Monday, August 24, 2009
(insert time machine noises here) The summer of 1990 I was 18 years younger (which makes me feel old at this particular point in time) and the summer after I finished 6th grade. This was my first year to go on the Rock Prairie Presbyterian Church Caravan trip. Caravan was a program that had been going on 20 years before I jumped in with my new Banana Republic shirt, khaki shorts and my big yellow "God's Glenmhor Gang" button.
Annual church trips have initiation ceremonies and Caravan was no exception. On that first night, en route to Ontario, Canada, in a church somewhere in Michigan, I was blindfolded in the sanctuary when someone asked me to "Choose Life."
I know the verse is in Deuteronomy. Periodically I have gone hunting for the verse, never remembering exactly where it is. It's funny how just one little phrase can bring back a whole collection of memories. That was my first service trip. It got me started on the right track.
I haven't looked back.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Right now, I feel like I have multiple starfish. And that's fine.
Not familiar with the starfish story? Watch the video here.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Instead he focused on Ephesians 5:15-20 which cautions us to be careful with how we live and to make the most of our time, prompting a sermon on how time is used (and how much is wasted watching tv, for instance).
Incidentally time management was also featured in one of the magazines I read this week which included valuable tips like "follow the rule of two" (determine your highest priority work and personal activity and form the rest of your day around it) or "take charge of your mornings" (people take too much time to warm up in the morning, coffee, email, etc dithering away valuable time).
As summer (in theory) is waning and fall schedules are usually more aggressive, it may be time to get a handle, on, well, time.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
After shopping in the handicraft market, we went across the street and found a shop that actually had one Chiapas Jaguars soccer jersey. That's when we lost Jon. We spent the next while doing reconnaissance all over San Cristobal, the craft market, the cathedral square, the coffee shop and back at the car. He was found by the car, chillin' with a beer. You should have heard Elspeth screaming "Jon" in the market....
We wrapped up our trip with traditional Mexican hot chocolate at La Selva. We got in the group hug, if not the Kumbaya. All agreed it was a short and meaningful trip and we'd do it again!
Monday, August 10, 2009
On Saturday, I did not in fact have hot nuts for breakfast, but my erstwhile travel companion Jon (aka Don Juan) did. Our first stop for the day was a neighborhood called El Refugio, which means the refuge. This is a poor community that is built up the hillside in Tuxtla (the kind of hillside that you wonder how your car will make it up). After visiting the church hosting the water project, we visited Maria-Daisy, one of the church members. She is technically a squatter. Her house didn't use to have a floor or much of a roof, but over time they have made it more permanent. The electricity is pirated. There is no running water.
Greg and Ryan wrap up our gardening project with the traditional "machete man hug."
We then went to lunch at La Cruz. I had a chile rellano. Ryan and Inigo got their adventure on and had the cow tongue. Our afternoon fun activity was to go to the waterfall at Aguacero, which is an ecotourism location. We had to walk down over 700 steps to get to the base of the waterfall....and then the majority of us took off our shoes to climb up the water fall, which was fantastic fun. Which was good, since the climb back up had us all feeling old and out of shape.
Running joke of the trip: somewhere on Friday Ryan got on Greg for "harshin' his groove." For the rest of the trip we identified all things that could harsh one's groove. I'm waiting to see how many days I'll make it back at work before my groove gets harshed. On the drive back from Aquacera to one of the water plants in Tuxtla we started singing in the car, including songs in a round (such as make new friends). Back in Tuxtla I made a sarcastic comment about one of the collectivo drivers and his excessive amount of stuffed animals in the front of his taxi. What do my new friends do? Roll down their windows and tell said driver that I like his collection. What else to do but smile and wave...
Our dinner was at a fancy Italian restaurant called Il Giardillo. One thing I've noticed in Mexico, perhaps because of the flu outbreak, is that hand sanitizer is offered everywhere. This restaurant went one step further and all the staff was wearing face masks. I had stuffed sea bass for dinner and a plate of churroitos (they were mini after all) for dessert. The highlight though, was the table side presentation of Jon's Irish Coffee. I'd never seen anything like it. They flamed the glass, set the whiskey on fire and poured a flaming shot over the whipped cream.
#66 purple chile peppers, #67 getting a purse rack at a restaurant, #68 adding "harsh my groove" and "puttin' peace / love on" to my vocabulary
To see what my partners in crime thought about their experience in Mexico:
Margaret Mead once said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. " It would be more accurate to say "a small group of thoughtful citizens wearing blue shirts....."
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
But the fun doesn't end there! After a chance to shower and rest back at the hotel, we were off to dinner....with a detour. Don Juan (Jon) had heard from his taxi driver about "Marimba Park." Every night there is a marimba band in the square. We stopped there and almost immediately Ryan says, "Jenni let's dance." So yes, I was dancing by the gazebo with the tall gringo in the blue shirt. After that (much to her embarassment), Elspeth (who's sixteen) got her bailar on. Then, just for fun, Ryan asks a random local girl to dance and they hit the floor. It was vastly entertaining and the crowd was into it. It was one of those real, authentic experiences that you can't plan, but that makes your experience that much richer.
Our evening concluded with dinner (as all good evenings should) at La Carreta. The queso fondito was delicious and I had tostadas tuxtletas, which was a ground chicken ceviche. There was live music...including Spanish covers of "Only You" and "New York, New York." No trip to Mexico is complete without helado, so we did a quick drive by to the OXXO to get some ice cream bars on the way home. Shockingly, that was my only ice cream on this trip. I did make up for it by eating multiple churros, though.
#61 tamales for breakfast, #62 meeting someone who has been called to be a priest, #63 visiting an orphanage, #64 dancing to a marimba band, #65 learning how water is purified
Saturday, August 1, 2009
I'm leaving on Tuesday to go on a short Transformation Trip to Mexico with Healing Waters International. How did I find out about it? A friend posted it on Facebook in June. Now it's August and time to go.
In this past week I've contemplated visiting Germany to see friends and been invited to visit China in the spring. Germany is probably a go. China, I don't know. I know I'd like to go, but that sneaky, devious voice of logic and reason (VOLAR) asks "are you sure that's what you want to do with your money and vacation time?"
All I know is that I need more money and vacation time.
And that sneaky, devious VOLAR needs to disappear.