In the immortal words of Samwise Gamgee, “Well, I’m back.”
On June 5th, I packed my bags and boarded a plane to Mexico City, where I was blessed to spend three wonderful weeks with the Pliego family. Blogging and e-mail interaction was enough to assure me that they would be amazing; now that I’ve actually met them in the flesh, I’m convinced that amazing is a woefully inadequate description. It’s like saying the Atlantic Ocean is wet.
To begin with, Mr. Pliego and Mrs. Pliego are quite easily the most welcoming hosts I have ever met (which is saying something). There was no awkwardness, no sense of being out-of-place – from the moment I stepped into their home, I felt like one of the family. The hospitality they demonstrated was so warm, so gracious, so sincere, it was nearly overwhelming. That’s not gushing on my part, either – I’m simply giving you the facts.
Then there’s the rest of the family, starting with Santiago, who is currently a student at New Saint Andrews College. He’s smart, he’s funny, and he’s passionate about engaging secular culture with biblical truth. A two-word description of him would be simple: he’s bloody awesome.
Next up is Annie, who is as lovely a girl as you could hope you meet. She has a knack for anything related to photography, and her love for God and family is the most evident thing about her. She also plays the guitar, sings beautifully, and has a terrific sense of humor.
And then there’s Nikko: how do I even begin to describe him? He’s a jack-of-all trades who crafts chain-mail armor, plays multiple instruments, draws exceptional artwork, and is currently inventing his own language (a la Tolkien). He’s a fantastically amusing chap, too – spend some time with him and you’re guaranteed to double up with laughter sooner or later.
Isabel is the youngest, but don’t let that fool you – she’s only 9-years-old, and I swear she’s got the mind of someone twice her age. She loves to read, she loves to talk, she loves to laugh; heck, she even made me a batch of chocolate chip cookies before I left. What more do you need to know?
Yeah. Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe Familia Pliego.
That’s not all, either: you see, I wasn’t the only bloke they welcomed into their home at that time. Several other guys were visiting as well, including my good friend Eric, whom I hadn’t seen in 5 or 6 years. Status report? He’s still as awesome as ever.
Considering all this, it should come as no surprise that my three week vacation sped by like three minutes. As the saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun – and boy, did we have fun.
We spent a week at the beach in Ixtapa, visited several museums in Mexico City, scaled the pyramids at Teotihuacan, toured the impressive Metropolitan Cathedral, and walked through Chapultepec castle. We scarfed down authentic Mexican cuisine, shopped at the local markets, and played rugby. We listened to music, read books, watched movies and enjoyed plenty of lively discussion about theology, history, culture, and much, much more.
Most of all, though, we just enjoyed one another’s company. Even in the quiet moments, when we weren’t doing much of anything, we were still having the time of our lives. I could give you an in-depth account of everything we did and everywhere we went, but in the end, it wasn’t the what and where that made the trip so amazing: it was the who.
Will I remember Mexico City? Sure. But far more memorable (and precious) will be the friendships formed and the fellowship had. C.S. Lewis said it best:
Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.