slowly surely + xyz : a journey of (re)discovery

I AM. Pleased

By InspiredJourney

Upon entering Camille’s home, I was met with morrrrre cold temps. 

Seriously … UGH!

At this point, I am curing and giving a very mean side-eye to the winter gods.

(Sigh) Onward.

You know the experience of entering a new environment and being met with its unique scent and silently questioning because you just want to know who lives like this? That was me as I was met with an interesting  smell of the chemical variety, combined with the anger-inducing cold temps.

This felt like a low-grade warning to my senses to be mindful of any change in how I felt mentally and physically.

We politely press on.

I’m led up the stone stairs to the guest bedroom I’ll have for my stay.

I know, … I know.

You’ve already imagined the comfort that meets and receives me – a severely exhausted traveler who has only slept about three of the last 28 hours, at this point.

You’ve imagined bright and inspirational sunshine that would peer through the window, waiting to sun-kiss me.

You’ve begun dreaming of the clean,  inviting bed and bedding waiting to envelop and caress me.

I know I’m projecting here, so … [insert a deep needle scratch across the record followed by laughter here]


Wake up. Just wake up. Now.

With all due respect you’ve confused this journey. Let me remind you this is an adventure, and Couchsurfing no less. Wake up and collect your overly optimistic imagination and face the reality that life is not made to readily comfort you.

Before I go any further, let me state: the following details are only written as a way of documenting the actual experience, and is, in no way a slight against my host. We all live and do what we can, often under constraints. I too, am well aware that we are often attempting to live given that circumstances beyond our control often dictate that we live limited or impoverished lives. The following account, serves nothing more than my re-living this experience and made even more mindful.

With that said, the room:

Positioned on the north/west corner of the house.

Spacious, with tall ceilings and dimly lit.

One drape-covered window facing south/east-ish.

The walls showing a battering from water damage.

One, not to ever be considered as a source of heat and comfort fireplace.

Many dust-covered books and other miscellaneous on the shelves or shoved near and around said non-comforting fireplace, one side of the room.

One full-sized, circa 1970, sofa.

One twin-sized rough cut platform type frame, fashioned from four legs cut from a 4×4, with a sheet of plywood seated upon; a, maayybe, six-inch thick ‘mattress’. A mix of bedding: flat base and top sheets,  a severely peeling orange poly blanket, topped with a whitish woven blanket missing a few threads. Oh, and three well used and thin former sofa pillows covered in various cases, including one from the 101 Dalmatians series.

The smell: worrying.

Camille, proud and jovial as ever, draws the drape covering the lone window, allowing near high noon yet failing sun into the room.

She leaves me to get comfy.

Okay, I know there’s no real need in telling you what a great resource online travel groups are. However, I will say reading posts of people sharing awful experiences with things such as bedbug infestations at hostels and hotels alike, made me hypersensitive. It would not be a leap to read that as paranoid.

This is the point where I share one preventative measure I, with rosary wrapped crossed fingers, attempt to guard against any tiny travelers that may, however inadvertently,  become a travel companion.

After reading many panicked questions or rants, posted with pictures of critters, I opted to carry a few plastic bags large enough to tuck my things before placing them on ANY surfaces or leaving them unattended.

I reach, grabbing a bag from the side pocket of my backpack.

I stuff everything that can host a critter into the bag, and secure it with a loose knot.

Feeling okay with my setup, I make my way downstairs to get acquainted. Camille’s introduces beautiful daughter Gabrielle.

I move in to greet her with a polite handshake and was met with a confused energy.

While gently, yet loosely holding my hand and seemingly puzzled, she asks: Do The Americans not kiss when meeting someone?

I respond we generally do not upon meeting someone new. I followed by asking if she wanted a kiss.

She didn’t … haha.

We sit, opposite sides of the dining table; mom and daughter on one side, me on the other.

I’m offered tea and cupcakes designed and baked by Gabrielle.

Yes! She’s a young entrepreneur, learning as she expands her repertoire. I’m instantly proud of her.

We ate cake, while they questioned me about the recent U.S. election and resulting shitshow Trump Presidency.

Though, no response would resemble a reasonable explanation, I did my best to answer the WHYYYYY, would they elect him(?) questions.

Nothing could sufficiently or reasonably answer these questions, soooo back to Gabrielle’s cupcake business it is.

I was throughly impressed by her initiative.

Grem, is working his way towards age 14 again, while other young adults are stretching themselves to grow beyond their boundaries. I am aware we mature in our own place and time. But I couldn’t be anything other than pleased with her, that I just wanted to support her in any way I could.

Later, that would come to mean  to reiterate advice Camille had imparted, by suggesting some marketing strategies to increase engagement with her customers. She heard me, tested, and saw results. The latter point only made, because initially, Gabrielle was not as cozy and welcoming of me as her mom.

During our chat, Camille asked that I stay longer than the four days I’d requested to surf with her. She wanted want me to stay a week or two.

Against my first thought, yet following my ethos to follow open paths, I agreed.

Later I found, yet another confirming ticket, this time, Oaxaca. Because the date coincided with the time Camille had ask me to stay, this feeling like proper and natural alignment. I cemented my date of departure by booking the flight.

At around the eighth day, I knew I had over-stayed.

I had grown a bit tired of being cold, the swollen, weeping, itching eyes and throat (allergic to the family cats). Because I had booked the ticket, I was to endure for a few more days.

Endure I did.

I spent most mornings living like a lizard; going to the roof to sun myself, before my ‘daily negotiation with the faucet’ (water: from frigid to scalding or off without notice) and showering and getting dressed whatever day’s venture.

As days went on, Gabrielle and I had a number of opportunities to speak more.

We did.

With my wanting to keep it neutral and not being ‘mom imposing’ into her personal life, I only inquired about her young business.

She had a nice following.

She had some consistent sales, both online and at the weekly farmer’s market. However, feeling a bit plateaued, she was frustrated and trying to sort how to grow and gain more customers.

Seeing that as an entry point to offer a bit of advice (you know, mom), I suggested she use the tried and true strategy of a contest, to generate excitement and some more buzz.

Though a bit on the hesitant or slightly cynical (at this young age), this idea piqued her curiosity.

An opening, we have.

She questioned me on ways to go about this.

I answered, while challenging her to think of ways to gain the attention of and engage with the customers she wants. It was banter.

Concerned about losing her current client base, I assured her that growth takes risk, and that those who truly enjoy her product would come along for the ride; that the risks would pay in lessons and dividends. I stressed being fearless in pushing the boundary of her comfort zone and daring to go towards her desires.

It clicked.

At some point, she quietly created a giveaway campaign and mapped her plan.

The launch happened just as quietly as the planning.

Though I wasn’t privy to her timeline and schedule of said contest, I was there to see her casually walk into the kitchen and quietly comment something to her mom.

Camille, beaming as usual, responded positively.

I’m sitting, puzzled, not wanting to pry and waiting to be clued in.

Camille makes a statement I couldn’t understand through her accent.

I question: What happened?

Gabrielle: (with cheer in her voice) It’s working! The contest is working!

Easily excited, I cheer the most: YES!!!

Gabrielle could celebrate her mini success, and I was so pleased that we could share the moment. After learning of her ambition, I seriously wanted nothing more, on this leg of my trip, than to be of assistance to her in some way. Was so happy for her.

The next couple days expired. The time for me to fly to Oaxaca, making the voyage to Puerto Escondido, had come.

Having shared the $30+ priced ticket I scored with the regional airline, Gabrielle comment “I want to live like you.”

She was referring to my seemingly stress free and monetary abundant life of perpetual travel.

This gave me pause.

It forced me to look at the unintended impression of a rich life of leisure one can give.

Granted, it’s a perception one can’t control, because there in a great machine that perpetuates the notion of The Rich American. We know the truth. But it can be difficult to convince others with an outside or surface view of your life.

It made me want to buy her a ticket to come along or to anywhere she wanted to go. It made me search my brain for ways to assist her in doing so. But, I had to sit back from all my initial thoughts. I spoke with myself about easing up on wanting to dig in ‘momming’,

I had to stop and remember where I am in my personal journey of (re)discovery and self-care.

I had to stop and remember this stage is about being more self-oriented.

This is a foreign concept for me. However, it’s much-needed.

I must replenish.

I must.

As I packed the last loose bits into my bag, made my last visit to ensure an empty bladder, Camille called Gabriella to say goodbye.

Hugs and I was off.

… and, kissed by the Oaxacan sun.

One response to “I AM. Pleased”

  1. […] hadn’t even thought about the kissing culture exploration¬†with […]

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