Of Cooking, Travel and Life

My dad would always say, “Cada cabeza es un mundo,” – (Every head is a world) using the word head, as in the brain.  Simply put, everyone is different. Understanding this makes a tremendous difference when communicating, even though it never ceases to amaze me.

During the pandemic, when we were all home cooking, I found a great recipe online that I shared with a friend. It was Hawaiian-style spaghe ti. I’d never mixed pineapple and honey in an Italian pasta d sh. I found the proposition so risqué I felt I had to follow it to a T. It was delicious!

My friend, on the other hand, substituted several ingredients. After dinner, we chatted about the results, and I realized we were talking about two different things. How could we compare? I could not imagine what his reinvented version tasted like, and she had no idea how mine turned out. She thought hers was a better version; to me, the recipe was a new favorite pasta dish.

Something similar happened a few weeks ago, but this time about travel. During a recent trip to Mexico City, my husband and I spent a couple of nights in the picturesque town of Tepoztlan. My experience in Mexico travel presented me with the many accolades Tepoztlan. Aside from being a Pueblo Mágico, a government designation awarded to a fantastic array of picturesque towns across Mexico that bestow natural beauty, cultural richness, and folklore, Tepoztlan has mild weather and is ideal for strolling.

Upon our return, I mentioned to some friends how pleasant this town was and how convenient its proximity to the big city was. They noted they had an upcoming trip to Mexico City and would check it out.

A few days later, I received a call from them telling me they’d found an even better charming town close to Mexico C ty. Gr at! I said, and I meant it for discovering new places is also my thing. But I wondered… how can they know it’s bet er? So I asked why did they decide to go th re? They replied that the taxi driver had told them so, and they went for it.

We all do this all the time—some more than others. We are our own world, for sure.

Some of us follow a favorite chef or traveling exp rt. But, regarding travel, I read Paul Theroux and Rick Steves. They always provide guidance and insight. So, when traveling, I follow them to a T!

Upon returning from a trip, I share stories and photographs of the trip and my experiences. This is when I reflect on how and if anything could be done differently. Would I recommend doing something different? Would I encourage people to do as Theroux or Steves?

Because traveling is considerably more expensive than pasta dishes, I tend to listen to the experts when planning a trip. Trips, for the most part, are limited in time and budget, allowing little room for mistakes.

This post is not about the right or the wrong way of doing things but about how each of us approaches life. For example, do we value others’ experiences, or are we always looking to pave our way and find out later if following advice from others would have made a difference?

I was a tour guide for some time and can say that being a leader or trendsetter has its perks, but following makes life much easier. I’ll use the example of tours. You sign up, pay for a tour, and forget everything other than packing. There is no need to research maps, no googling, no reading guides, no stressing over hotel reservations, transportation, or language, and no worries about the complicated issues planning a trip, especially abroad, can imply. We leave it all to the experts. It’s great!

During a tour of Southern Spain, several young couples were on board, and I could not resist asking them why they chose to go on a tour when these are perceived to be for the older generation. I got several answers that prove my point. Some got tired of driving and not finding parking spaces, not understanding street signs, and stressing over routes. Others said they wanted to enjoy alcoholic drinks when sightseeing. In contrast, others said they wanted their luggage handled and not to bother finding an UBER and having to communicate in a foreign language.

Maybe that is why seniors mainly book tours – we’ve learned from our mistakes and resigned from the temptation to know better. There is a time for everything.

People take different approaches to life, and that’s why we are our own world. Our world is based on experiences and how we tackle the unknown.

With that said, I hope we can at least agree that things cannot be compared or graded unless we have experienced all of them. Experiences are there to be enjoyed. Life should not be a competition of who can do things better.

In the end, what matters is to live incredible experiences, albeit regrets may come when we ignore the expertise of others, like my latest attempt to “improve” another pasta dish.

I crashed and burned!

Hope you enjoy the photographs from our trip to Tepoztlan in October of 2022.


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