Recently one of my friends emailed me to question whether we are really happy here. Whether we are at peace. Which made me realize that a LOT of my blog posts are about the crazy and difficult things that happen to us here. Let’s face it – drama makes for better blog reading.
But as the 3-year anniversary of our move passed in September, I thought this would be a good time to consider the question. Are we happy? And if we are, why? What are the things we love about living here. Just thinking about the question made me smile. YES! We are happy. I am happy. It is a bit hard to put into words what makes something ‘right’ or ‘good’ but I can think of many tangible things that I love about our life here:
- The weather. I can’t lie. The weather had a lot to do with why we moved and that has not changed. Yes, it is super hot right now, but I still love the perpetual summer and although autumn is no longer about pumpkins and gourds and red and yellow leaves, there are changes in the flowers that bloom and the foliage that grows. The bouganvilias are back and the pretty purple vines are now everywhere. Soon the nights will cool and our air conditioner remote control will be put away in the nightstand for a few months.
The food. Who doesn’t love a good taco? I am surrounded by Mexican food – taquerias and loncherias – not to mention donut trucks that show up at my door and a French Fry cart that recently appeared right across the street from my house. I almost never tire of Mexican food, but when I do there is also a great Sushi place around the corner, the best burgers ever across the highway and a delicious pasta/pizza place a couple blocks away. All of it for less than $10 a meal and most of it less than $5. Unfortunately, that means I’ve gained some weight, so that brings me to the next thing….
- The beach. Any time I want to I can walk or run on miles and miles of soft sand beach or jump in the ocean which right now is as warm as a bathtub. Gorgeous sunrises, beautiful sunsets, majestic lighting storms – it is easy to get my 10,000 steps in if I want to. Those are the key words and I admit I have been slacking lately – time to get back on it before my Fitbit buddy Cheryl comes down to kick my butt as she has threatened.
- The people. There is something infectious about the passion of the Mexican people. Whatever they do is accompanied by loud music, loud laughter, loud children, loud dogs. Even the barrios most touched by poverty have streets blocked off and pinatas hanging from trees when birthdays roll around. Today we drove around town on our golf cart and we headed into the poorest communities in our town. Groups of men sat on corners sipping from giant bottles of beer, but they all waved at us and yelled greetings as we went by. I have no idea why I like that, but I do. I love these people and I love being part of the rhythm of life here.
- The meaningful work we do. The most important part of our life here is the work we do at Manos de Amor, the local Children’s Shelter. We have seen the worst of the worst there – a 10-year-old repeatedly raped by her father, a 5-year-old with an STD, a young preteen whose mom recently went to jail for killing her husband, leaving the girl without mother or father or home. Pregnancy, and drugs and prostitution and poverty. I hate it all. But we love these children and we believe that our presence in their lives matters – teaching them English, inviting them to stay in our home when they have nowhere to go, driving them to visit family on weekends, playing silly games and singing and dancing. Loving on them. It all means something that has become more valuable to us than careers, salaries and possessions.
I guess the bottom line is that we have changed and what matters to us has changed. We have less security but more peace. Less comfort but more joy. Less success but more compassion. I could make a long list of the things that are harder here, but you can read the rest of my blog to get all those stories. Tonight, we rest in the assurance that we are where we are meant to be, and we are indeed happy!
So dear family and friends, please stop worrying and go book your winter vacation flight – we’ll be waiting for you curbside in the golf cart with a taco in hand.