After a few months of travelling in Central America, I want to share with you some of the things that we didn't like. While we have found much beauty and met several wonderful people along the way, not everything is wonderful all of the time.
I can't speak accurately for Andrew though I know that he is having a little difficulty dealing with not having a "goal" or "mission" to work toward. For me it is a little bit different. I don't miss "home" exactly, but the constantly packing and unpacking is a little bit tiring, and I am getting sick of my clothes. Always the same outfits that I don't really like anymore, lol, and always having to decide which outfit is less dirty to wear that day. It feels like we are constantly doing laundry! This doesn't bother me THAT much, but along with a few other things, makes some days feel very exhausting.
What has been getting to me more lately are the negative looks from people in places that we go. It is not the majority of people by any means, but those few and far between people who clearly do not appreciate our presence in their town and who believe that we are somehow the cause of all of their pain and suffering. I try not to let it get to me, but I have to admit that it does make me feel guilty. Guilty that I have enough money that I can go travelling for a year and not have to worry about starving to death on any given day. Guilty that if I don't like it here, I can just go somewhere else. This combined with the majority of people who are constantly trying to overcharge us because they believe that we are some sort of money machine and don't actually care at all to know who we are. Often times they go out of their way to make sure that we feel guilty if we don't buy something from them. It really is unfair that we can live our lives this way, and most people in the world will never have this opportunity. It is shameful that corruption, greed and politics get in the way of government and allow this to go on in this day and age.
Also, seeing the ways that things like garbage and water resources are "dealt with" in Central America, especially in large cities (for example Panama City, which is soooo proud of its canal and growing economy! Who is getting that paycheck?) is sickening. Not that we are any better at home, honestly, with 99% of people turning a blind eye to these very real and serious issues, probably in part because we hide everything so well. I don't see how the world can continue this way if something doesn't change QUICKLY. Why does it have to be such a long and difficult task to have a proper sewage system??? Why are we wasting so much water??? Why do we throw away half of our "food" (if we can call it food half the time) and why do we use so much frikin plastic wrapping!?!? It is 2014 people! These are BIG PROBLEMS. It is time to realize that simply throwing our plastic water bottle (don't get me started on this) into the correct blue bin does not mean that we have made the world a better place. When I see the pollution (at least it isn't hidden down here) and waste and hear about irresponsible forest destruction to make room for unhealthy monoculture crops (single-crop land which needs pesticides and fertilizers, etc.) I feel very sad and worried about the planet. And I can't help but wonder if it is a bad idea to have children someday, knowing that they are going to have to face these problems and live in an incredibly unfriendly, cancerous, and already over-populated world. It is so much easier to pretend that everything is ok. But it isn't.
This deep sadness from seeing so much pain and abuse in some of the places we have been (not the touristy areas as much since that would be bad for the industry) of people as well as animals has affected me. So for the last few weeks I have been a bit grumpy and have not gotten along with everyone as much as I want to. Fortunately it is a New Year now and we have burned away all of the things that we regret about 2013 (an Ecuadorian tradition at every New Year) so we are able to move forward with ambition and eager anticipation!
To help me make this easier I am trying to clearly define my goal for the rest of this trip; to learn about the different ways that "eco-conscious" people live, and to continue to find beauty everywhere. So far we have met so many resourceful people who are living extremely unselfishly and even more happily. My goal for the future is to live my life in a way that benefits the world, not destroys it. I want to use only what I need to use (water, food, materials) and I want to help people and animals and forests that need help! This might translate to someday buying some land somewhere, working toward self-sustainability and preserving the natural landscape. I would love for others to share in this dream so we would invite travellers, volunteers, couch surfers, family, friends and anyone else that is interested to help us build this way of life. This is not a new idea by any means, it is being done all around the world by people who are worried about the way things are. I am one of these people! So for the rest of this trip I will have to try very hard to keep my hopes up about the world when I see awful things. I will be looking to meet other people who share this goal, and who have already implemented theirs so that I can learn from them and help them in their efforts.
Thanks for reading!