We've each challenged ourselves to learn one physical and intellectual skill during this year abroad. For example, R wants to learn the night sky as her mental challenge and J wants to learn how to surf. Coconut wants to read 100 books.
My physical challenge is to learn to juggle a soccer ball on my feet at least ten times without it hitting the ground which may not seem like much of an accomplishment but soccer didn't even exist as a sport when I was in high school in NJ in the 1980's so it's basically the equivalent of a kid today learning how to ride a broomstick so she can try out for the local Quidditch team.
Wednesday morning as I was practicing in the field by our camp, I kicked the ball over the hedgerow. When I peered over the bushes to see how easy it was going to be to retrieve the ball, I saw the ball rolling down the embankment to a very narrow but fast moving creek. I quickly burst through the hedges, good thing I had put on long pants, and ran downstream to see if I could intercept the ball before it floated to Mexico City. As luck would have it, the ball had gotten stuck in the eddy of a small waterfall.
Great! I wouldn't have to shell out 30 pesos for a new ball, but I was going to have to wade into the creek to get our ball. This is where putting on long pants in the morning backfired because the pool was deep and there was no way I could hitch my pant legs up high enough to avoid getting them wet.
After a quick look around the camp ground and pool area - it's good that we camp at places like this during the week when the rest of Mexico is at work - I took off my shoes and pants - leaving me barefoot and spindly. After contemplating the bank again (must everything in Mexico be so darn steep!), I was pretty sure I could get into the creek, even if it meant falling in with thorns in my soles, but I was less sure I could get out again.
After a few calls for help to my family which was huddled around their screens at camp, they finally came to my aid long after I would have drowned or been eaten by a bear if I had been in any real need of help, and were reduced to tears by this vision of the morning.
After they had gained their composure again, R and J teamed up to dislodge the ball from its resting place while I waded in at a shallower spot which would not have required me to remove my pants if I had thought of it in the first place and waited for the ball to take its short whitewater journey to my waiting hands.