I'll be honest... the first two times that I came to visit you, I wasn't exactly what anyone might call a "fan." You're streets are dirty, your government is far from top notch, you have ten times the amount of bugs (and you know that by "bugs," I mean the mosquito population in particular) than I would ever be able to appreciate, and let's face it-- you're culture is irritatingly unorganized.
But this time was different. It's not that you changed a whole lot since my last visit, but this time when we came, you held your arms out to me as if in invitation-- an invitation to welcome me as one of your own and in turn, you became one of my own.
You and I both know that this process was not an easy one for me. I got sick a lot while visiting you, never really managed to sleep all that great and struggled to understand the general mentality of your people, but you were patient. You let me have my meltdowns, and then made me smile over and over by showing off your God-given beauty.
You filled my heart with memories. You gave me stories to tell to my future babies, and hopefully, to their future babies. You brought me some of the greatest people who are not only my friends, but family. You showed me part of my husband that I have never gotten to know... and now I love him all the more.
Some of my favorite things about you are your plants and your colors. Everything you have is bright and vivid. Even your dirt is the most brilliant copper red. Things like your mangoes, bananas, lemons, passion fruit and guava are unparalleled.
Even though I struggle to understand how your people think, I love how generous they are. I loved watching them with their families. I loved walking by them sitting in circles every couple hundred meters drinking terrere and laughing with authentic gusto.
Thank you for being a good home for Christian growing up. Thank you for being a good home for our family. Thank you for being so wonderful that it hurts my heart to leave.
It's bittersweet to be leaving you tomorrow, but I look forward to seeing you again.
With love + gratitude,