So yes, all that to say, I love it when those flesh-and-blood friendships start to develop.
Our time in Ajijic yesterday was one of those growing times. We've gotten to know these folks a bit over the past few months through church and Bible study, and even FaceBook, but nothing can compare to quality time relaxing and sharing thoughts and life. Blair and Barb and their family are our friends from Ajijic who invited us and some others from church for a horseback riding venture, then food. Of course food.
We were an eclectic bunch. Blair and Barb have lived all over Mexico for over ten years (barring a year stint in Argentina). They came to Ajijic just this past summer, so in a small way both of our families are newcomers. Their four kids range from Clare's age up, but each of them have connected with our kids in good ways. Steve and JoAnn are in ministry at the church, and JoAnn teaches, and yesterday we found our Pennsylvania connections. While JoAnn grew up in South Jersey and Steve is originally from Baltimore, they met at Philadelphia's Drexel University (well, it wasn't a university when they went) and Steve went to Westminster Seminary which is practically up the road from where my grandparents lived. I have a feeling we're only at the tip of the connections-iceberg there. Jorge and Rachel met and married in England where Rachel is from, and their three kids stair step along with ours. Their middle child, Naomi, and Evie are now "best friends" (It always amazes me how many best friends a kid can have. My children have numerous BFFs). The final addition to the mix was Johanna from Columbia who lives with Steve and JoAnn. She had come for the fun but had said she wouldn't go riding...but halfway through our ride, JoAnn and I turned back and there she was astride a horse! She had a blast.
The ride wasn't conducive to too much conversation, but it was one of those things that builds connection. My horse found the tail end of Barb's to be fascinating, while hers had a tendency to fart. Yes, I said it. That horse was a master at passing gas! It also liked to nip if any other horse got near its head. At the end of the ride I discovered from one of the caballeros (cowboys) that my horse was "Abuelo" (Grandfather) to Barb's horse. Maybe that's why he stuck so close to hers. He seemed to be the only horse hers would let get near.... At the end of the ride, the kids were raring to go on to more fun, while the adults creaked their way off their steeds and rubbed sore legs and bottoms. Unity, right there.
Blair and Barb's home is perfect for a crowd. One walks through the gate and garage into a courtyard and ahead is the house which keeps going back, all open to the air. Beside the garage is another few rooms that they use for homeschooling, and in the court is space for soccer, a jacuzzi and a grill. We all spread out; the kids took over the hot tub, then moved on to soccer and Monopoly and books. The adults ebbed and flowed in and out of conversations, telling our stories, laughing and digging deep. Kraig and I were able to ask questions about the upcoming Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) which is tied in closely with Halloween celebrations here and has us delving deep into what we think and believe and where we draw lines as to how much we participate. It's tricky and complicated, but we could ask these folks questions and know we could get sound advice.
And food--of course there was food. We had grilled chicken wings in an adobo sauce, sizzling hot at first, crisp skin bursting with a bite. There was sharp cheese and French baguettes, veggies with bean dip, watermelon, mint tea and sweet tea. I'd brought my orzo pasta salad at Barb's request, and Rachel treated us to pumpkin pie and cheesecake. I had to laugh about the pumpkin pie. It just didn't seem to be pie season after a day in balmy breezes and sunshine; and yet it was the 25th of October! We grazed and feasted and talked and grazed some more.
Eventually it was time to say farewell. All good things on this earth will come to an end. But the community and friendships we are starting to grow will continue no matter where we go or what we do. And someday, we will not have to say goodbye.