Monday, May 9, 2011

Merida, The First Ten Days

Incase you didn't know,
I'm in Mexico!
I have been so busy that I feel that I haven't had much time to record my experience. So here we go:

Day One: I left friday morning (Thanks SO much to the Pauls for letting me stay at your place! You guys are great friends!!!)My second plane had a small mechanical problem, but it took them about 45 minutes to find a mechanic. We got here pretty late but I found my bag waiting for me and was the first student to meet my mamá. Her name is Lili and she lives with her husband and 23 year-old daughter, Lili Chica. This woman has been wonderful to us; she treats us like her own children and tells us that she loves us everyday. I am so grateful por mi familia here in Mexico. They do so much for us and really treat us like family.
By the time we got home, it was pretty late so we went to bed. 

Day Two: Lili and some of the other mamás took us on the bus and showed us how to get to school. It is really hot in the daytime, and there is a lot of humidity. Doha is probably a little bit hotter, but the humidity kills. We swam in their pool, played with their perrito, Tomás, and went to El Centro later with some other people in our group. It's basically the center of the city that houses a cathedral, historical buildings, shops, restaurants, and cultural activities. We walked around, explored, and ate at "Los Trompos."

Day Three: We went to church at a local ward. I think they were surprised to see thirty gringos there...It was testimony meeting and I was impressed by the strength of the testimonies of the members here. We had a great lessons and I understood pretty much everything. We relaxed at home and then went to a fireside at the stake center, which is in El Centro. We walked around the temple for awhile and then took the buses home.

Day Four: The first day of school! I had my Latin American Culture class from 11:30-1:30. We talked about the ancient civilizations in the area. It was pretty interesting. Me, my roommate Catie, and another girl prepared a 10-minute presentation about the Incans. (Side note: I have four roommates and I loooove them. They all lived in Foreign Language housing together this past year, so I am kinda the odd one out, but they don't treat me like that at all. They are wooooonderful.)My roommates and I went to another host house and swam in their pool. We went to "Taliban Tacos," which was a mix between Yucatecan tacos and Shawarma...kind of. There seems to be a bit of Arab influence here and some business have their names written in Spanish and Arabic. We also went to Costco which was pretty much exactly like it is in the US. Merida has a Wal-Mart, Burger King, McDonalds, TGI Fridays, Sears, etc. The American fast food restaurants all deliver just like they do in Qatar. Everyone else is amused by this...haha. Later on we went to Profe's house for FHE. We did a get to know you game and his wife talked to us about how courage and patience are the two tools you need while traveling abroad--courage to try things new but patience to abide by local customs and maintain safety. Very wise advice.

Day Five: We had class at 7 am, so we left the house at 6 and I woke up at 5...mas o menos. Class ended at 1:30, and we went to the beach after we went home and had lunch. There were a lot of waves, so the water was throwing us around a lot, but it was still fun. We walked around, and I drank juice out of a coconut! It actually was actually kinda nasty. The guy that was selling them cut them open after we were finished and gave us what was inside...which was really slimy. Oh well, haha. 

Day Six: Woke up, went to class for two hours, and then went to El Centro...again. We seem to be going there a lot but I don't mind at all. It's very interesting and beautiful. All the buildings are in the colonial style and painted like different flavors of ice cream. I love it. We were there with almost the entire group. Really, this wasn't a very smart idea. It was fun to hang out with everyone but we drew a lot of attention to ourselves and the street venders wouldn't leave us alone. I had a guanabana popsicle...there are so many fruits here that I have never even heard of.

Day Seven: Most of our group went to the temple to do baptisms with the ward. It's a pretty small temple. We talked to the bishop's daughter a little, and she goes to the same school that we do! Later some of us went and ate a restaurant in El Centro, and Catie found a cockroach in her food! We were also serenaded by three mexican men. They asked us what we wanted them to sing, and Catie requested "Besame." The words in English are basically, "kiss me, kiss me more.." It was ridiculous, haha. 

Day Eight: Fridays are our field trip days, so we don't technically have "class," but our teacher takes us on an excursion and teaches us about it. We went to Dzibilchaltun (ancient Mayan ruins). It was sooo hot. Luckily we got to swim in a cenote afterwards. It was so refreshing and the perfect temperature.  Since they're full of groundwater, they're very clean and there were blooming lily pads. The water was blue-green and very clear. It was perfect. Later we went to a beach house of one of the families and ate tacos al pastor with our host families and enjoyed the beach. That night we went to an institute activity at the stake center. We thought it was going to be a dance, but it actually turned out to be a game and movie night. It was fun but a little awkward, atleast for my super-shy self. I did talk to a few Mexicans, and my Spanish held up pretty well.

Day Nine: We went to Uxmal! I think the photos speak for themselves--it was incredible. I'm amazed at the things the Ancient Mayans knew. Our teacher told us all about their customs and their way of life. I think this pyramid is better than the ones in Egypt. After exploring and climbing a billion stairs, we had lunch at Uxmal's hotel and swam in their pool. I talked to a Canadian girl who said she was also on a study abroad with her school, and they were going to Peru after this. I don't think she spoke any Spanish. That would be so hard. At night, we went to the light and sound show. They told Mayan legends over the speakers. It was way cool.

Day Ten: Went to church, came home and talked to my family, and relaxed! Spent forever editing photos and writing this! Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I wrote in my blog like you told me to.

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