Most travelers have a bucket list. I have been lucky enough to have checked quite a few off my personal list, but one place I have not yet reached is Jakarta. The 13,000 islands of Indonesia are astonishing, and having spent a month in serene Bali, my dreams now turn to city life. Enter Jakarta, the massive capital on Java, the mixes cultural influences from around the world.
I know I shouldn’t compare. I know I should live in the moment, focus on what is in front of me, not develop a “been there, done that” mentality. And yet, the more I travel, the more these inevitable comparisons raise their ugly head.
I have never liked history. My dad was a history teacher. My brother is a history teacher. I got through the classes, but never embraced the subject. That all changed the moment I started traveling. Unencumbered by a parents authoritarian lectures and dry professors, I found myself relishing stepping back in time to see a world thousands of years in the past.
I can’t even say how long I have desired the opportunity to explore Oaxaca City. Back in my days working for Mexico Unlimited, we somehow never made the trip, truthfully probably simply because we tend to head to Mexico’s beautiful beaches. That fact didn’t keep me from dreaming of this place, not so far away in miles, and yet seemingly out of easy reach.
Teotihuacan. The name alone brings a smile to the face of all who have been there, for this enormous set of ruins, just outside Mexico City, truly brings to light the power of an empire, begun thousands of years ago. Thought to be Aztec, the city’s origins are actually a bit of a mystery, but it was the Aztecs who came upon this abandoned site and realized its power.
We ended up meeting Arturo by chance. While we had previously come through the pueblo magico town of Cuitzeo, we had been in motion, eager to get to SMA. Heading south, it seemed like a perfect pitstop during a long drive. Little did we know we were about to meet one of the world’s great dreamers.
I had been anticipating our arrival in Guanajuato for what seemed like forever. The years spent preparing often meant hours, generally in my cubicle (shhh) poring over others trips. Hours reading of others adventures, beyond anxious for the time when I would be the one living out my dreams on the road.
I listened to the rain pattering on the roof, and took another sip of wine. We had planned to stay a couple of days. But, Patzcuaro proved to be pure magic. Yes, the town is literally one of Mexico’s pueblo magicos, but more importantly, the vibe is right. That couple of days turned into four and then six and then eight. The plan to see the town, buy some coffee, maybe take a boat ride to the island in the lake, morphed into simply enjoying the simple pleasures.