If you haven’t done that already, please read part 1 first.
At this point of the story, my auditors generally ask me if I lost anything valuable in the backpack. I left a small backpack with my computer and my ukulele in the guesthouse back in Real de Catorce. My documents and money are always on me, inside a hidden travel pouch. In my backpack I had my sleeping bag, warm clothes and my glasses, and losing them was not so dramatic, but I also had a 2-month-old diary and some bracelets friends gave me which had a much greater value to me.
Anyway, I didn’t think about all that on the moment. I thought instead: “Well, that’s pretty fucked up.” I remained practical in my mind, trying to keep calm and think about the next move. But the more I thought about that guy stealing my backpack, the bigger that feeling of fury, of hatred, and of “seriously what the fuck, man?!” grew in me. At one point I couldn’t hold these feelings anymore and let all burst out. I started shouting my lungs out towards the direction he went away. I cursed him and his seven next generations, I yelled all the Mexican bad words I knew, and I wished him a miserable, wretched and shameful life, sent with regards.
And the peyote made everything more theatrical. I thought I was a cactus myself. I guess that image of being in communion with the nature was still inside me. Because of wrath, my fur was bristling and transforming themselves into spines. I could have harmed somebody.
After a while, I became tired. Of thinking, of shouting, of life. It was already pitch black. I got back to reasoning about my next move. There was no way I could survive a whole night in the Mexican desert without my sleeping bag. ‘Mexican desert’ sounds like a warm place, and it definitely is in the day, but at night it usually goes down to 5ºC. With my little sweater, I said no way José.
So I decided to walk back to the closest village. Real de Catorce was definitely too far (at least four hours by walk), but I remember the village from which Enrique started to drive me by motorcycle. So I headed that direction. After half an hour of walking, I started to see some lights very far away, and after another half an hour, I arrived at the village. Finally! I was saved. My phone showed 9pm.
I knocked on the first door. A young woman opened the door, I could catch sight of her kid playing inside. I used my very basic Spanish to try to explain her that somebody stole my backpack and I needed help for the night. I’m not sure she understood it. I just know that at the end of my monologue, she shook her head and said she was sorry.
I stood there perplexed. I was actually convinced that people would help me, because I was a foreigner and foreigners are never dangerous and locals are glad to help foreigners. But then I looked at myself, me, a weird guy, not very clean, not very shaved, not very well-dressed, knocking on the doors of a peaceful little desert village at night, shouting half-nervously… Yeah, I might scare people away.
I still tried my luck with the next two houses, but I got same result. That’s fucked up, I thought again. I walked a bit down the road, until I arrived at the local grocery shop of the village. A group of young men were drinking beer in front. Now that was life-saving, because a group of young men would never be scared of me.
And something even more life-saving was the fact that Enrique was one of them! So I sat down and explained them the situation, I tried to talk calmly. Enrique offered me his bed. I thanked him from the deepest of my heart. Enrique the Savior, I called him. He brought me to his hut, which had nothing but a bed, a chair and a candle inside it. “I sometimes sleep here when I come to this village,” he said. And when he was about to leave, he added: “Lock the door with this wooden latch and press this chair against the door as hard as you can, there’s no actual lock here. And if someone really breaks inside, hit him with that wooden stick over there.”
I didn’t even raise an eyebrow when he told me that. I had nothing left on me, what could I lose more? My life? Yeah. But I didn’t care so much about that neither on the spot.
Later in the night, I couldn’t fall asleep. It was very dark, there were no lights and no windows in the hut. It’s the kind that makes you question whether you’ve gone blind or not. I wasn’t even entirely sure about that for myself. I wasn’t angry anymore though. Instead, I felt a deep impression of freedom pumping inside my chest. The backpack was my kind of a link I had with the real life. All the memories about packing it rushed into my mind: I remembered about choosing the best water-resistant windproof breathing jacket, packing my high-tech sleeping bag into the bag, and figuring out where was the most strategic place to put my toothbrush.
Gone. Everything gone. All the materialistic stuff was gone. I was peeled off from all my belongings. I was free from all my stuff. I was simply free. And I was happy.
Seriously, I was happy. I thought that was the closest I could possibly get to my deepest nature as a human being. As a man living Thomas Hobbes’s state of Nature. Like a naïve naked newborn in the Nature, nothing to hide, nothing to lose. What do you need more in life?
And I was alone. Because of the first aid kit in my ex-backpack. My mom insisted 7 times that I brought it with me at the beginning of the trip. It was like a reassurance for her. Now I lost it. I lost the last connection with my mom, my family, my friends, my world.
The week following this event was incredibly unusual. I was still on my cloud, I had no rush whatsoever to buy myself new things, or to continue my travel towards Argentina. I didn’t take a shower for one week, I slept in bus terminals at night, I moved aimlessly from city to city, not even aware of my general direction. Yet some of my best memories happened during this week. For example, a homeless guy saw that I was cold – I was sitting alone outside in the dark – and offered me his own leather jacket as a gift. I of course declined the offer, but accepted his heart, and we had a mesmerizing conversation. Another time, I got the fastest truck driver ever. He was smoking crystal meth.
I really felt free for one week. I felt like I wasn’t traveling anymore. I felt like I was simply living, and the road was my life.
And I guess this was the first major turning point in my travels. A turning point in my mindset. It was the moment I understood that traveling wasn’t about moving around, about seeing, not even about experiencing. It was about feeling.
I was really tired after that week roaming around like a hobo. I decided to give up my senseless goal of reaching Argentina in one year. I rented a room in beautiful Guanajuato. I started this blog. I actually made quite a few big decisions. The biggest of them was to stop traveling, and to start living on the road instead.
PS: I can’t believe this story happened already two years ago! I remember it as if it were yesterday.
Do note the alliteration here. ↩︎