....most of the medical team piled into another so they could talk strategy and logistics on the long drive....
...and the "young people" were assigned to the third van. That's where Curt and I headed, thinking we'd enjoy lively, animated conversation. It must have been a late night, because most of the young people promptly fell asleep!!
Our projected departure time was 8:30 a.m. Miracle of miracles, we had all 25 people and their luggage on board, and we exited the parking lot at 8:34.
About an hour down the road we hit the Mexican border at Nogales. No problems at the border crossing; we sailed right through.
The dark line across the middle of the photo below is part of the controversial wall between Mexico and the U.S. Sorry for the picture's fuzziness; we were driving through, and you sure don't want to stop at the border for a clear picture if you've been given the go-ahead to proceed!
This is a typical "Dr. Gabor" shot, doing push-ups with his backpack on at every opportunity! Gabor is on the Board of Directors for Rocky Mountain Ministries and is our mission's medical director. He's been with us since the early days when we started out in Honduras. He's also the unofficial fitness director for the team, and he takes that role very seriously! Here he sets a good example for the rest of us lazy wimps!
First travel break inside the border...and the banos, which are an ever-popular attraction! We'd forgotten that there are seldom any paper goods or running water at public restrooms in Mexico. So at this first stop there was lots of rummaging in purses and backpacks and pockets for scraps of Kleenex or paper napkins leftover from breakfast!
But no worries from here on out! A stop at the convenience store....
And we procured our own personal group stash. Nobody was happier than Maureen! Maureen is the wife of Mark, our fearless leader (known as "el jeffe" among the troops). Mark is on the RMM Board of directors and is one of our founding members.
The bureaucratic stop that always takes time (and money!) is the visa procurement station about 26 miles inside the border. Many people sail right by this stop, with apparently no repercussions. But because we're responsible for the well-being of 25 people, we always follow the letter of the law and stand in long, slow-moving lines three times to fill out visa applications, pay our $23 per person, and line up again to have the paperwork rechecked and reclaim our passports. We made it back to the vans just as it started raining. Great timing!!
The only shopping opportunity on the way down is our traditional 8-minute stop at a roadside copper shop (Gotta make fast decisions, friends...we have miles to go before we sleep!) Its also a great chance to stretch legs and visit with friends riding in the other van.
Below: Curt and "Dr. Juan," who took care of our children many times when they were small and we lived in Bozeman, Montana. Dr. Juan (his Montana friends and patients know him as "John"), has also been with us from our earlist mission in Mexico, ten years ago, and he has always been an integral part of the "brain trust." Curt is on the Board of dIrectors of Rocky Mountain Ministries and is one of the founding members of the mission.
Another couple of hours on the road, and we saw the distinctive gateway to San Carlos: the twin rocks known as Tetakawi. Almost there!
Driving the rocky and dust back roads of San Carlos brought us to our haven in the desert, where we'll lodge, eat delicious meals, make friends, fellowship, sing, worship, and rest and recuperate for the next nine days: Casa de Esperanza, House of Hope. I'll tell you a little of its history when I can show you a photo of our hosts, Art and Brenda. But Brenda asked me not to take their photo today, as they've been working hard for our arrival!
But I can tell you that over the past 9 years Brenda and Art have built this safe, comfortable and welcoming oasis from a single mud-floored room, to accommodate short-term mission groups from all over The U.S., Canada and Mexico.
A peaceful place to prepare for the busy day to come, and to rest and refresh after a long day in a remote village.
This is one of the dorm rooms for the single team members.
The meals are all homemade, nutritious and filling. Check out that that tray of enchiladas we had for dinner!
Meals are served outdoors around small tables, which encourage team members from different parts of the country to get to know one another throughout the week.
Before the group disperses for bed each evening, we have a team meeting which includes devotions, an opportunity to share the day's experiences, and specific instructions for the following day.
Tomorrow after breakfast we will sort and pack our supplies in preparation for an afternoon clinic at Independence, a nearby community. We're all grateful for our safety and trouble-free,traveling today!