If you paid attention in History class, you probably remember the story of Marco Polo, the Venetian who traveled east in search of trade and opened up the Silk Road, often at grave peril to his own well being. Well today there are Marco Polo's everywhere, and I wanted to highlight a couple in Mexico doing that (and so much more).
YouTube has been very good to me. Given the choice of sitting down to watch something entertaining, I constantly hear myself cursing that "There is never anything good to watch on TV". I'm sure you've been there. But it all changed when I plugged in an Android TV box (my Nvidia Shield) and installed apps on it, to get TV entertaining content. And one of the most commonly launched apps for me is YouTube. Of course you can never discount just how much Google seems to know about you, and that is notably evident when it starts to recommend channels to watch and subscribe to.
One of those was a channel called "Kinetic Kennons" It is a vlog about a young married couple from Texas who chose to give up the life they were born into and (to quote the great Andrew Henderson) "Go where you are treated best" and moved to Mexico. For many US citizens, this is a big leap of faith. For most of the rest of the world, it is an assumption rather than a leap. Most Europeans that I have met spend a "gap year" traveling the world to help find themselves. This used to be a more common thing in the USA, with great writers such as Hemmingway and William Somerset Maugham among many others, turning these adventures into literature. But it seems that in the post WWII era, we lost the appetitie for adventure abroad. Not so for Hillary and Greg, the Kinetic Kennons.
The lure of adventure southward
When you are young, you probably feel like you have to try anything new. I mean what is there to lose? If something goes wrong, you have the years ahead of you to recover. Risk = reward and therefore you have no issue with throwing caution to the wind and doing what you feel will give you the best results. For this couple, it was to move to Mexico (initially Puerto Vallarta) and learn what life is like down south.
Why? Well in their words, "Have Less. Do More. Be More." Rather than being entrapped into the constraints of the US lifestyle, buying things we don't need and can't afford, they chose to shed their skin and move somewhere that could let them be free of those shackles. And what they discovered kindled a skill in videography that is truly startling. Although Greg was mostly unencumbered by career and ties back to the USA (other than family, etc.), Hillary took her job as an accountant with her and for some time was working as a remote worker in Mexico for her employer in Texas. But it seems that business has less of a stomach for risk than the Kennons, and Hillary was given an ultimatum some time later to either move back to Texas a resume her work in the office, or be let go.
I reached out to them when she was clearly destraught by this forced decision. My immediate reaction was "Why?". I mean if her work quality was not being affected, who would care where it was done? But in the conservative world of accounting & finance, it seems that they didn't have the stomach for risk and consequently given the choice to leave Mexico or leave employment, Hillary chose the latter. I would have done the very same thing.
To provide them with an income, they started a Patreon fund and to their surprise, hundreds leaped to fund them. The information they were publishing was so valuable to those of us trapped n the USA, that we needed this to continue. Again, I pledged my support and I'm so happy I did.
Over the hill, there be dragons
We are told such lies when it comes to Mexico. I've been attacked continually for my constant forays down south. But I'm from Australia. I mean if you think travel is extreme, try making 40 returning flights over the Pacific for an average of 14 hours each way, over a 10 year period. Yep, I got to know the inside of a metal tube pretty well as I crossed the equator over and over again. But Mexico even scared me. What they tell us all is just not for the faint hearted. The drug cartels, the murders, don't drink the water, the kidnappings, etc. It made Mexico look like the most dangerous place on earth.
Yet one day I sat on a bus with a doctor from India who I played cricket on an amateur cricket team with, on our way back from a game in Tucson. He told me about what he and his family discovered in San Carlos, Sonora. It was so appealing to hear, that I (somehow) convinced my wife for us to go there with our daughter and it was incredble. The most beautiful natural country that reminded me of what we were raised with in Australia, and yet was incredibly affordable. I could never understand why Americans didn't flock to this place rather than Miami or Malibu. I mean I've seen a lot of beaches in my life, but never one as beautiful as this.
I even brought my wife's mother & father down there to visit Mexico when they came to stay with us in Arizona. None of us got killed, kidnapped, beheaded, etc. The people were so nice and friendly, even though we didn't speak a lick of Spanish. Why was this not what we were told? I mean even the US State Department would issue travel warnings about Mexico.
Because it is all fiction. A conspiracy of lies that ensures American's money stays well put in America. Well I hate to break it to US citizens, but Mexico is part of North America. We share the same continent and we should share the same sense of neighborly assistance that is so lacking in the 21st century US sub-culture. That said, I wasn't going to subscribe to fiction because I've seen this all with my own eyes.
The Kennons just re-inforced the destruction of this illusion. But done in such a way that you just had to go deeper into the culture of Mexico.
Visiting the capital of fear
After a year or so of living in Puerto Vallarta and telling the true story of Mexico, the Kennons moved to Mexico City. Then I really saw a mega-city and how it worked. But what I saw looked more like mainland Europe than Latin America. The museums, the art galleries, the food, the basilica, the architecture... I felt like they moved to Barcelona or something. Now I was really keen to see this for myself. They ventured far and wide from Mexico City, but I would watch and re-watch their videos and finally we booked flights to Mexico City for my wife & I, along with Puerto Vallarta. I mean I was following in their footsteps, hoping to have the same amazing journey they had.
It was so incredible. The most enjoyable part of this was to spend time with the locals, try and speak the language, and be able to immerse ourselves with a culture and history that dated back thousands of years. This history is so rich that younger nations with their post British occupation are just children in terms of the deep history of thousands of years of empire in Mexico. That history must be respected because with that respect comes learning and finally you "get it" about the human experience. It is not different because we make up a border between land masses because it says to do that on a map. We are still all the same, yet we choose to live more in the lies and illusion that one is better than the other.
The Kennon's are wise. They learned this quickly and they were able to share that learning with all of us. They taught me to trust in my own gut and embrace Mexico as they had. So much so, that when my wife & I were in Puerto Vallarta, there was the deep sense of not being in Mexico by staying at the Westin resort or the Sheraton. Like the USA had created this walled off artificial world next to the ocean. We just decided to hop on a bus to visit Ajijic because I had heard that there might be hope for us in our older years. Best decision we could have ever made. Mexico is not a US resort.
Spending 5 hours on a bus trip to Guadalajara let us drive through the most incredible jungles and rain forests, then through the region of Tequilla to actually see the cactus farmed to make the celebrated alcohol. We got an Uber to Ajijic, and that is where we talked to ex-pats about life in Mexico, found the most incredible restaurants, just generally loved it there. The average age of the locals was 65, yet they were fitter than most US citizens at the age of 45. No diabetes epidemic, no opiod crisis, they lived to a ripe old age and broke the statistical average life expectancy of 76.1 years for a US male easily. Why? They could afford healthcare and had access to the best clinics and hospitals in Guadalajara for about 1/10th of the price they were paying in the USA. With the incredible weather all year round, the beautiful lake and a warm and caring society, who wouldn't want to live there?
But there is so much more
Mexico is huge. It has so much variety and so much to offer. The Kennon's found this in their travels and blogs over the years, and I can only say "Thank you" to them. Because this young couple opened the door to paradise for me, and I hope that others will understand that there is nothing bad down south that you won't find in your inner cities in the USA. You will still get the same murders, drugs, etc. in the USA. But more importantly, you won't be treated like a human ATM machine by everyone around you in Mexico. You won't be made bankrupt and lose your home by a corrupt medical "shake down" system in the USA. You won't be lied to constantly about what is going on in the news, and you won't be expected to pony up hundreds of thousands of dollars to get the education that you deserve in Mexico.
I suspect the Kennons make a good living doing YouTube videos. At least I hope they do. Those that take a risk deserve a reward. This is such a fundamental American ideal that it brought me from Australia to the US in 1989 and it is the reason I am still here. But we've already booked our summer in Mexico again.
Marco Polo & Trade
I was excited to see that the Kennon's have decided to embrace the Silk Road initiative and start an online store to take Mexican crafts that are just beautiful and made by the local Mexican people, and create trade between those that still have not made the leap of faith, yet respect and recognize the beauty of art in Mexico. You can check out their store at https://www.alwayscontodo.com and a more complete example is this recent video they posted about it:
I believe, as a true Free Market evangelist, that they will discover such opportunity by opening up trade like this, that they might just find that business between our neighboring countries is a successful venture and something where not only will they benefit financially, but all the local artisans will now have a market that they have previously had difficulty connecting with. This results in fewer families being broken while some leave to find work in the USA. Mexico is a far more abundant economy today than it was 10 or 20 years ago, but there are still far too many living in poverty and yet having incredible artistic skills that only makes our lives in the USA more peaceful.
Thank you, Kinetic Kennons
So finally I have to say THANK YOU to the Kennons for what they have done for my family. I'm sure making YouTube videos is a one-sided affair because you never really see how your work can touch others. The comment section of YouTube quickly erodes into a cesspool of hatred and in a world of those hypnotized by US media, told of the dangers of Mexico, it takes a huge leap of faith to realize you've been lied to all these years. The Kennons should be celebrated for shining a light on truth and the beauty of Mexico. Maybe one day I can buy them dinner in Mexico City or something, because I'd love to meet them. But for now, I am in their debt for doing what they have been doing - just making great YouTube videos. I highly recommend you subscribe to their channel.
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Anything that impedes the free trade between neighbors is a bad thing for both parties. Even the open demonstration of a lack of trust with a neighbor breeds an often inhospitable relationship and let's face it... You can't just move a country because you have an issue with a neighbor.
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