¡Bienvenidos a México!
I have been chosen to write the first journal entry for our group in Central America. Its been a little over a week and I'm currently basking on the floor of my Mexican host family's home. Since you're probably wondering how I arrived in this state...well, let me to get you up to date!
The first thing that happened was that it was hot, and when I say "hot", imagine a huuuuge outdoor sauna, with cheap tacos and lots of español. Our first week consisted of an in-depth orientation process that served as a solid foundation to get us into the swing of things. Once swinging, we began our daily excursions to amazing places such as cenotes (limestone sinkholes), the ruins of Tulum and my personal favorite, Chichén Itzá! I am not generally the kind of person who gets interested in things enough to study them on my own. However, after seeing what can only be described as a feat of primitive engineering, I was absolutely entranced by the history of the Maya. I don't think I have ever had my breath taken away by what is essentially a pile of rocks -- but holy smokes, my mind was blown! As soon as the tour was over I purchased a book detailing the rise and fall of the Maya and everything in between.
By the time my initial awe dispersed and my phlegmatic attitude returned, we were on the way to our homestays. This was a serious change in scenery. During orientation, we stayed in beachfront cabins with very little contact with anyone but each other. This last week we have stayed in a condominium complex surrounded by roads, buildings and adjacent tracts of forest. A typical day is spent interacting with mainly local people and less amongst each other. We get up, we bike to Spanish school, return home at 12:30 for almuerzo with our host families, and then spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying time with each other. Whether it be exploring the town, or connecting with our families -- it's generally hot, colorful and in Spanish!
Experiences like this are never what you expect them to be -- it's only the second week and already my expectations of how I would feel, the activities in which I would be participating, and the people with whom I would be staying have been completely shattered. I no longer care about what I have missed on Instagram, or how I look in flip flops and shorts; there are simply too many things happening to worry about that.
Of course I miss my family profusely and wish everyone in our group smelled better but I can't really complain, I got stuff to do! I am finding myself making connections with people and places I would otherwise never have had the chance to. This trip is forcing me to live in the moment, all the time. Fighting time is futile so I guess the moment will be the place I live for the next few months.
I think we are all slowly embracing the drastic changes to our lives which is probably for the best but it definitely isn't easy. There is a lot I could say about this trip so far, but ultimately I can say without a doubt: this is both the most amazing and terrifying thing I have ever done. Originally, basking on the floor was really comfortable and a good way to escape the heat but now my back hurts and I want empanadas so I guess I'll hop on my beach cruiser and head to the local taqueria. ¡Hasta la próxima!
~ Ace Landauer