View from our compound before saying a final goodbye --
A quick trip to the mercado, shopping street and lake front --
Last time I'll see a woman carrying a huge bundle on her head for a while and randomly ran into one of Jason's students who adores Luke.
A few of the many things I'll miss:
-- the abundant and cheap fruits, vegetables and delicious tortillas
-- the jaw-dropping, spectacular beauty
-- seeing traditional Mayan culture/lifestyle around me everyday
-- walking everywhere
-- buenos (dias, tardes, noches) ... it is so nice to live in a place where there is a standard/polite greeting for people as you pass by and everyone uses it.
-- the sense of community that comes from walking everywhere - everyone is on the street, life seems essentially lived in view of others and while at first that feels a bit claustrophobic, it becomes natural. And the sense of community that comes out of it is a rare gift.
-- our friends; we were incredibly blessed this year by two other families in Pana who we met through our church. Jason watched sports, went jogging and hiking with the guys while I got to enjoy coffee dates and having kid play-dates with the women. Plus we had some awesome potlucks and ice cream dates with the whole crew. It was great! We have not had kindred-spirit couple-friends like this living in the same vicinity as us since we've been married. The friendship of Kevin & Mel, Amber & Will kept us both afloat this year and we will miss them so so much.
I will not miss:
-- bugs - everywhere, all the time:
* doing spider checks before bed, finding spiders in my hair in the night; waking up with all kinds of random bites, all the time.
* termites, ugh ... their waste on our floor EVERY day, the sound of them crunching the wood in our place, flying around the lights at night and crawling on the walls
* large scorpions! I accidentally picked one of these up by the stinger and thankfully didn't get bit
-- the drama of Jason's school - one tip, if the name of your organization rhymes with something unpleasant (AMA = DRAMA), consider taking a pass!
-- having to disinfect all produce
-- making nearly all phone calls from in front of our computer (but was SO SO thankful to have internet that usually worked in our home this year, what a treat!)
-- people in the street telling me Luke is cold (even though it was 75 degrees!)
Our travel went really well, even in spite of 1) our driver getting lost on the way to our hostel Sunday night, 2) the hostel owner telling us the shuttle we'd ordered for the next morning would not be available at the correct time and wouldn't be able to fit our luggage, 3) spending two additional hours ON the plane before take-off, and 4) trying to drive out of Los Angeles at 4:30 pm on a work day with a baby who hadn't been in a car seat for 10 months. We made it safely which is what was important, and our luggage made it too with only one souvenir broken.
-- Riding in a car seems SO SO fast! After mostly walking and taking the occasional tuk-tuk (@ 15 mph), riding in a car traveling at 40 mph seems too too fast.
-- Everything seems incredibly flat...I knew that it would seem very dry here (especially with the drought in California), but I hadn't thought about the fact that I'd spent the last ten months living in a volcanic crater and how open and flat other places would feel.
-- I want to say 'excuse me' in Spanish every time I walk in front of someone
-- Water out of the faucet is SAFE!! Every time water from the faucet starts to spray something edible, I have a quick bit of anxiety before my brain registers that it doesn't matter ... the water isn't contaminated.
-- I'm feeling somewhat awkward around people here; it's hard to connect when it seems you have so little in common. At this moment, I cannot fully understand what drives/challenges/thrills most people in this culture and it feels like most people here cannot understand the same for us (which of course makes sense unless a person has also had a similar experience). I know this is a normal feeling for most people returning from living overseas, but it still leaves me a bit out of sorts and disconnected.
For now, Luke is absolutely LOVING my parents backyard. My mom picked up several used toys/swings and even bought Luke a little swimming pool. He is happy and our first two days here slept in until nearly 9 am!!! I big first and one we really, really needed. It was wonderful!