Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Laredo - Gateway to Mexico

On March 1st, we left San Antonio for Laredo (pronounced luh-rā-doe) , a city dubbed “Gateway to Mexico”. Remember Dennis talking about ending up in Mexico?!? Well, we’re just about there; from where we’re currently staying, we are about 15-20 minutes from the border! We have yet to take a trip over to Mexico, but we have driven close enough to the international bridges to see the huge Mexican flag waving in the air. I included the map of Texas to the left so you can see where Laredo is located (for those of you who do not know the geography of Texas; Laredo is on the southwestern border).

Here is the LATEST NEWS with the Dunnavilles as of TODAY: Dennis had an interview with the FAA this morning and it went very well. Based on certain information, we suspect he could be offered a job at either Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport or San Antonio International Airport. We were told the hiring process for the FAA could take up to 6 months and for now...it seems the LORD wants Dennis working here in Laredo.

During one of Dennis’ online searches about Laredo, he came across one site that labeled it the worst place to live in the U.S. In other online research, one can find some other not-so-nice statements about Laredo. BUT, we have learned to judge for ourselves before taking others’ words for things and sure enough, I would say Laredo is a fine place to live. That is, if you can handle the crazy drivers and avoid getting a chipped/cracked windshield [which seems to be an epidemic here]. :)

We have been here for 6 weeks now, and I have felt completely safe and comfortable. Laredo is just like every other part of the country where we have lived in that you have your nice people and your not-so-nice people. Some Laredoeans are even extra-social: we have had numerous smiling people walk up and rub Josiah’s head, touch Hannah’s curly hair or grab Moriah’s chubby legs and make some nice comment. Others might find this intrusive, but I find it endearing.

Culture-wise: Laredo is reportedly 94 percent Hispanic. We have been told that Laredo isn’t south Texas, but north Mexico. However, we’ve also heard that Laredo is not like anywhere else in the U.S. and it’s not like anywhere in Mexico either. Most people here are bi-lingual, but out and about, Spanish is definitely the dominant language. Apparently, I fit in here because I have had several people speak to me in Spanish, assuming I understand what they are saying. :)

We have encountered a handful of people who did not speak any English. This could be frustrating, but we find it inspires us to work harder at learning Spanish. We came to Laredo looking forward to being immersed in a Hispanic culture where we would have to be more diligent at learning the language (which is something we’ve talked about doing for years). And we thought if we settle in Laredo and become fluent in Spanish, then maybe we could go in and out of Mexico to minister there.

In other aspects, Laredo is just like the rest of the country with a nice-sized public library, a state park, a shopping mall, many wonderful parks for the children, Wal-Marts, Targets and every fast food you can imagine on almost every street, etc. It is commercialized all throughout the city, which has its pluses and minuses. It is convenient, but being a rural girl, I miss seeing more of nature (although there are palm trees all over the place here which are very pretty). However, I appreciate the unique architecture of various homes and buildings throughout the city.

We recently visited Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) here in Laredo and the campus is beautiful! There is a herd of whitetail deer living around the campus and we were able to see about 5 or 6 of them --- they just graze around right on the main road you take in and out of campus.

Weather-wise: March in Laredo was BEAUTIFUL! The daytime temps were anywhere from 70 to 100 degrees; although the 100 degree-days have been hot, they are not as bad as they sound since the humidity here is nothing like the summers in the northeast! The evenings have all been gorgeous with perfect temperatures and lovely breezes (although I should note sometimes it can get quite windy)! I have thoroughly appreciated January, February and March in Texas. So far, April in Laredo has been quite hot (mostly 90's) so I can't imagine what it will be like in a couple months.

Since coming to Laredo, we have been staying in an extended stay hotel --- which is not bad at all. The only thing getting to Dennis and me is sleeping in the same room with our children given all the noises they make (including Moriah’s snoring lol)! Other than that, we feel we are still living quite luxuriously since we have unlimited AC, a bathroom, a small kitchen with a full-sized fridge, stovetop, microwave and toaster --- and housekeeping. :) After our experience in Connecticut (another long story lol!), we have learned not to make any set plans. Despite our longing to settle down, we came to Laredo knowing that it might only be temporary so staying in a hotel was our best option.

We have just been happy to have a paycheck after 8 months without one! We have enjoyed living on the edge, so to speak, but it definitely wears on you and I am happy to be moving back into a “normal” life (but I'm also not getting my hopes up in case the LORD has other plans lol!).

This should get everyone up-to-date to the present although I have left out many details on the ups and downs of these recent months. In the future, maybe I will rewind and share some of the struggles I’ve experienced. For now, I’m just trying to focus on the positive, namely the LORD’s faithfulness and the overall peace we’ve had throughout everything!!!

1 comment:

rebecca said...

Hi Heather! Great to hear from you, and how fun that you are living la vida Laredo. I used to go there for work a few times a year. It's a charming place.

As for the people touching your kids, it's part of the culture of superstition in South Texas (which I am sure you have seen A LOT of) that when you see something you admire, you have to touch it, or you will bring back luck upon it. They call it 'ojo.' (Or, however you say or spell eye in Spanish.)

I wish I could see pics of your kids! I am sure they are so big and adorable.

Alex and Caroline are doing great. Meeting Hannah as a baby was good preparation for Caroline... so you can imagine what our days are like, LOL. It is so funny having an opinionated girl after my easygoing boy.

I am graduating in five weeks. Can you believe it? It seems like just yesterday that you were here. Not to you, I'm sure... you've been busy.

Keep us posted on the blog!