Monday, February 3, 2014

Would you leave Comfort for Dirt Floors? - From Left to Write

I'm trying to start 2014 off by reading more since I did not meet my goals for the number of books to be read in 2013, see that post HERE.

I just finished a book for my online book club, From Left to WriteAs a member of this book club I don't actually do a review of the book but instead write a post inspired by the book itself. The book is A Well-Tempered Heart, a sequel to a book I read in 2012 called The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker

Most of the story in this book takes place in Burma, a country that I know very little about, which reminded me of a family vacation my mom and dad took us on when we were small children to Mexico, another country that I knew very little about even though it was the country of my dad's birth.

Here's a picture of my sister and I during that trip. As you can see, we were just little girls. The older one is me of course.

What I remember most about this trip was learning about how my dad grew up and where he lived and how he suffered and how hard he worked to make himself a success and to make a better life for us, his wife and children.

I saw where he grew up in a small two room house with a dirt floor. I remember his Tia Luz asking me to sweep the floor and handing me a broom and how I almost dug a hole to China trying to get all the dirt off of a dirt floor! The harder I swept, the dirtier it got!

I saw the well where my dad would go to get water and had opportunity to drink that water out of pottery called Botellon or Jarro. 

The water was so sweet and cool and had the underlying flavor of dirt. I know that doesn't sound good, but for some reason it was and I remember that taste to this day!

I remember using an out-house and squatting to urinate. That was one of the things that I really couldn't get used to. I've always been very finicky and don't like to be dirty and I never did figure out how to squat to pee without getting it all over my shoes!

I remember my dad taking us to go watch a cow being slaughtered, in the street...right there in front of our eyes! I don't know that my dad would have let his grandchildren see that, but at that time it still wasn't such a shock to him. 

I remember them leading the cow down the street and cutting it's throat and the blood flowing and women with pots and pans fighting to catch some of the blood. It was something that I will never forget, the sound of the poor cow as it was dying! And it took a long time for it to die!

I remember my dad taking us to a nearby river to bathe and watching the local women do their laundry in buckets at the edge of the river, some with washboards and some using the rocks!

This book inspired these memories because in the book the main character actually chooses to leave her high powered life as an attorney in a big law firm in New York City and all the amenities that come with the money she was making, to stay in Burma because of true love!?! I don't know that I could do that, could you? 

It made me really appreciate my dad so much more remembering how humble and poor he was growing up and how lucky I was to have born his daughter. He struggled so hard to make sure his children had a better life. Judging from the picture of my sister and me above you can tell that we were cherished and happy!

This post was inspired by the novel, A Well-Tempered Heart. Feeling lost and burned out, Julia drops her well paying job at a NYC law firm. After hearing a strangers voice in her head, she travels to Burma to find the voice's story and hopefully herself as well. Join From Left to Write on February 4th as we discuss the book, A Well-Tempered Heart. As a member I received a copy for review purposes. 



  1. Did your Dad grow up in Mexico? My son in law did. He grew up in a small village without power or plumbing. There wasn't much in the way of school or doctors either. His parents are American but live there as missionaries.

  2. Hi Rebecca, dad was born and raised in Durango, Mexico. He came to the U.S. when he was about 16 years old. Dad also lived in a small village without power and plumbing. It wasn't so bad going there as a little girl but I can't imagine going there now at my age and having to use outdoor plumbing!

  3. Wow, thank you for sharing. I'm glad that you were able to see how your father grew up. Definitely makes us appreciate the luxuries we have here in the U.S.

    1. Thanks for dropping by Kim. It was quite the experience and definitely something I will never forget!

  4. What a wonderful experience for you and your sister (I love that photo!!). It's interesting, how tastes are so strongly tied to our memories and emotions. I love your description of the well-water.

    1. Thanks janaki. Tastes and smells. I will always remember the smell of dirt when it rains in the Arizona desert where I grew up and the taste of dirt in the water in Mexico. I really love that photo too...I had some pretty great parents and an awesome childhood!

  5. We are fortunate to have lived the lives we have lived. We were certainly loved by our mother and father and many aunts, uncles and cousins. You can tell in this picture that we were besties even as small children. You can thank me for this trip and these memories... I had to almost die so we could have them. I sure did love Tia Luz. I loved that she gave us a cup of coffee every morning. I remember her making bread in the outdoor oven made of clay.

    1. We were and are very fortunate. I wish we could go back to those days of living in Eloy and playing with all the cousins while the aunts cooked and fussed over us and the uncles all sat around talking about their "cosecha". A beautiful childhood we had! And the trip to Mexico was a memory I will always have. You should do a guest post on why we owe you for that trip there sissy-poo!


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