An earlier airport goodbye…

On Sunday night, hugging Jorge goodbye at the Merida airport, I wondered, What on earth am I doing?

I love Mexico, and I intensely love many people who live there… especially Jorge. In my hand I held my Mexican and Canadian passports and the boarding passes for two flights that would carry me to the country where I was born. My feelings for Canada and my loved ones there are also strong.

I have a reservation to fly back to Merida on June 30th, and knowing that I will see Jorge then, and that we will have 3 weeks together, is all that kept me from bolting. I felt devastated and I know Jorge did too… yet, I turned towards the security clearance area. My conflicting emotions made me feel as though my heart would tear in two.

I won’t detail my morose mood during the journey to Mexico City, but once I got there, I had to recover my wits, and locate the departure lounge for my red-eye flight. I managed, and shortly after our 01:10 takeoff, I mercifully fell asleep. Then, at 06:22 local time, the plane touched down in Vancouver.

I followed the other groggy passengers through Immigration, baggage claim and Customs. A pair of sliding doors opened, and my sister’s arms embraced me. At that moment, I felt (literally and figuratively) that I had arrived home.

But what and where is home? I left one “home” and now I had arrived in my other “home”…  My mind boggled. In 10 hours, I physically travelled so far, yet it will take many days for my mind and my emotions to catch up.

So many times, I have been asked: What is it like to be married to a person from another country?

Truthfully, although Jorge and I have been married for 42 years, it has always been, and still is: complex.  On one hand we enrich each other with all our differences, but on the other, those differences sometimes make our life hard to manage. And this is true for our adult children too. They are also living in culturally, emotionally, and geographically mixed worlds.

Maybe we have too many choices? I have the advantage of dual Mexican-Canadian citizenship and residence; to keep my legal status, I must spend 6 months in both countries. I want to do this because both places are important to me in many ways. Jorge is a Mexican citizen but his Canadian permanent residence is in question. Because of his responsibilities at our college in Mexico and his own emotional ties, he cannot spend the required minimum number of days in Canada. The rules say he cannot get a permit to enter Canada unless he finds a way to spend the required amount of time there, so as things stand he cannot come to see me.

Our family is an international one, and as such, I feel that unfettered access to both our countries should be a given. Jorge and I are not asking for any hand-outs from either government; we just want to be together, as we have been for so long.  It seems so obvious that we should be free to do this.

We are dealing with a confounding situation; nonetheless, I cannot help but remember the MILLIONS of other families who are separated, and living under conditions far worse than ours. The latest available statistics calculate that there are 100,000,000 homeless people worldwide. I cannot even begin to fathom that. Not only can they not travel to where they want to be; they have no home, no rights, no voice.

This is humbling… We never have to look far to find others who have it so much tougher than we do.

And I feel motivated by this quote from Melody Beattie: Gratitude makes sense of your past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Indeed life is challenging, but I give thanks for the abundance of love our family has. I pray for the strength and creativity to discover strategies that will resolve our current issues.

We have found unconventional solutions many times in the past, and we will do so again…


Published by Changes in our Lives

I am originally from Canada but have lived in Mexico since 1976. My husband is from Merida, Yucatan and we raised our family here. We both worked for many years at Tecnologia Turistica Total (TTT), the tourism, language and multimedia college we founded for local and international students. Now retired, we enjoy spending time with family and friends, My other interests include spending time with freinds, reading, painting, cooking and travel.

16 thoughts on “Amen

  1. Joanna, I like your worldview perspective. Your “glass” is so full it’s spilling over, with friends and family in two countries and the Cloud to transport you, in living color no less, when you have anything to share.


  2. Dear Joanna,

    Matt and I had just a one month taste of living without the other this spring. That’s so little time, but we felt the separation. You and Jorge are sacrificing time together to gain some economic and medical security. It can’t be easy. I hope Jorge will be able to spend part of his summer in fabulous Canada.

    Hugs, Linda



    1. Thanks for your reply Linda… the reasons for me being here in Canada are complex and I wish I could say they are easily understood, but we are working on the best solution for us. Hugs back to you dear friend…


    1. So many options… this is why decisions are difficult. We are fine… just frustrated with government regulations that do NOT fairly regulate our particular circumstances.A book about all this? Not likely but who can say… we can never know what will happen next.


    1. Yes… I have often looked at the moon and thought about how my far-away loved ones could see the very same night light. But we humans need to see each other, and it is difficult when government regulations keep us separated.


  3. Oh dear friend! How I understand your confounded heart. Where is home? Do you have to spend 6 months in Canada, not to lose your citizenship? Or is it a choice of residency for health care? I’m confused and wondering how this could affect me as well. For years now, I wonder where is home. Born Canadian , my heart is Canadian. I’m an American mother and grandmother, living in Mexico who left her heart in Peru. We have created a rich world for ourselves, but complex and pulling us in many directions. Sending some warm energy from Merida!


    1. Again, you understand my feelings completely. I will never lose my Canadian citizenship but full residency in a province, and the benefits this gives me are different matters. To keep residency, I must live in BC for 6 months each year . Actually, the same is true for my Mexican residency… But this does put a damper on my ability to be with the ones I love, when I want and need to be. I hope that you too will find a way to balance all the tugging on your heart.


  4. My dear friend , I know how hard this is for you and Jorge. My heart goes out to you both and I too think of all those families all over the world torn apart for one reason or another. So much change is needed…


  5. Joanna: How well you and I identify. The blessing from Fr. José for us both last Sunday was so beautiful and meaningful. Yes, I can well identify with leaving beautiful Mérida. One of the greatest compliments I had came from Jorge a couple of years ago when he said Mérida was my home. Even though you arrived in YVR a few hours ahead of me in YYZ, we need to deal with the complex situation of two countries. In common with you, my sister’s arms warmly welcomed me and I had to be a guest in her lovely home for a few nights until my place became habitable due to the flood I told you and Jorge about on Sunday. My kind friend and neighbour Liz managed to rescue my possessions and carefully and lovingly packed them away in boxes. Right now I am back home but going through the acclimatizing phase and putting the shambles of my place back in order. Will return to lovely Mérida, God willing, November/December. Have a glorious summer and all the best to you, Jorge, Carlos and Maggie..


    1. Thank you Sharon… aren’t we lucky to belong in two such beautiful places? Mind you, the adjustment takes a few days (longer for some parts) but it suits me. Besides… change shakes us up and keeps us on our toes… and we all need to keep ourselves flexible.


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