We are fine, a little older, grayer, maybe a little wiser but definitely more experienced in living outside of our home country. Let me tell you about this past year...
We continued to travel to Villahermosa, Tabasco to meet with the English congregation each week through December. There was a real feeling of disconnect and feeling isolated. A new bridge was being constructed on the highway to Villahermosa. We could expect traffic delays of half an hour to more than four hours. Since the traffic slowed and everyone wanted to be where they were going often the two line highway became five lanes with motorcycles trying to make their way through the maze of cars, trucks and buses. Amazingly, during this travel period we only saw less than five traffic accidents but lots of close calls. Since there was so much craziness on the highway we decided not to drive but to take public transportation. So our trip went like this...we would leave our home about 8 or 9 in the morning to make it to Villahermosa for a 1pm meeting. We would walk half a block to a main road by the river and try to get a taxi or funky bus, which ever came first, to take us to Paraiso where we would go to bus station where buses left every 30 minutes for Villahermosa. That was what their schedule said but break downs, traffic jams and weather could cause major delays. Sometimes these were very nice large buses but more often they were smaller 21 passenger vans in varies states of road worthiness...one was a smaller van. The vans usually did not have good suspension and bounced around quite a bit. There was no option to prebuy tickets so as to guarantee you would ride in the larger bus. We learned early on not to sit in the last row of the van, aka collectivo. Drivers liked to go as fast as they could and then come to a sudden stop. Very hard on the neck...very painful. If one van was sold out you simply had to wait for the next one. Once we felt quite pleased with ourselves for scoring seats on a very nice large bus. We knew our necks would be spared on this trip. We did not factor in the driver's style...he wanted to stay on schedule at all costs...even if it meant creating a new sixth lane beyond the shoulder of the road after days of constant rain where we saw people kayaking out to their mailboxes..added to this sobering situation was the fact that at one point he was on soft ground with just a drop off to the river below on one side. The nice bus wasn't nice enough to have seat belts. It was scary! And remember at some point all those lanes had to merge back into one or two lanes. Vws, semi trucks, buses, motorcycles, bicyclists and pedestrians all fighting for their right to be on the road and ahead of you. Oh and don't forget the vendors who tried to make a buck selling you snacks! Ughhhh! Sometimes when we started off from our home it was pouring rain and the street was flooded to our ankles. On those days we packed our meeting clothes! Once in Villahermosa we had to get a taxi to go to the Kingdom Hall. Villahermosa has a flat rate for each group of passengers so taxis always want to get as many people in as they can. Taxi drivers have set routes so you cannot flag down an empty taxi and expect them to take you where you need to go. You can stand in the rain and have 20 taxis tell you no. After meeting a kind sister or couple would drop us off at the bus station. One time the buses were delayed due to weather and road construction but the bus office wanted to close so they shooed us outside to wait with the mosquitos. Another time we thought maybe it would be easier to drive our car to the bus station in Paraiso and park it closeby so that when we returned we could just drive ourselves home and not have to find a taxi. Sounded like a good idea except that the return bus was delayed and we did not return until after midnight. We had not been able to find a parking spot closeby but figured two and a half blocks is not that far...but in the middle of the night when we were the only ones on the street it seemed more like 2 miles away! On the trip home from Villahermosa passengers got off all along the way although officially the bus doesn't make any stops. Many of the passengers were college age young women. Some would be dropped off along the way where they would find an unlit dirt street to finish their walk home. Yikes! I worried about their safety...it was explained to me that they would be fine. No harm would come to them if they were harmed the assailant would be quickly punished and life would go on but maybe not his.... So did women feel pretty safe? Yes. Good method? What if someone was falsely accused? Life would still go on but not his and justice would not have been served. So glad Jehovah will met out true justice!
One of the blessings of these difficult months was getting to know a Canadian couple in the Villahermosa English congregation. The hospitality and love they extended to us was just what we needed at that time. We often would go to Villahermosa on Sunday and stay over for their Monnday night meeting. We stayed with this wonderful couple! If we arrived way to early or too wet for meeting we could take a taxi to their house where we could enjoy a hot shower, good company and maybe a nap! They have proven to be a continual source of encouragement. They are still in Villahermosa although their congregation has been made into an English group hosted by a Spanish congregation. They have about 20 publishers and all of Tabasco as their territory!
So now we get to the part of how we ended up here on the Yucatan peninsula...but that is for another post!