Hola a todos desde Mexico!
I have just wrapped up my first week in Mexico, which was a mixture of classes and cultural experiences. Our group has traveled to Tepotzlan since we arrived in the country and we also have had the opportunity to work with underprivileged kids in a local neighborhood. It has been an exciting experience, but not without some hurdles in the way.
We arrived at the Mexico City International airport ready to get on the bus for Cuernavaca, but we had a bit of time to go grab something to eat for the trip into the town. It was at the airport that I encountered my first hurdle. I was in a hurry so I stopped at the first place to eat that I could find, Carl’s Jr. The familiarity of the brand was comforting and interesting because I was not expecting to see many burger joints in Mexico. I was so excited to order my food in Spanish that I walked up to the counter and froze. I had no idea what to say! I eventually managed to order my burger and when I handed my pesos to the cashier he looked at me quizzically, asking for something. I couldn’t understand what the cashier was saying. I tried to listen harder just in case I was missing one syllable until my roommate said, “He is saying one peso.” I was dumbfounded. I was so focused on understanding Spanish that I had blocked out the fact that the cashier was speaking English. It all turned out alright in the end and it was a learning experience.
After taking the bus to Cuernavaca, we hustled into the university to meet our families. We will be staying with these families for the duration of our stay. Immediately, I could hear the difference in speed. In classes at my home university, the professors slow down, knowing that we would have a difficult time keeping up with a brisk pace. However, when the house mom and dad speak to each other, they speak much faster than they speak to us. Over the past week I have been able to start understanding Spanish a bit faster, but I still stumble at times when I must translate words or phrases in my mind. I alternate between understanding intuitively and having to translate phrases into English. Little by little, my listening comprehension improves.
In the short time that I have been here, our group has traveled to Tepotzlan. Our first Sunday in the country, we rode the bus to Tepotzlan for our first cultural excursion. I fell in love with the city in the day that we were there. It was filled with artesian markets where the local populace sold their wares. We even had the opportunity to climb the mountain to see the temple on top. I unfortunately did not make it to the top, but I gave it the good old college try!
I can’t wait to see where we go next! Nos vemos!