Raw Traveling is Officially Over


Raw Traveling is Officially
Over
It began in 2006 and ended in 2013 on my birthday, April 24th
. 7 years. It began by discarding my decent standard of living through
enterprising endeavours lifestyle (read constant struggle through low wage jobs
supplementing a self-made artist chosen career, culminating in a successful job
as an advertising consultant/ account executive), to pursue a dream that
included everything I felt my life was missing. It ended in a reduced state of
financial, physical and spiritual disillusionment.
Many times on my journey, even at the beginning, I held
moments of longing to be sitting alone in front of my TV in my apartment over
whatever precarious situation I was in. But I pressed on and was gifted with
many extraordinary, people, events and places that counterweighted those
moments, until the end when it was all shit. My mind kept trying to rationalize
what was happening until I was within a hairs breath of annihilation. Yes, I
love to exaggerate and the Doctor who threw me out of the clinic in Calgary at
1am with no medication other than a few anti-nausea tabs that I had to threaten
him to get, told me there were people sicker than me too, but I have never been
sicker than leaving Mexico with Hepatises A at the end of April 2013.
Coming back to Canada broke from one of my winter sojourns
down south is nothing new.  But it
doesn’t take me long to get rolling on what I created in those 7 years, a
decent business shooting and selling aerial fine art photography. All I need is
enough to hire a plane for a half hour and the rest is business to business
selling that I perfected through the hard core training I received selling
yellow pages advertising.
There were many instances of divine grace between transitions
while I was Raw Traveling that are
for the history books. These instances confirmed in me the presence of spirit
and faith in my life. You will never know these things if you don’t test them.
However, I was laid flat for 6 weeks and am still in a retreat state in June. It
felt like grace had abandoned me, but it hadn’t. I recovered with the help of friends
in Canada.
I got off that flight from Mexico too sick to walk, with 2
50lb suitcases, 2 heavy carry ons, a purse and 2 cats, (both Baja rescues). It
felt like death had a hold on me. During my recovery, slimy entrails of bitterness
I held for Mexico (and other stuff too) constantly seeped into my awareness.  Indeed, I had had a night vision/ astral encounter,
with several dark overlords of this realm in my presence just a week before I
left.
I have lost my original following at Raw Traveling, (in the beginning Henry Rollins was posting), so it
is probably without foreknowledge that most of you are reading this, but I
started out being much more expressive about my spiritual life. I have always
had very strong dreams – clairvoyant dreams, lucid dreams, and soul to soul
encounter dreams with the living and the dead. Now, I am sensing the veils are thinning
more and more between the dimensions and I am having waking revelations that
tie into the other dimensions. The funny thing is we are all part of it.
People have this terrible impression of me that I am so
lucky to live the way I do, flying around taking pictures of things, traveling,
creating art, exploring different cultures, living in Mexico for months at a
time. Most people would never make the sacrifices I made to do these things. They
would never have the guts or the courage. They would never have the internal
fortitude or the skills or the talent to be totally self-reliant on the road without
having sold out to some wage slave retirement plan, or be directed by greed and
profiteering, or be on some trust fund/government/co-habitation/sustenance
lifestyle allowance plan. The hard moments in my life are beyond most western
people’s capability to endure. And I have finally come to my end as well. Raw
Traveling is over.
There is no place like home… There is no place like home… I
only stayed in Canada one winter out of those 7 to see if I was missing
anything business wise (turns out I wasn’t). But every time I returned from
traveling I almost kissed the ground, I was so happy to be back. Canada is my
home. I connect with the earth here, as well as the sky and water, whereas in
the States and Mexico, I only connected with the sky and some water, rarely
with the earth. The earth and the trees of Canada are healing me now. They have
been my inspiration since I was a child. I can’t be away that long in the
future and I can’t make plans to live in any other country. Or I will die. And
now I have 2 cats. They need a home.
I made the mistake half way through Raw Traveling to slip into a perceived comfort zone. I got lazy and
kept going back to the same place instead of letting my spirit roam. The first
winter in the Baja was great. The second was not so great. The third was trying
and the fourth was disastrous. There was no health, no wealth, no fun and little
work. I even got a work visa the last year which was thoroughly pointless.
The whole health aspect of Raw Traveling got subverted. Casting backwards again, Raw Traveling was as much an
exploration of the raw food movement at its advent into popular culture as
anything else. Early on in the game, I realized there were serious credibility
issues with the lifestyle and the diet and some of the people. Instead of
experiencing the movement from behind the computer which most people are doing
now, I went out and lived it. Many people did and it was, in many ways, a
gathering of souls, a tribe, even a religion that I felt I could participate
in. I learned a lot about health from many alternative practitioners and feel
very confident in my knowledge in this area. It is not however, my livelihood.
I did toy with the idea of becoming a healer or some sort of new age practitioner
or health professional, but like most people in the last decade, went back to
what I always did or stuck with what I knew. In my case, it was photography.
7 years ago was the beginning of social media and my
awareness of it. Since then, I have successfully created a professional brand
with my photographic career and it is starting to work. But it all started with
Raw Traveling. I am now setting Raw Traveling free to be the wonderful
thing it always was because the rest of the work is done.
My contribution to the health awareness movement has mostly
been volunteer. I have made a few bucks organizing events, but I don’t really
have patience to “help” people that way professionally. My patience was really
tried in the winter of 2011 when my sister came to stay with me in the Baja for
2 weeks. She is on 8 different medications up to 2 times a day and on the
maximum recommended dosage for each. She has been ingesting this toxic cocktail
for over 30 years. Diagnosed with schizophrenia and manic depression in her
teens, (now bi-polar), the root cause of her disability has never been
addressed by any of the doctors and care workers that attend her now and have
through her convalescence.
I pulled in all my resources. I contacted the best orthomolecular
doctor in Canada. He said it would take a team of doctors several years to wean
her off.  I had alternative health
practitioners ready to assist. Yet, as soon as she returned to her home, she
lost all confidence in me and her team turned her against any idea that there
may be hope for her beyond continuing on the same cocktail of drugs for the
rest of her life.
I watched the slow decline of my mother over the course of
her adult life the same way. In the 50’s she walked into the most notorious psyche
ward in Canada, the Allen Memorial in Montreal, headed up by the mad Dr. Ewen Cameron,
whose barbaric experiments on patients attracted the attention at the CIA and
the MK ultra program. (The woman in this clip of the recently released movie: State of Mind – The psychology of mind Control, is my mother.) She went in with God knows what, mild depression?  She came out a broken and shattered woman. My
mother, Emma Jane Crunican, died after 45 years on a government sponsored drug/psyche
experiment and now my sister is just 15 years shy of that.
Since my mother was on this toxic soup during all her
pregnancies and while breastfeeding we were all born with compromised immune
systems and struggling gut flora. My sister had eczema, I had asthma, my
brother had a learning disability, all classic symptoms of what is now termed,
gut and psychology syndrome
, by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride. There are ways
out. Recovery is possible, even after 30 years of drugs to suppress the symptoms
and worsen the still untreated root cause.
Personally, I was completely devastated by the outcome of my
sister’s visit which took a lot of the shine off of life, bringing back the
trauma of my childhood in living colour.

Right after that I had a bad
experience with a dentist in Mexico, Dr. Lorenia Estrada Tamalantes, and ended
up losing a molar to a botched root canal job. Right after that, my van broke
down and a yearlong nightmare began after I let the brothers to the mother and
father of my Mexican landlord family work on it.  2 months of misdiagnoses and faulty repairs ended
in an ugly showdown between me and a drunken, licentious, incompetent bully, Filipe
Leon.    A few
other people got involved, including legals, but I ended up getting sold out by
this privileged, self-appointed, do gooder neighbour who mediated a slam dunk
in the other guy’s court.

Despite this inglorious farewell, I returned at the end of
2012, after a fairly successful summer shooting and selling aerials in British
Columbia. Although, I took half the summer off and did some kind of lazy work/
living/ trade arrangement for this semi-retired photography enthusiast who just
happened to be doing the same thing I was. I lost 20,000 dollars, but I had some
fun with the crazy guy. I made up half my usual summer income in the last 2
months of the season and put all my investment into returning to this little
shit hole town in Baja, Mexico – La Ventana. I brought over $1,000 of fine art photo
canvases with me that didn’t sell. I made impossibly advantageous deals to the
businesses, windsurfers and kiteboarders for little to no return. It turned
into a twilight zone episode as too many people back peddled out of shoots and
promises to buy. Others smugly enjoyed seeing their pictures but acted like
paupers as they walked back to their paid for homes, cashing their government
checks.  Still others thought that I
should be paying them to take their picture or should gratefully fund their
careers in the kiteboarding industry, just because.

By early February, I realized, I was just living in squalor amongst
a largely strange and hostile community of hustlers on the business side,
boring retired people on the resident side and a steady influx of eco trendy
sport jocks on the transient side. I suppose I should mention that my residence
was a small postage stamp of slope under a fig tree in the back yard of the
founding family of La Ventana headed up by 90 year old, Don Ruben Leon, which
just happened to be beachfront. Think One
Hundred Years of Solitude
. I had been sick most of January, recovered and
got sick again, got infected with the ringworm fungus from a mattress I was
sleeping on; One of my cats got feline acne and an ear infection; There was
mold under my tent; The camper was old; Bad plumbing, water issues, mosquitos…

The whole time my van was running like shit. I had left it for
the summer with the mechanic who fixed it after the rip off.  I hoped to have a van back in good working
order. He said he didn’t drive it much, but I had countless reports of him
tearing up and down dirt roads and speeding. I knew it firsthand. He drove like
a possessed maniac. He picked me up at the airport in November and all was well
until the moment we drove into the town. The thing stalled right in front of the
tire shop of Filipe Leon.

For about 3 months, the problem got worse and my friend the
mechanic, Jose, could never get the time to look at it, although he was using
it frequently to go to the city, La Paz, for his business. I finally ended that
relationship as I realized I was in no position to help this guy and I was
better off putting my faith in another mechanic. As it turned out the van kept
running the same way for 3 more moths. I even sold it like that. I figured out
these little fixes myself. When it suddenly stalled on the road, there was a
loose wire that needed jiggling under the hood. Fuel injector cleaner additive
came in handy as well. But all in all, it was like driving an out of control
vehicle in a bad dream that had become my reality. I was not able to use it for
anything but short jaunts and even then it was a hair raising experience. The
problem was in the wiring that had been tampered with a year before.


By March, I figured things might be a bit better in San Jose
del Cabo, where I had spent time in other winters. There is a refreshing group
of artists and performers there whom I connected with in 2009 that I am still
very good friends with. I got support and more connection there, but still
lived in relative squalor. I did as much as I could in the small time frame I
had left of the season in the way of marketing myself but it was really too
late and I had no intention of staying the summer. Changing my ticket home from
April 23rd to June 11th, was a costly mistake,
financially and physically. I did it in an overly hopeful gesture that business
would improve if I spent more time promoting it. Plus, I was worried that my
cat was too sick to get the health certificate to leave Mexico.
My older cat was on this dreadful course of treatment that I
subjected her to as a result of a feline acne problem, misdiagnosed by a vet as
a fungus. The cream for the fungus caused her hair to fall out. I believed that
she had ringworm, since it was a fungus and I had had it earlier.  So I went about using all kinds of store
bought and homemade topicals for ringworm that only caused her hair to fall out
more. I was at my wits end with grief, when I finally took her to another vet,
who said she just needed a bath and to be left alone. I am still apologizing to
her for what I put her through. She is recovering and her hair is growing back.
But that didn’t stop me from getting ring worm once again from a pair of new
sandals that I bought at COPEL, a Mexican department store. At least I knew
what it was and used the same cure as the first case (which was also
misdiagnosed by a Mexican doctor as shingles), MMS and bleach – not at the same
time.
Then a series of even more shitty events made getting out as
quick as possible my only option. First I got a bladder infection in the 2nd
week of April. That cleared up with antibiotics after all the alternative
things I tried didn’t work. I still didn’t feel right but attributed it to
recovering from the infection and the meds.
The whole time in San Jose del Cabo I was broke or nearly
broke. I sold my smart phone, my van, my e-reader, some jewelry and as much of
the stuff I had accumulated over 2 years as I could. It was a bit of a Catch 22 in terms of timing. Selling
stuff I needed in an already disadvantaged position was hard, so I left it all
too late. Everything came cascading to a finale at once. I couldn’t afford to
pay for the short notice ticket change until I sold my van. I should have sold
it earlier, saved some money and took the bus.
By the third week in April, I was on a mission: sell van,
book ticket, health certificate for the cats, plan birthday/ going away party.
The whole time I was feeling worse and worse. The 2nd day before I
was to leave; now the 27th of April, I had a fever of 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
I dragged myself out of the house and took the bus to the American clinic who
would properly diagnose me for $1,300 American dollars. Since I get free
medical in Canada, I only needed to wait those 2 days. Besides I didn’t have
the money. So I hobbled to the Mexican doctor with the Mexican price and got
misdiagnosed with a kidney infection. The American clinic also suggested that
this might be the case. It made some sense since it often follows a bladder
infection. I started taking the antibiotics and some other crap and didn’t feel
better.  
The next day I managed to collect a few people for my party
but called it off at 9pm and sent the latecomers away because I was too sick to
stand. The following morning was my departure day. I had already experienced a
snarky WESTJET operator earlier that week who insinuated I was privileged
enough to stay in Mexico for 6 months therefore not entitled to any pity that
might allow me a discount on the hyper inflated last minute ticket price, the
extra costs of the cats and the change fee. Since I only had Mexican cash to
pay for the ticket change, I had had to go to the airport to pay for it. What
should have took 15 minutes ended up taking 2.5 hours. First they said they
didn’t take cash, and then they quoted me a much higher price than I was
expecting. I felt they were overcharging me because of my desperate situation
or maybe it was just sheer stupidity, either way, not an unusual situation in
Mexico.  I was not looking forward to the
whole WESTJET ticket agent Cabo experience again, but I didn’t care, since my one
and only goal was getting out of Mexico. I asked for a wheelchair at once. Two
of the WESTJET ticket agents from the first encounter approached me cautiously
from behind while I was waiting on deck to ask if I was okay. I felt like
punching them in the face.
So maybe all the fuss was one of the reasons why nobody told
me that my connector flight was the same day. I hadn’t received a confirmation
email on the ticket change. I had looked at so many flights in the last week
that I thought I had an overnighter in Calgary. When I showed up at the airport
the next day, once again in a wheel chair with the entourage, I was told I had
missed my flight and I could get a new ticket for $200 plus dollars. I didn’t
take that flight but I ended up paying over $1,000 for a ticket that usually
costs me under $400, paying over $120 in cab rides to and from the Calgary
airport, and not getting to my destination.
 Now I know why people
hate Mexico. I defended it for years but have to admit that in the end,  I was just another one of those northerners
having a cheap holiday in someone else’s misery, a misery that had now become
my own.
For the first time in my life, I got very, very sick. My
preventative approach worked well for me up until somebody’s infected shit got
into my digestive system. Now I look forward to rebirth as I rebuild from the bag
of bones I became. I aged 10 years in 2 months. Not good for someone as vain as
I am. But I love a good challenge; another before and after story in the
making.
Raw Traveling is
over. The experience is over, but the blog will live on, resurrected in fact,
purged of the bloat. I had turned it into a cheap marketing tool for my
photography business because it gets great SEO. I do apologize for that. It
will return to its true essence. I did not abandon my work in the alternative
health world; I actually went underground for 2 years and worked directly with
an industry insider in the political activism arena. I have lots to tell. I
have my voice back and things are in order.
Copyright 2013 Ellen Atkin
There are many people who really helped me in the Baja and
on the way back who are not mentioned in this telling for the sake of effect. I
am eternally grateful to those folks. You know who you are.
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2 thoughts on “Raw Traveling is Officially Over”

  1. OMG Ellen — what a nightmare. I had no idea you had been through all this… Thanks for writing more about your sister and mother — sorry I wasn't able to meet her although i looked for her often — Take care of yourself. Will read more of your blog soon! You really are a gifted writer and creator — be well!

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