• Apr

    As a Traveler, You Might Be Alone Most of the Time


    Another reality of being a traveler is you might be alone most of the time. That’s certainly been my situation, with the one exception of traveling with a girlfriend for a while. Being alone poses some interesting challenges, one of which is the issue of security and also the issue of becoming ill while on the road.

    This brings up the obvious question: “Who will take care of me if I get sick?” This question stops many a would-be traveler in their tracks and the issue becomes worse as one gets older. I know one middle-aged Canadian man who won’t travel anywhere that lacks “proper medical facilities, great insurance (an extension on the Canadian health care system) and modern cities.”

    I scare the crap out of him because I’m willing to go almost anywhere (within reason) and I’m not all that concerned about my health.

    To be clear, I’ve definitely had issues with illness while traveling. Sometimes it’s been severe and I nearly wound up in hospital a couple of times. Yet I would rather deal with illness on the road than spend my life at home in so-called comfortable surroundings. I like my friends and the interactions, but sooner than later, the road beckons.

    Which brings up the issue of being alone. Sometimes it’s easy to deal with, partly due to the activity of travel. But every now and then, loneliness kicks in. For many years that’s been an ongoing issue and it brings up the desire for relationship and to have a traveling companion.

    Many of my traveling friends have partners and many do not. Some simply prefer being single and others, while they want companionship, haven’t found the right person.

    As for loneliness, I recently discovered a powerful antidote, courtesy of the book: “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living,” by Dale Carnegie. In the book, Carnegie talks about a system for banishing loneliness. Simply put it is: Become interested in other people.

    All one has to do is become a volunteer or do kind things for strangers, wherever you are. One simple example would be giving a dollar or two to the homeless or buying them food. Another option would be to find a place where you can do volunteer work. Nothing will banish loneliness faster than that. You’ll be so busy helping other people you won’t have any time to think about yourself.

    Having done this a few times I highly recommend the practice. It’s also a great way to make friends, and quite possibly more.

    The Realities of Living in Mexico Long-Term

    If you’re planning to live in Mexico long-term, there are a few things you should know. One of them is you’re going to be in foreign country. I know this is an obvious statement, but you need to realize you’re not going to be in a familiar environment.

    For some people this creates an invigorating challenge; for others, isolation becomes the issue.

    When I went to Mexico I made it my mission to learn as much Spanish as possible beforehand. Here’s why: While many Mexicans speak English, not all of them do. It’s wise to learn Spanish otherwise you might find it difficult to get things done.

    Another reason I chose to learn Spanish was respect for the culture. I didn’t want to be one of these Gringos who expected Mexicans to cater to me because I didn’t want to learn Spanish. (Many Gringos do exactly that and miss out on large part of life, in my opinion. It can also create the problem of isolation.)

    Many foreigners arrive in Mexico, all starry-eyed with the novelty of being there, but eventually, they realize that Mexicans do things differently than we do in Canada and the US. This can be infuriating for some foreigners, especially those who expect Mexicans to do things “the right way.”

    This is a great recipe for frustration and intolerance. And trust me, Mexicans don’t like it either.

    Here’s a way of dealing with it.


    This Is Mexico.

    Take a deep breath. Step back from your mental demands and allow yourself to relax. Chances are, part of the reason many of you were attracted to this culture is because of the slower pace of life. Allow it to become a part of your existence. Life will be much easier if you do.

    This doesn’t negate the need to get things done, but if you come from a relaxed pace, life tends to support you better.

    Resistance to the Culture

    For some foreigners, the transition into life in Mexico becomes too difficult. Add to that is not wanting to learn the language, which makes things even worse.

    At this point these people start to hang out with other foreigners, only. For some, this works out just fine, but for other people, the loneliness gets to them and they isolate themselves further. Some begin to drink too much and they might even begin to take drugs. When this happens, the end is near. The breaking point is usually six months, maximum.

    At that point, the foreigner, thoroughly disillusioned with life in Mexico, goes back home. Many of those blame Mexico for the problem but the real issue is the unwillingness to adapt to their environment.

    The antidote is simple.

    Learn Spanish. Become interested in the people around you. Volunteer. Travel around and look at new things. Engage people (both Mexicans and foreigners) in conversation. Give of yourself without thinking about what you’ll get back.

    In no time at all, you’ll make friends, have a great time and begin to become a part of the community. This will lead to happiness, contentment, peace of mind and a feeling of belonging.

    Until next time, hasta luego.

    © Nathan Segal

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