1 Mexico | Traveling Light Blog by Travel Writer Colleen Friesen

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Give It Up


Because there has to be nothing before there can be anything. Because new life, every unanticipated form of creation and persistent possibility, erupts from the wasteland, out of the depths, the silence of the earth, and the dry bones of our desire for newness.

                                                                                                                                                                                     - excerpt from Gaudete Theology


Mennonite Brethren Church


We didn’t do Lent.

There were vague mentions of the concept but it was more something that those errant Catholics did. As far as I remember, Lent didn’t have much traction in our Mennonite home.

But then, when I think about it, what more could a Mennonite possibly give up?

We already didn’t play cards, dance or wear anything more revealing than a long dress and sensible shoes. We didn’t drink, fornicate without a wedding ring and drab was definitely the new black.

No wait. Black was the new drab.

Our churches held no clutter of icons and saints. Austere and plain was the ticket. Everyone knew that quiet suffering was the way to glory.

This might be why I’ve had this decades-long obsession with all things saintly and iconic. I love the gaudy bleeding heart of the Catholics’ Jesus, the glittering rays spiking the head of the Virgin Mary or the perma-halos circling every saint like cartoon minature UFOs.  I grow giddy in Mexico with their no-holds barred love of all things flamboyant and saintly. Throw on some gilded frames and a couple of rosary beads and I’m a happy camper (though I still shudder if someone starts clapping in church).


Caffe El Triunfo - Colleen Friesen

Caffe El Triunfo – Colleen Friesen


I suppose, given my preoccupation with all this shiny church-bling, it was only a matter of time before I’d look into this whole Lent thing too. The idea was actually planted by a recent piece in Geez Magazine. While reading the article, it occurred to me that this might be a good way to look at some of my habits in a fresh way.  Besides, forty days is only a little over a month, not a huge investment of time, but certainly enough to shed what has become routine and to see what I might learn about myself as a result.

And so, in spite of living with a man who believes wine is interchangeable with water, I hereby make public my intention to refrain from imbibing anything alcoholic from March 5th until April 17th.

Wish me luck!

What about you? Anything you plan to give up? Or is there something you want to add to your life? Will you do anything different for Lent?


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What’s Up With Mexico?


Shadows - Colleen Friesen

What’s up with this Mexico thing?

It was a year ago that I was on my solo trip to Oaxaca, followed by a great trip with Michele Petersen to her condo in Puerto Escondido and then traipsing through cemeteries around Patzcuaro for Day of the Dead.

Oaxaca City - Colleen Friesen

And then in February of this year, Kevin and I went back to Puerto Escondido for two weeks, followed by another two weeks in Todos Santos.  In March 2012 I was also visiting the Baja.

In previous years, Kevin and I drove our VW van around and through and back and forth over most of Mexico for a combined total of a few months.

I am making this Mexican grocery list of visits to remind myself that we should be done with Mexico, like seriously, enough with the Mexico thing already…

The latest info I can find tells me that there are 196 countries in the world. I’ve visited 50-something of these countries. I have a policy (albeit a rather loose one) to not repeat visits to the same countries. This doesn’t always work because a) we love walking in the U.K. & Wales b) we love France c) we’re flakes.

But still, the loose plan is to focus on all the amazing places left to discover.

And yet…there’s good ol’ Mexico right there. Full of vibrant colours, great food, happy people and sunshine.

Oaxacan Street Art - Colleen Friesen

I wish I could get this crazy mariachi music out of my head.


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