I left my broken van in California, crossing into Baja with a backpack full of dirty clothes, my camera, ten rolls of unshot film, and less than a hundred dollars to my name. After what must have been the tenth breakdown this summer, I was tired of constantly changing my (admittedly loose) plans because of the stubborn hunk of metal. Not this time. No, I was getting my fill of salty hair, desert views and fish tacos one way or another.
The original plan was to caravan along side two other sets of friends down the long skinny Mexican peninsula, but alas, Otis, my nearly thirty year old 1987 VW Syncro TDi blew its fourth turbo in the last four months. Yep, you read that right. Pretty loco... and equally expensive.
Suffice it to say, I needed a break from the thing and left it behind, stuffed a rushed and ill-planned assortment of clothes into my backpack and headed south to catch up with the others via greyhound.
Leaving the van behind is always hard. In many ways it’s more than just a vehicle. It’s my home and it’s where I keep all my stuff, but in a weird way its more than even that—it’s my companion. But, after three years of living on the road, I’ve also learned that when things get tough, sometimes the best thing to do is get some space and remind myself that at the end of the day, the most important thing is the adventure, and that can be found anywhere.
It’s easy to get bogged down by things not going according to plan. It’s stressful and irritating. You make a mental itinerary only to have it picked apart one wrong turn at a time. But as soon as you let go of the idea of control and take a few deep breaths, more often than not you’ll see an alternate path, which may very well end up being a lot more interesting than the one you were on. After all-- the real adventure starts when everything goes wrong.
With that notion tucked away closely in my mind, I left. And like with almost anything else in life, the time away cleared my head and helped me gain a little perspective on the situation. Or maybe it was just the fish tacos. Either way, after a few weeks of going with the flow and bouncing around Baja I was refreshed and ready to tackle whatever greasy, rusty puzzles Otis had for me to solve.