I’d never traveled over the Christmas holidays before. Why would I want to travel away from family? But, with my daughter Alicia spending a year volunteering in Mexico, my wife Debbie, my son Andrew, and I were travelling to be with family. So, there I was learning about life in Mexico.
Alicia was living with a family in Tepoztlan, Mexico and working with young children for an organization called La Jugarreta. Tepoztlan is about an hour and a half south of Mexico City, close to Cuernavaca. Parts of the film the Magnificent Seven were filmed there. Hills around the city seem to rise up like the sides of skyscrapers. Alicia had already told us that she wanted to take us to ziplining. Or rather that we would take her - - and pay for it. She sent us an email with a link to a YouTube video of the zipline along with a note; “Mom, don't be scared. It's gonna be crazy fun.” Alicia kept up her sales job with Mom when we got there, including explaining the concept of YOLO or You Only Live Once. Debbie didn’t seem to be too fazed, however she did make some comments to me about the differences in safety regulations between the US and Mexico.
We went to the Ocotirolesa (Oh Co Ti Row Lay Sa), which I thought was Spanish for Eight Ziplines. But i was wrong, it's the name of the area where the zipline is. Then we were there. We got our protective gear and had to hike up to the start of the ziplines. First, there were a few short zip lines that didn’t have much of a drop beneath them. Then we had the BIG one. Debbie went before me and did fine. After a couple minutes, I was next. I had a short moment of thinking what am I doing, but I let it go and jumped off. The line wasn’t too high up in the air at first, but then it came to that skyscraper side of the hill and suddenly I was WAY up in the air. The brochure said the line was over 800 meters at the highest point. Half a mile up. The same height as a 35-story building.
As I flew over a soccer field, I thought this was as close to playing quidditch as I would ever get. As Alicia had said it was “crazy fun.” After we were all across the valley we had to climb up to the zip line that would take us back. Grabbing onto the cable that had been strung up the hill we pulled ourselves up. You Only Live Once, but we got to do the crazy fun zip line twice.
We were invited to an English language church service in Cuernavaca. My wife, Debbie was especially interested in seeing Cuernavaca because she had been there before on a trip when she was a Girl Scout.
We took the bus to Cuernavaca, took a taxi to the area the church was in, and then walked a few blocks to the church. We were slightly behind schedule (alright, we were late). On our walk to the church, Alicia realized we wouldn’t be late for the service when she saw the pastor running from the church to his house. He was looking for his copy of the sermon that was missing. It also turned out that only the bulletins for the later Spanish language service had been delivered. They were missing their English language bulletins with the order of service and the list of songs that would be sung. They worked around not having the bulletins. The Pastor’s English version of his sermon wasn’t found. So, to give the sermon he had to use his Spanish version and translate on the fly. It was all going well when suddenly – electronic beeps and music. Someone’s cell phone was ringing. The Pastor sagged against his pulpit, shook his head and said, “Ahh, go ahead and answer it. What more could go wrong today?” Once the music stopped, he gave a little aside that I remind myself of from time to time.
“You know”, he said, “there is a technical term for this. When you have everything planned out and nothing works the way it should. It’s a little word, only four letters. It’s called life.” And then he went on with his sermon.
After the church service we spoke with some of the other people there. Debbie found out that the Girl Scout camp that she had been at was only a few blocks away. We started walking there and soon made our way to the compound. A high wall surrounded everything. We walked up the guard booth and explained that we wanted to see inside. “I’m sorry, there’s nobody inside. They’ve all gone on an outing to Tepoztlan.” We took a few pictures in front of the gate and slowly trudged away. Standing on the other side of the street we tried to hail a cab. We weren’t having any luck when we suddenly saw the guard running in our direction. “I found someone inside! You can go in!”
We went back in and were given a tour by a young English woman who worked at the camp. On the tour Debbie would see something, give a smile, a nod and tell us a memory she had. As the tour ended we walked into the administration building.
Our guide pointed to a wall full of books. “Each visiting group of Scouts does a page for our scrapbooks.” Debbie remembered making a page. We asked the guide if they would have her page. “We should,” she said and then asked Debbie what year she had been there. “Hmm, that far back is going to be in the basement.” She left and then came back with three books. Paging through the books Debbie found her page. It included a picture of her group and each of the girls had signed their name. With a grin Debbie showed us her picture and explained the background of some of her friends in the picture. You only live once, but signs of your presence can turn up in unexpected places long after you’ve been there. And gone.
Tim Kane's memories, musings and updates.