Back in the USA
13 May 2014
The above photo is an impromtu potluck dinner organized by our friends to celebrate our return.
April 26, 2014
It has only been a month since we arrived in the states and already Mexico seems like a lifetime past. I have heard that the magic number for cruisers to get hooked is 18 months. Once a cruiser hits that pivotal point, he/she either continues cruising for a unspecified period of time, or decides they miss their previous life, sell the boat and head back home. We spent eight months; from August, 2013 through March, 2014 on our first leg, and already I am hooked. So much so, that re-entry, as Jay likes to call it, has been a bit more difficult than anticipated.
There are a few ways to get back to the states from La Paz. You can drive, provided you have a car to begin with. You can take a bus. Or, you can fly. (I suppose you could sail your boat back too, but that wasn't an option for us.) We chose to fly. Here we had two options. One was to take the shuttle, about a three-hour drive, and fly out of Cabo San Lucas to San Diego. The other choice was to leave directly from La Paz Airport, only a twenty minute drive from the marina. Only there are no direct flights to San Diego anymore. United Airlines discontinued the only La Paz to San Diego flight just last month. Therefore, the only choice from the La Paz Airport was on the Mexican Airlines, Volaris. Volaris flights are very reasonable. But it only flies within Mexico. This meant we would fly to Tijuana, disembark, catch a shuttle to the border, get dropped off, walk across the border, and then catch another shuttle which would take us either to the San Diego train station or airport. All this while lugging three suitcases, two backpacks filled with heavy electronics, an extra carry-on and a bag full of ceramic gifts.
The flight, itself, was uneventful. Actually, it was first-rate. It was a two-hour trip with good weather. The plane took off and landed on time. The Mexican flight attendants were extremely professional and quite attractive, too. A class act in their just-above-the-knee fuchsia dresses, adorned with light green silk scarves, complete with matching flight caps and shoes - reminiscent of the 1960's airline era. Each wore their black hair tied neatly into a bun. Even their make-up, using colors to coordinate with their clothes, matched in perfect symmetry.
Getting on the airline was no different than what we would expect in the states. It was when we stood in front of the baggage rail that I became confused. Four airlines arrived at once and by the time our luggage whirled around on the carriage, the line to exit was over two hundred people deep. Jay and I waited our turn, not so patiently, and were perplexed as to what would be taking so long. Evidently, going through security to get on the plane wasn't enough. Now we had to go through another security check just to leave the building. ( For what purpose, I wondered?) In addition to the x-ray machines, they randomly picked people and searched their luggage. It was over an hour later when we finally stepped out into the city of Tijuana only to be greeted by a cacophony of noise and a sea of people going in every direction. Following the signs, we turned right and were instantly swept up in the tide of human movement. Trying not to lose one another, we headed to the Volaris shuttle station, about a block away.
The shuttle was an easy ride that took us around the bumper to bumper traffic through a special lane. Walking through customs that day turned out to be a mere thirty minute venture. All was going well. Then, when the customs' agent said, "Welcome home." I looked at Jay in bewilderment. Home? Where is home?
I have lived in Mexico for the last five months and fell in love. I love the people, the culture, the music. I especially love their sense of humor and their warmth. I always felt welcome in their country. But here was my compatriot welcoming me home. And he was right. America is my home and I love it too. Still, I couldn't help but be a bit disgruntled with the fast pace of life waiting for me on the other side of the border.
After traveling an average of six knots, driving 65 miles an hour was a bit of a shock. But it is more than the physical fast pace. It is the bombardment of information that clutters the mind with everyone else's thoughts but my own. The radio, the news, iPads and iPhones, etc. It's not even that I can turn them off, because there are televisions everywhere I go; waiting rooms, restaurants, airport lounges, and even (if you are in New York) on the streets! And each screen has something different on it with text and dialogue and visuals. Am I supposed to read it, or watch it, or listen to it? And which monitor should I watch? Should I watch the soccer game, or basketball? Or maybe the news?
This morning I was sitting with Jay at the breakfast table at our hotel in Roswell. We were having a conversation, or should I say, trying to have a conversation, but there was a television on with the morning news. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the images and was distracted. I snuck a peak at the TV but I couldn't really hear it all that well because of the noise in the room. Curious, I began to read the text at the bottom of the screen but it had nothing to do with the picture I was seeing. Meanwhile, Jay was talking to me but I hadn't heard a word of what he said. Nor did I have any idea what the news story was about!
Do I really need minute to minute details of a car chase? Or the opinions of the political pundits dissecting every move our government makes - or doesn't? Who made them judge and jury? The gory details of the latest murder only provides me with nightmares. And I certainly don't need to know if Kim Kardasian is getting married or gaining weight.
Something is definitely wrong with this picture. We listen and hear the voices of others with no interaction. We are told what to think, the best places to go and all about the newest, greatest gadget we just have to buy. We bury our heads in iPads and iPhones, watching everyone else's life experiences through a screen while our own world around us, escapes, unnoticed.
But I digress.
There has been much joy coming home, as well. The joy of spending time with family and friends. We spent spring break in San Diego with Jay's children and grandchildren, visiting parks and eating ice cream. (I think we visited every ice cream and yogurt store in Mira Mesa.) We went to Oxnard to see our friends. We hadn't told anyone we were coming, It was Opening Day for our local yacht clubs and it was a great surprise when we walked through the door. So much fun.
Next we went back to Tubac where we visited with my mom while my brother and Michael went off to Hawaii for two weeks. Mom continues to decline; her body now as much as her mind. But she still knows both Jay and me and for that we are grateful. There were many bittersweet moments but all in all it is a great joy and privilege to still have her in our lives.
And now we are on our way home (our other home) to Martha's Vineyard. A second road trip across country. I am excited. Jay, not so much. "It is a big country," he says, "and we will be traveling in a small car. Besides, we just did this two years ago."
"I know, but just think of it as another adventure."
Just then, the TV got my attention again. Severe weather warnings for rain, hail and tornadoes - and we were heading right for it.