So, I have a problem.

There are so many funny, fascinating, terrible, incredible experiences that happen to us, nearly on a daily basis, that I could write a book.

But I can't write a book everyday. It takes too long. And it's too much for you to read.

I have so much I want to tell, and I have a difficult time deciding what to share, and what to cut out.

Do I tell about the fender-bender, and resultant fear and frustration? Or the waterfall and river after, and the consequential peace and acceptance of what life brings?

How do I separate one from the other? Everyday is a menagerie of meaningful experiences, all intertwined like threads in a tapestry. Pull one out, and the whole thing might go to shreds.

The morning after our Thanksgiving feast, we drove to the village of Ocosingo. We almost passed right by, but decided to turn in to see if we could find some internet to do a few things.

As we scanned the shops (which didn't appear to be open yet), my husband was cautious about approaching each intersection, as usual.

It's customary to slow down and look both ways, sometimes honk, before driving through an intersection - all drivers normally do this.

My husband slowed as we approached a street junction, but as he passed through it, a four-door car came from out of our peripheral sight on the left, and crossed right in front without slowing a smidgen.

Greg slammed on his brakes, just in time for the car to barely scrape along the front of our bumper, and then stop to our right.

The passengers exited with great excitement, and Greg got out to meet his doom.

"This is bad," I thought, "very bad." "Start praying," I told the kids.

All sorts of dreadful scenarios started playing through my mind, including images of my husband in a Mexican prison for untold amounts of time, while I wandered the streets with my children looking for help.

What would happen? What's procedure and protocol here? Would the police be notified? Would our car be impounded?

Taking my usual position in times of stress and uncertainty, I hid out in the car with the kids while Greg handled the situation.

It took about 45 minutes, but after a lot of accusation and finger pointing toward this guerro (a.k.a. gringo) who didn't give the right-of-way, my husband took enough of the responsibility upon himself to settle the issue with a simple agreement, despite his variance of opinion.

He would empty the contents of his wallet to the other driver, and hopefully avoid further complications.

Both drivers agreed that involving the policia would only muddle the mess even more, resulting in a process that might take weeks to resolve. The man that scraped across the front of our truck with his car was certain we were at fault, and therefore had to pay.

We weren't really certain of anything, and so we agreed to give him everything we had. A fair deal, when you're out of your element.

What we had was $850 pesos (about US$65), besides some change hiding here and there. We dubiously handed it over, wondering how we would buy food. This money was to last a week or more, until an additional bank transfer came through.

But despite offering our widows mite, it was met with disappointment. This man had hoped to get more money from these 'well-off' guerros.

We assured him it was all we had, he reluctantly accepted, and with great relief, we were finally on our way again, feeling inside that I should be more upset than I am, but secretly knowing that everything would be fine.

However, my mind wasn't satisfied with that. It wanted to analyze every possible scenario that could be the result of our traveling in Mexico with only a few pesos to our family name. My mind would create a cause for worry, even if none existed.

By the time we'd driven a few kilometers down the road, I was starting to feel a little troubled. What were we going to do? What bad things might happen? Why did we have to waste all our money on that, when we're trying to make it last by living frugal? (If only I'd known it was a foreshadowing of things to come).

As we drove and wondered, our eye was caught by a beautiful waterfall that was cascading over rocks directly along the roadside. It came complete with picnic tables and looked perfect for swimming. We thought it critical that we stop for lunch. You can't pass something like that up.

Enjoying the warmth of the day, the refreshment of the jade green water and the peace so often provided by nature, the former feeling of 'everything's going to be just fine' started to return.

Really, what's the worst that could happen?

We had a place to stay, we camped for free every night already. We had food to eat, we had bought quite a lot in preparation for Thanksgiving, plus had some in storage. We wouldn't starve. Other than that, what else did we need?

"We need to get some laundry done," exclaims my over-analytical, pessimistic mind.

We have all the water we need right now. Soon, a fun game of 'playing house' was in progress, and our clothes were washed and hung out to dry while we jumped and played in the deep green waters.

Along our journey, and in life in general, I can't always choose what happens to us. It might be losing all your money, or swimming in tropical waterfalls. That's life.

But I can choose to accept what comes, and make the most of it.

So, hey, it's not so bad to be stuck in Mexico with no money. A good attitude comes free of charge.



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10 Responses

  1. Lisa-Marie

    You guys amaze and inspire me Rachel! Our traveling won’t be quite as challenging as yours (I know my limitations) but I know I will often find myself asking “what would Rachel do?” I won’t expect my husband to ask himself, “what would Greg do?” – even he laughed thinking about trying to live up to that 🙂

  2. Erin

    “A good attitude comes free of charge” Love it!
    I commented once before on a post of yours. Erin is my name you said it was your middle name 😉
    My family and I have begun a processes of planning a one year trip…That requires us to quite our jobs..mine is just 11 hours a week..use all our savings (not much there anyway)..find someone to rent our house…furnished…I so want to do it…but I also have SOOO much fear and panic…I hope it doesn’t hold me back as we continue to plan..but I’m a bit unsure sometimes….
    Thank you for sharing this!! Thank you for being real, open and honest!

    • Rachel

      Way to go Erin!!! Keep moving forward. Everything you fear may or may not happen, but either way, it’s worth it! Believe me.

  3. Carol

    I love the line about assuming your usual position in times of stress…hiding out with the kids and letting Greg handle it. You are your mother’s daughter!! You really write well, Rachel, and I love following your adventures!

  4. Michelle

    Somos la familia de Guatemala nos vimos en Palenque, vivimos en Esquipulas, frontera con Honduras y El Salvador, nos gustaria saber cuando esten en Guatemala para atenderlos!

  5. James

    Whew, close call on the fenderbender. Glad you guys made it without involving the policia. In the long run you’ll forget those pesos, but you’ll never forget that waterfall. I constantly remind myself that things that appear to be life-shattering, catastrophic incidents are usually forgotten in a couple months. Traveling and time heals all wounds 🙂 Keep on truckin!


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