Friday, October 7, 2016

2 Ways to Tell a Story

There are two ways to tell the story of my last weekend.

In the first, I jetted off to a tropical paradise for a weekend, meeting up with a friend. We snorkeled and dined on fish fresh-caught from the nearby ocean in a boathouse on a gorgeous African table overlooking a canal. We woke in the morning and kayaked on a lagoon, drinking our coffee and watching the shore birds. We swam in the ocean and drove through the jungle to explore caves.

In the other, I nabbed a fantastic deal on a flight that literally meant that I was paying the same price to fly to Belize City as I would have paid to fly to Detroit. I then hopped on a 10-seat, wobbly commuter plane where I could have touched the controls, the pilot was wearing a Ford Motor Company baseball cap and a passenger sat in the co-pilot seat. I met up with my friend as her furniture and all her belongings were just being delivered from the shipping container in which they lived and traveled the world for the last 15 months. We opened boxes and talked and laughed.

We snorkeled and created inside jokes about the one-upmanship that happens when listening to tourists who have more time on their hands than common sense in their heads. We returned home and unwrapped layers upon layers of cardboard from furniture and slid pieces back and forth across the tile floor of her home, trying to figure out where everything went. We made two trips to the town dump over the course of the weekend, speaking to people of unknown authority in Spanglish about where to drop our carloads of packing supplies... and never really being sure if we got it right.

Commuter Plane
We got up before the sun to kayak borrowed from a kind neighbor and tried our best not to fall in the canal as we dragged our boats in and out while balancing our coffees and hushing barking dogs. We returned to the house and unpacked for long enough that we lost track of time, and forgot to eat. When we did remember, we didn't know what meal we were due for and wondered aloud what we should drink with our food, before realizing that while we had been working for hours, it was still only 10:30 in the morning and we hadn't actually finished the coffee. We sweat in the heat and humidity of living so close to the equator until we literally dripped, and then we fought mosquito swarms to cool off in the ocean down the street.

View from the snorkel boat
We had long talks about philosophy and life and God, and reconnected while driving through the country and listening to Brene Brown on podcast. We considered the pros and cons of living in developing countries, discussed the realities of the poverty we can't ever unsee even in beautiful places like Belize, and the challenges of living so far afield. We talked politics and books and uncomfortable bits of history that shaped our representative home countries.

We stopped on our drive and hiked through the jungle to water features and into caves where underground rivers ran through, and we were allowed to explore them without a guide and with optional flashlight. We returned to Belize City and worked to find and load anything and everything that you can't buy anywhere but the biggest city (3 hours from home by road that can only be travelled in daylight) into the car for the return trip.

Both tellings are true. I just happen to like the second one a bit better. The weekend was an indulgent jump to Central America, certainly. However, more than just a flight-of-fancy weekend on the beach, the second telling is a little closer to the heart. I went to see a friend I deeply care for, for the purposes of spending time with her. Anything we did or didn't do was fine, from snorkeling to setting up house. We did both, but more important than any activity, we got a weekend to just be with each other, and be real and honest and silly and not-have-to-know-all-the-answers-but-consider-the-questions.

And it was good.

And needed.
Breakfast in the boathouse
And wonderful.

And that's how I prefer to tell the story.
Canal that leads to the lagoon

We set this up!


St. Herman Cave
View from the abyss


  1. oh so wonderful! we get to go to Belize in January for our anniversary!

    1. Awesome! The snorkeling is incredible! We saw so many fish - barracuda, nurse shark, ray, parrot fish, angel fish, and lots more I can't identify but look amazing!

  2. Just sent your latest blog post to a friend who was asking the world to DO SOMETHING about the injustices you had blogged about, and then poked around and stumbled upon this. Ah. What fun memories. They make me smile every time!