In writing this blog and sharing our experiences, two of my main concerns about my writing is not to sound: 1) preachy about any subject, because frankly, I am not an expert in anything… or 2) judgmental. I hate reading preachy blogs, and in fact, I’m not a big fan of anyone telling me what to do or how it is (our friend Mitch will like that – he calls it “Johannah’s world”… which is awesome, by the way). And judgmental because I really don’t want to sound like I’m criticizing anything about the Mexican way of life or their culture. I don’t ever want our family to think or say “that’s crazy here – it’s not how it’s done in the States – it’s wrong“. Even on subjects that, in my opinion, could use some improvements here (like environmental concerns or animal rights: not much recycling is done here, and there are no animal humane societies or shelters, and I’ve only manged to find one animal rescue group in the entire country, and they don’t respond to emails).
So, with that disclaimer out of the way, one thing I wanted to share: the subject of appreciation.
Living in Mexico now for over a month has made me appreciative of how drinking water is safe and accessible back in my own hometown of Chicago. Back home, at any given time, we had several rooms in our house where we could turn on a facet and have access to drinking water. We could go outside and turn on a hose – and had drinking water. Here, you can not drink the water – it’s not safe – for many reasons. Water in most cities is not purified to the extent it is in U.S. cities, pipes are old, can be made of lead, have cracks and leaks. The water table in a lot of the country is very close to the surface, and is contaminated by garbage dumps and runoff.
A fundamental necessity that human life needs – to survive – is water, and that life sustaining necessity isn’t readily available here. Most everyone except the most poor must constantly buy bottled water. Now, for my family that’s not a big deal – luckily, we can afford it, and honestly, it’s not all that expensive here and we even have a service that brings us new bottles each week. What about poor families who can’t afford bottled water, let alone the convenient door-delivery service? I can’t imagine what those families face, and like all considerations I think about, I always relate it to my children. I can’t imagine thinking to myself: I can’t buy my child [insert item here] because we need the money for water. There’s nothing that you can insert into that sentence that doesn’t make it any less sad.
Quick change of subject: we’re now in the “rainy season”, and on top of that are enjoying some storm remnants of Tropical Storm Dolly. So, it’s raining all day long here. Another quick change of subject: there are a TON of public transportation buses here. I know that for a fact because I usually almost get crushed by at least two each time I’m out driving around (hah, Mom: don’t worry, I’m exaggerating…everyone else: see footnote 1 below). My point to this is to share that I don’t think a lot of the folks around here own their own car – so they depend on public transportation. As I’m ducking and dodging my way around yet another bus, I can’t help but notice that they are usually over-filled with people – you’ll see the folks standing down the middle aisles in these cramped vehicles, and every seat obviously taken, in what I guarantee are all kinds of safety violations. The windows are usually always down, which means they don’t have air conditioning. I feel claustrophobic just looking at them.
So, here’s where my appreciation comes in. I’m driving my children to school this morning in the rain. We’ve got the windows up, so we are dry and comfortable. I don’t know about you, but my typical drive into school usually involves complaints from the back seat about what I packed them for lunch that day (“not turkey AGAIN…”, “you forgot my dessert!” (FN 2) As this drive progresses, I notice the buses – crowded, windows still down even in the rain for what I’m assuming is for some fresh air. I see lots of people waiting for public transportation, in the rain, some with umbrellas, some not. I see children on these buses, and walking/waiting with their families getting wet in the rain. And I think to myself how appreciative I am that I and my children are in our car, comfortable. And I’m really hoping that my children are perceiving some of this as well. I’m really hoping that they are looking around, and rather than noticing all the people who don’t have certain things, but all the things that they themselves have, and appreciate. The girls are only 6 and 9, so I’m thinking that they aren’t, and besides, they are too busy complaining about the sandwich selection for the day and that I force too many vegetables on them (FN 3). And you know what: a part of me is appreciative of that fact too: if those are my children’s biggest concerns today, then we are very lucky indeed – and I hope that I find the time to appreciate that each and every day – no matter where in this world I live.
One last subject change: I have to share this – true story: so in the middle of the night – last night – hubby wakes up and needs to use the restroom. Upon coming back to bed, he steps on something squishy. Still being half asleep, he doesn’t pay much attention and gets back into bed. This morning, in the light, he sees that what he stepped on was a big, fat worm that had somehow crawled into our bedroom. His toes and the floor were covered in this disgusting, sticky green slime.
The point of this last subject: I am – with every fiber of my being and soul – so appreciative of the fact that this happened to him, and not to me.
footnote1 : I’m not exaggerating.
footnote 2: I didn’t.
footnote 3: I don’t.