To know a place for the first time is like Christmas morning. Beautifully wrapped gifts found under the tree beckon you to open them to see what is inside, the same way a new destination calls you to discover her character, charms and culture.
I know of some people that when they first moved to Cozumel they could only go out of the house a few hours a day before needing to come back and rest. They told me they were overstimulated and overwhelmed by the newness of the place. For me, to know a place for the first time is exhilarating. I love wandering along the waterfront, past the taco stands and fruit carts, and the little tiendas with their “hustlers” who try to entice you in with absurd catch phrases like, “Same junk lower prices,” or “Almost free come have a look.” I love the salsa music that blasts from the farmacias and their mascot who, God bless him, dances in a full-body pharmacist caricature costume in 88 degree weather. And then, there are the intimate looks between lovers, the laughter and whips of conversations among friends, the crystalline blue waters with her abundant sea life, and the chance encounters and cultural oddities that lend themselves to unexpected moments – moments in paradise.
Nearly one year ago, I moved to Cozumel, Mexico and began recording snapshots of these moments. Like an old fashioned movie reel, they play the story of our discovery of this beautiful place we call home – Cozumel.
August 19, 2013 – Just Another Moment In Paradise #1
My daughter is starting school today. It’s the first of many new things for her. It is the first day in a new school, which is located in a new Country, where she will be learning in a new language. I find myself praying that God will give her strength, confidence and guidance and that she takes it all in for the amazing opportunity that it is. As we walk onto the campus, originally built around a bullring, it is all so foreign to us. Hundreds of school children, meticulously dressed in starched white shirts and school issued plaid skirts or blue shorts, form a circle around the basketball court. Announcements made in Spanish blare over the intercom and a team of high school students, honored to lead the flag salute, march in the center for a half hour straight carrying an enormous Mexican flag. It must be 90 degrees even in the early morning hours. Children are fainting right and left. The teachers, astonishingly adept at catching them before they hit the ground, calmly carry them inside to the school nurse. Admist all the chaos, our daughter is in tears. While she is surrounded by 3 teachers who try desperately to comfort her, my husband and I awkwardly walk away.
All day we worry. We don’t know what to expect. At 1:50 p.m. sharp we arrive at the school to pick her up. From tears in the morning to smiles in the afternoon, how is it possible that this is the same little girl we left crying on the blacktop? When I asked what happened, she replies easily, “It was a great day! I made 18 new friends!”
I love how simple Mexico is. I love how a smile cuts across all barriers, cultural, language or otherwise. I love the fact that my daughter plays with all the girls in class, not just one or two and that for PE they walk and learn how to balance sticks on their hands.