We decided to head to Mexico to meet up with friends! Upon looking for plane tickets to get to Mexico we realized that getting to and from Mexico from anywhere in South or Central America was going to be really expensive. It was WAY cheaper to go to Mexico from the United States…so that is just what we decided to do!
We passed through Miami, Florida for 4 nights to stay with Scott’s grandfather, Pops. It was amazing to be able to spend some time with him, watch some movies, go clothes shopping, and ship some things home. We always thought we would end our trip flying through Miami for a few days to Pops, but we decided to push this visit up a month to see him on our way to Mexico!
After our week in Mexico, we headed back to the USA for another brief visit…this time to Houston, Texas for 4 nights to see both my grandmothers, my parents, my brother’s family (including our 3 year old niece), and my aunts/uncles. This was a bonus visit I never expected to happen on this trip and it was amazing to be able to see some family on our last leg of our trip!
This blog post was terribly hard for me to write and isn’t the most exciting. I have become used to writing about our times in foreign lands seeing places I have always dreamed about, but this post is much, much harder. These two mini-trips back into the US have been very special to us both though and I am so thankful our travels led us back “home” for a little while.
Aventura, Florida and Houston, Texas
Thoughts on Being “Home” in the USA
Wow, the US is expensive. We didn’t pay anything for accommodations while we visited, reward points paid for our rental cars, and we had some free meals and we still felt like we spent a lot of money. We are not used to going to target for some mini-shampoo containers and Cliff Bars and walking out with our wallets $40 lighter. We ordered sandwiches at the grocery store and spent $18 on sandwiches alone. We shipped three boxes home (clothing, souvenirs, a glass bowl given to us by Pops, and Scott’s old camera) and we paid $85 in shipping costs. The US is one of the most expensive places we have been on our travels and I think that we started to forget how much things really cost in the States.
The biggest shock upon returning back to the US is the size of everything and the amount of stuff. Grocery stores are incredibly large and there are 100 brands for everything. Heck, Target has TWO aisles that were just for laundry soap. Why is there so much of everything? We learned how little we could live with and to return and be surrounded by SO many things is overwhelming. Yes, I like options too – I nearly passed out I was so excited by the different types of yogurt I could purchase (although Noosa is always the right choice). At what point is it just too excessive?
Our trip to visit Scott’s grandfather, Pops, flew by. We exchanged out our wardrobes with some fresh clothes, we ran errands, relaxed with a beautiful view, caught up with Pops, and ate some fantastic meals. Scott’s love for going to the movie theaters traces back to going to the movies with his grandparents – so that was high on the list of things to accomplish in Florida. The three of us settled on the movie, Hidden Figures, and it was a really great picture and I left feeling inspired (and wishing I was smart enough to be a rocket scientist). It was a fabulous way to spend a few days and we loved that Pops could be a part of our trip round’ the world.
Our trip to Houston was supposed to be a fun trip to visit both of my grandmothers. It worked out that my parents were going to be in town (my Dad had a conference in San Antonio for a few days) and that I was going to be able to see my brother and my niece as well! A few days before our trip my Grandmother (my Mom’s Mom) had a minor heart attack and ended up in the ICU – every piece of good news was met with several pieces of bad news. It is heartbreaking when someone you love is sick and there is nothing that you can do about it. The quick trip to Houston turned into a well-timed one, as I could be there to visit my Grandmother in the hospital.
I am not sure what to say about our time in Texas. We were able to see so many people that we love and that filled my heart to the brim. We also had to deal with the uncertainty and worries that are associated with hospital stays and it was really hard. We were able to spend a few days with my other Grandmother getting spoiled with great food, good conversation, and to feel some normalcy. I loved seeing her and being able to spend some time at her house. We were able to visit one of my aunt and uncle at the hospital and it was wonderful to see them. I was able to catch up with my cousin, Tara, and hear about her plans to move to Korea (update July 2017 — that is not happening, but she is in a immersive Korean language program at UCLA for the summer) while reminiscing about our time together there. We were able to see the pastor from my church growing up when he came to visit the hospital. We made it to Kingwood (where I grew up) on official business and we were able to catch up with great family friends, The Thieles. We were able to see my brother and my three-year-old niece (and give her some Mexican maracas so she can bother her parents with her new musical skills). We were able to visit my Uncle who was hospitalized a few months back and it was fantastic to see him recovering well and catch up with him.We were also able to spend some time with my childhood dog, Grace, who was recently diagnosed with lymphoma and isn’t really doing well. Nobody ever expected to have 17 years with her, but it doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye to our littlest member of the family.
It didn’t feel right leaving when there was so much going on in Houston. It was the hardest goodbye for me and I haven’t cried so hard in a long time. Hell, I am still crying on the plane as I write this. My heart is so full from this visit, but it is also very heavy.
Total Number of Nights: 8 (not consecutively — we had a week in Mexico in between)
Currency: $1 USD = $ 1 USD
Number of Miles Traveled: 2,200 miles (including our flight from Mexico and Colombia)
Number of Miles Walked: 21 miles (average of 2.7 miles per day)
Steps Taken: 45,874 steps (average of about 5,734 per day)
Transportation Used: Car
Type of Accommodations: Staying with Family
Number of Beds: 4
July 2017 Update — My grandmother ended up passing away in April and it was really miserable being so far away from home. Grace, our longest standing dog member of the family, crossed the rainbow bridge in May. Unfortunately, life isn’t always beautiful scenery and good food. In an effort to make this a true account of our trip I want to include the shitty stuff too. Rest in peace Lena Ward — I will miss you so much.