We left Juncalito at 6am knowing we had a long drive ahead. It was an uneventful trip, just hot and exhausting. We were stopped at only one check point where we were welcomed with the usual enthusiastic questions about the dogs and where I was going.
We arrived in La Paz early evening and I decided to celebrate my birthday by going to bed early. I guess I’m getting old! We’re staying at the only campground in or around La Paz but it’s a ways out-of-town and lacks internet. There’s an internet Café with marginal reception down the street so I’ll do some work there but inevitably I’ll remain behind in my blog posts. Nonetheless this is a good opportunity to do laundry, grocery shop and set up a travel strategy. I’m still planning to visit a friend of a friend in Barrilles, a coastal town about 60 miles south of La Paz, and will consider traveling to Santo Tomas a little art community on the pacific coast for its music festival. I find it hard to make these decisions because on one hand I feel like time is running out and I have over a dozen countries to explore but on the other hand there’s easily a years worth of exploring still to be done in Baja.
It always takes longer than I expect to adjust to new areas especially if it’s a town or city and after I acclimate and set up house I find it hard to think about breaking down camp and moving on. Sometimes, even before I pull into a campground I start dreading the ritual of breaking camp the next morning. I was certainly spoiled by the last week of ‘staying put.’ Luckily, there are enough chores to do here in La Paz that I can relax into the idea of staying a few days.
It’s phenomenal how the unknown dictates our actions and emotions. I’ve had to struggle to keep my fears in check since the conception of this trip. I battle fear, worry and silly insecurities almost everyday. I experience it particularly when I’m faced with moving forward to a new location or a new situation but even when faced with some familiar tasks. Each time my plan changes and I have to project my next move I have to battle a twist in my gut and a dark voice that says, “Danger!” Most of the time I can quickly put these thoughts to rest and move forward but sometimes it paralyzes me for a while.
My introduction to La Paz meets me with chaos. Everything seemed to rush at me too quickly. As I drive into town and try to locate my next turn I pass by streets faster than my brain can calculate. The throng of people and dogs make my head spin. The vehicles flash by me from all directions. Everything is a threat to me. Will a dog run out in front of the truck? Will I become stuck down a small street where I cant turn around? Will someone get angry with me for beings so hesitant and slow? A friendly voice resonates in my ears. Help is here and some of the worry melts away. Three days pass and with each experience, good and bad, my trust in my environment gels. I recognize the street I just walked by, “That store is now open, hummm… it was closed yesterday.” I’m feeling the beat of this city and it’s becoming mine. It’s now been 4 days and I’m packing to leave La Paz. I’ve walked many of the streets, I’ve been barked at by dogs locked behind fences and those roaming the streets, I’ve bought things from vendors and practiced my Spanish. I am leaving this place not as a stranger but as an acquaintance. It’s no longer scary to me. I don’t have to roll up every window in fear of theft. Is it here? Yes, but it’s not exploding out of every street corner. I can’t believe how empty the streets are. The dogs seem quieter today, and the traffic is low. Is it a holiday? No, I’ve adjusted to the rhythm and I recognize the flow. As I drive down the last street I realize that I wasted a lot of energy worrying about the unknown. What can I do to make this easier? I think the answer is to make the world my neighborhood and every street an extension of what I know.
I’ve made my decision about where to go next. I’ll visit the friend (of a friend) in Barrilles and head back to La Paz to catch the ferry to the main land in a week. So for the next couple days my time will be spent doing chores, getting the import certificate for the truck and camper and last but not least buying passage on the ferry.