The Beginnings Of Another CMU Group! Nice To Have Them Back On The Baja!
Written by trip participant – Mark Rosvold4:12 am, Saturday night, or Sunday morning. In the hotel lobby I see my cohorts standing around, bleary eyed, but filled with a undeniable energy, a silent excitement, and a bewildered look that can only come from the exhaustion of travel coupled with a mid-night wake up. We are leaving shortly, catching a shuttle to the airport. The air outside the hotel lobby is tight and chilled, our anticipatory breath hanging visibly in the air as we shuffle out onto the bus. A kindly gentlemen gets out of the shuttle bus and begins to load our luggage. His face bears an amiable countenance and his hair is slicked back, white as the snowy north from which we are leaving. After a quick ride, the airport looms in front of us, a behemoth of modern technological prestige. We have met the other half of our crew at this point; they come from UBC Vancouver. New faces; however there eyes are identical to ours, beaming with excitement. Check in a security flows smoothly for all of us…well, Adam has his body wash and sunscreen taken away, but apart from forcing the rest of us to share our anti lobster lotion with him, it all goes well. On the plane we are much like small children. Not that we behave as they do, we are not childish (not mostly), but childlike. A stewardess comes by and says we have bright cheerful faces. I do not disagree. Touchdown. Safely landed. God has brought us to San Diego. From the dreary cool Seattle to the north we have arrived in the southern United States, and the sun beams down on us like a smile from God, welcoming us to the warmth of our trip. Shortly after, Matt and Andrew arrive along with their wives. Bob and Sarah are there as well, from Hero Holiday. With the six of them, and Andrew and Dawn’s son Anthony, we students from the north pile onto a bus and begin winding our way south through the beautiful summery city of San Diego. Andrew informs us we are going to stop in south San Diego right before the border. We will be going into a posh store called (phonetically) ‘tarshay,’ he announces over the bus’ intercom. It is actually the superstore ‘Target’ that we stop at. This reminds me of the power of pronunciation, and simultaneously shows Andrew’s rather clever sense of reality.After spending some time buying supplies at ‘tarshay’, and having lunch in the surrounding area, we get back onto the bus, better acquainted with one another, and with no division of campus’ remaining. From here, it is but a quick vehicular jaunt to the border. As we close in, there is that slight tension in the air: will we be stopped…hassles, large guns, it is on our minds. No issues whatsoever!Now in Mexico, the reality is devastatingly clear. Opulence and prosperity give way to sharply visible stratification, where mansions dot one part of a hill and structurally unsafe slums ensconce it. This Tijuana is real, it is not the poverty of studies or of textbooks, it is the poverty of reality, and it is a shock. But the colors are vibrant and Andrew informs us that these people we see sitting about looking dejected and sunbeaten, are warm, kind and loving people, with an inherent cultural altruism. I would find out later that evening, that the majority of us were fairly touched and shocked by this disparity, one created by a fence and a notion of non-united nations.The trip down from the border to the hero holiday compound was nothing if it was not beautiful. For me, it reinforced the idea that beauty is not perfection, but that it is the essence of the truth of reality, and that was what the day trip through the baja was. We stopped at a beach at one point and took our first steps on Mexican soil. The wet sand squished between our toes and the waves lapped up against our feet, powerful but soft. That night as we sat around the fire discussing our day and debriefing for the week ahead, someone would bring up the issue of cultural differences, specifically one that was manifested in the beach. In north america, we go to the beach with friends, and to project an image of self for others to gauge and judge. At this beach though, we mostly saw families spending a sunny afternoon together laughing and eating in unity. Before we headed to our home to be for the week, we stopped to meet the family who we would be serving this week. They had kindness in their eyes, and poverty around them. Again, the reality of our trip struck us all. We were impacted by our shared humanity, and by the desperate economic separations.After a long day where we were all up from at least 3:30 am, until 10 pm, we all happily shuffled off to bed, with brains, soft, like porridge, and hearts grateful. I personally must interject here ( into my own writing..) and say that i was unconscious of my own sleep. I must have passed out of regular consciousness and laid still like a sack of extremely exhausted potatoes. Basically, the sleep was wonderful. A new day. Monday, the first day of building. It was hot, it was dry, the wind was whipping strongly around us, and the sun lotion and water coated our insides and outsides…respectively. There is so much I could say about this day that I am finishing as I sit here and type with a semi groggy mind, but for the sake of concision I will mention just a few amazing points from our day. Sitting around the fire as the hot day descended into a cool night, reflections on the day were shared. There were many comments, but a few recurring themes. We were all struck by the reality of what we were doing, and how blessed we are to have the wealth we experience as north americans. Not that we necessarily relished our large homes and myriad vehicles and gadgets, but we did recognize the opportunities this wealth affords us. We are all in extended programs of education and most of us have cameras that cost more money than these families make in a month. It is hard to tell whether these realizations were high points or low points, perhaps they were simultaneously both. Personally I am being humbled and being shown a truth that can’t be recognized in the snapshots we see in magazines, but must be experienced firsthand.