I have been in Roatan two days. Upon arrival, I was taken to the shop and it was love, excitement, hugs, lots and lots of hugs and passing out little mementos for the people that have made space in my heart. At this point I feel like my heart has so many beautiful people to love in it that it just floats above me like a giant balloon, lifting me up on days that life seems too overpowering me and leveling me off when I want to float away.
My #divefamily is missing a few people that have finished the course and headed home. I have thought repeatedly of Hanna but still, owe her an email. I almost got to see Jordan in Austin and I know Sam is on Instagram and I’ve actually messaged Noelle to check in- I hope my caring for them transcends the fact that I am horrible at staying in touch. The only people I have daily conversations with are my mom, my son (when he is with her), almost daily with my Laura and as of recently Ángel, a friend I met before leaving for China, who lives here but is from Madrid.
The house is almost as I left it. People are a bit more to themselves and I have to go crack shells independently. I can see how working and cohabitating with the same people can become a bit overwhelming. They are all really unique and have their own idiosyncrasies. I am really lucky that my years in education- or maybe I was born with it- have gifted me with seeing the best in any person, even when I can also see their faults. I am not perfect, I tend to talk a bit of shit here and there and may become a little judgy.
As we get into being judgy, I was lucky to spend time with Liam the day I got back. I went to the doctor with him to check on my perforated ear drum (still no diving till I go back on Monday). He happened to live in Mongolia and has visited China a lot. I told him about all of the contrasts I saw and how, although I could appreciate it, I could never live there and came back with a sour taste in my mouth. He gave me a brief history on how it all came about and I realized, that I came back from China really exhausted and I think that the tiredness and the lack of knowing the history of the country almost made me lose appreciation for the gift it was to go. I had no context for how what I was experiencing became what it is. Then yesterday, as I watched Bianca del Rio’s movie, Hurricane Bianca she said a quote that I really appreciate: “You can’t get mad at people for judging something they know nothing about”. I believe this true, but I also think because I was informed- which I could have done on my own, and should have- I can now see the entire experience from a broader perspective. As I was mentioning over dinner last night, there are a few things about Shenzhen – in the limited space that I saw- that I found interesting to witness
- No nondomestic animals (and… I only saw one dog being walked)
- Lack of people drinking water
- Constant eating of soup
- Men lifting their shirts at the table after eating
- The invisibility of foreigners or the focus of people on their way to work
- How Chinese cities’ are like the biggest city in USA times 10000000
- The lack of care for the environment (I had laundry done and each piece was in a separate plastic bag- WTF?)
- The importance of knowing basic sentences in Mandarin- English will get you nowhere.
- The kindness of the people that I worked with – always offering coffee or tea, or asking about taking breaks.
- How babies pee in trash cans in public places (held my their parent- more on this below).
- No diapers- which I actually think is really cool. Check this out. They have open crotched pants that help with potty training.
- The breakfast- which is like a lunch and dinner in one.
- The contrast between the Skylines and the mountains behind them- reminded me of Rio.
- Here is the album with photos from China
In the end, the trip was a once in a lifetime experience and I am super glad I went, was able to work really hard for the Intelligblobe III and experience a culture totally different than my own. I tell my students that experiences like that give you a sense of who you are. Being amidst the unknown makes you rely on what you do. For me, I was reassured that I am a very calm traveler, that not understanding what is going on around me linguistically is ok because I rely highly on unspoken ques- smiles, laughter, eyes- I can also adapt well to situations in general. I can’t complain, I was in a really nice hotel 🙂 had a translator while at work and even had one day where I got to go to the spa. Lucky me!
On my way back, I was fortunate to stop in Austin to see my son. Since I had the trip extended one more day, his mom graciously allowed me to keep him o it was literally heaven for the time I was there. Leaving was hell though, he cried out for me as I walked away and every part of me broke. Laurita talked me through the why I was leaving and why it was important to get the course done. Luckily, I already have some students lined up in Austin! (let’s just pray they clear my ear on Monday)
Now that I am here, I feel a great sense of comfort. Roatan has healed me from outside in, the rays of sunlight gave me strength again and brought me back to life to an upgraded version of who I was before the devastation of losing V. I know there is no fight left only love and assuring him the best life possible.
It is and has always been, all about leaning into whatever comes next.
Thank you for reading! Please let me know you visited!