Travel Journal #9 — If You Give a Mouse a Cookie…

Guatemalan childrenI’m not a stranger to traveling. From Israel and Sweden, to Canada and certainly Mexico, the welcome-home hugs accompanied by the “I want to hear everything” greeting were never haunting, considering that I’ve been away for three months. Being home the past week almost made me cringe at the words. But I want to tell everything! And I want to take every one of my dear friends and family members to the streets of Merida. I want to lead them hiking through the jungles and waterfalls of Chiapas and let them taste the fresh grilled fish of the Caribbean. I want to share rich explanations and hours of conversation over a cup of authentic Mexican hot cocoa. (I brought home two kilos of the Chiapanecan goodness of which I’m dying to share and simultaneously tempted to bury in the yard). The accommodations of real life, however, are not so. I’m not even sure if hours of conversation and picture-sharing would suffice. There are simply aspects of the past three months that I’ll be unable to directly and properly translate into words. There are aspects that transcend the physical, the verbal, the visual and can only be felt. I felt them, and I want more!
yellow building
In my previous journal I mentioned contemplation of whether leaving Merida was not the end of the adventure but just the beginning. The Yucatan Peninsula and beyond was simply the petri dish, the incubator of my hunger for travel. Immersion in a foreign language, foreign cuisine, and foreign culture not only widens one’s horizons, but opens up new windows through which to see one’s own culture. Without experiencing other lands, I don’t believe I’d be able to appreciate, discern, and understand American culture with as broad a view as I possess today.
Returning home is a gift. I adore my family, my friends, my home. Despite this, however, the wheels in my head haven’t stopped turning about future projects, locations, and adventures that I may embark on in the future. But then reality pulls back those reins, leaving me chomping at the bit. Summer job today, maybe cacao studies in Brazil tomorrow.
The adventure most certainly is not over! Merida was only the tip of the iceberg; an iceberg that opened up remarkable opportunities through education and personal growth in ways no other experiences can offer. The more one sees and witnesses of the world, the better one can assess one’s own life, one’s own country, one’s own personal world. However, when these personal worlds stretch across continents, what is there to stop one from experiencing more? Travel is a rich means of education, one that stretches far beyond the classroom, even more intellectually than physically.
Merida is my gateway “drug”. It’s left me momentarily satisfied yet I know I’ll never cease reaching for another adventure—one to top the last. After all, if you give a mouse a cookie, it’s going to ask for a glass of milk. And if you give Demi three months abroad in Mexico, she’s going to return home with travel thoughts of South America, Thailand, and Italy!
by Demi Landstedt ’14, currently participating in the Centre-in-Merida study abroad program. Learn more about study abroad in Merida.
PHOTOS (top to bottom): Children greeting students during a short trip to Guatemala, and one of the hundreds of aged buildings that lines the streets of Merida.

By |2012-05-15T15:45:19+00:00May 15th, 2012|News, Study Abroad, Leadership Programs|