I commenced my travels hoping to learn new things about myself. I was deliberately putting myself ‘out there’ by choosing to travel solo, over an extended period, for the first time in my life and I was petrified but that was the point! I wanted to get away from what had become my predictable 9am-5pm workday routine and transplant myself into environments where I would have to adapt, navigate unfamiliar surroundings and meet new people. What I had not bargained for, was that my past experiences and the people I would meet on my journey, would cause me to look at my life in a different way and inspire me to live with more ….
The mountain town of San Augustin Loxicha is 1820 metres above sea level, located in south-western Mexico and has a population of approx. 18,000. The locals live a relatively simple but contented life, even the local school teaches meditation as part of the curriculum. The pace is slower and people have more time.
I guess, like many people who make a change in their lives, in order to seek something, what they end up finding, may not be what they were looking for or expecting. I discovered that the life I wanted to take a break from; my 9am-5pm workday routine, was in fact the reason I found myself in a small town in Mexico. In search of opposites; I had swapped Australia’s largest city for one of Mexico’s smallest towns, highways of traffic congestion for single lane gravel mountain roads and the urban soundscape, for what can only be described as, a gentle ‘hum’.
The environmental contrasts translated into a number of realisations:
- The differences in surroundings from the city I had left, made me appreciate the place I was in even more
- The desire for a drastic change, made me seek out a totally unique travel experience to the ones I’d had before
- My work life had enabled me to make this extended overseas trip financially carefree
- The lifestyle I had back home made me see how fortunate I am
What I learnt is everything that had happened in my life to that point, led me to being in San Augustin Loxicha and for that, I was grateful.
Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give” and I experienced these words being lived out in my interactions with people in the town. From the helpfulness of locals as I navigated around the town, the lady that kindly cooked meals for me at no charge and later became a friend, the young boy who bought me a milkshake unsolicited, to the school children who rushed to greet me when I visited the local school.
One experience, an invitation to have lunch at the home of a local family, stood out. The family lived deep in the mountains, in a home consisting of several different structures and built with materials locally sourced. As soon as I entered the hub of the house, the kitchen, I was engulfed by the family’s warmth. A home-reared chicken was killed in my honour and a traditional meal prepared.
An afternoon of animated conversation and laughter followed, where the language barrier seemed to disappear, culminating in the family giving me a gift of homegrown coffee and a rose from their garden, as I departed.
What I learnt is that how much you give is not proportional to how much you have. A generosity of spirit is how people who materialistically do not have a great deal, show the type of abundance that some of us, including myself, can learn from.