A Pig in a Suitcase

The countdown is ticking loudly and I am not as cool and prepared as I thought I would be.  In fact I am having reactions I would never have expected.  My heart has taken over and my brain is allowing it to happen.  I feel a bit betrayed really by my reasonable, practical self which usually navigates through unknown waters.

We have rescheduled our flight to the 18th to buy ourselves 5 more days.  5 more days to get this construction done, to finalize paperwork and transitions.  A very needed 5 days.  But that 5 days has cost me my sanity somehow.  I have been planning for quite some time exactly what things I need to pack to go with us to the new land.  We took 6 suitcases in October.  2 very stuffed carry-ons (that ended up too big to actually carry on), and 4 giant fifty pound suitcases.  Two were free, the other two cost $25 each.  Perfect.  We put a LOT in those 6 suitcases.  My plan was to take 6 more in December – the rest of our very important ‘stuff’.  We will not be able to take the majority of our belongings until we get our residency which can’t be for at least a year thanks to Mr. Tax Man.  So these last 6 suitcases were to be it for a while.

So back to the tale of the extra 5 days.  We rescheduled our flight – but in doing so we had to switch airlines.  After paying the change fees, the cancellation fees, the who-knows-what fees, we had a new flight scheduled for the 18th.  But in reading the small print of this new airline I realized we cannot take a second bag each, and our first bag can only be 40 pounds.  So we have gone from taking 200 pounds to now only being able to take 80.  Now I have been lecturing/nagging Grant for 2 years that we really don’t need to take much stuff with us – we can buy what we need there.  It will be fun to get new stuff.  To pretend we’re newlyweds again setting up a new home.  But somehow when I was robbed of 120 pounds of my stuff, I seriously freaked out.  I am not kidding when I say that the stuff I was planning to take was really the weirdest combination of stuff ever.  It was not valuable stuff – it was just things I had decided I desperately needed to be okay.  Like 2 short lawn chairs that I may have used twice in my life but that would be great on the beach when we need a picnic.  The green vase that I hardly every use but it would look great in the kitchen.  This very large metal yard pig I had purchased in Vancouver – I absolutely NEEDED that pig in my tiny new yard.  Some totally average candles.  A bunch of shampoo because I can’t read labels in Spanish – and what if I don’t know how to Wash, Rinse, Repeat in Mexico?  The list went on – stuff that I barely use here, that I have never been attached to but that seemed extremely important to my new happiness.  What on earth is wrong with the sensible, practical, not attached to my crap person that I have always been?

Last night some of my dearest friends showed up with Chinese Food and Guacamole and memories to share.  We laughed and reminisced and talked about the sadness of saying goodbye.  We joked about my new suitcase crisis and Grant rolled his eyes at my angst.  But when they left I realized that it is just really hard to let go of those you love.  I don’t want to do it.  To make it hurt a bit less I have been gathering silly possessions around me that I thought would help me feel comfortable in a crazy time of transition.  If I could imagine the perfect sunset picnic with Grant on the yellow lawn chairs, if I could fill an unfamiliar house with pretty flowers in that green vase, if I could see my smiling metal pig when I sat in the yard with my morning coffee maybe I would be okay.   But now I have to let go of that strategy.  My 80 pounds will be taken up with a few months’ supply of vitamins, the last of my summer clothes, some winter clothes for when I travel up north for work in January. Practical stuff.

Pig in a suitcase

Gonna be tight!

There will be little room left for silly sentimental crutches.  And I’ll be okay.  My security has never been in what I own but in the God who has me in His hand.

But don’t be surprised if Mr. Pig somehow makes the cut – I haven’t fully given up!

30 Days and Counting

CalendadrAs we enter the final 30 day countdown to liftoff, I feel a shift in my heart and in my mind.  This is happening.  Soon.  I am sad and I am overwhelmingly happy.  I am nervous and I am increasingly bold.  I want to stay but mostly I want to go.  That is what makes life worth living – the mixture of emotions and confusion of thoughts when change is around the corner.   I see similar emotions in the eyes of my friends and family – they want to be excited for us but are not sure they should be, or can be.  Change in one person affects the whole community – and honestly the community didn’t really ask for this change.  The hardest part of this last stage is that I feel I need to focus on the details of such a move – how is my mail going to find me?  Who’s going to pay for my medical needs?  What color towels will make my bathroom homey?  Why on earth did I ever buy this many Wii games and how many can I reasonably pack?  How do we get this house ready to sell?  But I worry that what I should be doing is spending these last days with the people who I love and who are really unsure about what we are doing.  Oh I know we’ll be back lots in the first year – and I have Skype and Google Hangout loaded on my computers and phones, ready to beep and buzz my way back into people’s lives.  But I know it will not be the same – and I don’t really know quite how to process that now that we have entered the pre-liftoff stage.

Time to Find a Home

Last week I felt like I was a participant in a House Hunters’ International episode as we searched for a new home to rent for the first year or two while we build our home on the mountain in La Cruz.  Although we won’t be leaving Canada for 3 or 4 months we feared that if we waited until fall or winter the rentals would all be snapped up for the busy winter season.  So we decided to have a look and once we got started there was no turning back.    We looked at a few options:

  1. 6 months ago we had looked at a home that was for sale in Nuevo Vallarta, a suburban, residential area halfway between Puerto Vallarta and Bucerias. The house wasn’t for rent at the time but when we arrived this week I called the owners and asked if they were interested in renting the house.  As luck would have it, the current renter was moving out that very day and they were very open to renting to us at a great price.  I had really loved the 3 bedroom house with the open roofed courtyard right in the middle of it.  It had a big yard and a great pool and I could picture our family there (okay they ALWAYS use that line on House Hunters!).  Grant pointed out the downsides of the open roof such as bugs, lizards, scorpions, bats, floods – but I thought it was cool.  Definitely a possibility, although it was 30-40 minute drive to our land where he will be spending a lot of time building.  But still, maybe….
  2. Next we had a realtor show us a home in a neighborhood I had never considered living in. The town of Bucerias is divided by the highway – on one side is the ocean and art galleries and restaurants and English speaking Gringos; on the other side are chickens and horses and taco stands and sweet Mexican children and their mamas who only speak Spanish.  So when he showed us a home in the Mexican neighborhood I was uncertain – is this too crazy for even us?  The house only had 2 bedrooms, a very small outdoor space and was on a super loud corner.  Not so sure….
  3. He then took us to a 3 bedroom home on a beautifully manicured golf course. Super quiet and peaceful, with a private pool and windows that open from a bar to the outdoor area.  I could definitely picture Jose my private pool boy and bartender bringing me a refreshing beverage while I relaxed.  It needed some renos but the realtor told us he was overseeing the work and we could choose what we wanted in the home.  Tempting…..
  4. We had three very different homes to choose from ….. and then there were 4. As we drove past the local church, our friend and pastor Fredy waved us down and told us he knew of a nearby house that was for rent.  We were back in the Mexican side of the highway, but I admit my mind had been opened earlier in the day to this new possibility.  As we waited for the owner to come and unlock the house we watched three untethered horses wander down the street with a couple of chickens following behind – looking at us as though they were also wondering what these gringos were doing in their town.  Curiosity more than displeasure really.  The house was large with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and an office area.  There was a balcony off the bedroom for morning coffee and a back area large enough to make into a garden.  The house was a 10 minute walk to the beach and less than a 10 minute drive to our building site. And a garage – it had a garage!  The price was unbeatable and there were taco stands and a fruit market and a fish store close by.  But certainly no ocean view, no pool, not even a bathtub.  I don’t really think so……

We were leaving by noon the next day and were very confused by the choices.  On House Hunters they sit down for 3 or 4 minutes, eliminate one house, argue halfheartedly for another minute and BAM – decision made.  We did not have that experience – so we decided to sleep on it.  I was definitely leaning towards the Nuevo Vallarta house with no roof and Grant was leaning towards the quiet golf course house.  So we went to bed and sometime in the night God pulled a bait-and-switch on me.  When I woke up in the morning I was somewhat horrified to experience that sense of clarity that I recognize as God’s leading.  I leaned over and told Grant that I was thinking we should take the Mexican house with the horse neighbors – and he said he was thinking exactly the same thing.  That is always our decision clincher – when opposites agree without debate it is a powerful thing!

We only had a couple of hours to raid a few ATMs to get enough cash to pay a deposit and a couple months’ rent and to meet with the owner to sign a contract.  Our wonderful friend Fredy dropped everything he was doing to meet with us and be our translator as we negotiated final terms and took one last look around.

A housewarming gift from Rinconcito de Poncho in Bucerias

A housewarming gift from Rinconcito de Poncho in Bucerias

So we have a home!  It is nothing like we had envisioned and yet in many ways much more than we had expected.  I remind myself that I am not ready to retire by the pool and be served drinks by Jose – I am here to love and serve and touch Mexico close up.  This neighborhood IS Mexico and it is the perfect place to jump ALL IN, to learn the language and customs and hearts of my new home. And don’t worry – when you visit there will still be cool drinks served in my garden!