What follows is a thorough, categorical examination of what I took with me to Tijuana when I traveled there on a mission trip with members of the Burlingame Presbyterian church this past July. I wrote this mostly for my own benefit, in order to pack smarter next time I travel, to Tijuana or to anywhere. Writing this out, which I did on the first full day I was back at home, also serves as a sort of trip debriefing. It's a different way for me to record an account of the trip, albeit in a more straightforward and less lyrical style than what I wrote while I was actually in Mexico (which can be found here)...
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13:04. I'm in my room, 1415, at the Westin San Diego. This is two hours in the room I didn't think I'd have. Because check-in isn't until three o'clock. I'm grateful.
I've looked at myself in the mirror. I look rough! My cheeks are approaching brick red, or burgundy. I stink!
First order of business is a full-on shower. Then some walkin' around, looking perhaps for a notebook store. Then I'm going to that burrito place I went to a year ago. I'm-a get two burritos, one for this afternoon, one for dinner...
Continue with this short travel essay...
I gave praise
to steel you confidence.
You gave welcome
to feel me love.
Rooster sang crow
to share us morning.
Eugene broke fast
so we'd build house.
Water washed clean
so we felt ourselves.
Earth sprang mountain
to keepsafe sun.
Wood took flame
so we'd have fire.
Wind gave owl wing
and we had night.
We're between mountains, like in Colorado, or Utah. Wall! Border wall. To our left, to the north. Contiguous. Iron? A rusty red. Eight feet high? It cuts into the hillside.
Suddenly it's a little greener. Wind in the palms. Some flattening out. By the looks of it, the playa at camp will be windy. Stones, boulders on the hillsides. I've lost sight of the wall as we've tended south.
This is a smooth road. Turning to the south. Large round boulders. Accesso planta dart. Windmill. This is the back way into camp. It has a rural feel but there's actually quite a few plants or factories back in here. The road has gotten very rocky. A metal structure manufacturer. Galvanization. A burned area. Car carcasse. Lots of old tires. A guy in a chair under the shade of a tree just looking out at the road. Railroad.
We take a right onto a much smoother, paved road. There are lots of cars stopped on the side of this road. There are canopies set up. Lots of them. Is it a market? We're close to camp. Turning right, I know this road. There's the old, snub-nosed flatbed lorry. The silo-like red cylinder lying on its side. Dust! At 14:42 we are at the Amor Hacienda Camp...
Continue with this Tijuana 2019 travelogue...
Hotel lobby, the comings and goings of guests. I emailed a PDF of the house building plans to the front desk with a request that they print it for me. Information continues to trickle in, about what we will be doing. According to the itinerary Dan sent out to all of the participants by email, "This mission trip is an intergenerational trip" where we will be "building houses in a depressed area of Tijuana."
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Last night Graham informed me he and I are in charge of Van 7. I thought that had an eponymous ring to it. "Van 7", like it's a movie, or at least there's a trailer for a putative thriller called "Van 7" where a couple of guys—brothers-in-law: one a pastor, the other an underachieving blogger—are part of a church group that goes into Mexico except their particular part of the group ends up getting lost, drives into a bad part of Tijuana, has to use their fledgling Spanish, a little bit of luck, and the grace of God to get out alive, et cetera. It's actually not a bad idea...
* The pillowcase. I wasn't happy with the resting place the lumpy pillowcase offered. It's not the pillowcase's fault. When I woke at night after I got the good air mat from Frank what woke me up was my sleeping mind's dissatisfaction with the lumpy pillowcase. It was lumpy, it was damp, it was full of dirty wadded-up clothes or my balled-up second towel. What ended up working the last night was to stuff just the bottom compartment of my backpack and then put the neck pillow on top of that. So forget the pillowcase.
* Backpacking airmats. Completely useless unless I can sleep on my back. What just gives me an everlasting chuckle is how somewhere during the first night as I was tossing and turning on my mat—and as Graham was tossing and turning on his—I heard him completely let the air out of his mat, like a mat assassination. I don't know if that is what he was trying to do, in some sort of "F this mat" move but as the air was going out I thought to myself, "We should probably move on from these mats..."
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