How to Wander With Purpose

Travel takes many forms and styles –from low-budget to luxury, short-term to no-end, solo wandering to group tours, and little planning to overbooked itinerary.

Meaningful Lostness works best for a vagabonding style of travel that skews toward an open time-frame and low-budget. Rolf Pott’s in his book Vagabonding describes it as such:

“Vagabonding is an attitude—a friendly interest in people, places, and things that makes a person an explorer in the truest, most vivid sense of the word. Vagabonding is not a lifestyle, nor is it a trend. It’s just an uncommon way of looking at life—a value adjustment from which action naturally follows. And, as much as anything, vagabonding is about time—our only real commodity—and how we choose to use it.”

In an earlier post we explored this idea of Meaningful Lostness, of allowing meaning to emerge within the dynamic tension between Structure and Spontaneity. In this post we will explore some ways to do it. For the sake of using capital letters and grand names, lets call it The Art of Purposeful Wandering.

Below are 5 ways to practice that art.

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Mexico: Gifts and Risks of Hitchhiking

Travel isn’t just about where you go, it’s about how you get there.

Travel involves many types of movement and the movement-choices we make determine, in large part, how moving our travels become.

Hitch-hiking, according to hitchwiki.org, is “a form of transport, in which the traveller tries to get a lift (a ride) from another traveller, usually a car or truck driver, for free.”

On the side of the road with a backpack strapped on, thumbs up and a smile is a thrilling way to move about the world. Continue reading

The Toad and Tikal

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Apple takes out her beloved red delicious and sparks a flame.

Inhaling slowly, letting the smoke dance through her lip rings, she pulls and pulls and pulls until she can pull no more. With a cough and a giggle she exhales as we pass the famous Kapok tree a few meters inside Tikal.

The gnarled face of Whistler perks up into a smile as he points far into the canopy, yells “monkey!”,  and then wails out a strange jingle from a small flute that dangles from his neck.

The monkey ignores. Apple laughs. Continue reading

Lucha Libre in Mexico City

*This is the final part of a 13-part series. Read part 12 here.*

Cat calls flood the stage as the balloon-breasted models strut down the aisle in high heels. Their hips sway back and forth as do the eyes of the hypnotized audience — left, right, left, right. Soon the music softens and the jumbo-tron explodes with highlight reels.

The first match of the night is about to begin here at Arena Mexico.

As the luchador (wrestler) walks down the grand stairs, stopping every few steps to power pose for the audience, the frantic cameraman positions himself at the bottom and points up, giving the Spandex Gods a larger-than-life feel.

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The Island of Dolls

*This is part 12 of a 13-part series. Read part 11 here. *

Perched atop a floating landmass in the canals of Xochimilco, just south of Mexico City, there lives The Island of Dolls (La Isla de Munecas). 

The landmass, as well as all the others nearby, was built by human hands over 1,000 years ago. Locals dug up glob-upon-glob of muddy earth and piled them into huge mounds. The mounds were layered with vegetation and other sediment to create a stable mass that rose above the water.

These small oases of fertile land were called chinampas . They were essential for providing food to the growing population of the Aztec Empire. But for my travel partner S. and I, the food we seek is a bit more strange than your average stalk of corn.

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Visiting Santa Muerte

*This is part 11 in a 13-part series. Read part 10 here.*

“Do you want to come along?” S. asks in an upbeat tone of voice.

“What are you crazy!” the heavily pierced backpacker yells and moments later, as if forgetting what she just said, she continues “You’ll be fine, just bring some mug money.”

Well that’s an uncomfortable jumble of words I say to myself before stuffing pesos in my empty pockets and making sure everything else is out. And off we go. Continue reading

A Ride To Matehuala

*This is part 9 of a 13-part series. Read part 8 here.*

“So two of our guys broke down right in Gypsy territory. They got a bad reputation for stealin’ things, so our guys are like pressed against their bikes, waiting for us to come bail them out. But this crowd starts moving towards them, real slowly. They have no idea what’s goin’ on. Suddenly though, it breaks in two and this tiny old woman walks down the center. Everyone is silent…” Continue reading