Stop!…relax

It actually happened last week! We had a Friday off for Teacher Appreciation Day and I traveled with my two housemates and another friend from Lincoln. We got up at 4:30 AM to catch a bus at 5:30 AM, which we almost didn’t catch because of a weird logistical problem with our ticket. Fortunately, I had volunteered to stay with the bags while the three of them redeemed the tickets. It was really nice not to have to take on the stress that early in the morning. I’m very thankful for them. We just made it onto the bus as they were calling our names over the intercom. We had a 5 and a half hour ride, but then the whole weekend at Barra de Navidad, a little town with a lovely beach and very little tourism. Here is our hotel which had air conditioning! We might have gotten a little excited about that.

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and a look down the street

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It was really nice to have no plans, hardly any stuff, and friends to relax with. We stayed at the beach nearly all day Friday, playing in the waves, enjoying the sun (though not the sunburn later), and reading. We had dinner at one of the restaurants with a sunset view. Perks of living on the west coast. =)

Saturday morning, after a breakfast complements of Oxxo, we made a wonderful discovery. You can rent an umbrella and chairs for the whole day for only 80 pesos. That’s about $5 split between the four of us. No more baking in the sun!

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The beach was really clean, with hardly any other people there, even for a holiday weekend. I could look across the bay and imagine a ship sailing into harbor like it might have hundreds of years ago. I was also pretty excited about being on the Pacific coast again and getting fish and shrimp tacos!

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It was a really lovely time to let go of stress, to read a good book (David Copperfield), look through home decor magazines my mom brought, pray about things weighing on me, and read the Proverbs. It was also nice to be with my coworkers and get to know them better. I also was reminded to be thankful for their patience with me when I get stressed out about something. I need to be continually bringing my cares and stress to the Lord and let Him take them away. And I certainly wouldn’t mind doing that at the beach more often.

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Brightly Colored Shards

Anna listlessly opened the door of the refrigerator. She nearly shut it again before she saw some plain yogurt. There, that would be enough. She felt weak, but everything in the sparsely-stocked fridge looked heavy and tasteless. Maybe a little yogurt would be alright. She pulled out the container and set it down on the counter, pausing before opening the cabinet door. Now a bowl. That’s all she needed. A bowl and a spoon. Her shaking hand reached for the brightly colored bowl. It was part of a set her grandmother had given her as a wedding present. “To make your mornings beautiful, like you,” she had said.  It was heavier than she remembered. She did not have a strong enough grip on it. It slipped. As it hit the ground, it shattered into tiny splinters which slid across the floor. They rang out. Louder and louder they rang. She hated it, but she couldn’t even lift her hands to cover her ears. Like people’s gossip, the ringing eventually faded. When it had stopped completely, she reached for another bowl and threw it to the floor.

She listened until the ringing again stopped and there was perfect, tranquil silence again.

“Anna?”

She started at her name. “When did you get home?” she asked the thin man in the doorway.

“Just now.”

She looked away, her pale cheeks showing a tint of red.

“Wait there, I’m coming to get you.”

Confused, she looked at him and then down at the floor. All around her bare feet were sharp shards of the bowl, covering nearly the entire floor space of the small apartment kitchen. Still wearing his sturdy work shoes from a contracting job, he took a step toward her. The pieces crunched.

“You’ll dent the linoleum,” she said absently.

“That doesn’t matter right now.” He took another step. Crunch.

“You explain it to the landlord then.”

“I will.” Crunch.

With another step, he reached the little corner where she leaned against the countertop. He bent down and lifted her in his arms above the colorful, dangerous fragments. She hid her face in his neck as the tears began to fall and her body began to shake. “I miss her!” she cried out loudly.

He stayed silent, but she could feel him swallowing and breathing more heavily as he made his way back to the hallway. He braced himself in the door frame as he tried to take off his shoes without loosening the grip on his dear burden. After a minute of twisting and tugging, his socked feet came free from the shoes embedded with debris and he walked up the stairs, past the now-useless child safety gate which for some reason had yet to be taken down, into the bedroom. He laid her down on the bed, kissed her, and whispered very low, “I miss her too.” He left her still crying.

On his way out, he looked a long time at the closed door across from theirs and then walked downstairs to get the broom, letting his feet fall heavily on each step.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/28851730@N00/360491992″>bottles</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

The Beginning of my Travels

Yes, I have already traveled a lot and am currently living in a foreign country, but in some ways, I still feel like I have not really traveled. Most of my traveling has been in large groups for ministry. I, of course, enjoyed the ministry and that was my main purpose for those trips, but there is also something special about traveling somewhere and doing exactly what you want to just so that you can experience it. Traveling should really be a freedom to just soak everything in. I have not done much of that yet. The other week I was thinking again about the fact that I had not been a night away from Guadalajara yet and I have been here almost a year. I have been enjoying my time in Guadalajara and seeing things around the city, but I also know there is much more to see in the surrounding towns and states. Why have I not been to those places yet? Well, for a few reasons. I had not been able to find anyone to travel with me and it seems scary and kind of boring to travel alone. Not to mention how stressful it is to figure out travel details and how expensive it can be. Honestly, I am a little jealous of the married couples who have a guaranteed traveling companion and can plan together. My mom came to visit me this past week. For part of her time here, we took a two day trip to Guanajuato City in Guanajuato, Mexico. I might not have planned the trip at all if it had not started out as tagging along on someone else’s trip. They suggested I go with them, but because they were also being hosted, I was not going to be able to stay with them and then later realized that it was not practical to travel with them. So there I was, nudged into planning a trip for myself and I am so glad I did. I had never stayed at a hostel or taken a long distance bus or planned a trip without loved ones waiting on the other end to offer their hospitality. But I am grateful that I have been pushed into gaining that confidence.

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Mom and I had a lovely time. We explored, took pictures, ate some great meals, and listened to wonderful music. We stayed at a hostel in a good location where we could easily walk to everything of interest in the little city.

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The highlight of the Guanajuato trip was the Bard Tour in the evening. A group of singing minstrels led us all through the lovely back alleys of Guanajuato, telling legends and sharing lots of songs. I am so glad Mom got to listen to some well-done authentic Mexican music (we also got a little bit of Mariachi and Banda in restaurants). The bus back was surprisingly pleasant and we got a great view of the country between here and there. It was also nice to spend the rest of the week showing Mom more of my daily life. We went to my church, the market, my salsa dancing venue on the street, and also just walked around the neighborhood. I really liked the balance of being able to do something totally new for both of us and also to show her what my “normal” is right now.

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Next weekend, I will be taking a beach trip with my housemates and get to explore another new place with good friends. I have already booked the hotel and am trying to make plans from what I learned from my Guanajuato experience (it is possible to travel without a car, now let’s see if I can travel without a car and without eating out every meal). I cannot wait to travel some more!

Photo credits to Laura Barnwell