Of course traveling is all about the places you go. And then again, its not at all about the places you go. I am fortunate to have had great experiences all around the globe. I’ve seen many beautiful things and have sometimes even taken photos of those beautiful things. The places and the beauty however, are rarely what make a visit to someplace stick out in my mind. The people I meet, on the other hand, solidify the memories of beautiful (or not so beautiful) places.
Mulegé is a non-descript small town on the east coast of the Baja Peninsula. For me it was a convenient place to stop for the work week. We found an inexpensive campground which had good wifi (this is low-season so nobody else was using it). All of my requirements were met here so the decision was made to spend the week.
For our first couple of nights, we really didn’t get out much. There’s really nowhere to get out to, it’s also pretty hot at this time of year and leaving the shaded area of the orchard where we were camped was less than pleasant. Boredom and monotony eventually drove us to brave the heat and seek out something resembling entertainment. So far as we could tell by Google maps, the nearest bar/restaurant within walking distance was nearly 2km away. That’s not very far at all under normal circumstances but if I have neglected to mention how hot it was, well, it was hot and I would just as soon not be drenched in sweat by simply walking to dinner.
We set off towards the beach and after about 5 minutes walking saw what appeared to be your typical Mexican bar/restaurant. It didn’t really look open, but there were two ladies about so we inquired. Indeed, they would be happy to have us. That didn’t really mitigate the dreaded sweating, but by stopping here, it didn’t get any worse.
Soon after we were seated, a lone man sat at a table nearby. Cate made several attempts to strike up a conversation, but he didn’t really seem chatty. He would politely respond to questions but was perhaps a bit hesitant to elaborate on any answers to questions that he had given. Not too long after he arrived, a friend of his showed up. That’s when what amounts to entertainment in Mulegé began.
Cate and I had had a conversation a few days earlier about what might make a person choose one place over another when deciding to expatriate from the US. She was trying to make sense of why people flock to places like Boquete, Panama. More specifically, why do people leave the US and travel to a strange country to only do the exact same thing they were doing back home (in many ways, we exhibit this behaviour as well). Once these two old friends got to talking, Cate seized on the opportunity to explore her questions more. “Will you ever go back to the US?” she asked. “Nope” was the response. “Why not?” Cate asked. “People in the US park too fast”. Yep, you read that right – park as in park their vehicles. That’s the kind of place that Mulegé is. Life is a LOT slower there. There were many other great quotes from that night – the only other one that I can recall is “Lobsters are the groupers of the shrimp world”. I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean, but I found it hilarious at the time.
In so many places that we’ve lived and traveled, expats from wherever show up and try to change wherever they’ve moved to to be more like wherever they came from. It’s an odd phenomenon.
Later in the week, we were invited back to the same restaurant/bar for a potluck. More of the local expats were there. The vibe here is definitely different. None of the people that have adopted Mulegé as home complain about the Mexicans. This is the exact opposite of our experience in Tulum where that seemed to be all the expats would talk about. Nobody here is interested in changing a damn thing. I get the sense that if one decides to expatriate to Mulegé, they do it because they simply want to be left alone and I also get the sense that these folks have succeeded in that endeavor.
If you ever find yourself in Mulegé on a Sunday afternoon, you should seek out the Carlos Racing Bar & Grill. Sit down, relax (but slowly) and learn a thing or two about just letting go. Thanks, Mulegé for reminding me how to relax.