Travel Journal: Mexico
Walking home at night is similar to the mornings, though now dark and usually accompanied by one or two other students. The major difference is that by this time we're all itching for a little tidbit of some kind to give us the energy to make it home before we join our host families for a light dinner. Some of our choices—street hot dogs, a panadería pit stop, or, my favorite, street-side tamales. I kid you not, without fail, every evening a man sets up his tamale-steaming pots right outside the door of that grand panadería mentioned above. Mole con pollo tamales changed my life and are, surprising or not, quite simple to eat on the go.
Yes, the above is a general layout of my school days, and the basics are pretty consistent. But what fills the moments—the different smiles accompanying the “buenos días,” the new dishes and manners of preparing foods I've always known (like oatmeal not cooked with heat, but rather soaked in milk or water through the night), the new street vendors guiding us home, and even the different conversations and stories amongst our own Centre group—make every step along the way a new experience.
With the final week quickly closing in on our happy Mexican lives, we all can't help but notice and comment on how much we have changed. The first weeks in this foreign country, city, and culture seem just like yesterday. But then I'm reminded of how far gone, if not counted in days but in lessons, those days are. The things that were the most foreign to us have become a very tight-knit part of our everyday lives.
Sarah and I caught a bus headed home the other day. With heavy backpacks, water bottles, and paletas we had just bought at the nearby michoacana (ice cream shop), we stood in the aisle of a crowded bus confidently keeping ourselves balanced and enjoying our treats. Sarah looked up, assessed the situation for a few moments, and then said to me, “Look how far we have come.” To me, there was no better sign than having acquired multi-tasking skills while riding a bus in Mérida to display to myself how far we have come indeed—all for the better of course. I'm proud of myself and every other member of my amazing Centre family for how every single one of us have embraced this experience, always searching for new opportunities, and welcoming the quirks and memorable moments that have always kept us more than a few steps ahead of that daily grind.
• Travel Journals Home