(Previously published in my personal journal: Grunt, Point, Smile on Sept. 24, 2008…)

The idea for a Mexican Rumspringa was formed last year when I was visiting a friend in New York. After three solid days of listening to me cry over coffee, tea, water, and wine, she was convinced that I needed a rumspringa – and soon. Thinking it might be the Carribbean’s answer to the Long Island Iced Tea, I got interested. Well, it turns out a rumspringa is a lot more involved than a shot of Captain Morgan and a mixer but I latched on to the idea anyway.

So, let’s get down to it. What’s a rumspringa? The rumspringa is an Amish tradition in which young people take an extended time to frolic before they commit themselves to their faith and settle down to marriage. Strict Amish rules are relaxed. The young are free to explore.

Immediately, I knew that my friend was right. This could be just what I needed to sort out the answer to ‘what should I do with my life?’  Never mind that the horses were already out of the barn and the kids were grown and on their own. It was time for a mid-life rumspringa! And while I’d like to say that I approached planning it in a methodical and mature way, the actual thoughts that preceded the decision were more like, “Free to frolic? Having fun! What a concept! Sign me up!”

The next few posts will chronicle my 5-week sabbatical in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Another member from the tribe of malcontents, Rena, will be coming along for the ride. Rena, already retired from two careers and a veteran of the Peace Corps, decided she needed a little rumspringa too.

Our plane leaves in just a few hours. While I wish I could tell you that I’m fully prepared and fearless, that isn’t the case. During the past 6 weeks I’ve only mastered about 25 words in Spanish – just the essentials like: yes, no, dog, cat, jump, truck, where is the bathroom, and how much is Immodium AD. Once I arrive I’ll be boarding in the home of strangers while I attend a Spanish immersion school. Who knows what may unfold. Just yesterday I read that there’s a region in Mexico where they eat tacos made of live stinkbugs. (That is not a typo. Live! Stinkbugs! Eating is a true adventure for some people, isn’t it.)

Well, it’s time to roll. Without any more fanfare or delay, let the rumspringa begin!