We are now in el otro lado, literally and figuratively. After a very interesting trip from Chihuahua to Arkansas, we're getting settled into our little house in the Village, the missionary housing provided for us by our home church here. I cannot tell you how refreshing and relaxing it is for us to be here in this haven of rest...to be able to walk in the door with only a few personal things and have a fully furnished and beautifully decorated home waiting for you! And not only that, but the grounds are beautiful, too...the Village is not only a peaceful place of rest for Miguel and I, but a very safe place for our kids to play as well.
Our house in the Village.
We're on the other side of our goodbyes and the journey, too, and I can tell that we're still recovering and processing everything from the last few weeks...the kids, too, are struggling to adjust. While they are excited to be here and have other missionary kids and friends to play with, they are cranky and crabby (join the club, lol). Jkaile, especially, has been affected by this move since our apartment in Mexico was the only home he can remember.
As far as our actual trip to el otro lado, I would probably rank it as the worst travel experience we've ever had. Yeah. One of the reasons I'm just so glad to be here! It took us way longer to pack up the van and trailer than we expected, so we got a late start out of Chihuahua at 3 p.m. We decided to go ahead and leave, however, since we figured we'd either drive through the night or just find a hotel along the way. Since the plan was to spend the weekend with my friend Sol (her husband Ciro and son Toñito were in Mexico visiting family) in College Station, Texas, we knew we had a long way to go.
After saying goodbye to our dear friends John and Maria (tears flowed there...well, at least for Maria and I...I think John and Miguel probably kept a stiff upper lip...) who had so graciously opened their home to us for our last two weeks in Mexico, we took off for the border. Miguel was able to cancel our visas and car permit without all of us getting out of the van, so that was nice. On the U.S. side, however, security was tight and they pulled us over for an inspection. They let us go rather quickly, though, so I guess we convinced them of our innocence. :)
Other than Miguel missing a turn-off and making a long detour due to the fact that his navigator was sleeping, the trip proceeded rather smoothly until about 1 a.m. when we got pulled over by a city policeman in a little Texas town. He pulled us over to let us know that the lights on our trailer weren't working, but he also wanted to see license and proof of insurance as well as my driver's license. This is when we found out we didn't have proof of insurance (we knew we had insurance, just couldn't find the proof). Fortunately, he was a kind policeman, didn't give us a ticket or make a fuss about the insurance and after telling us we needed to fix the lights, went off into the night.
Miguel fiddled with the lights for a while and they finally came back on, so it must have just been some loose wiring. Since he noticed that one of the trailer tires was a bit low on air, we decided to go back into town to inflate it a bit more. On the way back out of town, we got pulled over a second time by a state trooper in the exact same spot as the first time we got pulled over! This time, he said he stopped us because he couldn't see our trailer's license plate because the tarp was covering it a bit. Again, license and proof of insurance please...and we were like, um....and once again, we were treated with mercy and he let us go with just a citation and an admonishment to get the proof of insurance as soon as we could. While the state trooper had us pulled over, we overheard a few things on the radio that made us think that security was a bit tight in the area due to the situation with illegal immigrants, so we think that's probably what was going on there...they were probably stopping any suspicious-looking vehicles or ones with out-of-state license plates, which would explain why they weren't so concerned about the insurance papers.
Because of the border crossing and the time lost in the detour and with the lights/getting pulled over, we really lost a lot of time. Once we got up to the interstate where we would turn east, both Miguel and I were so tired that we just pulled over into a rest area behind a bunch of trucks, locked the doors and slept for a couple of hours! When we woke up, we went not-so-merrily on our way because we were just so zonked. I drove for as long as I could to let Miguel sleep more and then Miguel took over again. As the day went on, we felt a bit better and were able to enjoy the beautiful sights of central Texas...there are some really cute little towns there that would be so much fun to explore...such as the German-Texan town of Fredericksburg.
Anyway, about 30 minutes out from College Station, we stopped at a gas station to call Sol and get directions to her house. She was excited to hear from us, but then I had to call her right back to let her know we'd be delayed even more because Miguel had noticed a major problem with one of the trailer tires...it was terribly deformed and literally about to fall off because all the ball bearings had melted! yikes. We were so very thankful to be at a gas station, have a place for the kids and I to sit inside out of the 105 degree heat (even though the lady attending the station was unfortunately less than gracious), and that there was a Tractor Supply Co. literally across the street where Miguel could buy all the parts he needed to replace the tire and tire mount. He also talked with a Mexican guy who happened to be there who called a friend of his to come help Miguel fix the tire more quickly than Miguel could have done it on his own...the compadre system at work there. :)
So by the time we made it to Sol's house, we'd been on the road for 26 hours and were completely and utterly wiped out! While we had an excellent time at Sol's house and it was great to catch up with their lives, I started realizing that I was getting a stomach something. I am pretty sure it was not a flu, but more like amoebic dysentery or some such thing I'd picked up somewhere along the way. My stomach was cramping and I kept having to run to the bathroom every hour or so...not good while traveling. Sol had the right medicine, though, so Sunday night I began that treatment and felt better within about six hours...which was good because I was beginning to wonder if we'd be able to leave that next day after all!
Monday morning, after a good Mexican breakfast, we said our goodbyes to Sol and headed out. There really are no good ways to get to Northwest Arkansas from College Station, so we mapped out what we felt would be the best route on secondary roads even though it would probably take us a bit longer. Everything went well until after lunch when Jojo began throwing up. I felt bad because about all we could do was provide a container for him and just keep going. He didn't complain a lot and we just kept stopping to empty the container...poor guy. Nothing like feeling so sick on the road...
Then about 3 p.m. in a town in northeast Texas, we lost the other tire...we were literally riding on the rim and left some nice grooves in the highway for a while. Miguel had a spare and he and Micah worked to get that tire on so we could go look for a place to buy a new one.
Again, God was good and there was a Tractor Supply Co. just a quarter of a mile back down the highway! It didn't take long for Miguel to get the new tire on while the rest of us hung out in the air conditioning of Home Depot (which would also probably sold the right tires, too) and then we were back on the road. We really enjoyed the scenery on the back roads of eastern Oklahoma, but Miguel was pretty stressed at the thought of losing another tire...once it was dark, he kept looking in the mirrors for signs of sparks! But we made it to Rogers with no more tire troubles...I think we pulled in here around 11:30 p.m. that night. We were greeted by some welcome signs from our friends, the Rasicos, another missionary family we know who are living here at the Village.
Nothing like a warm welcome to make
us feel at home!
So we've been working at getting settled in and getting better...Jojo was sick for the first couple of days we were back and now Gracia and Jkaile might be getting it, too (although I hope not!). I felt pretty badly, too, with my stomach thing, but am gradually getting better now that the medicine is really taking effect. We've been able to see a few friends so far and that's been good. Once we're better, I'm sure we'll be able to get out more. I will also start homeschooling in a couple of weeks, so need to get organized for that...in the meantime, I'm working on helping the kids learn how to live in this house and set up the daily routines before we tackle school.
I think my final thoughts on this trip, though, are that in spite of it being our 'worst' travel experience ever in terms of sickness, length, problems, etc. it was actually one of the best because I did not freak out. I was calm, rational, did not say "I told you so" (not even ONCE), in control of my emotions (okay, well, there were a couple of times...), and had peace that God would take care of us no matter what happened. I have such a thankful heart for the way God is working in me because it made it such a better experience than it would have been if I'd just totally flipped every time something else happened. So neat to see how God continues to work and how much these changes in me have such a positive effect on my family.