Lessons Learned in the US and Central America

I am happy to have learned important life lessons during the first phase of our travel. All along I knew that this trip would come with personal growth, and now I am experiencing just that.

Hygiene is relative

Hygiene isn’t only about what you are comfortable with. I think it is more about the hygiene of the people around you.

We quickly became used to wearing the same clothes several times between washes. It is a necessity. Washers and dryers make us used to wearing most things only once before washing. But now when we wash something it usually involves doing so in a sink, river, or shower, and drying them outside or even on our bodies. In foggy San Cristobal de las Casas is was quite difficult to dry clothing. On a particularly foggy few days we found that the best way to dry your clothes was to wear them. Your body heat will dry them within a couple of hours. Of course the smell test is needed to cut down on the frequency of washes.

After a short time, you just get used to and comfortable with having some stains on the clothes you are wearing. Especially when we were working on the hillside in Mexico for two weeks, it seemed silly to spend time washing and drying clothing you were just going to get dirty again the next day.

And especially when hanging out with fellow travellers, which we have been doing most of the time, no one really cares what you look like.

We have also had challenges with bathing. Sometimes you are on a bus all night long. Sometimes you have little-to-no hot water. And sometimes there is only a river. I bathed in Barton Creek for a week straight and honestly felt very clean!

You will lose and break things while travelling

When travelling for an extended period of time, it is inevitable that you will lose and break things. It must be an accepted expense and hassle of travelling; don’t get too worked up about it!

So far we have broken or lost: a pair of jeans, a sweatshirt, a camera, a hat, sunglasses, a few pens, and surely a few other things that I can’t even remember.

As long as you hang onto your passport, then everything will be OK! Just don’t bring any one super-expensive item, like a really nice laptop. Us, we’re working with a cheap netbook.

I need to work to stay happy

Especially in Las Vegas, and to a lesser extent in Belize, I have found myself craving work. If I am not working, I get a feeling on undeserving of the wonderful places I am in and all the great food I am eating. After a hard day’s work food just tastes better, and relaxation is so much more fulfilling.

Thankfully in Mexico we had our two weeks of volunteer work. In Belize, when I came to the realization that I needed work to stay happy, I arranged to help someone with their garden for two days. That also gave me the opportunity to learn about planting sweet potatoes and managing worm bins.

If you’re going to do something, do it right

The class that we took together in Belize, Introduction to Spiritual Healing, was not something I would typically be involved in. It used mostly Mayan rituals to connect with Spirit through bathing, plants, and prayer. I decided from the start that there would be no point in taking the class if I wasn’t going to have a completely open mind, and accept everything I was learning at face value. There would be a whole lifetime during which I could reflect on the class after it ended.

I am really glad that I took this approach. During the class, I kept my heart full of faith and love. I tried my hardest to really make prayer mean something to me. That took a few days, but I did it.

The result of taking this approach was that I was able to come to a new understanding of faith and what it means to me. I still have a lot of meditating and thinking to do on spirituality, but I have a framework off of which to work. Another pleasing result of this approach was that I was able to form close connections with others in the class. If I had been reacting skeptically the whole time, I wouldn’t have had nearly as rewarding of an experience.

Now that the class is over, I have added some skepticism and I certainly don’t believe everything I was taught, but the core lessons I do believe. And that’s important.

More faith requires more love

The biggest thing during our Spiritual Healing class that I was struggling with was having faith, knowing what faith felt like, and philosophical questions about the nature of faith. During a guided imagery exercise on the last day of class, I learned that the next step I need to take in my exploration is to have/feel/give more love. I know this is vague, but at least I have this lesson, from which I can explore further!


I feel fortunate and happy that I have been able to learn these great lessons during what is just the first of several phases of our year of travel.

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3 Responses to Lessons Learned in the US and Central America

  1. James says:

    Happily reading this in the same clothes I have worn for the past 5 days!

  2. Lisa Satin says:

    Sounds great! Glad you learned so much already. You are both long overdue for a shower!

  3. Stu says:

    I refuse to shower!

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