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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Out of the Country

I've done my fair share of traveling in my 25 year life so far. It's just been always in the USA and Canada. I have been to Canada on fishing trips probably 18+ times in my life, and I've visited nearly half of the states in America. Until last week, I had never been to any other countries besides the US and Canada.

I've now added Mexico to my list.

Most of you might roll your eyes and think back to your vacations to Cabo, Cancun or wherever else you may have spent time in the Mexican sun. I have never been to a Mexican resort or hotel, and we didn't go to one on this trip either.

My sister in law [Matt's sister, Lynda], is spending the year volunteering at the Bible Institute of Tecate, Mexico. It's a part of the Tecate Mission. She is in charge of child care while the kid's parents go to school to become pastors and missionaries. Tecate is not a resort town. It's a Mexican town not far from Tijuana. It was quite the experience for me to go there.

Because I have never been to Mexico before and because all the people I know who have gone have spent time in resort towns, I guess I always pictured Mexico like how Florida or Hawaii is. Beachy, clean and tropical.

Instead, I saw garbage, graffiti and a lot of stray animals that were in need of some fattening food. I saw people trying to sell a wide variety of things to tourists and to those crossing back into the US in hopes of raising a little money for their family. I saw families smiling and laughing, despite living in a place ridden with poverty. It made me thankful for the blessings in my life and also a little in awe that the majority of these people are happy despite their living conditions. We have so much and often take it for granted.

The whole experience in Mexico was wayyyyy out of my comfort zone. I didn't touch the water [hand sanitizer was my best friend], I didn't know any spanish so I mostly smiled and either nodded or shook my head to communicate, and I discovered that my mouth is not up to the spice standards of Mexican food. The driving made me thank God over and over again that I didn't have to be the one behind the wheel, and seeing the poverty made me want to simplify my life and strive to give to those who don't have as much. As uncomfortable as parts of the trip were, I am so happy I got the chance to see what life was like just 30 minutes south of San Diego. Those 30 minutes make a world of difference.


The view right before crossing into Mexico for the first time.


Rosarito Beach - a resort town that we visited in the off season, so it was totally deserted. But to be honest, I was surprised even with the condition of this town. I have no doubt that the hotels along the beach are beautiful inside, but the town was still very different than I had naively expected.


This last photo [below] is a view of Tecate, from inside the walls of the Bible Institute. The cement block wall marks the edge of the BI property and tries to keep the property as safe as possible.


We also saw the border between the US and Mexico, and Matt talked about the episodes of Border Wars that he's seen. It was weird and a little eerie to see the wall, the cameras and the police/border patrol vehicles and ATV's on the US side, ready to be used if needed.

I felt like a naive little Minnesotan girl who's lived in a bubble for her whole life, and well... maybe that's mostly true. But I'm thankful to have been given a glimpse into another way of life. And it's pretty crazy to think that Tecate and the parts of Mexico that are close to the US are some of the most industrialized and sophisticated parts. The farther you get from the border, the less Americanized and more rural it gets. It's honestly hard for me to even imagine.

Hopefully, in the years ahead, I'll get the chance to travel outside of North America. Someday...

1 comment:

  1. Laura,
    So great you got to experience this. I have been to Mexico twice & once was for a mission trip in Puerto (Rocky Point) with my church and like you said I just got really eerie feeling there. It definitely opened my eyes to how lucky & blessed I am to have 4 walls & a roof & a police/government that won't throw me in jail just because they 'feel' like it. I'm only 4 hours away from the border & it's amazing how the border has affected our lives here in Phoenix. It's definitely something that you have to experience, so glad you did!


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