I am a 58-year-old American male and former military officer who has had the opportunity to travel throughout the world. No, I never participated in any war and am happy I haven’t. I was a PAO or Public Affairs Officer, gallantly writing my way through enemy lines. I lived for a while in Panama and Japan, but experienced brief visits to many other countries. Some of these visits were on official business and others were for pleasure. After leaving the military, I began to take longer journeys on my own,; a month in Europe, three months in Central America, a month in Australia. As I child, I always dreamed of traveling the world and seeing new and exciting things; having the chance to befriend and learn from people of other cultures. I’ve been lucky enough to do that.
I consider myself a vigilant traveler, when on the road I keep my eyes open and really study what I see around me. When I walk, my head moves slowly to either side, my eyes like a camera lens, filming the people and places I see. My brain files away the images, recording and cataloging everything for possible later use. I pay particular attention to certain things. Things like how friendly or rude I’m treated at immigration and how overtly tough the visible police presence pretends to be. These things are a good indication of the collective personality of a country. A friendly face and a pleasant greeting at immigration always goes a long way with me. A stern, sour disposition does nothing but make an already anxious procedure even more unpleasant. And these days, unpleasant and uneasy is what I feel when re-entering my own country.
I live on the beach in northern Baja, Mexico, about two hours south of Ensenada. I have been here for three years and enjoy the peace and quiet I have found. Not only that, I also feel more free down here. A lot less rules and regulations, and a lot less stress. I know what you are going to say, "Mexico! drugs kidnappings and murders!," and you would be right. However, there is none of that where I reside. It is a tranquil, ocean setting where life is easy and the locals friendly. I know it may not work for everyone, but it works for me. Good quality food is available at prices far less than in the US. Truth be told, I no longer can afford to live on the beach in my native California. So, I live down here, but am close enough to the border to make frequent trips back to my homeland, which is something I have come to dread.