Chapter 1 Driving Through Mexico
What a change in our living standards as soon as we crossed the border into Mexico. My eyes were darting her and there looking at the homes. Some were fashioned from scrap tin, others from sticks and mud. I was wondering what my home for a year among the Mexican people might be like. Our car was loaded with bedding, books, clothes, stereo, and all things calculated to make life livable during our year of volunteer work in Villahermosa, Tabasco, Southern Mexico. We had more things in the car than would fit into the average hut. Seeing the poverty yet survival skills brought both admiration and sympathy. How I prayed each mile of the way that we could make a big difference for Jesus that year. I did not know how to be a missionary, I was on my way to nurse the sick. I would do my very best for these lovely people. I had prayed to be a missionary since I was only 14 years old. We had read every missionary book written.
|stared in surprise how the laundry was washed and dried yet looked so very clean.|
|The farther south we traveled, the more big brown eyes were watching us and staring curiously at the things in our car. Several night we camped under the stars. Three hundred eighty six dollars was all we had to see us the 4,500 miles to our destination. Under the starry heavens in our tent, we enjoyed many warm nights on the beach. In the early morning the little ants had found us. They made it through the fine screen on our tent and sharpened their pinchers on us. We learned quite fast that we could alleviate the pest problem only by spraying insect repellent around the door flaps on the tent.|
| One night while sleeping soundly in the tent, I
was awakened by Ron yelling out the door of the tent at someone.
"Would you guys like to get out of our things?" Then I heard
running feet and a hollered "agua". My heart was beating as loud
as a drummer grouse. Was I dreaming? Had Mexicans really taken some of our
needed clothes or travel money, documents, or camera? AS I had slept, Ron
was awake listening. He heard someone rattle something. They had seen him
move in the tent and had hidden for a time behind a sand dune hoping he
would go back to sleep. He surprised them by yelling from the tent which
was pitched next to the car. They ran to the water faucet and said they
were just after water when he yelled.
They looked like the very ones we had given cold water to the day before during the heat of the day. As we had rested on that same beach during the Sabbath hours, several men approached us with their wares for sale. WE felt sorry for them as we saw big beads of perspiration on their brows. We had offered them water out of our ice chest. Word got around and everyone seemed to be so thirsty they just kept coming for water. Well, someone must have seen something they wanted and planned to take while we slept that night.
After this close call, Ron stayed up to guard camp while Rose slept. At daylight, we traded places. Soon rain began pelting our tent. We gave up on hoping for more sleep, took down our camp, and piled into the car heading south.
After having driven 4,400 miles without any car problems, the car registered hot and began hissing. Our precious purified drinking water was donated to the radiator. It did not show any gratitude. It just spat it all out. Ron removed the thermostat and the car crept along hissing all the time. While Ron drove, I searched every pocket for pesos and prayed for God to help us. WE had very limited money supply to reach our destination. We did not have anything for car repairs. What were we going to do? We figured we barely had enough money to make it to Villahermosa to the hospital. The nurses would raise the funds to help us return at the end of the year. We had two 20 dollar travelers checks left but we were miles from any bank and it was late. After buying gas, Ron decided to check the engine out. As soon as the hood went up there was a swarm of Mexicans trying to determine why the radiator was steaming. Many brown hands went under the hood. It made Ron so nervous that they might take parts off the engine. We had read books on tricks pulled on Americans this way. A leak in the radiator hose was discovered. WE barely had enough to buy the hose. Then the mechanic wanted his pay for service. He sat on our car so we could not drive away till he was paid. His had was out expectantly. We were praying. "Lord, help us out of this jam".
Like a flash, Ron thought of a metric tool set he had in the trunk from his old Toyota. He could not use it on our Chevy Nova. The mechanic was jubilant. He screamed and danced and ran off with all his friends patting him on the back and squealing and jumping into the air. We drove off thanking Jesus for delighting the man who had helped us.
Next we faced the problem of no pesos for the toll bridge. We discovered there was a bank in the next city 100 miles on but it was after banking hours. We tried changing travelers checks at the motel. The clerk graciously cashed it for us. We drove on for several hours till we finally entered the city of Villahermosa. It was 10pm and we were totally exhausted. WE asked at the emergency clinic where the Adventist hospital was. Someone jumped in their car and led us to the Adventist Hospital del Sureste. He could tell that his directions were totally lost for we could not speak any Spanish.
WE had a couple of coins left of the 386 dollars we left home on. We had driven a little more than 4,500 miles from our nursing school in Portland, Oregon. We were received warmly by a couple of student nurses who had been there only a couple days themselves. No one seemed to know we were coming. We were shocked. By using a dictionary and sign language we informed them we were tired and needed a place to sleep. WE were so exhausted, we could hardly stand up.
We waited a long time and finally a cute little nurse beckoned to us to follow her. We were led to a nice little room that was obviously newly built. New fresh white sheets were on the little single bed for both of us to sleep on. My tall large 6 foot three husband would more than fill that tiny bed so I motioned for a little mattress for me to sleep on the floor. We were so tired, our eyes were shut before we hit the pillow. We figured the night watchman would keep our loaded car guarded. It was right in front of the door of the hospital.