Saturday, October 24, 2015


I remember watching Twister when I was about 12 years old and secretly fantasizing about becoming a storm chaser when I was older. It sounded so adventurous and intriguing. Fast forward about 20 years and it turns out I'm not very adventurous or intriguing. In fact I'd much rather live a safe, dry, boring life than live through some sort of epic, Blockbuster-worthy storm.

So imagine my despair a couple of weeks ago when I heard reports of a tornado in Juárez and couldn't get a hold of my husband. Friends were having to pull off the road because of the golf ball size hail falling and Raymundo was nowhere to be found. Some of his friends were in town from Parral for a funeral but I wasn't sure what part of town they were staying in so I just assumed that maybe he didn't have signal wherever he was. This happened to be the case. I felt comforted by the fact that the worst of the storm was reported to be in the Las Torres area and I was pretty sure he wasn't anywhere near there.

I was wrong.

He was actually right smack-dab in the middle of Las Torres at the time and ended up getting stuck near the area this video was shot in:

(Video recorded by Mauricio Vargas Miranda)

When he finally had signal he called to tell me that his truck had quite a bit of damage from the hail and the windshield and back hatch were both cracked. The storm left the whole truck looking somewhat pock-marked but not nearly as bad as some of the videos I had been watching all afternoon online. We are both bummed at the thought of having to deal with the repairs of course, but definitely grateful that it wasn't worse and it's still driveable.


As if we hadn't had enough excitement with that storm, hail began to fall again while I was working in El Paso this past Wednesday. Here we go again, I thought. I stood at the door of the office, staring at my car, willing it to be strong and withstand the storm as I briefly contemplated throwing my body over the hood to prevent a second vehicle from being marred by hail.

Dramatic much?

I ended up having nothing to fear because the hail never got much bigger than the size of a pea. No, the problem with this second storm turned out to be the flooding, not the hail. I got a phone call from Ray at about 5:30 pm that evening telling me to park my car behind the Oxxo because it would never make it to our house. The water was too deep. You see, Juárez doesn't exactly have a reliable drainage system for the most part so when it rains, it tends to flood large portions of the city.

I envisioned myself, now 6 months pregnant, wading through waist deep water for the 2 blocks from Oxxo to my house, with my purse and grocery bags over my head, like some sort of destitute tsunami victim clutching her prized possessions. Only all I had was a Walmart bag with some bread and a Styrofoam box of Chinese take-out and of course, this was no tsunami.

In the moment, I recognized that I was being dramatic, I really did. I just couldn't stop myself and see the light. Is that a pregnant lady thing? It had been a rough day in the hormone department already. The baby had been in a weird position all day and nothing felt right. I couldn't stand right or sit quite right or really breathe without being overwhelmed by pressure in my mid-section. I just didn't feel good and I wanted to go home. And it was movie night. And I was hungry. And I didn't want to deal with inclement weather.

We stood on the corner behind the Oxxo for a few minutes as we watched other cars maneuver their way through the flooded streets with the ease that marks a true Juárense. They're bad asses. They've done this a million times before. Just another Wednesday in Juárez it seems. Even being here for 5 years now doesn't allow us to match their skill as they chose just the right route to get home safely. It was only after we saw a Mini Cooper avoiding the deepest of the water by driving into oncoming traffic on the wrong side of the road that we felt slightly more confident that our little Yaris could make it too.

Gordo and I switched cars, him in the Yaris and myself in the Trailblazer now and began to head towards the house. He instructed me to stay to the right of the road, as close as I could to the curb and to not let my foot off the gas. He would follow behind me in the wake of the SUV. We were in good shape until the truck in front of me came to a complete stop and I was forced to put my foot on the brake. The water was so deep I imagined it had to be pouring into our little car at that point but looking back at Ray, I couldn't tell. I was convinced that it was all over and that both cars would be out of commission. We would have nothing to move around in and would both lose our jobs and become homeless due to lack of transportation.

I'm laughing as I type this now, because I realize how ridiculous this all sounds, but I swear to you, in that moment, this all felt very serious. We all know I'm a bit of a drama-queen anyway, but throw in some pregnancy hormones and you really do have the perfect storm. No pun intended.

So this is how I found myself crying in the street, yelling to my husband that I hate this fucking city and I hate the fucking weather here and I wish I lived anywhere else in the world and has Juárez ever heard of a fucking sewer system and I'm tired and hungry and oh my God my boobs are so fucking huge right now, I'm about to fucking tip over.

I ugly-cried like a spoiled child, listing my pathetic problems in the middle of the street as my husband listened intently. He knows I love Juárez and didn't mean anything I was saying but he let me have my moment. I could tell he was trying his best not to laugh at me which made me cry even harder because I knew I was being a complete idiot. He left both cars running for a while to dry out the motors and began trying to calm me down.

It's okay vieja, the car is fine. It's just a little water. Un poco de aqua, no mas. No te preocupas, todo esta bien. Don't worry, it's fine.

And of course, he was right. Everything is completely fine. Both cars are running fine. As always, I need to calm down and look at the bigger picture and as always, God quickly finds a way to show me how blessed I actually am. This time that lesson came with the news of Hurricane Patricia which was said to be the strongest hurricane ever recorded at sea. 

Early Friday morning the tropical storm was upgraded to a Category 5 hurricane and had the potential of being catastrophic. I have a few friends in Southwestern Mexico that were caught in it's path but by this morning they had all checked in to let everyone know they were okay. Luckily it looks like less damage was done than had been anticipated and early reports show the Western coast of Mexico coming out of it all relatively unscathed, or at least with no deaths or damage to major infrastructure. I know flooding and mudslides will continue to be an issue though so we will keep the Pacific coast of Mexico in our prayers.

At the end of the day, despite the unfortunate circumstances, I'm grateful for the life lesson and grateful that my friends are all okay. Patricia ended up being a kick in the ass for me to realize how blessed we are and how much worse things could be. Here's to drier days.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Gender Reveal

From the moment I knew I was pregnant, I knew Baby Cruz was a girl. I also knew Ray secretly wanted a boy, but he didn't dare say a word. We had wanted a baby together for so many years, I think he thought being choosy about the gender would just be selfish. 

I didn't necessarily want a girl, I just wanted a healthy baby and knew it was a girl. If I'm being completely honest, having a daughter absolutely terrifies me. I mean sure, it would be fun to buy dresses and dolls and braid her hair and what not, but eventually this daughter would have the possibility of turning into her mother! Osea me! I shudder at the thought of having to deal with a 13 year old version of myself. But I figured God doesn't give us more than we can handle, so as terrifying as it was, I knew we would figure it out.

I already knew her name. We had picked it out nearly 10 years ago. Eva Marie. Marie is my mom's middle name. Done. The first gift we were given after announcing the pregnancy was a pink, Minnie Mouse walker. Perfect. Eva will love this, I thought.

My creative, thoughtful, crafty, should-seriously-be-a-chef friend, Veronica, offered to make us a gender reveal cake and I gladly accepted. It was really the perfect thing to do so that Ray and I could find out the gender together, since my OB is in El Paso and he obviously cannot go to my appointments.

Veronica was ready for anything!

Knowing I have no patience, on the day of my ultrasound she made not one, but two cakes. How amazing is that? I had my appointment in the afternoon and asked the doctor to determine the sex, but not to tell me. After the ultrasound she scribbled the gender on a piece of paper which was wrapped several times and then sealed in an envelope.

You would have thought I had presidential election results in that damned envelope with the way I sped back across the border. A few short hours later, it was time for the big reveal!

The gorgeous cake.

Here we go...

Blue?! What the...

Ray was completely shocked.
I had him convinced it was a girl.

I was in such disbelief I made Veronica
show me the letter from the ultrasound tech.

So it wasn't a little Eva inside of me after all! After some deliberation (you know, a quick glance at the list we'd been working on for a decade,) we settled on a name. Benjamín Joseph. Benjamín being the only name on our list that was loved by both our English and Spanish speaking family and Joseph being my dad's middle name. He will be Ben-HA-mín to Spanish speakers and Ben-JA-min to English speakers and that's quite alright with us.

We are absolutely elated to add this little boy to our family and cannot wait for his arrival!

Mom, Dad y El Benny