Day 8 – (3/21/09)

Really no break in the days, just a continuation from yesterday. The bus got going on-time from Chihuahua. I think almost everyone was sleeping right away, except Hannah and I talked for a while about lots of stuff, but I was going through my mp3 player and it seems as though we like lots of the same music – and I was thoroughly impressed that she knew The Boss wrote Blinded by The Light. We talked for a while then we started sleeping on and off for the next 4 hours. We stopped it seemed about every half hour for food or to be searched buy Federal Police, and they had some big guns. So we got woken up often, which blew, so never really got any good sleep. Stopped at the same restaurant in the middle of nowhere that Hannah bought chocolate wafers and we talked with Saul at on the way up. It was a cool night yet again, and it brought back good memories – seemed so long ago that we made our journey down and it seemed like so much had happened.

Mexico - Nate 213
Mexico - Nate 212

El Paso

We finally made it to the border and there was a long backup to get into the U.S.A. We waited in the bus for about 45 minutes to get to the front, and then we unloaded everything and went through customs. Everything went through just fine and they only scanned my passport, no stamp! Took like 15 minutes for them to finish searching our bus, then we reloaded the bus for our 5 minute ride to the El Paso terminal. Sylvia was there waiting for us, it was very nice to see here again. We loaded up her van with our bags, and she had Kerry’s cell phone that she had lost a week previous in Sylvia’s van.

Sylvia brought us to a restaurant to get some food, we were all starving and tired and beat and emotionally drained. We went to a Mexican restaurant of all places – like we haven’t had enough Mexican food yet. I ordered sausage & eggs and a cheeseburger. They came with fries and refried beans and hash browns, and I ate it all, so I dominated. We bought Sylvia her lunch that was Margie’s idea. P.S., I’ve been traveling all day with my nice Cowboy hat, so I feel pretty badass. Sylvia brought us to El Paso airport, and we had some stereotypical airline moron check us in, he finally got it all done, and we moved through the 16 gate airport in a matter of minutes. We had about 2 hours to spend in our gate – Margie immediately scoped out a spot on the floor to sleep, we got a great picture of it – she looked hilarious! We had a really good time just sitting around and laughing. We continued a conversation about me being “On the market,” and got personal with that. It’s amazing how comfortable everyone is with each other in this group.

Mexico - Nate 227

We boarded our plane, and we were all sitting right with each other, except Margie was in the back. I fell asleep right during takeoff along with nearly everyone else – we passed out! I was in the middle of writing in my journal, and I just went comatose. Got to Dallas and took a little train to our next gate, and immediately grabbed some Subway – first American meal in a week. We still had an hour to wait, so we met some EIU alumni there, so we talked to them for a bit. I took a walk and had to clean some sauce off my pants, so after that I did some classic Dumb & Dumber “Send out the vibe” moves and the girls thought that was pretty funny. Hannah was deep into her Twilight book, she had been since El Paso. We boarded up, and we were all scattered in our flight to Chicago. We all felt rejuvenated from our nap and food, although Jen and I had been talking about eating bagels when we got back to the states, since we couldn’t’ find any in Mexico –but sadly we found none in Dallas, although we did not look too hard.

I talked to Rooster today on the plane for about 5 seconds; he was running the track meet, the high school girls. Also talked to mom & dad, and I only talked a little bit about the trip, but I almost started crying just thinking about it. I look back on it and the kids were a little slow to accept us, but even the first day at the river, we bonded – but I would have never guessed it would have been so hard to say goodbye. Carmen and I were talking too, that on Friday we all had a weird feeling in our stomachs. It’s crazy how the mind & body works, and even though we didn’t think about it, our body & mind knew it was our last day, and it was so hard.

Back to EIU

We finally made it to Chicago, and it was nice to be back. We started walking towards baggage claim and we saw Doris! She was there to bring us back to Charleston, her and Brian. We waited about 15 minutes for our luggage to come through. In the meantime Carmen and Margie left with their families – Margie on the way to the Carolina’s for family, and Carmen home with her family. We found Hannah’s bag, and then the body bag. I almost grabbed a black bag instead of our maroon one, so everyone got a good laugh about my color blindness. Sun block had exploded in the body bag, but not too bad. We loaded into the Newman van through the front door since the sliding door is in bad shape. Me, Jen, and Hannah on one bench, and Victoria and Kerry on the bench behind us. We were pretty low on gas, and barely got to a station in time. Also, Doris had never used an I-Pass, so who knows how many we successfully went through. We got gas then went to a McDonald’s across the street, but they closed the lobby an hour early, it was only 10:00. So we did drive through, and Jen & I got large chocolate shakes, and there were huge and good. Hannah wanted to sleep, so she used my shoulder. She passed out and got about an hour of sleep, although I had to keep pushing her head back up on my shoulder. We finally made it back to Newman, then we all hugged each other goodbye – they all went to Kerry’s house, and I walked through the south quad back to the shithole alone, in the quiet night of a dead campus. Just as I got into the quad, I realized I left my cowboy hat in the van – guess I’ll have to get that later.

Thus ends our odyssey – a trip filled with evidence that the hand of God guided us the whole way. The clearest evidence being the people God put on our journey. People to help & guide, and be examples of true love & compassion. This trip has given me a new motivation, a new spark for giving myself away because of the example of people like Paco, Raul, John, Mary, Janiene, Luis, the sisters, my group members, and mostly the kids. The way we opened ourselves to each other was so refreshing, and for them to love us the way they did makes me want to go and see them again and show them I really do care.