The Meaning of True Happiness - My Family Travels

I feel the fresh cool breeze against my skin; breathe it in it carries along the smell of the ocean. Hear the unceasing, soothing sound of the waves, and taste a sip of the refreshing agua de coco. I dig in my tired feet in the soft warm sand and look around the beach, mesmerized by the beautiful coast. So far it had been the greatest summer of my life. Spending the day lounging in the beach, followed by long nights of fun with great friends; filled with laugher and adventure. I had an amazing experience the summer of 2007 in Mazatlan, Mexico. However, there was one thing that made that summer life changing; it was not the fun, but the realization I made about the meaning of true happiness.

â–º  Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship

As me and my cousin drove away at seven o’ clock in the morning the sweat had begun to build up in my forehead; I lowered the window to make up for the missing air conditioning in the old bus, driving several families with little children, most barefoot. “The Americans will be passing out wheelchairs and asking people questions, you’re just going to translate in Spanish. You’ll be glad you came with me” my cousin said. I smiled and nodded, not knowing of the adventure that awaited me. “Those people really need help, it’s the least we can do for them” she said. I nodded and closed my eyes; hoping to get some sleep before we got to our destination.

When we finally arrived to a little pueblo, all that was in sight was tiny fragile houses and dusty unpaved roads.  It seemed like the Mazatlan I knew, filled with beautiful resorts and buildings, was a completely different country. We entered a house with a line of people patiently waiting outside, most with physical disabilities, with handmade devices to aid them, my heart felt for all those people. A member of PUSH International led me inside. An old man and his daughter entered, he was sitting in a chair with little wheels at the end of the chair legs and cushions on the back rest. I asked them what the story behind his disability; he told me he had been stabbed in the leg by a robber that broke in his work a couple years ago. He had back problems and his leg had limited mobility; the wheelchair he was using was not stable and they could not afford a better one. We helped him sit on his new free wheel chair and his eyes became watery; in a cracked voiced he whispered “Muchas Gracias” and gave us all a big hug. It was then when I felt a warm feeling all over and an unexplainable joy that filled me. The beach and the fun parties seemed dull compared to feeling the contagious joy these people passed on as they had one less thing to worry about and the load came off their shoulders. People kept coming in, tears of joy were shed all around; my heart kept overflowing with joy. The hours flew by, I looked at the clock and it was already five o’clock, time to go back to the big city.

Once in a while I look back and remember that summer vacation and I can not help to smile as I relive those fun moments with friends; but everyday as I face daily life challenges, I am reminded that true happiness comes from helping others, a lesson I learned that hot summer day, a truly life changing day.

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