Monday, March 2, 2009

A Surprise Trip

Osorno, Chile 1991

Nora and Jenn-- 18 years later.

I received a phone call a few weeks ago on a Tuesday night from my old friend Nora. We met in 1991 as exchange students in Chile. As we were the only exchange students in our small town, we instantly bonded. The bond went much deeper than being exchange students as we spent many an afternoon strolling the streets of Osorno, oblea cookies in hand, discovering how many shared interests we had. The phone call was great, especially when she got to the part where she asked me if I'd like to come and visit. "Of course," I said.

"Well, you're coming!" she replied.

"What? What are you talking about?" I said with a confused look on my face.

"It's all set. You and Louise are coming on Thursday morning, staying through Monday. Ron planned it all. Pack your bags!"

My sneaky and wonderful husband got the idea to send me around Christmas time when he saw Nora's handwritten note on the end of her typed Christmas letter. "See you in 2009?" Originally he was going to send just me, but then Nora reminded him that Louise could still fly for free and that of course it would be more fun if her kids could play with Louise." Done. Ticket purchased. Now... how to make this happen? Ron wanted to wait until that morning to tell me, packing our bags himself, but then my mother-in-law and own mom convinced him that the planner in me would probably have a heart attack. Tuesday evening was the plan. Perfect!

As we got off the plane in El Paso (the closest airport to Las Cruces) and saw Nora and her daughter Jubilee, I knew it was going to be an amazing trip. Louise and Jubi are 5 months apart and about the same size. From the picture above, you can see that they could be sisters from their looks, except for the curly/straight hair situation. Well, ok, there's the brown/blue eye thing too... but really! They hit it off so well that I was able to slip away to the bathroom undetected by Louise while she giggled in delight at her same-sized new best friend.
We spent the five days together with her husband Jon, Jubilee and son Zephyr. Big brother Zephyr took Weez in under his big-brother wing and squealed with delight as she called him "Beffer." Jubi became "Boobie" in Louise-speak. We cooked, laughed, danced, walked, played, shopped for new matching rings, had playdates with her friends, game night with other friends, danced some more, and spent almost an entire day experiencing her local farmer's market. Essentially, Louise and I just jumped into their daily lives. It was the best kind of getaway I could have imagined to see Nora. Although we talk on the phone, email and occasionally (though reluctantly on my part) Facebook, we hadn't spent much extended time together since either of us married or had kids. Spending that much time together, in jammies and dressed, Jon-made tea or diet cokes in hand, was fabulous.
Story time with Jon and the three kids. Weez and Jubi wore each other's jammies the whole trip.

Coming from Minnesota's cold and white winter, the dryness of New Mexico's winter surprised me. We strolled along this dry irrigation ditch to the park as I gazed at the pecan trees in the distance. The desert is such lovely country.
Here's a scene from the farmer's market. I imagined what a similar scene would look like at my local market this time of the year... snow jackets and mittens. Can you even play a bass with mittens on?

The time away from the cold gave me hope that spring is indeed on its way. A huge thank you to Nora and her family for being such wonderful and gracious hosts. To my husband who arranged the whole deal AND painted the bathroom AND removed our old concrete yucky double laundry sink, replacing it with a sleek wall mounted single sink... I love you. You made my year.
A funky house near the park. Coordinated with the truck in front?

Nora's beautiful handmade valentine cookies from our playdate in the park.


Catherine said...

SO COOL! Way to go, husband! :)

noradawn said...

I wondered which one of us would blog about it first! I think I've almost got my thoughts gathered. It seemed so unreal in many ways- so wonderfully fun together, but then to have it snatched away again so's taken a while to process it all.