*** This is part of a series of rough drafts for my memoir entitled Florero ***
We arrived in Mazatlan late at night. We weren’t sure yet where we would stay. Ana called her mom as soon as we arrived and asked if she wanted us to stay with her, although we didn’t mind staying in a hotel. In fact I think Ana and I wanted to stay in an air conditioned hotel. However you dont’ want to insult family. So we decided to stay with her mom, her 2 daughters, her sister, and her brother. All under the same roof. This was all new to me. We gathered our stuff, and headed out to look for a taxi. Mazatlan is home to the pulmonias. A pulmonia is a taxi that looks like a souped-up golf cart. Hundreds of these roam the streets. They are very popular among locals. I would learn quickly that this is a very fun way to travel around town and it’s not too terribly expensive.
Ana and I fought and bickered and a lot of it was my fault at the moment. I don’t do well with new surroundings in a foreign land, and language barriers. Although my spanish is good now, it was not always good.
We stopped and bought some gifts for her mom, and quickly headed towards home. The humidity struck me for the first time. I realized it was hot and sticky. I love humidity so it was an amazing feeling to feel home again in the tropics. Before I’d taken short trips into tropical areas but this would be home.
We drove for around 20 minutes in the taxi from the bus station, to the gift shop, and then to the house. It was around 10pm Mazatlan time. And we finally arrived at the house.
I was not ready for what I would see. I grew up in middle class suburbia. This was the third world. We arrived at a small house outside of downtown, near a smaller college. The house was built by Habitat for Humanity. It appears the entire neighborhood was built by Habitat for Humanity.
The house sat on a small parcel of land surrounded by other houses. It was about 15 x 20 with a small bathroom and basically the size of a studio apartment. Under the roof lived Ana’s Mom also named Ana, her sister Perla, Ana’s two kids Leslye and Michelle, and her brother Fernando. All in all 5 lived in this small house and relied on the income of Ana’s mothers boyfriend.
I believe at that moment I realized and was thankful for all the blessings I had. For being born an American, for all the opportunities I have had. For my education. Not everyone gets those same opportunities.
That night I cried for the first time in a while. I cried in joy. That I had an opportunity many would never experience. I was experiencing the other side of humanity. The side that didn’t have the same opportunities, and blessing that I as an American took for granted.
I slept on the concrete. Leslye lay between Ana and I. I realized this little girl unless circumstances changed would grow up in poverty, and have to work harder than hard to have the chance to have success in life.
The heat and humidity never ceased all night. The mosquitos ate me alive. But I was happy because for the first time in a long time Ana appeared to be happy. She held her daughter and stroked her hair and fought back tears of joy. For the first time in a long time I felt as though I had meaning in life. Even if it was just reuniting this family and being a blessing to them.
My journey was just beginning. The lessons of this first evening were immense and overwhelming. The tears flowed rich and pure that night.
I came to bless them, and instead they blessed me with much happiness and peace that I experience to this day.