Monday, May 18, 2015

We Are Stardust

Warning - wordy post below!

I recently returned home from a quick trip to Guatemala to visit the house we purchased in the beautiful town of Antigua.

It was my first trip there on my own, and the first time staying in our new house.  I was a little nervous about navigating it all with my limited Spanish.  But, dictionary in hand, off I went.
Of course, I had my travel case of art supplies with me - my travel journal, some fine tipped Sharpie pens, a small watercolor set, and a few water brushes.  On the way there, I doodled and painted some funky birds:

When I returned home - some of these birdies made it onto greeting cards...

We'll see if they fly anywhere - wink wink.

I had been a little worried that I might regret our house purchase.  After all, we only saw it in February, and purchased it through a representative in April.  It all happened so fast.

But, as soon as I arrived on our little street, and went into the house, my doubts flew away.

In addition to being a beautiful place to visit and hopefully retire to someday, it has already proved to be a lovely gathering place for our "From Houses to Homes" family.  And our godson got to take his first shower with warm water.  He thought the shower head was truly magic!

Shameless plug - The house is available to rent-- hint hint!  (The rental price shown is for a month - the weekly rate is $900 and it sleeps 8 - two bedrooms have full beds and one bedroom has two bunkbeds!)

I was supposed to fly home on Friday, May 8.  I have never, ever had a problem flying home from Guatemala.  This time, however, our plane sat for several hours on the runway as mechanics tried to fix a malfunction.  Then we deplaned and sat for several hours at the gate.  Ultimately, the flight was cancelled.  By then, there were no more flights out of Guatemala and 250 people had to be re-ticketed for the next day.

I had been seated next to an elderly gentleman, Señor Roca, who was traveling alone to Patterson, NJ.  He was a very old 78, frail and tremulous.  He had no teeth and was hard of hearing.  He was making the trip to see a doctor in the States for lesions and ulcers in his legs and feet, caused by diabetes.  When we had to leave the plane, he was very scared, but I told him I would stay with him and help him with the process.

With the help of the man sitting on the other side of Señor Roca, I was able to advocate for a wheelchair and for him to be re-ticketed ahead of everyone else, as he hadn't eaten in hours and was visibly shaking.  But first, we had to go to the baggage carousel and re-claim all of our luggage.  Then, it was three flights up to the ticket counter, which was a mess.  Imagine an entire plane-load of people in a non-air conditioned area, with only three ticketing agents trying to take care of all of them.  We had been sitting in a hot airplane for over 2 hours (because that was part of the malfunction), and then at the gate with no air-conditioning for another two hours (because the airport was officially closed).  People were sweating and frustrated, and tempers were running high.

Watercolor I did while sitting on the plane on the tarmac...
I might have gotten angry along with everyone else.  But because all of my attention was focused on Señor Roca, I was not thinking of myself and my own frustration and discomfort.  Instead, I was feeling generous and of use.  In this way, Señor Roca was my angel -- he helped me see myself as more than just my ego.  We were all in the same predicament after all ...  even the three hapless ticket agents, who were doing their best while fending off everyone's anger.

At some point, an airline employee brought several trays of sandwiches to the ticket counter, as well as sodas and cups.  Oddly, no one moved off the line to get something to eat or drink. I don't know if people thought they had to wait to get to the front of the line, or if they were afraid to lose their spots.  So while Señor Roca and I were waiting (the re-ticketing process was taking about 30 minutes a passenger as the flight still had not been "officially" cancelled so first all the passengers had to be "de-ticketed"), I took it upon myself to unwrap all the sandwich trays and distribute them and the sodas throughout the long line.  (My dad calls this my "take charge" gene, and swears I get it from my mom!) This gave me a good feeling of being useful and helpful.  People were grateful to me, but I was grateful to them for, again, helping me away from my ego.

United Airlines put us all up at a nearby Holiday Inn and gave us dinner, breakfast, and travel vouchers.  The next day, we embarked again.  This time, it all went without a hitch.  By then, Señor Roca and I were committed travel companions!

When I finally came home, I had a wonderful Mother's Day reunion with my husband and daughters.  

And... I finally was able to finish an art journal page I had started before I left.  This lady appeared in my journal before my trip, but I wasn't sure how to finish her.  

Here's how I had left my journal page.   No journaling, and a lonely outline from my Layered Peony stencil from Stencil Girl Products.  

I painted in the peony and added some words...

Then I scribble-journaled my experience with Señor Roca and our adventure traveling home from Guatemala.  I want to remember that if we can reach out and connect with the souls of other beings, anything is possible.  

After all, we are all made from the same stardust!

Update on Señor Roca - I spoke with him today and he is still at his daughter's house in Patterson.  We have plans to visit with each other in Guatemala, when I return there in December!

Your comments make me so happy and let me know you were here. I read and treasure every comment and will happily answer any questions as soon as I can.

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  1. You are unbelievable. You were definitely an angel that needed to be there for for your "homes" family and Senor'. We all can learn from you. Not the first time I've told you this. Bless you. Oh.. and your house is beautiful.

    1. Aw thanks Judy. But really, they saved me from my inner b%#&h! Miss you.

  2. I think YOU are an angel. Made me feel so glad to know you reading this post!!
    Sending you a big hug.

    1. Thanks so much KP - really, it was amazing how focusing on him kept my inner *B* in check!

  3. Beautiful experience, Jessica, and an indication that 'feeling generous and of use', aka loving, is the best way to travel.

  4. What a beautiful story Jessica. He was a lucky man to sit next to you. House is beautiful btw. As always, we expect nothing less from you, you are so good are creating beautiful spaces to be. xox

  5. Thank you for sharing your airline adventure as well as your wonderful artwork. I was particularly struck by your realization that by helping others you avoided giving in to useless anger. A wonderful lesson for us all.

  6. Jessica, you are a beautiful person! I know you didn't have to tell this story, as you are not seeking to attract attention to your good deeds. But your message is received loud and clear! :-) A little kindness can go a long way and turn sour moods around. I know he has thanked you for your kindnesses, but I'm sure you were a HUGE blessing to Senor Roca and all the other travelers that day who forgot that you were all in the same situation. Making the best of a situation is far better and more productive than succumbing to the foul moods it can produce. I just hope all those there will remember your kindness to them and that gentleman and perhaps change their reactions when they find themselves there again ... which they will as such is life! Oh, and your painting is gorgeous!!

  7. He sure was lucky to have you as his seat mate and traveling companion! Glad everyone got home safely after all of that.

  8. What a wonderful person you are! Love this girl!

  9. beautiful, beautiful art and posting Jessica. How very wonderful you and Senor Roca were brought together to bring love and good energy to each oter and to those all around. Very touching.

  10. You truly are an angel Jessica!! What a wonderful post, and I like em wordy! heehee
    Thank you so much for sharing your adventure and good will- you are so sweet my friend! xo

  11. Jessica, I just resently returned from a Missions Trip to Belize. I can relate to the unrelenting heat and humity. What you did for Senor Roca is what we call being Gods hands and feet. Love Does!!! It knows no borders or boundies. I love that you have kept in contact with him. Important stuff there! Your house is beautiful and your art is waaaay cool. If only I could.....just a beginner here :) Thank You for sharing your Love with us. XOXO

  12. I love your story Jessica! and your new home is beautiful!


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