Winter in Baja Day 17: How sweet it is to be alive

Adolfo Lopez Mateos //

I hid inside the camper this morning preparing blog posts.  Luckily everyone was gathered right outside our camper so I could overhear the conversation and not feel like I was totally missing out. The topics among this group are so good it’s hard to pull myself away.

After coffee was enjoyed, everyone made use of our outdoor kitchen preparing breakfast tacos and quesadillas.  A table full of salsas, cheeses, tortillas and veggies becoming a common site at our camps.

Getting out on the water was what we were all most looking forward to today.  The mangrove-lined lagoon we’re parked on the edge of is so protected it could easily be mistaken for a lake. Though the tides and distant roar of the ocean a reminder that big water isn’t far away.

While paddling slowly I became separated from the group and fell in to a bit of a trance.  The sky seemed bluer, the clouds closer, the breeze more connected to my body, the birds and the mangroves and the water more alive.  My senses were heightened to a level I’d never experienced and I realized I felt more awake, more present, than ever before.  And I can only attribute this feeling to one thing.

Seven months ago my brother died.  For nearly every day since then I’ve felt more pain, heartache, and confusion than my entire 42 years of life.  I have contemplated and confronted the reality of death daily.  I became a raw nerve.  And since last May, all that seemed to touch those raw nerve-endings was pain.  My pain, as well as the collective pain of so many people in this world, was all I could think about.  But today, sitting on a paddleboard in a lagoon on the Pacific Ocean, I experienced the other side of the pain for the first time.  A deep, palpable, profound sense of being alive.  I’d never felt anything like it.  Walking hand in hand with grief has been extremely difficult, but in this moment I felt like the grief was my portal to experiencing my existence in a way I never had before. I finally felt a long-awaited sensation of peace, not necessarily with losing my brother, but with the fact that life often doesn’t make any sense. I savored every second knowing this feeling was likely something I wouldn’t be able to hold on to.

We all reconvened back on land for lunch.  With the rest of the day’s light and warmth we decided to take showers.  I lost track of how many days it had been since my last real shower and so getting clean felt extremely rejuvenating.  Mark’s new shower setup providing us with hot and pressured water that was as good as any house could provide.

Dinner conversation among the group centered around life in the US compared to other countries, as well as our shared dream of driving the Pan-American highway to South America.  Back inside our camper for the night, Mark & I began dissecting the realities of bringing a dream as massive as the Pan-Am to life.  A bit overwhelmed, we went to sleep promising to keep the conversation going.

gear mentioned or used in this post that we love…

Drone photos taken with the DJI Mini.
Land- based photos taken with the Canon R6.
The 28-70mm 2.0 is our favorite and most used lens.
These are our paddleboards that we love.
These are Heather & Adam’s packrafts that pack up nice and compact to fit inside their truck camper.
This is Josh & Darci’s gazebo tent that has been great for getting away from the mosquitos.

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  • I love you 🫶🥰. What a wonderful feeling. I enjoy reading your posts every day. They make me feel for a moment that I’m there with you.

  • Thank you for sharing the intimacy and power of your grief. Here I give you back something I wrote when I was living in Tijuana

    P A R E J A

    the vision of that young couple
    delicately sharing a meal

    at a taquito and quesadilla stand
    in this street market

    side by side, arms grazing
    closer than any tented stall

    more intimate than their first child
    only now beginning to show

    in her barely swelling belly

    an ancient belief, mother,
    that yes

    there be tomorrow .

  • It warms my heart that you have finally felt a sort of peace since his passing. I hope and pray you have more days like that Michele. I love you…

  • So sorry to hear of your brothers passing. I really do think those who have gone before us are still with us in our memories and whenever we find something they would have enjoyed. At that moment they’re nearby. Safe travels to all of you.

  • Dear Michele,
    I love hearing about your journey – physically and emotionally through all these adventures of life. I’m glad to hear that you found a moment of such profound peace – I hope these moments find you and you find them again and again in the many days ahead! lots of love to you!


We’re Mark & Michele, modern-day nomads perfecting the art of slow, full-time travel.  Our tiny home on wheels and slow-paced travel style allows us to minimize our expenses while maximizing our freedom.  May our unconventional way of life inspire you to design a life that you love.


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