Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Memory

I'm not terribly fond of wind.

It's alright if you want to fly a kite...or send a balloon off...or parasail or something.

But mostly it just drives me crazy.

It blows my trees over and it stirs up the dirt and it encourages my allergies to get worse...

But it was in Mexico that wind and I stopped pretending to get along.

Here's what happened:

I had been in Mexico for about 24 hours. We had made the arduous journey to the top of a mountain and we were in a village called Potrerillos. We were going to be in the village about 6 days and our goal was to build water cisterns for each of the homes in the village.

I think you should know that in these villages of Mexico I'm somewhat of a celebrity. Not because I've done anything important, but because I'm friends with Juan...the man these people admire and respect more than anyone else. He's earned their respect. I've never known anyone who has worked harder to provide a better life for a group of people than Juan has.

I had been to the village of Potrerillos before and the people remembered me...which really isn't hard to do considering they rarely see someone from the United States. When I pulled my tent out and began to set it up I was immediately surrounded by the men and the women of the village. They were going to set my tent up for me. But before they set the tent up they cleared away all of the rocks, pulled the weeds surrounding my tent, and then swept the ground. Only after the spot was completely clear did they set my tent up. They wouldn't let me help and so I went in search of my duffel bag. I had barely lifted the bag to my shoulder when a young boy came and took it from me. "Guera, you can't carry that," he said. Guera is a nickname for a white girl and the only name Juan ever calls me. By the end of my first stay in Potrerillos, every man and woman of the village was calling me Guera.

I was in the village with a group of 12 people from the United States. They had come to work and to experience life in a way they never would again. I was there as their 'tour guide' if you will. Mostly I was there to translate and to help make their experience a positive one.

I've been to Mexico at least 10 times with similar groups and with each group I naturally gravitate to the people from Mexico. The North Americans eat their meals together, and I eat with the natives. The North Americans, for the most part, stay in their own little group, while I become a Mexican for a week. I love every minute.

During this particular trip the men who came from other villages to help us with our projects slept in the schoolhouse, and every night after dinner they would say to me, "Guera, you should come and sleep with us in the school. You would be more comfortable." And every night after dinner I would decline. Because let's think about this: 12 men and 1 woman. Now, I would have trusted every one of those men with my life but...

The reality is I would have been more comfortable in the school. I LOVE camping but I hate it at the same time. I never sleep well, and I'm always cold...even in Mexico where the temperature is perfect. In fact, Juan knows me so well that when he sent someone down to the city for supplies our second day there, he included two blankets for me. Bless his heart.

Mexico experienced a cold spell while we were in the village and our second night was colder than I ever remembered...and the wind blew the entire night. As I got ready to settle in for the third night the guys extended their offer again: "We have a spot saved for you if you change your mind."

As I walked to the latrine on my way to bed that night I noticed that the wind was picking up and I sent a silent plea heavenward: please make the wind stop.

I stood outside my tent and brushed my teeth and then crawled into my sleeping bag. I pulled the two blankets over me and hoped that the wind would stop soon. It didn't. It only got worse...and the harder it blew, the louder it was. The rain fly on the roof of the tent blew off and it was then that I sent a more serious plea heavenward: PLEASE God, can you stop this wind so that I can get some sleep?

We played this game for the next hour, God and I. Every time I prayed, and then begged and pleaded, for the wind to stop it got worse. Every. Single. Time. At one point my tent was blown completely over, and the only secure spot was where I was laying. As I laid there with the tent nearly suffocating me I started to laugh. I laughed and laughed and finally said, "Okay, you win."
I'm not sure if I was talking to God or to the wind.

I waited for a wind gust from the opposite direction to blow my tent right side up again and then I made my move. I unzipped the tent, grabbed my air mattress and sleeping bag, and ran to the school. I didn't have enough hands to grab my flashlight and as I opened the school door I walked into complete darkness.

I stood in the door for a minute and then whispered loudly, "Felix?" No answer. "Felix?" I whispered again. And then I heard, "Over here guera." I made my way quietly to his side, and sure enough, a spot on the floor had been reserved for me. As I settled in once again I heard a voice from the other side of the room: "We knew you'd join us eventually," and then a chorus of laughter.

The next morning as I left the schoolroom I was greeted by Juan; he was shaking his head. "Guera, what will your dad say when I tell him you slept with 12 men?"

Funny man that Juan.

You know, when it comes right down to it, I'd take the wind if it meant I was back in that village again.


Anonymous said...

Ah! Silly boys- can't believe they laughed at your plight!

When is Mexico going to see it's celebrity again? ;)

Love the snap of you with those 2 boys- your smile is very sweet there.

Tiffany said...

I've been asked to play the organ for this year's Seminary graduation. I learned how to play 4 or 5 years ago and I'm not very confident yet.

Reading this made me think that hitting all the right notes isn't as important as I'd previously thought. Hmmm... a water cistern for each family. Pretty sure that's weighted more heavily on the scale of significance than me trying not to make a fool of myself.

What wonderful experiences you've had Noelle. When are you taking Jason to Mexico?

Jamie said...

I hope I give my heart to something as wonderful as your Mexico!

MelissaAggie98 said...

Happy Friday! You have a really great blog here!

I'm your newest follower...if you get a chance could you please follow me too at

Have a great weekend!

Dazee Dreamer said...

You are awesome. sleeping with 12 men. you hussy :)

Heather said...

What a great story. I enjoyed it!

Adoption of Jane said...

What an awesome post. Reminds me of stories my folks tell me about their Peace Corps adventures. They too were like you and lived and breathed the customs. It seems that is the best way to get the full experience. I absolutely love the picture of the little boys!

When you talked about the wind then mentioned the latrine.. I got worried for ya there for a minute! Bad image of you getting blown to caca hell. Glad your safe!

Keep being the awesome you that you are!

Still laughing at *one hot turtle*!

Cristinalaloca said...

I loved your story!!! I love Mexico, and I’m proud to be Mexican American...I am honored you too have seen what Mexico and its people is all about. Juan sound like an awesome human being! Have a great holiday weekend guera. Adios.

jayayceeblog said...

Such a great story ... thanks for sharing it! I think just hearing the wind blow makes you feel colder. Can't believe you lasted as long as you did out in that tent!