Re: Greetings from Mexico!

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From: novela-harmon@bethel.edu
Date: Sat, Aug 19, 2017 at 11:26 AM
Subject: Greetings from Mexico!   
To: grace-k-nelson@bethel.edu

Dear Grace, 

Guadalajara is so much prettier than the areas I've been to on mission trips. Maybe subconsciously I expected all of Mexico to be desert like the border, but here there seems to be more water and more money, both of which help aesthetically. The other students tell me I should see Cancun, but for now I'll take the palm tree-lined streets and flowers hanging from all the buildings.

This morning, I woke up to the sound of cowbells. There was a garbage truck outside, and these guys with cowbells tied to their waists were running around collecting trash. A few minutes later came a gas truck with a megaphone repeating something that sounded like, "¡Zeta Gas!" I suppose it gets old after a while, but it's cool how different it is. And car alarms go off ALL THE TIME, always with the same pattern - something like "booop, booop, doo-dee, doo-dee, WOO, WOO!" (I am starting to hum along with them.) They're so frequent no one pays attention to them, which would defeat the purpose.

There are street vendors all over, selling all kinds of food. I want to try it but I'm not sure if it's safe to eat. And the houses - well all the buildings - look so different! They are all made of concrete, and they are all connected to each other and take up the whole block. So no one has their own "house" like we think of it - just your section of the big cement square. So obviously no one has a yard, but instead they have courtyards (the nicer houses, at least) at the back of the dwelling. My room has a balcony, which is pretty cool, although it just overlooks the street. 

On a minor note, the reception from my host "mom" was pretty cold. That was the part of the study abroad experience I was most looking forward to, and it is starting to look like a dud. I'm telling this only to you because I am afraid it would worry my parents, especially combined with the fact that my assigned roommate backed out so it's just going to be me and Carmen (I feel like I should call her by her last name but I don't remember it). 

Finally, I haven't had a chance to tell you what happened with Levi, since it was literally right before I left. We went to dinner, as you knew, and when he finished he suggested we go for a walk at a park. I wasn't expecting anything else, but right as we were finishing the loop around the pond, he told me there was something he wanted to ask me. To the extent I know Levi, I couldn't guess whether he was going to ask for a political opinion or propose marriage. It was in between: he asked me to if I would enter in courtship with him. Can you believe it? I said yes. (I had to say something, and wasn't prepared.)

I haven't even had much time to think about it since, with the travel and getting settled in. I am excited, although I'm not sure how much is about him and how much is because I've never been in a relationship before. But I'm also terrified, because Levi's never courted - or dated - anyone before and I'm concerned he may already be planning the wedding, the home and the kids. I'm interested, and also a little nervous, to hear your thoughts on all this. I know he is an intelligent, hardworking, Christian man who would make a great husband. I just want to make sure I wouldn't go into it just on that basis - checking the boxes. But I do like him. I'm not sure when that happened; it started about the time he showed interest in me so maybe it's just the flattery. But maybe it's more than that, and I want to see where it goes.   

All right, I've been at this internet cafe almost two hours now and need to pack up. Write back soon!

Love, Novela

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