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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Speaking of Love

Last week my dear friend and fellow blogger, Tina (Musings from a Mudpie Mom), asked me to post the story of how I met my husband. Then, Mary at Owlhaven, put out an offer on her blog to join in posting our love stories. It has been on my heart to post about the day Dave and I met, and so I thought I would post some of that story tonight. It is rather lengthy, but I like to think it's a pretty fun read. Enjoy.

The Day We Met

Part I

I woke with a start at 6:45 AM to the distinct thought, “Today is the day.” Although I had planned to stay in Antigua one more night and travel to Guatemala City with my friends the next day, I knew that I would be leaving for Casa Guatemala a day early. I rolled out of bed and dressed quietly not to wake Ellen. I would have liked to have showered and washed my hair not knowing when I would have access to hot water again, but that would have to wait. I had a lot to do if I was going to make it to Fronteras before nightfall.

I headed for the town square breathing in the beauty and quiet of Antigua one last time. Only a few people were out to share the cobblestone streets with me. I passed our favorite little restaurant with the fountain and the corner where I always bought platanos maduros from the lady who wore the beautiful huipile. I felt an overwhelming sadness that I still can’t quite explain. Maybe it had to do with leaving Antigua, a town that I had instantly adored and felt very at home in. Ellen and I had stayed there on three different occasions over the previous month, using it as our home base as we traveled through Guatemala. We would usually spend a couple of days, always staying at the same Casa de Huespuedes (Guest House) with hot water and do it yourself laundry facilities on the roof. We would treat ourselves to one nice lunch while we were there. I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant. (Since I originally put these memories on paper, I have returned to Antigua and I know that the restaurant I speak of is Cafe Condessa.) Or maybe I was sad because I knew that after almost three months of traveling with Ellen in Central America we would be going our separate ways that day, and I would be alone in Guatemala for the first time.

I hurried across the square and turned onto a side street, relieved to see that the door was open to the lavanderia where I had dropped my laundry the day before. No matter where you have your laundry done in Guatemala it always looks the same when you get it back. It’ll be folded nicely in a squatty rectangular stack and bundled neatly in a clear plastic garbage bag with a knot on top. I paid the young woman 15 quetzales (about $1.50) and headed to the pharmacy. I needed some supplies. I planned on staying at the Casa Guatemala orphanage for a month. When I had visited two weeks prior, intent on volunteering, they had offered me a paid position teaching English and Physical Education. I couldn’t have been more excited! Not only would I get to love on all those darling children, so starved for attention and affection, but they were going to pay me to do it. At this point in my trip I was rather low on funds. In fact, I think I was down to $80 which was another good reason to leave Antigua a day early. I would save $6 on lodging if I could get to the orphanage before bed time.

On my way back, I took a detour stopping to pick up some Dunkin’ Donuts (although I could hardly afford them) to share with my friends back at the guest house. For the previous week or so, Ellen and I had been traveling with a Canadian couple, Sarah and Aaron, and their friend, Glen, from the East Coast. Ellen and Glen had quickly become a hot item and I have to admit I did feel a bit like a fifth wheel. We had all planned on taking a night tour of the local volcano, responsible for so many of Antigua’s tremors, but that was just another $6 I needed to save. They were all headed to Guatemala City the next day and then going their separate ways. Ellen would be taking the bus to meet her brother in Mexico City. Glen was flying home to be with his mom who had breast cancer. And Sarah and Aaron were heading south to Honduras to visit the Mayan ruins at Copan.
I told my friends of my plan to leave Antigua early over a breakfast of donuts and canned peaches. We had become rather close (traveling in a foreign country can do that to perfect strangers), and they were disappointed that we wouldn’t have one last day together. I almost let them talk me into staying. It did seem to make so much more sense. I had been looking forward to the night hike, and traveling into the city alone was not the safest thing for a 19 year old strawberry blonde to do. But I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I had to leave that day. Ellen asked when I’d be leaving, and I told her as soon as I was packed. We shared a tearful hug. Even now, over ten years later, I get a little choked up.

Ellen walked me to the bus station, and I couldn’t hold back my tears. I cried the whole way. I felt slightly ridiculous. I handed my backpack up to the guy packing the roof of the bus and climbed into the seat two back from the front and across from the driver. You never want to be in the very front of the bus (in Guatemala you never know when banditos might board your bus), but you also want to be near enough to the driver that you can find out where the heck you are. Ellen climbed in after me and sat patting my hand while I wiped tear after tear away with the sleeve of the sweatshirt I had tied around my waist. Again she pleaded with me to stay and again I seriously considered it. Six dollars was no big deal. It was just money. I would be paid at the end of my first week at the orphanage. I could make my $80 last until then. Meals and lodging would be covered. Why was I in such a rush? Going to Guatemala City alone was reason enough to wait until the next day. I tried to convince myself, but I absolutely couldn’t shake the voice that kept saying, “Today is the day. You have to go today even though it doesn’t make sense.”

So I went. I left Ellen wiping her tears at the bus station, and I cried the whole 45 minute ride to Guatemala City. The woman next to me surely thought someone had died, and noticing my soggy sweatshirt, lent me her hanky. I always feel a little weird about using someone else’s hanky, but I politely wiped my tears and forced a smile as I handed it back. I decided I would have to pull myself together by the time we arrived at the bus terminal in Guatemala City.

I knew that my next bus left at either 11 AM or 12 PM from a terminal about 5 blocks from where our driver had stopped. It was about 10:45 so I knew I would have to hurry to make it by 11, just in case. I got off the bus feeling slightly drained from my emotional out pouring but encouraged that I was headed in the right direction. As I reached up to receive my backpack that was being past down from atop the bus, the whole pack separated from the frame and landed with a thud in my arms. I looked up at the bus driver and squinted as sun streamed through the naked metal frame in his hands. He looked as surprised as I felt, and, for a second, I just stood there thinking, “That didn’t just happen. What bad luck. I don’t have time to fix it.” This pack had functioned flawlessly as I had traveled all over Mexico and Central America for the previous 4 months. Of course, it had also functioned flawlessly for my parents 20 years earlier as they hoofed it all over Europe. I should have been expecting it to give out at some point, but I was dumbstruck. And at a cool 60 pounds I couldn’t exactly carry it on my hip for 5 long city blocks. Glancing at my watch, I quickly retrieved my frame and set up a repair station on the sidewalk. I fished out my clothesline and roughly affixed the pack onto it’s metal exoskeleton. As I heaved the newly repaired pack onto my back I couldn't help but smile to myself as I admired the sturdiness of my handiwork. The Austrian traveler who had stopped to see if I needed a hand (I didn’t) was impressed, too. Although I didn’t need his help, I was glad when he said he was going to the same station as me, and, together, we set out at a hurried pace down the street.

We were about a block away when I saw a bus leaving the terminal. I looked at my watch. Eleven O’clock on the nose. Could that be my bus to Fronteras? For a second I thought to hail a cab and chase it down. But what if it wasn’t? I would feel like a fool chasing down and stopping the wrong bus. I decided to remain calm. Surely that wasn’t the bus I was supposed to be on. And even if it was, there was always another bus. Always.

To be Continued....

P.S. I would love for all of you to join us in posting your own love story. Let me know if you do so I can be sure to read yours.

After all...LOVE makes the world go 'round.


nicaudfamily said...

Lovin the story and I think I remember part of the second part-you told me when we were in Antigua and I always thought it was so neat that you were there again getting your baby girl. I am still anxiously waiting anyway! Shame on you for leaving us hanging!!!

katherine said...

i'm hooked! what an exciting story.

Carol said...

Can't wait to hear the rest of the story!!!

Beulah said...

Thanks for the comment!

I'm excited to hear more!

Sounds like quite an adventure!

Dad said...

I can not read that story too many times and I get choked up every time. I am sure your readership is going up now... what a cliffhanger.
I woke up at 5 this morning. I think I do that because you are not in bed with me. If you were here I am sure I would stay in bed longer. I hope you have a great day today.

I Adore You.


Jennifer said... the next part! I loved it and yes, that was a great cliffhanger!

Jenni said...

Finally had time to sit and read! I'm loving it! You are going on my blogroll at once.

Wildwood Mama said...

What a good read, I'm off to read the other parts!
I'm late posting mine-