Pre-flight gut check

If you're reading this today, Jacqui and I are currently packing the PennyWagon to hit the road to explore the great unknown that lays South of Isla de Piedra. For this occasion, I feel some reflection is necessary, after all we’re not the dreamy-eyed, head-in-the-sky, no-regard-for-danger or perils type; to us there is significance in moving past this very familiar milestone in the road.

A year and a half ago, on an exceptionally slow, boring day at work I had a tiny daydream of quitting my job, moving into my Toyota van, and spending a winter kiteboarding in Baja. It wasn’t a serious dream. Just one of those fantasies that float in your mind when things are feeling less than ideal and your brain is allowed too much time to spin its wheels. On my lunch break, I phoned Jacqui and half-heartedly told her how my day was going, and of my daydream. As the last word “Baja” slipped off my tongue, I was met with “Yes! Let’s do it!” before I even completed my sentence.

I was obviously shocked and apprehensive by Jacqui’s immediate response. After all it was just a daydream. But Jacqui wasn’t as impulsive as I paint her to be. Apparently, we’d both been placing similar daydreams upon the mystical scale of feasibility, and to hear me utter those words clearly gave her scale a tip in favor of adventure.

This was supposed to be one of those things us responsible, hardworking people simply fantasize about. After all it doesn’t take a genius to notice how reckless and financially irresponsible it’d be to actually drop, leave, and sell everything you’ve worked so hard for. Well, somehow that’s not what happened here, and if anyone asks why, I’ll probably just blame Jacqui facetiously.

From there it really progressed rather fluidly. Jacqui said she’d start researching. I said there was nothing to research since you simply need to point the car south and press the gas pedal. Our planning methods met in the center and our Baja dream grew profoundly.

Well if we’re going to quit our jobs, there’s no way we can simply stop driving at Baja.”

“If we can get to Baja, we can get to Panama!”

“Well if we can get to Panama, why not continue into South America!”

Somehow, in only three months we’d managed to purchase a motorhome, renovate it, purge all our belongings and hit the road. We departed with as much prepping as we could muster, but in hindsight all we had under our belts were vaccinations and the knowledge that the compass should probably read South.

Jacqui and I have friends, co-workers, family and acquaintances that all had to be informed during our very brief prep time. I’m here to tell you, with some rare exceptions, there are three general ways people will receive the details of a plan such as this:

Encouraging. “I’ve always dreamed of doing something like that! Good for you!...”

 Jealousy. “I sure wish I could just quit my job and do something like that. Most of us just aren’t in a position to do so….”

Fear-mongering. “Are you serious?! Don’t you know how dangerous Mexico is? Driving there is insane; you’re probably going to die! I also heard of this guy that got stabbed, robbed, kidnapped, deep fried and rolled in bacon…”

You know what? Every one of them is absolutely correct. I’ve always dreamed of something like this too. Maybe not always, but at least once every several months I’d be exceptionally dissatisfied with my life’s current level of monotony, and that would always lead me to think of someone else’s exciting life.

You better believe I’d been jealous too. How is it that some people have enough money to buy some super expensive boat or 4x4 monstrosity to travel the world while sipping wine and eating cheese? The rest of us would have to purge everything we own and eat hundreds of Ramen dinners just to afford the gas it’d require to do these journeys.

The fear is absolutely there as well. Jacqui and I are all too familiar with some of the driving related perils of our undertaking. However, through preparation and common sense, we hope to never get deep-fried and wrapped in bacon.

After a year of sweat, tears and a fixation on returning where we left off, we’re here… and it’s scary. Last years car accident showed us full well what you gamble when you decide to travel in this fashion. Our entire house, all the investment in said house, and all our personal belongings are voluntarily rolling along windy roads in a developing country for a second time.

To put this simply, we know there will be bumps in the road, but we’re hoping we paid some of those road-trip-hardship-dues, and that we’re in for some smooth sailing. Neither Jacqui nor I are superstitions, but we’ll gladly take whatever warm wishes and positive thoughts you have to offer our journey.

So with some butterflies in the stomach, we’re moving forward.