Our eyes open almost simultaneously around 7:30 (a straight up miracle for those who know me well) and we are ready for another day. Every morning water is boiling first thing for tea and coffee. Really difficult breakfast choices are then made, banana pancakes, fresh pineapple with yogurt, or eggs and chorizo? I sip my tea and figure out how far under or over budget we were the previous day as Ken checks the truck and the camper. Oil level, check, transmission fluid, check, air pressure in the tires and air bags, check, propane tank level, check, water tank level, check, fridge pilot light lit, check. If we are in a city, we begin exploring after our morning routine. Wandering the streets, poking our heads into shops, stores, whatever interests us. Stopping in the zocalo’s (plaza) to take in the local sights and sounds, we inevitably find our way to the mercado.
Each city’s mercado has different characteristics, but are essential the same. A tangled labyrinth of narrow walkways, each section selling different wares. A row of stalls selling DVD’s, a whole stall dedicated to remote controls, or shoe laces.
Then there is the carneceria with stalls upon stalls of every cut of meat imaginable. If the city is close enough to the ocean there are stalls of seafood displayed perfectly. Inexplicably, the butcher stalls are always immediately next to the produce stalls where mounds of fresh tomatoes, avocados, peppers, bananas, pineapple and that regions specialty are heaped colorfully together.
And then our favorite portion of the mercado, the food stands. Immediately, our ears are filled with the lilting calls enticing potential customers to choose a particular establishment. “Enchilada, empenada, tamale, mole negro, tostada, tlayuda,” or some variation ring out. If we happen to glance at a particular stand, the chant grows in intensity. Finally we find someplace that suits our needs for that day and stuff our bellies with delicious food made in front of our eyes.
The afternoon might be spent in a museum or more likely enjoying a beer at one of the many cafes, watching the world go by. Back at Suzie dinner is made, enjoyed, and cleaned up. Some time is spent researching the next few days or watching a movie and we crawl into bed satisfied with another incredible day in Mexico. If we are on the beach, we spend a hard day lazing in the sand, snorkeling or paddleboarding, eating fresh fish tacos and soaking in the sun and sights.
On travel days the morning routine might be cut a little shorter, but usually not. We try not to drive more then 200 miles in a day in order to keep our gas budget under control and to prevent too much of the country flying by our window without us exploring some part of it. Fill up, drive, stop for lunch, drive, reach our destination and set up camp.
Such is our life in the road. A day or two or three or more in a place, no real set itinerary, trying our hardest not to have anywhere we have to be. This is how traveling should be and is becoming more of a reality for us every day. By the time we reach Patagonia maybe we will be experts, but I hope not. The most important part of the journey is the journey and we hope to be learning at every turn of the road. We’ve found ourselves listening to this song a few times every day as we drive. It always makes us smile and reminds us exactly why we are taking this journey.