Beautiful beaches, lively nightlife, and its signature drink, tequila. You guessed it, I’m talking about Cancun. But as I reminisce on a recent trip there with my friend Teresa, what lingers on my mind are the people — my Mexican family, to be more specific. From the moment of our arrival, even the sunny 80-degree weather could not upstage the warmth and love exuded by the hotel staff.


At check-in, friendly greetings, hugs, and familiar faces surrounded us. Alberto, the manager wanted to personally escort us to our beautiful ocean-front accommodations. As we approached our room, his grin widened and it became obvious that he was up to something. A “Happy Birthday” sash on the door brought immediate smiles to our faces as we both would be celebrating birthdays during our stay. We were so touched and had no clue what awaited us inside.



Upon entering the room, the turquoise Caribbean waters in direct view ahead immediately captured my attention – but it was the bright colors from the corner of my eye that triggered my curiosity. As I walked closer, emotions overcame me as I discovered a spectacular work of art created on the bed. The design read “Wizard of Oz,” and the colored-rice image was complete with an emerald city in the middle, rainbow, yellow brick road (of course), and Dorothy and Toto too! Not only was it beautiful, it was steeped in meaning since it was inspired by my “Tales of Oz” blog. I had no idea my Cancun friends even knew about my work let alone read it!


As I studied the placement of each grain of rice, I was in awe — and actually in shock — as I imagined the time it must have taken to create these intricate details. What’s astonishing is that it was a gift from a group of people I had spent only limited time with on previous trips. Despite not knowing them very well, they treated me like family and went out of their way to make us feel special.


Although this artistic creation was one of the most thoughtful gifts anyone had ever given me, it was only the beginning. A few days later, on Teresa’s birthday, another treat arrived in the room as we relaxed poolside.

This time it was a bottle of wine, tiramisu and red velvet parfaits with candles, and a custom-made towel cake arranged on our coffee table. Tears began to flow -- again.


Thank you, my Cancun friends, for welcoming me into La Familia. I have bottled up your masterpiece and it will remain on my desk as a reminder of your kindness, welcoming spirit, and love. When I think of you, one word remains — family.


16 Responses

  1.' Teresa
    Wow!!!! What an experience. I am thankful for the unconditional love poured out by my dear friend, Julie and new La Familia in Cancun!!!!! A perfect birthday celebration!!!! My needs were met beyond my expectations from the moment I arrived to the resort. Surprised, strangers would do exceedingly and abundantly more than blessing us with an Oceanview. Every moment was a gift. A perfect reminder of the importance of demonstarting agape love to all we meet!!! I look forward to returning to the sanctuary, real soon!!! Blessings.
    •' Mom
      So glad you had a wonderful time:-) And Julie thank you for sharing with my daughter and creating a very memorable birthday! Peace & love to you both!!!
      • Mom, thanks for the wonderful comment. Your daughter is a treasure, and it was a gift to share my beautiful "Home" with Teresa. I hope to see you soon!
    • You are family to me, Teresa, and it was a blessing to introduce you to La Familia. We WILL be going back, sister:) It was a gift for me to share this blessing with you. I still can't get over all of the incredible special surprises they created just for us. Definitely a reminder of the agape love that God showers on us all the time. Love you sister!
  2.' Karen
    Very good
    • Thanks for taking time to read and comment, Karen!
  3.' Kellie
    What a beautiful act of love and kindness from Alberto! Also a beautifully written story of friendships near and far! God has a way of bringing people together!
    • Absolutely! And I am so grateful that God brought you into my life. I can't wait to introduce you to La Familia in January!
  4.' Amanda
    A wonderful testimony of how family comes in many different ways. You have a beautiful spirit that shines so brightly that it does not surprise me that you are loved around the world. I am honored and blessed to have you in my “family” too.
    • Thanks, Amanda! I am so grateful and blessed to know you and call you "sister." God knew what He was doing when He brought us together. Cancun will never be the same when the 3G's arrive!
  5.' DeAnna Walker
    Absolutely love the warmth that you experienced, and the jar is absolutly heart warming. Thanks for Sharing!
    • Thanks, DeAnna! I didn't even want to sleep on that bed and disturb the beautiful masterpiece - I just had to bring it back with me. The jar makes me smile and reminds me of my beautiful Cancun family.
  6.' Shana
    Julie! Thank you for sharing your beautiful experience, family and your heart!! A truly touching story!
    • Thanks Shana! I know more stories will be coming when we return to Mexico in January. I can't wait to introduce you to the fam!
  7.' CMPalmer
    Beautiful and heart-warming experience! Love to see humanity at its finest! What an awesome display of affection to two of God's treasures! You and Teresa deserved it!
    • Thanks Claudia! God is so good and His love shines through people. Not only my Cancun family but you too, sister!

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