Lucinda and Bill

I visited Cozumel recently, and on one of the happiest days there, I met a couple in the pool area. The man was in a wheelchair, and his wife was an expert at putting him in the pool. I could tell from the look on his face that the lightness of his body in the water was soothing. He looked happy being out of the chair. I felt a little guilty, watching the woman struggle getting her husband in the pool, but she looked strong and determined. When she was about to get back to her poolside seat, I spoke to her and confessed, “I’m sorry I didn’t help you. I didn’t know if it was appropriate to ask.” She turned around and said to me, “Oh, don’t worry about it. We’re all set here. Thank you for asking now.” Then what happened surprised me.

She introduced herself as Lucinda, and her husband was Bill. “Short for William,” she said with a big smile on her face. She then proceeded to tell me the story of her life. Her warm, comforting voice had me craving to know more about her. It was about 4 or so when we started talking, and I returned to my room close to 9. I had such a blast hearing her story and falling in love with it.

Lucinda told me Bill was a veteran, and she believes what caused the breast cancer she had and later on Bill’s progressive, paralyzing disease was his exposure to a nuclear warhead he had to work around when he was deployed to the Gulf War. She told me how they met, about her beautiful children and grandchildren, and even about her German daughter-in-law. She talked about how happy she was about life in general, despite all the losses and the continued deterioration of Bill’s health. “He lost control of his right side this year, you know,” she told me. It broke my heart to hear her talking about this. But then we talked about being thankful, about how happy I was to see him walking around the pool, and how he made me feel grateful for all the blessings in my life: the ability to walk, to move around at will, to have my health. 

Then Lucinda moved on to the amazing story of why she and Bill were in Cozumel. It turns out that Bill belongs to a diving club, and he was traveling with a group of people who have all kinds of injuries that cause them to be in wheelchairs, as well as people with cerebral palsy. Right when we were talking about this and how they all actually dive, two people from the group joined us, both of them in their late 20s or early 30s. They openly talked about their injuries. The man happened to trip once – as Bill stated, “a bad trip” – landing in the wrong place at the wrong  time, and that was it – he dislocated spinal discs C6 and C7. He showed us the huge scar that runs from the base of his head nearly all the way down to his shoulder blades. He lost feeling from the area around his nipples all the way down his body. The woman had simply jumped into a pool and smashed her head on the bottom or side of the pool. She said she doesn’t entirely recall the incident because she lost consciousness and almost drowned. When she woke up, she learned she had smashed her C6 and C7 beyond repair. Her scar runs from the middle of her throat to the base of her ear. The surgeons lifted all that skin and removed the pieces of bone that were floating around. “I really smashed it good,” she said with a smiling face.

They were so open and kind, talking about their injuries, their group, their constant, CONSTANT pain, and how diving helps them release the pressure in their spine. They especially described the freedom they feel in the water and also explained that they dive with a partner who has full movement and is usually very experienced. The professional diver takes them around, helps them move around, and shows them where there is good stuff to watch. The diver is their guide, their legs, their propellers. I had never felt more humble, being around such wonderful people. I had never felt more appreciative of the multitude of blessings I have in my life. We laughed together as they recounted their stories, and above all, I learned so much. They were so eager to share.

When the others left, Lucinda and I kept talking. I told her that she was a goddess, and she was surprised. She said, “OH, NO! No, no. I believe in God, and there is only one God.” I told her that I didn’t mean it like that, but that she is taking care of this man with whom she’s deeply in love, she survived cancer, she’s been the head of a household all by herself. I told her I noticed that she smiled every single time Bill would come around the corner of the little island he was walking around in the pool to tell us, “One more round!” with a huge smile of his own and the best attitude possible. I could feel the enormity and warmth of their hearts. Bill was teasing me, saying I have a man in every port, but saying he was a hopeless romantic who fell in love with Lucinda the second he saw her pass by. “I didn’t care if she was married, a widow, had one baby or seven. That was it for me, Mono. She was for me.”

There is no way that I won’t keep in touch with this amazing couple. You know how you just kind of love and admire some people immediately? That’s what happened to me with these two. They gave me an open invitation to visit them, which of course I will do because I can’t wait to see them again and share our life stories once again. 

When I said goodbye that day, Lucinda said to me, “Please say hi to your parents from me. They have raised an amazing daughter,” and Bill blew me a kiss. 

Be grateful, be happy, be alive, be well. 

Good waves

I was immerse in a surf trip for 12 days without knowing at all what to expect. I have never, ever surfed in my life and the thought of a rough ocean gives me the creeps, but I got involved in the adventure not precisely cause of the surf, but then I was, amongst ONLY surfers and the adventure was to say the least… unexpected.

Many of the things I did during this trip were not on the same lane that I usually travel, or at least not on the same lane that I’ve been traveling like for the past 10 years. I realized all ages surfers travel this way: not knowing what to expect, not knowing were to stay, not knowing what will happen tomorrow, sometimes completely off the grill, cause they live the waves exactly as they come and they enjoy them EXACTLY as they come, but above all, as if this good waves were exactly the last good ones they will see for the rest of the season. So they get up extremely early in the morning for a surf at 5-6 am, and they get back to their accommodations as soon as the body cannot deal with the hunger any more, they have a small breakfast that they usually prepare themselves, and wait till they are ready again to get the GOOD WAVES. A visit to the ocean 2 or 3 times a day sounds about right for them.

I realized that they live life to the fullest each day, day by day. Falling from the wave, getting up again and again till they can ride it and then they paddle again, they walk again, and jump into the water again, and again and again, and again.

Most of this people work hard a regular job that they squeeeeeze till the last breath so they’ll have money to travel and surf to wherever the waves take them. I thought I traveled a lot, but damn you should talk to this people, not a single one of them has an empty passport, dozens of countries visited, for the GOOD WAVES, some of them speak many languages including the crazy surf lingo that it is absolutely imposible to understand if you are not into surfing, as well as a set of crazy rules in the water that everyone talks about cause they are always broken by a few, and also, an endless list of nationalities blend in the water, a cornucopia of languages is spoken in and outside of it, and in there every man and girl paddles for itself.

I found myself been an outcast in the water, all I could do was swim and wait, so I got out of it, meditated, ran, practice yoga, walk, enjoy the scenery, read. When people found out I wasn’t a surfer they all made a weird face and ask: -what do you do here then?- But even though I wasn’t a surfer what did happen was that I got adopted by them all, the late night talks were an absolute delight, as well as the food and beer, and my God did I laughed, I laughed till I couldn’t deal with it any more. And even though I couldn’t understand whenever the conversation drifted to surf, I found myself immerse in this community that open their hearts and lives and sometimes souls to me as much as I did too.

I am extremely grateful I was involved in this experience, with all it’s ups and downs, with all it’s strange places and spaces, with all of the Mexico I have never heard of!

MY GOD! how many surf beaches can there be in out coasts?! and the astonishing  beauty of them! This trip made me see a part of me I hardly see, it was a trip of introspection and self awareness and I’m so thankful above all for the places I saw and the people I meet that I know now will be a part of my life from now on and hopefully for a long time.

Will I ever be a surfer? doubt it. But did I get the Good Waves… I sure did.

Thank you all: Thank you Owen, Phillipe, Yhonathan, Gastón, Ellie, Sarah, Belen, Austin, Mitchel, Jana, David, Alex, Marcelo, Leonardo, Yaron, Katherine, Miguel, Raúl, Olie and Chris. For the time, the beers, the tips, the patience, the card games, the hugs, the kisses, the rides, the love. May you always have Good Waves wherever you go.

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Parte 3: Cuando pase el temblor

Llegamos a Yellowknife la madrugada del 19 de Septiembre. Despertamos luego de una noche en vela tratando de ver más auroras, luego de la elección de nuestras respectivas habitaciones y felices de que ya no tendríamos que compartir un sofá cama, fuimos a dormir plácidamente. Por la mañana y luego de un sueño reparador Fer preparó un rico desayuno rayaban las 12pm en Yellowknife mientras yo me disponía a revisar pendientes con Polo y con Eliud, pasé por la habitación de Fer y le dije

-Puki me aguantas? tengo que hacer una confe con la oficina

-Sip, yo mientras hablo con César, pero no te tardes para aprovechar el día

-Lo prometo

Para cuando me senté en nuestro hermoso pórtico con vista al río y a los vecinos eran pasaditas de las 12 (íbamos una hora atrás), saqué una foto para presumirla con los chico, se las mandé y en ese instante Eliud nos dijo:

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-NO MAMEN! ESTÁ TEMBLANDO BIEN CABRÓN CHICOS!! Mono, habla con los muchachos, habla con tus papás!

En ese preciso instante, Austin me mandó un mensaje y comenzó el río de fotos, de mensajes, nadie de mi familia me contestaba, ni mi papá, ni mi mamá, ni mi hermano y Fer salió corriendo de su habitación pálida como la nieve y me dijo

-ESTÁ MUY CABRÓN MONO!! TENGO QUE HABLAR CON MIS PAPÁS!!!

 

El primero en contestar fue mi papá, TODO BIEN

Luego mi hermano, TODO BIEN PERO NO ENCUENTRO A MAMÁ

Unos 20 minutos después se reportó, se fue a mi departamento corriendo y me dijo que no veía daños, luego se fue a casa, mandó fotos de como su cama había recorrido casi medio metro de la pared, de como los marcos de las fotos familiares en la mesita de la entrada se habían quebrado CASI TODOS. Mandó fotos de mi gatita, de las perritas y dijo, TODO BIEN.

Decir que disfrutamos de Yellowknife luego de ese día, fue casi imposible, pasamos casi toda esa mañana, mandando mensajes, hablando con gente, tratando de ayudar desde lejos lo que pudimos. Por supuesto no dimensionamos la magnitud de lo que había pasado desde nuestra trinchera. Decidimos salir de la casa por primera vez para distraernos, lo cual conllevaba bajar entre las dos una ENORME canoa metálica al río y luego remar hasta la orilla, unos 3km aproximadamente.

Decir que fue una aventura el estar tan lejos de casa bajo esas circunstancias es de verdad POCO, lo que vivimos en Yellowknife en 5 días no basta para media  entrada en este blog, pero la experiencia fue absolutamente diferente simplemente porque el primer día que pudimos disfrutar de Yellowknife pues fue el día del temblor.

Yo, en lo personal, quise que las aguas se calmaran para hablar al respecto, guarde luto por la gente que pereció y también mi luto personal, porque claro, una madre siempre protegerá a sus hijos; Muti, sí fue a ver mi depa y efectivamente se veía bien por fuera, pero Luna y yo fuimos desalojadas y seguimos en espera de que nuestro edificio sea reconstruido para regresar. Muti guardó esta información para no preocuparme cuando estaba tan lejos, para que pudiera pasar unas buenas vacaciones y un buen cumpleaños. No sé si fue la mejor decisión pero fue su decisión y hay que respetarla.

Entonces ahora sí en forma y como debe de ser, en un siguiente post hablaré de Yellowknife, la aventura en el ártico!

Parte 2: La división del viaje

Ciertamente íbamos a Canadá a ver las Auroras, pero también había que aprovechar para hacer dos cosas más: Ver a Beth, a su esposo Luis y a su hija (mi sobri) Isabella y claro, festejar mi cumpleaños, entonces 3 objetivos, 2 destinos: dividámoslo:

Decidimos, claro llegar a Calgary primero, tantear un poco el clima y salir luego para Yellowknife y por último regresar a Calgary para la última parte del viaje donde festejaríamos mi cumpleaños número 37. Pasaríamos 4 días en Calgary, luego volaríamos a Yellowknife donde estaríamos 5 días y posteriormente regresaríamos a Calgary donde terminaríamos con 2 días más: 11 días!!!! INCREÍBLE.

Calgary nos encantó, nos despertábamos por la mañana y salíamos a correr al parque, luego regresábamos a casa de Beth, tomábamos un desayuno ligero y nos íbamos a la aventura con Luis, que es un loquillo lleno de ideas absolutamente locas para pasar el rato, la verdad la pasamos muy, muy bien, con bastante frío pero muy bien, dividíamos nuestro tiempo entre comida, ir a lugares de interés, comida, cerveza, compras, comida, cerveza, comida, patinar, cerveza, caminar sin parar, cerveza y comida.

Cuando cayó el fin de semana nos llevaron a la montaña, a Banff, y no creo que haya estado en un lugar con una naturaleza tan impactante, es de verdad HERMOSO, claro, nos cagábamos de frío pero de verdad es hermoso! Tuvimos oportunidad de comer hamburguesas de animales de la región que no mencionaré para no herir susceptibilidades pero vaya que estaban buenas!

Calgary nos trató muy bien y antes de irnos a Yellowknife decidimos por supuesto hacer planes para mi cumpleaños adelantados y que nada se quedara al aire, decidimos ir al OKTOBERFEST!!! Nos emocionaba mucho pasar el día bebiendo cerveza hasta el hartazgo justificadamente mientras bailábamos Schuhplatter y nos abrazábamos con completos desconocidos que juraban tenían por lo menos una pizca de sangre alemana en sus venas. El plan perfecto!

Y nos fuimos a Yellowknife! Nuestro vuelo salió ya tarde, y llegamos rayando en la madrugada a los Territorios del Norte tomamos un taxi saliendo del aeropuerto y le pedimos nos llevara a Governors Port, donde nos esperaría nuestro transporte a la que sería nuestra casa por los siguientes 5 días, porque no les conté pero, nos quedaríamos en UNA CASA FLOTANTE, en medio del Great Slave River!! sólo con pensar en lo que iba a ser quedarnos ahí ya nos sonaba maravilloso, el frío no nos dejaba pensar más, en medio de una completa oscuridad estábamos esperando por nuestro transporte que no se veía venir por ningún lado mientras nuestro nada ameno taxista nos preguntaba SEGURAS QUE AQUÍ LAS RECOGEN? Decidimos despacharlo sin pensar en nada más y cuando se fue y estuvimos no sólo en completa oscuridad sino en total silencio fue cuando comenzó la magia, miramos hacia arriba y ahí estaban! LAS AURORAS!!!! No es algo que simplemente reconozcas de inmediato, sobre todo cuando nunca has tenido referencia de algo parecido en tu vida, asemejan a una nube en un cielo gris, pero en un momento, precioso e irrepetible SE ENCIENDEN! como si algo en su interior actuara en la atmósfera y PUFF! SE PRENDEN!

No sé como describir lo que sentí físicamente, porque el frío me estaba bloqueando todos los sentidos, pero reí, no paraba de decir, WOW, WOW, WOW NO MAMES!! Fue una experiencia increíble de la que no me aguantaba las ganas de contarle a todo el mundo pero, lo inesperado paso…

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