We follow one photographer, surfer, and overland traveller – Ross Ruddell, as he prepares to embark on an epic journey down the pan-American highway, surfing his way from California to Tierra del Fuego, over the course of three years. This is his story. You can keep up to date with Ross’s adventures right here, and at Project Bliss.
Over to Ross…
This happened to me in Todos Santos. It has happened in Puerto Rico, hell, it happened to me in Morocco. I had just finished eating dinner at a taco stand in the center of San Miguel de Allende and I got in my car. I rolled the windows down, put on some music and drove off. Nothing special right? Well, it was special in its own way. I felt at home last night. I ate a place that I knew how to get to, I didn’t use my GPS to get back to the villa where I am staying. I felt like I was home.
The cool night air flowed through the windows of my car as I made the 10 kilometer drive back. I felt so content. I didn’t feel lonely, or lost or far away (all emotions that usually accompany long bouts of travel for me). Last night something clicked. I have been in San Miguel de Allende for a little over a week. I know the back way to get to the grocery store, I know which tiendas have my favorite brand of tortillas. I am starting to see familiar faces in town, I wave and they wave back. I have met my temporary neighbors and played with their kids. I have a spot where I like to watch the sunset.
Traveling by yourself is scary in every sense of the word and I am not brave. Not one bit. Stupid at times and maybe a little naive, but those things do not add up to me being brave. I think that I feel so content right now because in a small way I have adapted to living here. I no longer completely feel like a fish trying to find the edges of his bowl.
I distinctly remember when this happened in Todos Santos. I had been there for about three weeks and was driving home from a stellar surf session at Cerritos. I went to my favorite carnitas place and ordered food. I ate, and drove home full and on auto-pilot. My eyes were on the road, but I wasn’t frantically looking for which street to turn off to get back home, I already knew where I was going.
Having the opportunity to spend more than a few days somewhere is a luxury. Most experiences I have had with travel had been confined to how many days I took off of work. And now I have an open schedule. I have little money, but a massive amount of time.
My online portfolio launched this week and the team back in the states has been working their asses off to get it up and going. I like having a place where my best work is posted.
My time in SMA hasn’t been one long taco binge. This last week I have worked with three non-profits who are doing tremendous acts of kindness in the community. From building houses to conserving water to feeding the hungry there are amazing people giving back and helping those in need here. It is incredibly hard to see suffering first hand and this last week has re-opened my eyes to the hurt, and the the help that is in Mexico. I will have stories, photos and videos posted soon. For now, I’m charging my camera batteries, cleaning the dust from the lenses, and making sure I have a pen with me.
The real work of this trip started this week. And I am loving every second of it.
Ross Ruddell, 29
San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico