will put your family in danger
Yup, and the sex trade in Thailand.... we better not set foot in that country either. oh wait we already did. Twice.
I've heard of people attaching drugs under other peoples vehicles. When you get stopped at the border,YOU go to jail for it! They will hold you for months if not longer for being a drug mule... PLEASE rethink taking your precious family into South America,. Very corrupt over there and to "them" you will look like your family has lots of money- kidnapping fodder. You're kids are beautiful, child slave trafficking is not unheard of. IF you still take your trip-find a trusted group to travel with that has security. ..God speed
Yes there are a ton of places to hide drugs on Gracie... we know that. We'll do our best to avoid it. (like not being in sketchy places, not crossing the borders at night etc.
Thanks for the compliment about our kids, we think they're beautiful too, and we're concerned about their safety. That's why we have taught them about the best safety practices. Correct, human trafficking is not un-heard of, in fact it's a HUGE problem... oh and a lot of it exists right in the states... right under your nose.
Travel in a group, so that you can be more obvious? So that your fears are shown everywhere? No one loves it when a tour group shows up in town, but when a small beautiful family comes and says, "I'm not afraid, I'm here to be friends" -- that's when the magic begins! We're not tourists we may be on tourist visas, but we're trying our best to live like locals, to make friends, to find out the reality for us of living in these places.
Thanks for the "God-speed", I think.
The God we worship removes fear, and says this life is nothing compared to what heaven is like. He also says live a full abundant life, and people don't know what they're talking about. I could go on and on, but we know that this is right, for us, for now.
And then we get some support, some people out there who say things like:
For what it's worth; the past few years, I have traveled into Mexico once or twice a year. I felt much more safe south of the border than I did in some parts of Los Angeles, CA. I don’t hang around the border towns and I do not run with the drug or bar crowd. I have met some of the nicest people, I love the food and the shopping bargains that are so accessible and I look forward to my next trip south. Yes, I have heard the naysayers, but for what it's worth, most of my trips are to support specific needy organizations. One of my trips I had filled the back of my pickup truck with "goodies and food" for an orphanage, ended up needing to leave the truck and goodies in a motel parking lot overnight, only to wake up and find everything in its place the next morning. Anyway, safe travels and enjoy the experience.
And then there's:
Seeing as their are thousands of motorcyclist that do the south american tour yearly, not to mention many of various auto sporting folk.... nor to touch on the traveling, well insured, corporate contractors ( YOU KNOW THE ONES WHOM ARE ACTUALLY WORTH MONEY TO KIDNAP)... keep your mouth shut, do not be a condescending typical know it all American and you'll be just fine. This is from a man that has done work in a few of those terrible cartel controlled places mention previously. If you have any questions please do feel free to contact me
My faith tradition often says things like "Live life in a way that if God doesn't show up you'll look like an idiot."
Well, here's to being an idiot in the world's eyes. I chose this lifestyle, with all it's negatives, and I choose to blog about the positives and negatives, so that you will be able to keep in touch with us, know where we are and what we're doing.
And if you don't support us in our crazy lifestyle, that's fine. Just grab a bowl of popcorn and watch. Perhaps some of your fears will be educated away.
If, however, you do support us, thanks! We know we're the ugly duckling, or the black sheep, or the runt of the litter. And so for everyone who says "what you're doing is awesome" or "I couldn't do it, but I'm jealous" -- Thanks! We know it's not easy supporting a family doing this crazy lifestyle.
We love you and we hope you can be brave enough to love us without any more negativity.
I don't say all of this to say that we don't welcome first hand warnings or information from credible sources passed along...in fact we appreciate that greatly. Thanks to everyone who follows along with us in a encouraging and supportive way.