Lessons learned from 30 days in Mexico.

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“…to travel is worth any cost or sacrifice. ” ~Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

When I tell people I went to Mexico for a month it almost always blows them away. I think they think I was at a resort, drinking margaritas by the pool or on the beach for a month but this trip was not a dream vacation or even a vacation at all. There were some good times but this was the first time that I have taken a trip and was actually looking forward to coming home. Still having responsibilities, not getting drunk every day and living off the local economy made for an educational trip. Here are just some of the things I learned while I was there:

It’s hard to eat clean in Mexico.

Since going paleo I have done quite a bit of traveling and I have always managed to stay pretty clean. I even lived in a hotel with no kitchen for four months and stayed primitive. I feel like it was almost impossible in Mexico. Yes I caved to temptation but a lot of it had to do with the available resources as well. For more on this check my post specific to this topic, The 5 foods I reintroduced since arriving in Mexico and their results.

As much as I love Mexico and my roots, my next extended trip away is going to have to be somewhere else.

Our grocery stores rock!!

This has a lot to do with it being hard to eat clean. One reason why we couldn’t keep eating in and staying primitive was because we got bored of consuming the same thing over and over again. Our local market was about the size of a walk in closet and their selection of vegetables was very limited. We ate broccoli, carrots and squash several times, in as many combinations as we could, until we just couldn’t take it anymore.

The day I got home I went to Trader Joe’s and was just in awe. There wasn’t any dirt on the produce. There were no flies flying around the meat. There were no bees flying around the fruit. And, they had stuff like sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and bok choy.

I find it ironic that in order to eat primitively I need an abundance of food available to me. Which isn’t very primitive at all.

A man, a woman, and a child can live comfortably in less than 300 square feet.

Tiny homes are the biggest craze right now and I dream of one day building my very own but are they realistic for a family? Turns out they might very well be. My girlfriend, her daughter and I lived in a studio apartment for a month. We shared one bathroom and slept in the same room. The biggest challenge? Making love! Sorry, no details. Other than that there were no issues with living in such a small space. Not one! It went so smoothly that weeks had gone by before the topic even came up. “Can you believe we are living in such small quarters and are not at each others throats because of it?”

There have been many times in my life were I lived in a studio apartment that was under 300 square feet. This was the first time I did it as a family. Now that is primitive.

I can eat gluten for a month and I won’t die. I’ll get really really sick but I won’t die.

I intentionally ate a pastry made from wheat flower for the first time in three years and nothing happened to me. Then I did it again the next day and the next. Then I took a couple days off because I felt bad but then I went back to it with a vengeance, moving on to quesadillas made of flour tortillas and even pizza. I had some bloating and a little discomfort but, for the most part, I was ok. I would take a day off, feel better, and then resumed my gluten consumption. What eventually happened is my immune system got compromised and I got sick. Real sick! Basically, a virus I thought was gone because I hadn’t seen it in over three years (the exact amount of time I have been gluten free) came back and knocked me on my ass.

Obviously I do not need to eat wheat several times a day, everyday. But, I don’t also have to be such a hard ass either. Again, the poison is in the dose. Thanks to this trip I now know that I can eat a pastry or some regular pizza, if I really want to, and it will be ok. I won’t die.

I really don’t need as much stuff as I think I do.

For a month all of my possessions were limited to the contents of two small backpacks. One was my daily bag, the same one I always carry in the U.S. with my laptop and assorted stuff I may need but never do. The other was the one I used to pack my clothes and stuff for the trip. I could have stayed in Mexico for months and survived with just these things. A few pieces of clothes, a pocket knife, a couple books, my beats by Dre headphones, and my camera. Now that I am home I see so much stuff I truly can do without. Time to purge.

 I speak Spanish.

In the past four years, I traveled to a Spanish speaking country once for two weeks.  While I was there I was with friends who spoke a lot better Spanish than me so I basically didn’t bother. I pretty much haven’t had to speak Spanish for four years. Since I didn’t use it I thought for sure I would lose it but I didn’t! I mean, I still struggled but it seemed that my struggles were the same as they were four years ago when I last lived in Mexico.

At the age of 30, I decided that I was going to learn to speak Spanish and for ten years I kept telling myself, “some day I’ll be able to speak Spanish.” It turns out I do speak Spanish and have been able to for at least four years.

Walking is seriously a miracle exercise.

I basically ate Mexican food everyday for a month. If you made it this far in the article, you have some idea of how poorly I ate. Although it did have some effect on my health, as far as my body composition (how fat I got) there was practically no change. My weigh-in and waist measurement when I got home showed barely a difference than when I left in June. I attribute this to walking.

In the city of Guanajuato, Mexico it is practically a disadvantage to have a car. Parking is a bitch. The city provides everything you need within walking distance. Whether you want a cup of coffee, groceries, or to go salsa dancing you just walk there. As a result, my daily steps taken tripled and quadrupled depending on the day. Now that I am home and eating clean again I need to keep up the walking for some serious results in my body comp.

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2 comments on “Lessons learned from 30 days in Mexico.
  1. Linda Rodriguez says:

    Great post! I love Guanajuato & Mexican food. I have a hard time with daily beans, tortillas, rice….not to mention the sugar everywhere. I also found the walking, 90% uphill…is that possible!?!? saves me. Glad you had a good month. Much to appreciate here and there.

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