As Ben began his long recovery, I sat beside his skinny self during the memorial for a beautiful 21-year-old who lost her battle with cancer. Her father and I were good friends and I wondered, as he somehow managed to pay tribute to her, would I have had that strength if Ben’s life ended at 21? Fortunately, Ben recovered but another missionary who was sent home with similar symptoms did not.
I was mentally and emotionally exhausted and had a burning desire to escape all my troubles.
What explains the choice to ride a motorcycle through remote Mexican villages instead of flying to a resort in Cabo? Is it the the wind in our faces, the adrenaline that comes with risk, leaning into sweeping corners? Or was it a desire to experience everyday people in Mexico as Ben had done in Brazil? That seemed like true adventure to me: to go the rugged, primitive way that connects you to the sounds, smells, rain, mud, burros, food and people. Maybe connecting with people whose lives were tougher than mine would help me realize how lucky I really was and get over my feelings of self-pity.
Anthony Bourdain said something that felt like a driving force for me in Mexico: “If you sit down with people and just say, ‘Hey, what makes you happy? What’s your life like? What do you like to eat?’ More often than not, they will tell you extraordinary things, many of which have nothing to do with food,”