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Monday, July 20, 2009


It's probably good that plane tickets are non-refundable, because otherwise I would probably cancel most of my trips the morning that I am supposed to leave. And then I would never travel anywhere.

When I was in my early 20s, I would force myself out on the road on hitchhiking trips. I really hated hitchhiking (I'm really not social enough to do it, and it forced me into making more small talk with strangers than I would ever care to do), but I was afraid that if I didn't keep moving I would become boring, stagnant, and die.

When I was young, I continually faced that conundrum of if I had the time to travel (because I was unemployed) I didn't have the money, and if I had the money (because I had a job) I didn't have the time. Part of my eternal love-hate relationship with academia is that I have arranged my life so that now most of my travel is somehow related to my profession which provides me with both the time and money to travel.

Now that I'm old I have a new conundrum. I don't want to travel anymore because I have no time, but if I had more time all I would want to do is travel. I'm exhausted from always being on the go, and all I want to do is hang out in a hammock in my back yard and read a book. This year alone I've been to ... let's see, Mexico, Brazil, El Salvador, Peru, Paraguay, Brazil, and now Mexico again, not to mention Santa Fe, New York (3 times!), and Saint Paul (I think I might be missing something more in that list). I think that is more travel than when I was on my sabbatical and I was traveling all the time.

But I've only been to what, like only maybe 40 countries, which is about a fifth of the world? I've never been to China, nor most of Asia, and not even the Dominican Republic or Haiti. I have an excellent opportunity to go to Haiti in December (one of the few places I haven't been in Latin America), and I could squeeze it in between Ghana and Panama. And I maybe should jump at the opportunity, but I feel like I'm going to collapse from constantly being on the go.

So now I'm back in Mexico, even though I'm all stressed out about needing to review a book ms for a press, review 2 books for journals, write 2 articles, and translate a book before I leave for Ghana in a couple weeks. I wonder why I agreed to go to this Americanistas conference, because in my experience it is always the most poorly organized conference ever. Everything turns into a major headache--paying the registration fee, making the hotel reservation, everything. Even the woman at the tourist desk in the airport yesterday was absolutely clueless, and the bus driver "forgot" to tell me where to get off for the university where the conference is held. So, I arrived at the conference site just as they were packing everything up, and to top everything off they don't have my registration badge and my head is exploding from a blazing migraine.

Cheryl always gives me crap about going to conferences and then actually attending sessions rather than having fun. So, what should I do? Try to find a session, even though they haven't given us a real program to find anything interesting? Lock myself up in my hotel room and do the work that I should have stayed home to finish? Or take advantage of being in Mexico and go out and be a tourist for 5 days?

On the positive side, after all the hassles with the registration Hotel Corinto is really not a bad hotel, even if its Internet is way too expensive (50 pesos per day? come on!). It has a nice rooftop terrace, and it is only a block from the Monument to the Revolution where buses leave for the conference site. Because of crime and pollution, I've avoided Mexico City for years. I used to come here a lot (I've lost track, maybe 25 times?) I'm only a couple blocks from the Casa de los Amigos where I used to stay all the time. It's kinda nice to be back.

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