Saturday, June 27, 2015

Father's Day in Samalayuca

Several years ago when our move to Juárez was still in the planning stages, I had grandeur dreams about what our life would be like here. One of those dreams included using some of our savings to purchase a second car with Mexican plates which we would use to travel all over Mexico in our free time.

Unfortunately, I had grossly underestimated the cost of living on the border and there was no leftover savings just a few short months after our move. We never bought that second car and never did any traveling or exploring too far from home. I had overestimated our free time as well, go figure.

The traveling I had in mind hasn't happened largely because we try to use our vacation time to visit our kids, but that second car could have really helped out in the past few years as our truck broke down time and time again. I recently had the chance to purchase a vehicle through the company I work for and I just knew I couldn't pass it up. I'll be making payments for the next year that will make things really tight for us financially but I know it's worth it and I'm thankful for the opportunity. It's a little Toyota with a high reliability rating that's excellent on gas. Polar opposite of the Chevy we've been struggling with for years.

Knowing that we were getting the new car this week made it easy to accept an invitation from friends for a day trip to Samalayuca for Father's Day. Normally I would have said no, fearing that the Trailblazer would leave us stranded in the middle of the desert with no way to get to work on Monday. But with the promise of a new car on the horizon, we threw caution to the wind, packed up the truck, and headed South.

Thankfully the ride was uneventful for the most part and free from any car problems. There is a checkpoint on the way which is normally closed but was up and running last Sunday. The officials saw the Texas plates on our truck and pulled us to the side of the road. I immediately got nervous because although everyone had assured us that we weren't driving far enough into Chihuahua to need a permit for our truck, I was second guessing that as soon as I saw a man in uniform. However, it was no problem at all. After Gordo explained that we were just going to Samalayuca we were waived right along.

Samalayuca is just about an hour outside of Juárez, if that, and famous for it's white sand dunes. It's close enough that the trip doesn't feel like a huge production and far enough to feel like you're still getting out of town. The dunes are quite the tourist attraction and on the weekends they are filled with people four wheeling, sandboarding or just hiking. With the high temperature being in the 100's that day, we didn't go to the dunes, but instead passed them up to hang out by the pool at Centro Recreativo Dunas Campestre.

There were 5 pools, all connected but on 3 levels, a lake for fishing (catfish and tilapia), horses that could be rented for a ride around the campground and a very long water slide (maybe half a mile?) that was not operating when we went. There was a restaurant on site as well as a small store selling ice, matches, pop, snacks and other camping essentials.

The price to get in was 40 pesos ($2.60 US) for adults and 20 pesos ($1.30 US) for children and if you wanted to camp you would just repay that same amount as you leave the next day. There was a water spigot for washing, a grill at each campsite and a men's and women's restroom that each had 2 bathrooms and a shower.

There were a lot of people there so the pools got a bit too crowded and dirty for my liking after a while. I'm hoping that this was just due to Father's Day because I can't wait to go back and camp. I love everything about camping. Setting up your own little temporary home, cooking over an open fire, spending time with your loved ones, unplugged. All the necessary ingredients for a good time.

Up until now I never really knew of anywhere we could camp around here and it's something I really missed. My family went camping regularly as I grew up and while the Chihuahuan Desert is nothing like the wooded KOA campgrounds of the Midwest or Northern Arizona, it definitely has it's own charm and beauty. It's not for everyone, that's for sure. But personally, I can't wait to go back.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sober Sunday Funday

Seven days ago I quit drinking and I'm feeling really, really good. There is obviously a long story behind what finally motivated me to make this decision but maybe I'll get into that more when I'm ready. Today is not the day. Regardless, my decision to put down the bottle has left me with the need to sort of reinvent my life in Juárez. Ever since we moved to Mexico, our lives have revolved around alcohol. That was never the case when we were North of the border.
In Arizona, I wouldn't gulp down an entire bottle of wine on a Tuesday night or start taking shots of tequila before noon on a Saturday, or drink a beer with breakfast on Sundays. I would have a glass of my friend Christina's homemade sangria on Thanksgiving or maybe toast with champagne on New Year's but alcohol was never a problem for me then.

Looking back, I see that I just couldn't cope with everything that this move entailed. I needed something to soften the blow. As an addict, I was naturally drawn to this miracle liquid that seemed to magically remove me from reality. The only problem with that is that reality was still there every morning. Now accompanied by a splitting headache, ganas de vomitar and embarrassment over what I had said or done the night before.

I remember coming home from a job interview 3 days after we moved here to find my husband drinking in the kitchen with his brother and mom. They had hopped on a bus from Parral to Juárez as soon as they had confirmation that we had arrived in Mexico. Of course they were in celebration-mode. It had been years since they'd been face to face.

So how could I resist that shot of tequila when it was offered to me at 2 in the afternoon? We were celebrating! We had made it, we were safe, we were together! Pour me another! ¡Arriba, abajo, por centro, al entro! And then suddenly, there I was and nearly 5 years had passed, and I was still celebrating. 

Nearly 5 years had passed and I was still at the same fucking party.

It's time to wake up. It's time to be responsible. It's time to realize that I am strong. I am so much stronger than I was 5 years ago. I am certainly strong enough to deal with my feelings and my life and whatever God throws my way. No need to numb myself with alcohol all the damned time. 

I got this.

I'm not saying I'll never drink again, but I do think I lost my way and plan to take a nice long break from alcohol. I'm excited to get out and experience life and stop sitting at home in my cave staring at the TV all day. Although I do enjoy Netflix quite a bit, even sober, a Scandal marathon shouldn't be the highlight of my week.

Normally on Sundays we are both complete zombies. We waste the entire day nursing our hangovers from whatever inevitable celebration took place the night before. Today was different. We woke up feeling rested and ready to take on the day.

After cleaning house we went to see San Andreas at Cinepolis. Forgive me but I have to talk prices here people. 2 adult tickets for the matinee cost 110 pesos. 1 large drink at the concession stand, 47 pesos. Afterwards we strolled around the mall, stopping to smell some cologne at Liverpool and checking out the teacup piglet and Shih Tzus at Bichos.

We ended up at the food court and did a couple of laps before deciding on Taco Inn for an early dinner. I got tacos de pollo asado and a non-alcoholic sangria and Ray settled on tacos de bistec with a Coke. 134 pesos. I know, talking prices again, but I'm going somewhere with this.

After dinner we did a little more window shopping before getting a couple of ice cream cones on our way out. 40 pesos. I got extra caramel. 5 pesos. I know, I know, there's that price again. Here's why I keep mentioning it... 

I've been quick to bitch all these years about how tight money is for us. And don't get me wrong, it is tight. But guess what? The grand total for everything we did today was 336 pesos. That's about $22 US and ironically about the amount of money we would normally spend on alcohol on the average weekend. So it's time to stop bitching and time to find some new hobbies.

Yes, it's time for a little wake up call for the Cruz family. And it's a welcomed and long overdue awakening.