Is It Dangerous?
It is hard to gauge reactions from people when I mention to them why I found Mexico and Central America quite dangerous. Is that a curious reaction? Are they puzzled? Perhaps they are a bit let down by what it is I have said. Could I be boring them to death? The latter is a strong possibility!
It must be said that I do deserve some blame for their confusion because I stress that yes, it is true one must carry themselves with a constant swift eye open along with an ever-ready sense of street smarts should one have as a priority any interest in their own safety and well-being. Again, it is the why that confuses them. Why do I find it so risky here?
Because, dear reader, the biggest danger South of the border involves simply not falling off or into something. How silly that sounds! I am here to tell you that simply staying upright as you get from point A to point B with a sense of quiet determination may be the most dangerous aspect of your journey in these here parts. I understand most people are expecting a more sinister answer involving cartels and such. That certainly sounds more exciting!
Keep Your Eyes Peeled
Just about everywhere you go is fraught with all sorts of hazards we tend to take for granted North of the border. Uneven pavement, guard rails lacking on elevated walkways, gaping holes in sidewalks, missing manhole coverings and exposed electrical wiring flapping around are things that must be dealt with on a regular basis here in Mexico and Central America.
Yes, the real danger is right there at your very own feet. It is up to you to look out for yourself. Where I come from it is easy to find company with those who can agree with that mantra; less involvement from them. Here, when it comes to the ground one walks on, there is a certain amount of regulation that is relaxed, or perhaps non existent.
People here are free to carry on without the burden of looking out for their fellow-man. Fellow man must look out for himself in these matters. Simply walking down the street can ruin you should you not watch where it is you are going.
Free The Sidewalks!
Let us take a look at the huge hole in the city sidewalk in the above photo. This was taken in front of a business in the capital city of San Salvador, El Salvador. We loved it here, and I do not want anyone to get the point of this post mixed up. Repeat: We loved San Sal. and El Sal! This post is just for the sake of thoughtful dialogue. The sidewalk is the responsibility of either the city or the shop-owner. My guess is there is an uneasy combination of both going on.
As one walks down the street while not looking out for themselves and watching where they are going, they face the authentic possibility of getting hurt real bad. This is where my idea of freedom changed a bit. Here I saw an amount of freedom that many back home would be quite envious of, but would soon see as absurd. In this whole entire region the nature of opportunity is a different beast entirely; fighting for livelihood can take precedence over accountability.
Whoever is responsible for that sidewalk, either the city or an agency or the shop owner, has the total freedom to do some of something or all of nothing about that public walkway. That freedom is passed along to the person using the sidewalk; they are free to watch where they step or not. Everybody is free in this scenario, but why does this not sound right?
It sounds like total freedom is possible for all involved in the case of the sidewalk. Is that a good thing? Maybe it is because I never saw anyone fall or get hurt while walking on these worn out footpaths. I somehow escaped injury as well.
What Is Freedom?
I hope the comment section fills up for this post. My intention is not to spark any type of pride or disdain. I hope to convey to you how travel has shown me a new way to define this vague awareness I have of freedom. Hopefully anyone can figure out that my intent in this post is to cause a bit of reflection. I understand that not everyone travels with the intention of looking inward.
Travel is, rightfully so, a great chance to lose oneself for a moment and cast off our regular toil; a great chance to forget about it all. Travel may be a few weeks spent on a beach sipping drinks. Travel may be a never-ending pursuit, or a year-long one. There is so much to see and learn, however, when we leave behind the familiar, for no matter how long. Open your eyes and see it for what it is, or isn’t.