Wednesday 24 January 2018

Our Mexican Adventure, Part One: “I Got My Crew”

I give myself permission to fully experience whatever comes up during this trip, knowing I am safe.—Martin Baker

In our book, Fran and I describe how we handled our distance, mutually supportive, friendship while she was traveling in Europe for three months in 2013. Fran has taken a few shorter trips since then, but nothing comparable in terms of length, distance, or potential impact on her health and wellbeing. Until now.

Right now, she is newly arrived in Mexico for a month to undertake dental work. I thought it would be interesting to blog my side of things in a series of weekly posts. In this first post, we move through the week leading up to Fran’s arrival in Guadalajara.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five

Our Mexican Adventure, Part One: “I Got My Crew”

I am starting this as a log/journal of our four week trip to Mexico, Jan–Feb 2018. My intention is to record and explore my side of the experience as part of my own Wellness Plan, and as a source of material for our blog. I am thinking of maybe publishing a weekly summary, and/or any specific things that come up. This also meets one of my Seven Things I’d Quite Like to Do in 2018 goals: the one about finding a purpose for my larger, Standard size, Midori Traveler’s Notebook. [Opening page in my Mexico travel journal]

Tuesday, January 16, 7:40 a.m.

Fran and I were both tired when we met on Skype last night (Monday). I was tired from my day at work and then my evening meeting with Time to Change and Cygnus to discuss possible mental health initiatives in Northumberland. Fran was tired from a day that had been filled with people. She’d enjoyed the connections (lunch with a friend, and various online and phone conversations) but she realised another day had slipped by without having made a start on her packing. That definitely needs to start today!

Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday. Saturday. Five days left to get everything done. Which we will! The great thing is Fran is aware she needs to allow space/time for resting as well as doing. So, after we’d talked about our respective days, I read to her (Outlander) and we watched some Midsomer Murders on Netflix until it was time to say good night, a little earlier than usual.

I wasn’t feeling too good myself yesterday, and sort of dumped that on Fran in the afternoon when I was deciding if I was up to going to the mental health event. Today, I will hold myself open to whatever Fran needs me to help her with, which will probably include packing this evening. We got this.

Wednesday, January 17, 7:40 a.m.

Well, Fran didn’t get any work done on her packing or finances yesterday (Tuesday), so those have moved into today. (It is a “snow day” in Portland today and she doesn’t intend to go out at all.) Yesterday she went to her Forever Fit class, and to her massage appointment. We did do some important emails for the trip, including arranging transport from Guadalajara to Ajijic next week. I did try to encourage/insist that we did at least a little packing when we met at 11 p.m. (her 6 p.m.) but Fran was adamant she didn’t want to, so we had a talk instead, and some reading, and watched a David Attenborough wildlife show on Netflix.

We also had another attempt at getting the mifi device to work, but it’s not connecting. I found some more detailed notes online which we can try at some point. Frustrating, that it doesn’t work, but we are not anticipating needing to use it.

I think I will see if there is another 21 day meditation challenge in the next few weeks. That is something I could do, as part of my self-care plan.

Thursday, January 18, 7:35 a.m.

I don’t think Fran’s done any actual putting-things-in-the-suitcase packing yet, BUT she had a very productive day yesterday (Wednesday): finances, emails etc. and I have no doubt she is on track for Sunday.

We have had to accept defeat on the mifi front. We followed the additional instructions last night but still no “green light.” We went through the To Do list together. It is mostly all done now. And overnight Fran heard back from Dental Express to confirm they can drive her from Guadalajara to Ajijic on Tuesday.

I’m also pleased with how I am preparing for the next four weeks. I have this journal/log which will feed my blogging, and my list of Things I Would Quite Like to Do to keep me on track. I know I will really feel it when Fran and I are less in touch than usual, especially at the times we are usually on Skype. I give myself permission to feel whatever comes up—and not hold on too tight to it.


Friday, January 19, 7:35 a.m.

Fran is well on track now! She carried her laptop on a little tour of the apartment last night while we were on Skype so I could see how she is getting all her clothes, meds, and other things ready for the trip. She is stepping steadily though these final days, doing what she needs to, and resting too.

We read together (Outlander) and watched more of Planet Earth. Fran is blown away by the programme in all its aspects: the teams who go out to capture the footage, the production teams, Attenborough himself… It feeds her sense of wonder and is a great reminder (re-minder) to me, to stay in the moment. To pay attention to what is going on.

I’m feeling prepared for the next few weeks. I found a talk by a mental health author called Lucy Nichol at Waterstones bookstore in March and booked a ticket. Good to have some things ahead in my calendar. Stepping stones through the year, and maybe some friends will want to go too.

Saturday, January 20, 10 a.m.

Yesterday, I compiled my personal Wellness Plan for the Mexico trip, and printed it out so I can keep it to hand in my journal. I am excited about seeing how we (I) do. Fran got lots more done through the morning, and had everything to hand to do the physical packing when we had our Skype at 7 p.m. (her 2 p.m.) Fran had been concerned not everything would fit into her luggage—but it did! As she packed things, I marked them off on our packing list, and afterwards read it back to Fran so we knew we’d not missed anything.

We did her suitcase and backpack in about 40 minutes, and did the rest when we met again later. Fran was so delighted and relieved that everything went fit! It was a big weight off her shoulders.

We did have a couple of scares. There was an earthquake in the Mexico region, although not especially close to where we are going. And a friend shared a travel advisory notice which was a bit scary, but fortunately it seems to be okay in Jalisco. We will remain vigilant—but we are going!

Sunday, January 21, 1 p.m.

Last night Fran and I met for our final pre-Mexico Skype call. There was nothing really to do, but we read through our packing and To Do lists one last time just to be sure. We talked a little about how the journey might go, acutely aware of the significance of this trip to us both. I told her I am ready for it from my point of view. I have my Wellness Plan, and I am curious too, which is always a healthy way to approach change. We watched another episode of Planet Earth, then said good night.

This morning—Sunday—I messaged her as we’d arranged, to make sure she was up for our friend Beth to drive her to the bus station. She was already awake. I double checked she was actually up out of bed, and that she’d packed the very final things, including her phone charger and cables. She had. She messaged me just before leaving her apartment.

I am as ready as I can be. A bit scared too. Today’s Angel Card is “Awakening.”

Later, talking about the trip as a whole, she said: “I will feel fear. I will counter it with being present.”

Beth was on time and stayed with Fran until she was on the bus (thank you, Beth!) During the drive to Boston, Fran got a bit unsure about gate numbers for her flights, so I looked them up for her on the United Airlines app.

“I can’t imagine doing any of this without you.”
“You’re stuck with me now, Frannie. Didn’t you know that?”

Monday, January 22, 07:35 a.m.

Fran messaged me just now, as I headed out of the house on my way to work. She is safe in her hotel room in Guadalajara (“Hotel Frances is gorgeous”) but it was a hell of a journey for her yesterday.

The first leg, Boston–Newark, went fine, but the next departure was delayed which meant she couldn’t catch her final scheduled flight to Guadalajara. The replacement flight was also delayed, so that she didn’t land in Mexico until around twenty past midnight local time.

I stayed with Fran most of the way. We couldn’t chat when she was in the air of course but I tracked the flights (and the delays!) via the United Airlines app and website. I messaged the hotel to let them know Fran would be late. I’m not sure if they got the message (Fran also tried to call them with no success) but it all worked out in the end.

Fran was also concerned about how she would get to the hotel so late at night. It was about a 30 minute drive from the airport. This was something I couldn’t help with, so she posted in one of the Ajijic Facebook groups for suggestions.

My flight into Guadalajara tonight got delayed by three hours, so I land at midnight. I had planned on using Uber but am wondering if anyone has a trusted driver willing to drive me from the airport to Hotel Frances. I am ecstatic about spending a month in Ajijic and meeting some of you!

People in the group were really helpful and supportive: a great example of using a wider support network when needed. I kept Fran company on chat while she waited at Houston for her final flight, which was also delayed.

“I just checked online, Fran. They’re waiting for crew.”
“I got my crew—you.”

It was around 3:20 a.m. my time when she boarded and we said good night. (“Thanks for staying with me.” “Of course.”)

So—she is in her room in “her” hotel (Hotel Frances) in Guadalajara. Exhausted, but safe. She’s taken her meds (we’ve agreed that I will remind her to take them for at least the next few days as she settles into her new routine). She doesn’t have her luggage, and the AT&T data package for her phone doesn’t seem to be working yet, but hopefully both those issues will be resolved later today.

We are here (HERENOW). That’s what matters.

Tuesday, January 23, 7:30 a.m.

I had a few chat conversations with Fran through the day yesterday (Monday) and a lovely Skype call in the evening. It was just ten minutes or so but it grounded me and gave me a handle on how she is doing. She was really tired, of course, but she’d had a good time being shown around Guadalajara by a friend of hers who lives there. She took lots of great photos, too.

Fran was reunited with her luggage: it was delivered to her hotel in the afternoon. Her data/phone are also working now. I had a great chat session with Daniel on the AT&T support line. As well as providing the technical help we needed (it was a setting on Fran’s phone we’d forgotten about) Daniel was really nice and friendly. He commented that Fran and I were clearly good friends which led to a conversation about our book and the website and the journal/blog I am doing for the trip. I said he might even get a mention—so here you go, Daniel!

When Fran and I had our Skype call it was around 5 p.m. Mexico time. Fran was about to have a rest and was considering going for a stroll later. In the end, she decided to focus on self-care. I know she wanted to make the most of being in Guadalajara but she recognised her body needed to rest.

I thought about going out but there would be lots of people, and the sun is setting. I thought about going downstairs to the bar or restaurant but there’s lots of people. I’ve had people all day Sunday and today. So I think staying in and resting feels like what I need to do. Tomorrow morning I’ll explore, but tonight is mine. I don’t need to push myself.

Today (Tuesday) a car provided by Dental Express will collect Fran from her hotel and drive her to Ajijic, which is about an hour south of Guadalajara, on the north shore of Lake Chapala. She will collect the keys to her friend’s apartment and can then finally unpack and relax. It’s been quite a week. I’m so proud of her.

Hey, Fran—you did it (we did it)! We’re in Mexico!

Continues here.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five



  1. Thank you, Marty. I'm glad to read updates and happy things are going so well. Bumps in the road but everything managed.
    I am proud of you Fran.

    1. Thanks for taking time to comment, Beth. I am enjoying journaling this trip and look forward to sharing it out week by week. It is quite a different experience for me than writing things up months later, as we did in our book. More dynamic/fluid, I think. ~Marty

  2. I'm enjoying this trip,too. My husband has been to Guadalajara on business probably a half a dozen times. He says the big arts area is Tlaquepaque. Fran might enjoy that. David brought back a few fun Christmas ornaments. The company he was visiting gave him a going away gift when he retired ---- a wonderfully whimsical sculpture by Sergio Bustamante. Pat Reed

    1. Hi Pat - thank you, I have passed your comments and suggestions on to Fran, in case she doesn't see it on here.

  3. Wow, Fran and Marty, I am exhausted just reading this!!!! I am amazed and thrilled how you have prepared and got to Mexico. Congratulations!
    There is actually a guy called Sergio Bustamante who started a website called VidaBipolar, he lives in Mexico City. It would be a big coincidence if it was the same Sergio! I have a number of Mexican friends from the website, who I keep in touch with. Wonderful warm, loving people.

    1. Thanks, Judy!

      This is the website you mention, if people are interested to go look:

      And this is the artist Pat mentioned:

      I am not sure they are the same person, but I could be mistaken!

    2. No, not the same Sergio....maybe a popular name!
      Lovely, beautiful art work though.