The Odyssey, the Robbery and the Future

Why? It is a question I have been asked a lot during these months on the road and one that I expect I will continue to be asked. It’s a hard question to answer quickly because it’s not as simple as a desire for travel.

I don’t have a pension funding this or a rich family, I didn’t retire and finally take the trip I was thinking about my entire life, I didn’t have a midlife crisis, I don’t have a job waiting for me back home if I ever decide to stop. I worked harder to be where I am right now than I ever have all my life. I saved for years to make this possible and I don’t plan on just running out my savings and finding myself back where I was years before when I began to plan for this. I saved what I have in order to accomplish something far greater than travel. I am young and still very much so trying to figure out how to build a sustainable life for myself. My plan has always been to use this journey as the platform for creating just that, both personally and professionally. I have broken my goals down into three sections.

TRAVEL/body; seeking experience and connections that comes from life on the road, riding a motorcycle, taking on physical challenges around the world

ART/mind; I am an artist and a fabricator, I want to establish myself further in both of these areas by continuing and extending my work as I travel. This means finding ways to create work on the road, staying in places where I can collaboration with people and communities. To make larger installation/sculptural works. This can also extend to various creative ways to financially sustain the lifestyle I have chosen since I am not yet at the level with my personal work to make a living off of it; selling crafts, contributing my skills as a fabricator to others projects, working at festivals and events worldwide ect.

EXCHANGE/spirit; build an online store promoting local artists and artisans I meet on my travels, documenting their process from raw material to final product with photos and video so that others can learn and feel more connected with the work. This will in a way bring others with me on this adventure through the items sold from the store.

An odyssey is defined as; an extended adventurous voyage or trip, a long series of wanderings marked by many changes in fortune; a person’s progress from one stage of life or set of belief to another.

What I am on is not a trip, it is an odyssey. I am devoted to the vision of synchronizing these three elements together to build the life of my dreams, to bring something valuable to the world and to share it with others. With time; through my focus, dedication and passion, I will bring it to fruition.

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This vision has been growing rapidly for weeks now; each day new energy flows into the pond that will one day become an ocean. At the beginning of this trip I disconnected from social media, I needed time for myself to rethink what I wanted out of life in the aftermath of my partners betrayal. But now months have passed and the desire to share what I am experiencing can no long be ignored. My vision has taken a form and this form must now be given the attention it deserves so it can be sculpted into the masterpiece I hope it to be.

I came to Mexico City with a plan. I needed to build a new website and lay down the foundation for my new project, for my next chapter of life. To do that I needed a computer and there was one waiting for me thanks to my mexican family who lives in Mexico City! Maria and Sergio! My mexican family is actually the family of Daniel Gonzalez, my best friend from college but I am so very close to him and his family that I consider them my family! After recovering from my sickness (see last post), I got straight to work on the website and over the next two weeks, I finished it!

The name I chose for this next chapter of life, this vision, this community is Unus Mundus Project.

Unus Mundus is latin for “one world”, but the story behind the phrase stretches much further then its translation. It was popularized by Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, and it is the concept of an underlying unified reality, from which everything emerges and to which everything returns. This concept directly relates to what Jung coined as, synchronicity or ¨meaningful coincidence¨, the Unus Mundus is the source from which the power of synchronicity is born. With this project I hope to draw from the Unus Mundus to synchronize and become far greater than what I could be alone.

The idea: to travel by motorcycle around the world while creating art, collaborating internationally, connecting with communities, supporting artists through an interdependent fair trade online marketplace, while having the adventure of a lifetime and inspiring others have their own.

Unus Mundus is a project synthesizing art, travel and exchange worldwide. The idea began with motorcycles and will now stand as a platform for multifaceted creative growth. And motorcycles. Each one of us has something important to offer this world, it is our duty to explore what that is and put effort towards actualizing it. With my departure from the United States and the launch of this project I will to take broader steps towards this goal.

Unus Mundus Project calls all artists, fabricators, craftspeople, adventurers, motorcyclists and more! Travel for travel’s sake is one part of Unus Mundus Project but the ties that bind the journey together are ones built with our hands and welded with our hearts. There is no place in the world that doesn’t want something made; be it for beauty, function or survival. Let us build something through this journey; something that puts our skills to use; building friendships and community worldwide.

Please visit the website at www.unusmundusproject.com to check it out and read more!

I also designed my logo and made business cards!

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In the weeks that I did all this work I sprinkled in a trip to Tepoztlan, went to more than a handful of museums (the most exciting of them being the ammmmmazing Remedios Varos exhibit at the Modern Art Museum), explored markets, saw some great music, partied like a Mexican all over CDMX and even went to the magic town of Mixquic for Dia de Los Muertos! It is a famous place to go for this special day due to the elaborate rituals and celebrations. Just getting close took about two hours, then traffic completely stopped so we parked and walked the rest of the 45 mins into the center of town.

When you arrived you were greeted with two 40 ft tall calacas or decorated skeletons. Cempasúchitl flowers also known as flor de muerto or flower of the dead were scattered like golden snowflakes on a winter’s day. Costumes ruffled through the crowds, painted faces filled the sea of people celebrating, hands full with sticks of freshly charred meats and the sweet smell of pan de muerto wafting through the chill evening breeze. We shuffled our way through the streets almost as if we were being pulled towards the church. This church was built in 1600, the stone covered in a thick patina of age. Dark streaks marbled the massive cathedral, the bronze bells rang from above as I stood watching the families huddle around the altars that filled the graveyard, so elaborate you could hardly see the tombstone beneath. Rain misted my face and as it fell it muffled the crowds. Dew visited the flowers all around creating small lenses refracting the many candles that lit the courtyard. The smoke of copal, an aroma that followed us as we wandered amongst the maze of the dead.

Josefo let me borrow his camera for a short time while we were at the church so here are a few shots I got from that time! Felt good to have a camera in my hands again, I really have missed it.

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About two weeks ago I was heading into Centro from Coyoacan on the metro and I was robbed. It was a real bummer. Not fun at all. But thankfully I wasn’t hurt and it was just my phone that was taken from me. The worst part about the whole thing was the fact that I had not backed up my field recordings, so all the samples I had taken from my travels in Mexico were gone forever. So many beautiful and unique sounds that I was going to use for making music and sound projects. I can never get those back. Thankfully my photos were backed up as least. It surely made the next two weeks interesting, being totally disconnect wasn’t something I had experienced for a long time. In the end I think I actually got a lot from it, Im not one to be stuck to my phone like many people. I actually am quite adamant about the practice of very limited daily screen time. So not having any form of screen gave me a new perspective on my reliance with technology both good and bad. I considered the idea of not getting a new phone but in the end, that didn’t seem like a safe or practical idea. I have work to do and I need a phone to do it.

So I had to figure out how to get a new phone, I didn’t want to buy a new one considering I has just bought the one that was stolen and it was very expensive, the nicest phone I had ever had for sure. I also didn’t want to buy a phone on the street because all of those are stolen and it just felt wrong to replace my stolen phone with someone else’s stolen phone. The thing was I needed to have an iPhone because my field recorder uses the lighting connector and is only compatible with a iPhone. Also I needed a iPhone that had iOS10 so that I could use the Earthmate app for my Garmin device. I put the word out to my friends and family and it wasn’t long before my friend Val came to the rescue! She had an old iPhone SE that she wasn’t using anymore and offered to send it to me.

Then something amazing happened. Maria told me she was going to be traveling to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania the next week to visit her cousin and she offered to bring back whatever I needed on the plane to Mexico City! So this is when my gears really started turning. I needed to make the most of this opportunity, a chance for safe, fast and no cost delivery! As I have said in my previous posts, my A7SII broke the first day in Mexico and my laptop broke a week before that. I found out the other week that to repair my Sony was going to cost $700, which even though I am planning on selling it, didn’t make me very excited about spending a bunch of money on a Sony a6500. I used to use a Nikon D90 dslr for many many years, I loved that camera. And some time ago I bought my parents a Nikon d7000 but they ended up never really using it. I was talking with them about my camera situation and they offered to send me their d7000! Yes, it might be old and not a fancy full frame mirrorless sony but I know it is more durable and I love Nikon, so this seemed like the best solution possible. I ordered a 35mm and they packed the 18-105mm, I ordered a new Mountainsmith camera bag. I also decided that considering the work I have ahead with the new store I will be launching, I needed some kind of laptop. It just so happened that the Apple new product event was happening that day and they announced the new Macbook Airs, I had been waiting for this. I had heard that they were going to launch a new affordable mac at some point…but it turns out affordable, for Apple, isn’t in their language. Even the base model was over 1000 so I decided I would need to wait to buy a mac until I begin bringing money in. Instead I bought an Asus Chromebook, its red, I love it. All the stuff arrived at my families home, they packaged it up and sent it to Pittsburgh for Maria. Maria took it on the plane home to cdmx and just like that, I suddenly had a phone, camera and laptop. It was a beautiful day! Now I am all connected and I have a fully functional camera! Hooray!

Now here is where I have to talk about my mexican family. The Gonzalez family is Daniel, my best friend from college who is an amazing musician in LA. I love that man. His two brothers are Sergio, an incredibly talented programmer who lives in Vancouver and works in game development. And Diago, an outgoing, vine celebrity, who will be going to college for acting soon. The parents are Maria and Sergio. Sergio is truly one of the kindest and loving fathers I have ever met. He has a joy that is contagious and a heart that is full of compassion. Maria is an author, while I have been here she has traveled to multiple events for her book and was even on television! She is a strong and intelligent women who inspires me every time I talk with her. When she looks at you, she is really seeing you, her mind is here with you in that moment and her light brings out the best in people. I feel so thankful for the time I have spent with them. I am very close to my parents and I miss them very much so being here with Maria and Sergio has given me a chance to be with family again in a way. I am so grateful to have the Gonzalez family in my life and I will miss them so very much when I leave! If you are reading this Maria, know that I love you!

I know I have written a lot but there is one more exciting part that I must share. So my website is launched but my store is not. During my time in cdmx I did a lot of research and exploring of artisan markets and crafts. As I have been traveling I have encountered many countless amazing mexican artisans but what I want for my store is more than just the selling of the crafts. I want to tell a story and capture the history of the craft so that others can learn and fall in love with them just as I have. In order to find artisans that have this story, I must go to places far off the map, not in the center markets of towns. In the past week I came across a festival that was happening in Chalapa, Jalisco called Feria Maestros del Arte. It is a yearly event that brings together a group of over 40 artists from all over Mexico gathered to sell their work. These artists come from families who have for generations been leaders in their craft. The event is an opportunity for the artists to come free of charge, without commision and with paid transportation to a high trafficked area to make a major part of their yearly income. These artists are hand selected by a group of people who have lived in Mexico all their life. Initially my plan after Mexico City was to travel to Oaxaca and Chiapas and seek out artisans through local markets and a few schools that I had found, but after reading about the fair I knew that I had to go to this event. It was an opportunity to connect with an amazing group of artisans and also some very knowledgeable people within the artisan world. This was a chance to find the stories I was seeking.

Sergio has a friend in Guadalajara, the city closest to Chapala, only about an hour away. His name is Gio and he is also a programmer. He connected me with him and I made plans to take the bus that weekend. It was actually alot cheaper to just take the bus and also I don’t much enjoy 9 hour highway rides so it worked out for the best. I took the night bus to Guadalajara and arrived this past friday. Gio is an amazing person, I had such a great weekend with him! And the event was better than I could have ever imagined. By the end of the first day, I had made contacts with my 7 favorite artisans of Oaxaca and Chiapas and had invitation from all of them to come visit their workshops and stay with them! The work of these artisans was at a level of skill far exceeding anything I had seen in Mexico. Now I am working on reaching out to the artisans and making plans for my visits. One of the artisans is from outside of Toluca so I will be going to visit his workshop this week before I leave cdmx on Monday. I expect I will spend about a month traveling to the workshops of the artisans, filming, photographing and making arrangements for shipping their goods back to the US. I am so very excited! To have the chance to live with remote artisan communities and document their processes, I can’t imagine a better opportunity than this.

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Well I guess that is all for now. A big update I know, if you got this far in reading, I commend you!
The rest of my week will be saying goodbye to all my new friends in cdmx, making the Toluca trip and getting my bike ready for the next leg. I got a new rear tire yesterday, after driving around to multiple moto shops I finally found a tire that would fit my DR, its a Michelin Sirac 70/30. Never used Michelin but the reviews seem ok, except when I encounter mud I may have issues I read. Guess we shall see! Gonna miss that D606.

Thanks for reading!
Till next post!

Chelsea

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