Sunday, December 22, 2013

I'm ready.

With a huge life adjustment hitting me in the face as soon as I arrived back from The Philippines and a flood of emotions every time I thought about writing about my time there, I’ve put off writing out fully or posting anything since my return. In fact, I haven’t even really shared pictures with anyone yet.

But now I think I’m ready.

I’ve decided I’m going to write individual stories and experiences rather than chronologically. I hope you enjoy them. Thank you again for everyone who helped me. From me and from the beautiful filipino people.

Watch my blog in the next week or so for continued updates and stories.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Yolanda Day 2: Sikatuna Chapel: Refugees in Cebu

Day 2:

I slept on the floor last night. I’m told most Filipinos sleep on the floor at home as well. Someone brought in their extra special “high-tech” mat for me to sleep on last night to make sure I was comfortable :).

(This is my high-tech mat. I'm using my airplane pillow and towel for a blanket.)

A Filipina nurse, who is six months pregnant slept on the floor next to me for a portion of the night before getting a ride home with one of the church members here. She’s been spending many hours working as a nurse here at the chapel with the refugees.

Doris went to class last night but had stayed with me the entire day before and came back after class to make sure i had someone to sleep with me in the room they had given for the night at the chapel.

It stormed loudly, so much rain that even just the sounds of falling water was loud enough to wake me up. All I could think of was all the people, that I hear, are now waiting in a five day long line to get evacuated from Leyte province (the effected island), here to Cebu and other places, standing in that rain.
Food is being forced upon me right now. :) I need to go. I hate that I have so much food here and there are people I can’t yet get to that have very little or none.

At breakfast I just met another woman who lost her husband in the flood. She says he was “washed away in the wave” and that he had to be buried in a mass grave. I’m told this is adds salt to the wound as Filipino tradition is to have the body on display and to mourn for a week. So a mass burial is kind of like disrespecting the dead.

I also found out at breakfast that I am an old maid and that I will have to get married after I am dead. :)

That is if Loralei (the nurse who is 6 months pregnant) hasn’t found my ideal match by the end of the week out of every single man she knows ranging from age 18 to 100.
I’m at the clinic now. I’m so happy that as I was packing the night before I left that state to find that I still had a bit of room in my suitcase, so I went to the store to get as many supplies as I could before I left. As I strolled through the first aid section, something that should have been so obvious caught my eye: Athlete’s foot treatment. What a no-brainer. Thoughts of trekking through water and all the foot problems that come with it. How had I not thought of this sooner! Stupidly I only grabbed on can of spray. I’ll have to find more here and get some as it’s proved so far to be one of the most valuable items I’ve brought.

Two women in particular had foot infections so bad that almost the entire sole of their feet had peeled back and they had a hard time walking with the deep lesions in the soles of their feet, along with toes that were completely covered in infected skin and gnarly hanging pieces of flesh. However, I’m SO happy that the medication is working so well, and so quickly. I’ve only seen one of the women so far today but she was all smiles when she came in and I sprayed her feet again. She’s walking better already and the infection is almost completely gone. If nothing else, so far, and already, we’ve made a difference to these women. I can’t tell you how good it feels to see people heal, physically and otherwise. One woman commented on how a few of the children I've already attached to, have relaxed and opened up since I've been playing with them. I'm always thankful for kind people who say kind things, giving encouragement and meaning to help I'm trying to give. Help I hope is truly helpful and useful.

I took a picture today, I wish I would have thought to take one before I treated it.

  (This is the foot of one of the women after just two or three treatments. It looks great here, especially compared to what it was. I can't believe how quickly it has healed. I'm so pleased!)

(This skin has closed up and she is able to walk!)

The neosporin (compliments of Janelle Bentz and family), is of course, also being put to good use as nearly every one of the survivors has lesions and cuts of some sort, which before were just be treated with iodine and gauze. We’re going to need much more of it despite the 8 tubes I brought with me as they will need continued treatment and as these refugees find more permanent housing and the next group comes in. I’m assuming as they come in they will have more severe problems as they’ve gone longer without treatment and they are living in daily dangerous circumstances. UGH, and 5 day lines!? Five days?! And that’s after they’ve fought through who knows what just to get to the aide stations where they can get in line.

I know it must all sound so very melodramatic but I don’t think I could ever  adequately explain or understand enough to explain, what the people have been through. And I’ve only seen thirty people. I might just have to stop writing all together when I get to Ormoc and see what I'm trying to prepare myself for knowing what must await us there. It just hurts and inspires so much.


After clinic. There are 20 children and 10 adults here of the 30 refugees. Nearly all of them have cuts and scrapes, most of which are healing nicely after even just a few days treatment. I gave my camera to one of the kids here from Cebu and he had fun documenting wounds and taking pictures of all of us today during clinic time.

 (At first the children were scared and hesitant to be seen. By day two, they were fighting over who's turn it was in the chair :). They're adorable.

 (This guy had a awful ear infection. We were cleaning clumps and clumps of dirt out his ears even with cleaning it three times a day. It was a never-ending task)

(Out little clinic. I can't wait for you to see the comparison pictures at the end of the trip. To think, this is how we started out.)

It’s beautiful they way all the children look after, help and protect one another. One boy held all the feet and spots with cuts while I dressed them.

He is also going to accompany me to the temple when I go there to meet up with the other group today to find out the plan for going to Ormoc.
I’m very please with how healthy the refugees we have here right now are. Just have to keep the cuts clean and most of them came through surprisingly unharmed, or at least no permanent harm.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Typhoon Yolonda/Haiyan Day 1

I can’t even begin to tell you how bad the storm and it’s devastating effects were. Whatever your imagining, it’s worse. Even the stories of survival are laden with tragedy and life altering pain.

A local girl named Doris (a friend of  Suzi Lauti, a friend who was a missionary here before) picked me up from my hotel around 1:00pm after having arrived at the hotel around 1:00am that morning. She wasted no time in getting me to the chapel saying that they did need help.

I was welcomed with open arms by local church members (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) and introduced to the thirty refugees who are staying at the chapel.

I saw two men building a framework of small rooms with the church cultural hall in order to house more refugees as they are expecting upwards of 50 to come from the hardest hit island later this week.

I spoke of mangoes and my love of the fruit here. Before I could even lift a finger to help out, I was whisked away to a fruit stand where I tasted several delicious fruits I’d never had before...and of course mangoes. They made sure I had tasted everything and tried to not laugh at my messy, lack of mango-eating skills.

I ended spending quite a bit of money on fruit to share when I got back to the chapel (about $25). As we were cutting into the fruit I was told that the fruit was too expensive to share and that they refugees would be eating bread and juice. I couldn’t believe their kindness.

How could I NOT share? These people had been through so much and been hungry for so long before making their way to the chapel and now they were going to bread and juice while I binged on tropical fruit I was later informed they didn’t eat often because it was too expensive for most of them to eat regularly. How could I NOT share?! And, so there was a feast of fancy fruit. It never would have tasted right had it not been shared. I was so happy when I went back later to snack on another piece only to have found that it had all been devoured. I loved when a sweet boy of seven (I’ll tell you his story in a moment) sheepishly picked one small “seed” portion of the mango (I’m told no one likes to eat the “seed” part because there isn’t much fruit on it and it’s harder to eat). I handed him the other seed portion on the plate and waited for him to finish both of those only to follow up by filling both his hands with big, fat, juicy portions of mangos...he smiled. Something he doesn’t do often I’ve learned.

This seven year old boy survived, somehow, with his grandmother who is paralyzed from the waist down (an old injury I’m told). I believe they lived in an area of the island with slightly higher ground and the chapel they took cover during the storm only filled with water about 4 feet deep (remember the people here are small, most any them no even 5 feet tall, and the women that squeak that line are few). How awful is that to say? That this poor seven year old boy and his paralyzed grandmother ONLY had to fight through hours and hours of winds near 200 miles an hour and 4 feet of water. How they made it out, I don’t know. But I do know that after having survived that scariest event I’m sure he’s ever had to experience, that seven year old boy immediately had an even worse experience than the frightening storm: he witnessed a gun fight. People who had survived the storm, then killed each other in front of him. He hasn’t talked much since. He is very withdrawn and often gets very apathetic and just stares off into space for moments at a time. He has the one of the most gentle spirits and is obviously very sensitive toward other human beings.

At the end of the day yesterday, he spoke a little to the doctor, to everyone’s surprise. He barely said his name and shook his head yes and no as the doctor asked him questions. After his examination, another little boy was obviously trying to get him to play, he put his arm around the seven year old like they were old friends. He engaged in small conversation, meaning he said a few words to the boy and did not pull back from the his touch. I could tell how excited everyone was to see this boy’s improvement. Even if it was small.

(It seems to me the Filipino people are instantly comfortable and old friends with all new people, including me. As I had several people treating me and touching me like we old friends sharing and inside joke the moment we met. I was happy to see this little boy was welcomed as I was.)

There is another family here with a beautiful story. Although, still very sad. The mother had left a few days before to find work in Kuwait, leaving the father and their nine children at home when the storm hit. Yes, nine children. My guess would be that they range from age 13-ish to 6 mos. With these nine children the father somehow made it to the roof of their home as the waters reached over 16 feet deep. That in and of itself is a miracle but the trouble is not over at that point. Remember the winds were nearly 200 miles a hour, enough to blow over houses, trucks and cars...let alone the thousands of bodies of those who didn’t survive. And yet, they all did. I hear they were floated (violently blown is probably a more appropriate description) for three hours in the flood water, including that baby. They then walked until the finally found rescue ships. They waited in line for 2 days with little to know food for their turn to leave the island. There must have been so many miracles one right after the other to aide in the survival of entire family. A family of nine, including one very young baby, who incidentally is the happiest baby on the planet and lights up the whole world when he’s around.

Another young mother, I don’t know much of her story, but I know the blessed part, survived the storm with her one year old daughter. I’m told they were able to hold on to something while on a rooftop through out the storm. She had put a box over the baby’s head to protect her. At one point the baby was so cold she was turned blue. When the storm had finally passed a milk van had crashed nearby. They were able to feed the baby milk to help her survive until they were eventually evacuated.

A much better story than the man who is here, and broken. He lost his two year old in the storm. He still has his new baby with him when the storm was over. When he found others to join, but the baby was already dead in arms.

There are so many stories. These are the ones I heard my first few hours here in the Philippines.

I’ll take just a moment to add a few more details. I was going to go after our little clinic time with doctors last night to meet another group at another chapel near the Mormon temple here that are repacking relief supplies for distribution to get over to the island where the storm was and more even more help is needed there than here.

I was convinced to not go until morning. It’s too dangerous they say. They didn’t me traveling in the dark. They say it’s normally not the safest thing to do, but a prison was destroyed on the island with the storm and over 600 prisoners escaped and have come to Cebu and have been causing trouble here in the city.

The ones that are still on the island have broken out in extreme violence (along with several other that weren’t prisoners but have taken advantage of the typhoon’s massive chaos and destruction. People who managed to live through the typhoon are now being shot, beaten, and raped. I’m not to cross to the island unless I am with a large group. That group is at the temple. Taking their advice and touched by they protection of me, I stayed. I’ll meet up with the group tomorrow to find out details.

I’ll find out more then but I think the plan is to leave for the Ormoc (a hard-hit city on the island province of Leyte, the one I’ve been referring to) on Monday, three days from now with a medical team to treat wounded there. And to find more survivors. Many of the more out-lying areas still haven’t even been accessed yet. Any survivors from those areas of walked for hours or days to get help but mostly, no one knows what’s left of those areas and if those who survived the typhoon have survived the secondary effects of infections, wounds and starvation yet.

To make it worse, the corrupt government is now trying to charge fees and made-up taxes on the bodies and victims of the storm exiting ports and evacuation planes. I know of one Swedish rescue ship who had to change plans from landing in Cebu and fly back to Manila because they were trying to collect money from the Swedish plane and rescue workers for every Filipino that they had rescued. How sick. That in a situation like this you’d rather force payment (a tax that doesn’t actually exist) and delay medical care (the worst and most severe injuries were coming in on stretchers from those ships) and discourage foreign aide by taxation than allow a human to be cared for. The locals that are not in power are clearly outraged by this cursing their governments corruption and the lack of concern being given to those who are being helped by foreign government.

I need to stop now. I’ve been invited to eat. And if I’ve learned anything from my time traveling, and invitation to eat is an invitation of friendship. I could only be so lucky to have these beautiful and giving people to have me as their friend.
God bless.

p.s. I hate to tack this on here but the reality is we’re already using up all the supplies I’ve brought and my savings are rapidly depleting. If you’d like to and can send money for supplies, I have a paypal account set up under the account name of

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want.

I want it all. But mostly I want a million kids. Orphans. And my own, that’d be cool, too. A science experiment with someone else to see what happens when you mash our genes together. I’d like that too. But definitely orphans.

I want to be the crazy lady with 40+ kids. I feel like God as put my kids all around the world and I need to go and collect them. And I will apologize to each one of them telling them I’m sorry it took me so long to find them. I will take in anyone who’s ever felt unloved. I will beat it into their heads that they are mine. And always were, just misplaced. And I will spend forever forcing the truth that I love them on them until they are so sick of hearing it they’ll want to puke their guts out.

And I want to play with them. I want to bless and hug them. I want them to be happy and healthy. Pretty much my main motivation for learning sometimes is so that I’ll be more proficient than I am now at things, like eating healthy, and being kind for when I do have my kids.

In a lot of ways, I feel like I’ve spent a large portion of my life trying to parent myself. To teach myself the things I wish I had learned as a child. Even just basics, like brush your teeth, comb your hair, share. Like learn to apologize. To let things go. I do the best I can to coach myself in things like this so that when I have my first, and 42nd child I’ll be a better coach for them so that they will grow up with a passion for learning and because knowing these things young can have a huge impact your entire life and make it much more enjoyable from the start. I’m still trying to teach myself some basic things that a lot of people have never been taught.

Often when I’m really struggling with something, I’ll think to myself, what would I hope my children would do, what would I counsel them to do if they were in this situation? To be honest, a lot of the time I get over things so quickly...but even if they don’t matter much to my head... I treat it as though it is really impacting me so that I could learn how to get through it and be a better resource for my kids.

And I want to be a world traveler, going around collecting my children from wherever they are in the world and bringing them back home to me and then taking them out again scouring the planet seeing all that God has given us and bringing more into our family. Our perfectly chaotic, blissfully weird family.

Although, being on my own and lacking funds and time for the support of 40+ orphans right now, I’ll have to start with just one or two. I already found three of my children, in Ecuador. I don’t know how to get them though. Their mother won’t give up her rights, although from what I can see-all three of them being in the orphanage-she doesn’t want them. And in Ecuador you can’t choose the child you want to adopt. Two major obstacles to getting them here. Okay maybe five. Five of my kids are there but three of them are siblings and want them together, so I’d take them first to prevent them from being split up into different orphanages, even they haven’t been already.

I’d take them home today if I could. I don’t say that tongue in cheek. I would actually take them home today and I would make it work. Whatever it took.

It’s so frustrating to love someone so much and not be able to have them. Not even really to have them, but to make sure they have what they need. Even if I don’t have them, how can I make sure they have all the could ever possibly benefit from? I’m sure I’d be okay with someone else having them if they’d be good to them. Sure, I would rather have them. They are mine. But if I couldn’t...I at least want them protected, blessed with the opportunity for whatever future it is they want. I want them to have a choice.

There you have it. I want to be crazy, orphan-loving, adopting mad woman.

Apparently I blog on Sundays.

Because the topic of me dating comes up a lot of church-well everywhere really-with being a traveling nurse, I end up having a lot of conversations about it on Sundays, and apparently...I blog on Sundays.

A guy sent me this song once when we were kind of dating, saying he thought it described me and saw me living kind of by this philosophy. Okay, great song. I do identify. A bit. Okay, I can see how it would appear this way on the surface. But the reality is, as Kelli says, when I fall it's going to be hard. And she's right. And no guy will ever feel more special :).

People often tell me, "if you don't slow down, how is anyone ever going to catch you". My response to this is: Why should I have to slow down, why can't a guy just keep up?

That is still my philosophy. I'll never settle, and I won't be settled for. I was once so in love that I broke up with the guy because I knew he didn't love me enough back. Had that love not been so strong and allowed for any kind of selfishness, I'd be married now. But I loved him enough to break my own heart and to let him go. I knew that he could never love me as much as I needed him to, and mostly, I wanted him to be able to feel the way I felt about him toward someone someday. So I let him go, to find someone he could really love. And there was no way I was going to marry someone who would be convinced by those around him that he was settling, which was also the case.

I won't settle. And I won't be settled for. I'll be happy regardless, but I promise you this: If I ever do fall deep in love enough to marry it will be one the greatest and brightest loves you'll ever see...because that's what I'll give, and I'll accept no less in return.

Nothing of importance...

I’ve written a few things lately. None of which are suitable for a general audience. It’s strange the things that come out of yourself sometimes. I’m in Charleston, South Carolina now. It’s lovely. It’s a very chill place. I think I’d really like it here if I was around long enough to form a group of friends. Because it is so chill it seems like a place best enjoyed by making your own fun with people you get along with. And I prefer to do the outdoor active stuff with people, like kayak/paddle board the swamp. Water is always much for fun to play in when you have accomplices.

My youngest sister, Lois, is due to have her third child (gender unknown!) shortly after I finish my contract here. I’m pretty excited about that. I was able to be at the birth of her first child and arrived one hour after the birth of her second child. (It was my last day of a contract in San Diego and when I heard she was in labor I begged to skip town to hop a flight to be there.) I’m hoping I’ll be able to be around for this one too.

After Charleston that’s my only plan as of right now. But with my student loans being paid off I’d also like to go back to school. And conquer the world, and a myriad of other things. I’ll probably keep traveling by default but as of now I’m planning on going to see her baby and maybe take the rest of the year off to enjoy the holidays. I may start collecting again for the orphanages in Ecuador and spend part of my time off down there. Maybe I’ll take a permanent job after that for a couple of years so I can go back to school. Or since, I no longer have student loans I could sell my car and travel until I completely run out of money. Or maybe, I’ll try to see what can be done about my ankle.

I’ve always been afraid of surgery because I think it can be pretty damaging to the body. Now, after having had my tonsils out (the world’s simplest surgery) and no longer being able to open my mouth all the way along with the chronic, sometimes pretty intense jaw pain, I”m more scared than ever to find out for sure if surgery is my only option. *Sigh. I did work with a sports medicine chiropractor for a couple of months in Texas and saw some slight relief. He pointed out though, that if I hadn’t fully recovered or at least able to weight bare appropriately after having put in so much work it's most likely a problem needing surgery. Lame. (HA! Lame. get it. I can’t use my foot. Lame. Shut up, it's funny.)

Of all of my options, taking a permanent job scares me the most. What if I hate where I live. What if I hate my job. What if I have to work more than 7 months out of the year?! Is it worth it to go back to school and maybe even get my ankle fixed? Aye aye aye.

It was funny in church today as a few people mentioned their big, scary move out to Charleston where the only people they knew would be their wives/husbands and how would they ever make it. I forget some people feel that way sometimes. I may be getting too comfortable on my own because it’s becoming very difficult for me to relate to people when they say things like that. Or when they introduce themselves as "new" in the ward, only to find out they've been there a year. I know I look at them blankly searching for something to say but I don’t even really understand the sentence. Maybe that’s bad. I don’t know. All I know is, that I’ve really enjoyed my life. It’s got it’s pros and cons for sure, but I realized that I only ended up working about 7 months last year and all the cool things I was able to do and the great people I’ve been able to meet, I’ve felt very blessed.

The plan was always to go back to school once I paid off my student loans, but’s scary. Not the going back to school, having to stay in one place with zero time off. That’s scary. Not being able to avoid office politics and staff meetings. YIKES. How do you people do it? Is that not the most terrifying thing ever?

And besides, where would I live, if I did stay in one place? I really am liking the south. But the pay here might not be able to support me while going back to school.

This is basically a post just to put something up on my blog. There is nothing particularly interesting happening in my life right now other than the anticipation of Lois and Robert’s new little nugget coming. EEK! I’m so excited.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Chetumal: Border of Mexio and Belize

Without having any plans and not knowing exactly what I would find in Chetumal I got off the bus. I don't think a lot of backpackers stay in Chetumal. I think most people try to do the border crossing in one day, but well, you read my last post so you know I didn't plan ahead.
There was one lone backpacker in the terminal reading a book. I asked her if she had stayed in Chetumal (thinking probably not since she was waiting for a bus out of town at the end of the day probably spent in Belize) and she had. She gave me good directions to a hostel (Hostel Paakal) that I was able to walk to in about ten minutes.

Not only did they have room, but I was the ONLY guest.  (I think I'm learning that unless you book 24 hours ahead of time the sites will tell you there is no availability-or in other words, there's no telling what's available with less than that time frame, as people like me just show up.)

It's a really nice hostel. Brand new building. Lots of amenities: free wifi, pool, jacuzzi tub, good breakfast included, helpful staff.

I was sticky and stinky when I arrived and the over-sized jacuzzi bath tub filled with cool water was rather enticing. However, since my last hostel and it's noise level, I got too excited about sleep and took a semi-long shower instead just to get the stink and stick off and to relax then jumped right into bed. (Also I thought I had to be up at 530 a.m.)

The flyer said that the bus leaving from Chetumal to either Caye Caulker or Ambergris Caye leaves at 7am. Cay Caulker and Ambergris Caye are two of the islands off Belize that I want to visit. I haven' decided which one yet as the one hostel on Ambergris Caye keeps getting rave reviews about it's pizza and I've been wanting pizza-and haven't had any-since before getting my tonsils out. Caye Caulker on the hand says it's a slower-paced, less expensive island. I like both of those things.

As I lie in bed realizing that I didn't know how long or how much money it would cost to get to the dock I decided at this point I didn't care and sleep was more important.

Super awesome when I wake up and the hostel had made breakfast an hour earlier than it is usually served so that I would miss out on it. Not only that, there is a cab waiting for me to take me to the dock. I love seemingly little things like that. They aren't so little when you're traveling. They are HUGE and get the tone of an entire day. I really lucked out in multiple ways with my stay here.

I'm back at the hostel now though because apparently there is only one water taxi to Belize and it leaves at 3pm. Or so said the only man at the dock says. And some posted advertisements at the dock confirmed. I cabbed back to my hostel who also thankfully has a late check out time of 2:30 instead of the usual 11 or 12. This really isn't a tourist town so I don't think I could find a bike to hire and I'm quite happy to settle in for a nap shorty and catch up on the massive amounts of lost sleep.

I chose to do the water taxi because I hear it's easier to cross the border going through customs at the dock and I love taking boats when traveling as much as possible. That and I can go directly to the cayes rather than take a bus across the border to Belize city and then circle back. Hopefully the idea is the border crossing will be easier, get me to where I'm going more directly, and cost less rather than paying for another bus and then a water taxi.

Anyway, I'm off to nap.

Mexico...we all know I don't edit

We all know I don't edit so here's a few started paragraphs completely spewed and unedited (like it was started multiple times and then finally dubbed, "finished" because getting me to write in the first place is hard enough without getting me to re-read).

I haven’t really been in the mood to write, but I have at least been able to relax a little bit. The two weeks previous to this one were pretty annoying. And as I usually do when I’m annoyed or stressed, my left shoulder locked up completely, which made packing and sleeping difficult.

I say I’ve been able to relax, which has been lovely, but sleeping is a different story. I chose a hostel that boasts being several blocks from the downtown party so that I could get some sleep. What I found is that yes, there was little outside noise, but the hostel itself played loud, wall-thumbing awful music until about 2am IN the hostel. Other than that (and THAT is big. I like my sleep. And I hate club music) though it had a great vibe to it. Calm quiet music during the day.

As you can guess there aren’t a lot of solo travelers in this area. I’m in Playa Del Carmen by the way. It’s about 1.5 hours south of Cancun. Since I was headed south anyway and I’m sure Cancun is even louder and more touristy than here I chose to come here.

It’s a pretty cool city. Built solely for tourists, though. No really. It’s only 18 years old (I hear) and pretty much built as an alternative to Cancun. I must admit the beach is beautiful. The vibe is beach calm and it’s nice. I would’ve liked to have more time spent at the beach. Maybe I’ll stay a night or two on my way back up to the Cancun airport, just to go the beach.

Today was supposed to be my beach day, but it’s only in the 70’s and breezy, with some mist on and off. Not awesome beach weather, and since I’ve got to head south anyway...

The food is pretty great too.

Yesterday I walked around town and ended up at he beach. The beach is pretty awesome. I couldn’t help but lie on the unimaginably soft, white sand even though I wasn’t wearing my suit (that I had to purchase last minute as I didn’t own one. I know. Terrible.). I laid there for a while unable to even think about doing anything else. I had no interest in my book or music, or anything. I was able to just completely relax. I was happy as could be to just lie there and do...nothing. (After the last couple of weeks and the future worrying to come over work, it felt great.) After a short while I found a bike rental and just wandered through the town. I ended up back near a golf course and newly built homes, so it was a in a really nice area. The beautiful area and the beautiful weather was enough to keep me happy.

The downtown/city area is nice. Really nice actually as far as downtown tourist areas go. The fact that there are nice things and that this town was built solely as a tourist city, an alternative to Cancun (I hear it’s only 18 years old), the prices reflect in everything.

The food is pretty good too. In fact the food today was so good that when the waiter misunderstood my changing my mind from the tacos to the fajitas and ended up bringing out both I did not correct him. YUM. It was a pricey lunch-by backpacker standards (about $12), but I won’t be hungry for a while, which is good because after a perfectly pleasant and delicious lunch I was having one of those accomplish nothing, have all my bags with me, stuck in limbo kind of travel days that everyone dislikes-and I ended up on bus to Chetumal, which is the border town on the Mexican/Belize border.

After my brief visit the beach without beachwear yesterday I had decided to stay an extra day in Playa Del Carmen, and just make it a full on beach day and ensuring that my trip to Belize would taken care of in advance. Well the weather today is not good beach weather. Grey, overcast, occasionally misty, and only in the 70’s. I know that sounds silly, because that’s not weather to complain about. But I decided this would make for a good travel day if I couldn’t immediately get into a different hostel.

My hostel was fine during the day, nice vibe, very calm and relaxed atmosphere but then right as I was ready to go to bed the music would change into awful, wall-thumping, club music that seemed to be turned up at the precise intervals when I thought I was ready to explode from the current  noise level. I specifically chose this hostel because it boasts not being able to hear the clubs from it’s location. I didn’t realize they’d make up for by playing their own club music well into the morning. I need my sleep and I’d already had almost two weeks of not being able to get to sleep. Unable to get clear directions to the one I found outside of town and not knowing precisely where the bus station was I did a lot of pointless wandering/walking and wandering how much hassle it would be to get to the bus station early enough from an out of town hostel. I finally found the bus station and there was a bus leaving for Chetumal right then. I asked it if was too late to get a ticket, the helpful woman hurried to sell me the ticket and called out to the guy that I was coming. So here I am, on my way to the border.

I checked this morning and all the hostels were full (I think there are only two in Chetumal) so I’m going to end up paying a lot for a place to stay tonight (probably at least $40, which I think has been about what I’ve been spending per day so far, on average). But here I am listening to Iron Man II in Spanish and getting very sleepy on the bus.

Apparently my orphan Spanish is just good enough that it appears I can speak Spanish. And although I’m having fun using the little bit that I know I do not speak it well enough for someone to speak it to me at full speed, or to even respond in more than one word answers. :) The people are mellow, calm and friendly. Because it’s a beach city and they are used to tourists and way more money than I have, they are not overly aggressive in their sales and not interested in discounting things since the cruise ships will come in and pay inflated, even for the U.S., prices.

I picked a good day to travel as it is now a bit cold, for here (and for me :)), and it’s pouring rain. I love pouring rain. Better to be on a bus enjoying the rain and the country side than sitting stuck in hostel somewhere where. Not that a rainy day can’t be absolutely enjoyable I’d rather spend my time at the the beach. And I really don’t mind bus rides, especially ones on really nice buses with very few people. Again, pricey for a backpacker though, $26! 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Who are you going to be?

Some times you can stand at a fork in a road and see where each ends up just by seeing what’s standing at the first step of each path. And sometimes you can seemingly stand at the end of each path looking back at the point they diverged and see what’s going to bring to their respective ends.

I saw this very clearly yesterday when taking care of two teenage girls, who were outwardly, very similarly. But inwardly completely different beings entirely. The differences were so vast in how they carried themselves, how willing they were to take responsibility, and the biggest difference was how they made the entire world around them feel.

“Who’s blessing is that?” Can be taken two very different ways when receiving report as a nurse. Sometimes it is a sincere blessing and other times it’s the polite southern way of saying, you’re about to go through something very difficult.

I think of this phrase and both of its meaning when retelling my story of a day that I hope I don’t soon forget, especially when choosing which path I’m going to head down/lead children down. I hope that no matter how far I may find myself down the undesirable path I can jump ship and work harder to get and stay on the, in every imaginable way possible, a better path, knowing and having seen very clearly where each path separates from the other and ultimately leads.

I watched their interactions with their parents. I watched their interactions with staff. I saw how they interacted with themselves as I passed by and they had time on their own.

The one, we’ll call her, hates-everything-and-everyone-girl. Couldn’t be pleased. Everything she asked for she got and it was never enough. It was never right. She was always on a rampage. She would manipulate, whine, and cower before then mock, her mother. When going out of your way to help her she would only grunt and look around you at the television. When left to herself, her room was dark, she laid in bed, she huffed and puffed and tried to sleep the day away. Even when she did sleep her face was twisted into a grimace. (Even one of dr’s mentioned that she would only venture to go in her room once every 3 days, because she couldn’t handle the misery of being around her.)

The other, we’ll call, I-hope-my-children-see-the-world-the-way-she-does-girl. Was very kind, forgiving, and had a sense of humor, even when things didn’t go quite right. She was polite and comfortable with her mother. Not submissive and fearful. But open and talked freely with her, even laughing easily. She said thank you for everything, so sweetly that one would work hard just to hear it again, even if it was offered as a gratitude for something simple. When she was left alone in her room, she snuggled down comfortably with her blankets on the couch on her room. She enjoyed a nap, near the window where the rain poured down. She smiled when you came in the room and woke her up.

I feel in some situations I tend to me more like the first, which makes me sad, which is another difference between the girls. The first I look at with shame and pity to ever think I could find a part of her inside me. The second, is something to aspire to. And when I think I might see a glimpse of herself in me I feel contented and hope that it will become a bigger part of my view of life. I feel hopeful and excited rather dejected and powerless over my life. I have peace with myself, my life, and others.

I hope to not remain unchanged by the very stark, very real differences observed that day at work.

So, again this morning, I stand at the crossroads and, will several times through out the day. As I do, I hope I remember the differences between these two girls, their actions, and results of those actions. I hope my actions make me more like the mother of the second girl, who I’m sure lead to her development into such a wonderful young woman.

After having met both mothers of the girls, I can also see a little further toward the start of the paths that lead these girls to where they are now.

The second girl’s mother and I had a conversation about how people speak to one another. She couldn’t understand how someone at a gas station could have responded so rudely to such a simple question by a woman who was having a very difficult day. (An event she had witnessed earlier that day.)


Was her question.

“Why did they have to talk to her like that? They could have said the same thing in a much kinder fashion.

It’s as though they had decided to to be angry for no reason whatsoever. Why can’t people just decide to be happy for no reason whatsoever and reserve the anger for time that merits that kind of response.

Instead people just walk around angry for no reason waiting for something good enough to make them happy.

You’d think they would just walk around being happy until there was a really good reason to be angry.”

In deed. In deed, you would think that would be how people choose to live their lives.

I know I’m guilty of often living angry for no reason some times. Or at least responding angrily. Sure I can come up with a bunch of stupid rationalizations for it, of why I deserve to be angry (like that’s a good thing or something I want to have “earned”). Or how and why I’ve become jaded....but why would I choose to remain that way? The truth is I’d rather be happy. Any reason I have to be angry, hurt or jaded should be used as a reason to say, I deserve to be happy after having gone through any of that, rather than I deserve to be angry. So deserving or not. I choose to try to be happy by altering my thinking to more accurately mimic the behavior exhibited by the second girl and her mother.