The City, Country, and Colonial Mouse

By mouse, I really just mean experience. October has been a whirlwind (again, it’s a reoccurring theme in study abroad I have found). We took THREE weekend trips back to back. We went to a very country side view of Mexico in La Preciosita- an amazing indigenous community where I hiked up several mountains on trails made for goats and ate a pear straight off a tree around 7 AM, after hiking up one of those mountains. Mexico City gave us a view of the city, a warm welcoming one where I may have found myself walking down the street and making friends with a gay couple who were testament to CDMX being more progressive than where we are staying currently. The sites in CDMX, such as the ballet and museums, gave me a taste of lovely culture but the fact that the sheer amount of people there caused what should have been 15 minute car rides to take over an hour left me very, very glad that our program is in Puebla. Finally, we found ourselves last weekend in Cuetzalan a colonial town with cobbled streets and lots of walking uphill, which left me out of breath because it’s a town located in the mountains with even higher elevation than Puebla. We spent the first day in Tosepan learning about the cooperative ran by the locals who worked to give themselves a chance at a better life by capitalizing on community. The story was inspiring and to see their adaptation to incorporate ecotourism was educational. I also¬†finally tried mole-plot twist, I wasn’t a fan. In the evening, we experienced a temazcal, a sweat bath with spiritual and physical healing implications. We all, in swim suits, gathered in a dark clay oven as a local man created steam with water and herbs while chanting and at some points playing various indigenous music pieces. We were only in there for 45 minutes, a short time for the fact most people stay in the bath for 2 hours, but I found the whole thing overwhelming. It was hard to breathe and see while in there, and I’m not one for meditation. When I’m supposed to be clearing my mind and cleansing my soul my anxiety likes to kick in and I spent the majority of the time wanting to climb out of the place, but forced myself to stay because I didn’t want to be the one to ruin everyone’s experience because I needed to interrupt the process. It didn’t make it better that after it was over the man who led it douses you with cold water and I have a strong aversion against cold water.¬† Once it was over and I was warm again, though, I was glad I had taken that experience in the name of culture. You won’t find me doing it again, though. The final day there was ruined by rain, so we just came directly home.

Seeing all these sides of Mexico has reminded me how diverse and beautiful this country is. It has also given me a deeper love and appreciation for this country that has so quickly become my second home. It hasn’t been all glitz and glamor, there have been times I just wanted to go back to my apartment (especially last weekend when it was raining and we were stuck in a very horrible hotel that smelled of mildew and weren’t getting to see the caves). But every step has been worth it.

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