Well, I have hung up my travelling boots, and it was absolutely the right decision for me. I am very happy in Mexico in my tiny space; my friends, my projects, and never a dull moment.
I have been asked since I spent the last ten years, and many years before travelling, what do I think is the STATE THE WORLD? In two words: NOT GREAT! Yes, many people say COVID is the cause . Yes, it had an impact. But, I believe not as much as people say or think.
Ten years ago, when I started to travel full time, I went to a International Conference on Travel in Mexico, That’s where I was first told I was a traveller, whatever that meant. The definition for me was: I needed to be on the move. It could be a plane, a bus,or a train, but I needed newness in my life. I first went to Penang, Malaysia, which is still one of my favorites, with great food, great people, and lots of smiles and laughter. People just enjoying life. I remember it was my birthday and a friend closed a restaurant and had the chef cook us a magnificent dinner! There was optimism, hope for the future, and people were travelling all over the world and returning to their homes in Penang.
Homelessness is a problem all over the world. In Athens, I have seen homeless men cut open their own legs to get sympathy and money; it reminded me of the movie Clockwork Orange! Even in Cambridge,which is one of the most affluent places in the UK, there is homeless all over the city, and that has grown every time I visit. So what i am saying it isn’t just the poor countries of the world—it is everywhere. Another factor is the lack of treatment for mental illness all over the world. I remember in India a number of years ago, there was a shed at the entrance to a village, with no windows. That was where they kept the mentally ill. The villagers were afraid and had no idea what to do.
In Ajijic, Mexico where I live, there was a little old lady that sat on the curb every day. We always said good morning with a smile. In the local paper it was reported that a group of people had gotten together and helped her fill out the paperwork to get a Mexican Pension. She is no longer on the curb and smiles from her doorway!
I have also observed that we, who live in the West—Canada, USA, UK—seem to think we take care of our elders better than people that live in India, Africa and the poorer nations of the world. NOT TRUE! People look after their kids, parents, and grandparents in a much more loving and inclusive way than in the so-called affluent countries.
The other thing is people enjoy themselves. There is joy and gratitude, and they are very proud! In India, I have been invited to tea in a little hut where they had nothing. A sheet was put on the floor and there were tin cups rather than teacups, but the tea and cookie were served with such grace. I have always marveled that the kids that come from poorest surroundings, such as India, Jamaica and Haiti, come out of their huts in perfectly ironed white uniforms for school (I could never pull that off).
In my mind, it has nothing to do with money. I think the deeper the history and culture of a country, the happier and joyous the people are. I have seen this in India, Mauritius, all over Africa and Central America—and in Mexico. Personally, I have never enjoyed South America. I just find the society extremely tough and not very forgiving, and safety has also been a issue for me there.
Canada, where I have spent most of my life, I felt fear while there in the summer. People not knowing what was going to happen next. When I first arrived In Toronto, I was walking down a main street, saying ‘good morning’ to everyone (that’s what I do in Mexico), and people were looking at me as if I was nuts. The USA has become very divided in every way. Very sad because it is such a beautiful part of the world…it was the land of dreams. And then the UK, where I was born. Brexit was a major mistake and I think it will take years before the economy and quality of life will improve. Heating costs have gone up tremendously. Therefore people will die this winter because they won’t turn on their heat. As far as Europe, it is just becoming very, very expensive to visit and achieve a decent, affordable lifestyle.
When I started to travel, the world was very open. Now there are so many war zones and unsafe places; the world map has gotten much smaller.
Climate change is another major issue. I remember 20 years ago, when I was in Greenland, the ice was melting. It was 70 degrees…unheard of! I came home saying we were in trouble, that long ago. All the conferences in the world don’t seem to be making the changes we need.
In Mexico where I live now, there is lots of joy and many festivals. This week, I can see from my kitchen window over the lake, fireworks every night about 10:00pm. They love to celebrate here.
I worry about my grandkids and what their lives and futures will be. How stable can their lives be in this crazy world? Unpredictable change has just become a way of life, not knowing what is next!
What to say. Keep the people you care about close to you. Always try to give back in some way to society. It doesn’t have to be money. Sometimes just being there for someone makes a difference! Be aware of who you are and what is important to you.
I am hoping that the world will settle down, and we will put leaders in place that can make a real difference to our everyday lives.
Remember to have gratitude for what you have in your life, and for the people you have in your life!!
Lovely and thoughtful piece, Betty! Merri & I enjoy reading about your experiences and getting your perspective. Thank you!
Well said Betty!
Thought the concept of community was inherent in what I said, guess not .
Betty, I sent you a reply. Did you receive it? My computer suggests you didn’t, but I hope you did.
Betty, my friend, it isn’t only about leaders, it’s about community, about how people relate to each other. Democracy doesn’t reside in leadership; it resides in people’s everyday relationships. Look sideways, not upwards! See you soon, eh!