Another 180

I never thought I could want to stay in a place so much whilst simultaneously wanting to leave…does that make sense?  Although my last post was all about wanting to go home, I’m about to write the exact opposite: I want to stay here forever.  But only if all of these people can stay, too.

Two weeks ago we took a trip to the capital and somehow returned to Guadalajara as more than just a bunch of exchange students: we’re a family.  I’m going to miss them as much as I miss my actual family!

I can’t even write about how it’s going to be when we have to say goodbye so I’ll write about the trip instead.  It would take something really, really special to make me fall in love with México again after I was so ready to leave (and not return for a while) but México City did it! I’d leap at the chance to do a semester there but unfortunately, it’s not a possibility.  You’d need a lot longer than the 4 days we had there to really get to know such an enormous city, but even in such a short time I could tell it’s one of the coolest cities in the world.  It’s so different to Guadalajara – the centre is much more modern, which I really liked, and it’s full of museums and galleries and just has all kinds of things going on.  Anyway, we spent our “free day” wandering around there but had exciting things planned for us the rest of the time.

After a rough night of coach travel we arrived on Friday morning, had a quick breakfast and went straight on to the Museum of Anthropology (probably quite boring if you’re not an ancient history geek like me.)  Saw the actual Piedra del Sol.  Pretty awesome.

Next up was the Castillo de Chapultepec.  To be honest, I was quite tired (and REALLY hungry) by this point so I don’t really know anything about it, but it was pretty and had some nice gardens.  I ate grasshoppers there (not just out of the garden – actual cooked grasshoppers someone was selling out of a cart) – weirdly, they didn’t taste bad but I wouldn’t pay 10 pesos for a bag of them!

The next day was the best! The first stop was Coyoacan and the Casa Azul.  It always surprises me when people say they haven’t heard of Frida Kahlo! Such an interesting and inspiring woman, seeing her studio made me really want to paint – hopefully the feeling will last until I’m home and I can.  Next we went to Anahuacalli, another museum but also a kind of art gallery, I suppose.  It was designed by Diego Rivera, surrealist artist and Frida Kahlo’s husband, with all the architecture based on the aztec visión of the universe.

Highlight of the weekend – Xochimilco.  Canal boats, music, dancing, food and the best company.

Finally, on the last day, we visited Teotihuacan.  A lot of steps, a lot of sun, but the view from the top made it worth it.  Raul ran the whole way (show off).

 

But, the fun didn’t stop there.  On the coach on the way home, Mariana (who organised the trip) taught us a very, VERY intense game called “los lobos” – I won’t go into the rules but it basically turned us all against each other and had us all pleading/insisting/screaming “yo no soy un lobo, soy un inocente ciudadano!”

…And the fiesta hasn’t really stopped since then.  México, somehow, has done the impossible and transformed me into a sociable person.  Even though I’m absolutely rubbish at it, I never want to stop salsa dancing.

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Sail Away From the Safe Harbour

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain

Tomorrow I’m leaving Cardiff and heading back up North for two months before starting a whole new life – my third year abroad.  And it really will be a whole new life – in a different continent, different language and different culture.

Now that the stressful bit – all the organisation that needed to be done at this end – is over, I can’t wait to go!  I just have a feeling that Mexico will have something to teach me that I can’t learn anywhere else.  I’m still trying to find a new way of thinking, and I hope that I will find it there.

A lot of people told me that I was crazy to go to such a ‘dangerous place’; a lot of people warned me that I would get kidnapped or murdered or forced to join a cartel amongst other horrific things.  At first I worried about those things too, but when I actually stopped to think about it I realised that Mexico is a big country.  So big, in fact, that I probably won’t get to see all of it in the space of a year, as much as I want to.  Yes, it has its problems, but don’t we all?  There are problem areas, but the real problem is that people are too afraid of those relatively small areas to go anywhere near the rest of such a beautiful country.  One of my lecturers here in Cardiff is from Mexico City, and the other day she told me, ‘there are drugs, but that’s only up in the North, and you wouldn’t want to go there, anyway, because it’s mostly desert.’  Yet people jump to the conclusion that it’s the same all over Mexico, and the media image doesn’t exactly help.

So, no, I’m not scared.  Well, no more than I would be if I were going to Spain or even to London.  I’m not scared of the things that could happen in any city and are no more likely to happen in Mexico, and I’m certainly not going to let that fear stop me from taking a once in a lifetime opportunity which may well end up being the best year of my life.  The 40-something students on my course all have to go somewhere, so why not go all out and do something completely different?  I feel extremely lucky to have had it offered to me and I know that I will appreciate it so much more and learn so much more than if I had chosen a ‘safer’ option, and when I come home I will be able to understand the things that really matter in life.

The mayan ruins of Tonina in Chiapas, Mexico -- by davecurry8

Tortiando - to have a greater appreciation of the differences between cultures, we should all take the opportunity to live as others live.

Popocatepetl, Mexico