Sep 1, 2012

Mexico.... the country that instantly stole my heart.

The story of how I came to Mexico is actually fairly lengthy. Long story short though, my first semester of school, right after I got back from Russia, I was kind of thinking I wanted to be a head teacher for ILP. I loved my time in Russia, and I was definitely bit by the travel bug... hard! So, I applied. After a very long weekend, I finally decided that I was going to go back to Russia, but to Moscow instead of St. Petersburg. How did I end up in Mexico when I was supposed to go to Russia, you ask? Well, about a month before I left, one of the ILP directors called me. Here's a little bit of how that conversation went: 
"Kaylie, I have some bad news for you. *insert 10,000 thoughts here* We're shutting down your school in Russia." 
"Ok...." *insert 10,000 more here*
"So, you can either go to Mexico or China."
"Tell me a little about Mexico...." 

And thus my Mexican adventure started. Ever since I heard a really attractive mexican speak spanish in one of my class, i've wanted to learn. Warm weather when i'm usually freezing didn't sound too bad. I'd have kids from ages 4-14, which I really wanted. and you really can't beat amazing mexican food with chicken feet in china. So, I had a night to sleep on it, but it really wasn't necessary. I knew i wanted to go to Mexico. As soon as i got off the phone I was jumping up and down with excitement when i told the first roommate i could fine. and then i called my parents.... that was fun.

(This could quite possibly be the longest blog post in the history of EVER. Fair warning.) 

August 15 snuck up on me like nobody's business. I only had a month from the time that I found out I was switching countries to when I left. And I had finals and jumped around states for awhile. So that was fun. But the day finally came, and I was feeling very stressed. We had our week long vacation right when we got into the country, which was slightly difficult to plan for, considering it was for a place I'd never been to and a system I still don't understand even after going all over southern Mexico. But amazingly, it went incredibly well, and now looking back I'm so grateful that we had vacation right away. Here's how it went down....

We flew out of Salt Lake  nice and early to Phoenix. We kind of forgot that Arizona like to be it's own little country and not have daylight savings time, so we thought that we missed our connecting flight. Turns out, we got there like a half hour earlier than we were supposed to land. From Phoenix we flew into Mexico City!

Side note: I find it very interesting that the only cities that i've been to that are in the top 20 largest cities in the world are in foreign countries. Moscow, and Mexico City. Fun Fact. Anyways, it took some time to get all the teachers together, which was slightly concerning since I was the one responsible for everyone. But luckily everyone made it ok, and the school decided to send someone to help us get on vacation, which i was SO grateful for. I don't think I could have navigated everything on my own that first day. We probably never would have started our vacation. The drive to Puebla was so beautiful. I saw palm trees for the first time, and thoroughly enjoyed the jungle covered mountains and volcanoes of Mexico. That was the one thing that drove me nuts about Russia- it was so flat! Here in Mexico, I live in a beautiful valley and I love it. Mexico's mountains are BEAUTIFUL and make me feel more at home. From Puebla we got on an overnight bus headed to Puerto Escondido! We thought it would be 9 or 10 hour trip, but 9 hours passed.... and then 10.... and then 8 more. 18 hours. Longest bus ride of my life, but we survived it. It was great fun. Especially since they feel the need to make the overnight buses in Mexico -30 degrees. Seriously, it basically impossible to sleep on those buses because they were so cold. Even when I had my nice, warm, Mexican poncho on. Anyways, here's proof that we survived that wonderful journey.... barely.

Puerto Escondido y la playa!
Puerto Escondido- a hot and humid hippy, surfer, beach town. We took our first few days to relax and soak up some rays. We spent a considerable number of hours doing nothing but sitting on the beach. The first day we got there, we hadn't eaten in like... an entire day. If we would've known, we could've just made it a fast! so our first priority was food. then a shower. then sleep. We did have a pool at our hostel, which was super nice, because by the time we got back to our hostel from anywhere, we were hot and gross, and ready for a nice swim to cool off again.
 roughin' the streets on Mexico: Day 1
 My first mexican meal. Shrimp. I don't like seafood... or avocado.... or tomatoes.... but it actually wasn't too bad!
 our first glimpse of the beach!
 we shared our room with a friend
platform 9 3/4 anyone?
LOVED the pool....
The next day we loved life on the beach and tried surfing!
 We endured never ending stairs to the beach... several times. Our legs got a pretty good work out.  
 We had what we think were non-alcoholic pina coladas... but since we asked for them later and no one understood... we're not entirely sure. Also, my arm looks huge in this picture. stupid camera angle.
 Janessa, Madison, Amanda, Cassie, Sophia, and Katie
I got in a fight with a rock... the rock won, but I put up a good fight.
Surfer babes! 2 of us got sea sick, but at least we tried!

The last day in Puerto Escondido we got up ridiculously early to go on a fishing boat. As you can see, we rode in the back of a truck. and it was awesome. We didn't really do much fishing, but we saw some dolphins and sea turtles! Dolphins are total teases...

a random Mexican guy handed us a fish and left.... we named him swordy. We weren't really sure what to do with him...
 I pet a sea turtle!
 Beautiful paths through the rocks by the ocean

do you see that water??
 The fishing poles were huge!
 another playa
Henna tattoo! I'm in Mexico, why not?

Tuxtla Gutiérrez y Cañon del Sumidero!

Next, we spent a day thoroughly enjoying the Mexican version of the Grand Canyon. I've never actually been to the Grand Canyon, but this started forming around the same time and has some really steep sides, so that's what we're calling it. 
Goin on a boat tour!
Alligators, anyone?

 These pictures do this place no justice. It was so beautiful!
Inside a cave... why not?

 I made some new friends... and avoided others (like the snake).

 Apparently whatever was on the ground was more exciting than the toucan in the tree right next to me.
Station numero uno of the 5 station zip-line 
 gettin ready to go! Side note: I'm really disappointed because I thought I was taking videos during a bunch of this... turns out my camera is different than every other one i've used and I wasn't. I was very disappointed when i realized that.
 flying through the jungle!

Katie, Janessa, Sophia, Amanda, Me, Cassie, and Madison

San Cristobal de las Casas y las montañas!
(It looks like Montana. Melts my heat.)

We left Tuxtla Gutiérrez the afternoon of the same day that we got there, and headed to San Cristobal. It reminded me a lot of Tallinn, Estonia, except that it had a colonial feel rather than medieval. We took some time there to just chill and do touristy things! Like go shopping and get mexican clothes... It was a good time.
 Is this just classic Mexico or what? I think my favorite part is the Mexican playing guitar.
 Apparently I really liked to eat things in San Cristobal...
Rambutan: otherwise known as "hairy strawberry fruit". You peel off the outside, and the closest american thing to the inside is the texture of a grape... it doesn't really taste like one though. It's very interesting
 Thank you in different languages... I was surprised at how many of them I kew! Tack=swedish, Merci=french, Gracias=spanish, Danke=german, спасибо=russian, thank you=english... i think that's all i've got. but still! i know how to say "thank you" in at least 6 languages!
 poncho model hotties! Madison, Amanda, Sophia, and I
 Me and Sophia!
 Tacos. One of my favorite things in Mexico. Soooo not the same as American tacos.
Friends 4ever after just a week
San Cristobal at night, view from this.... church, which is on the top of a hill
 We walked all the way to the church, then didn't have much to do... so we just sat and talked. Mostly about horrible boy stories. It was great girl bonding time
So, I'm not entirely sure what these guys were doing... but one was taking a picture of the other, but the lighting didn't work... so then he went behind us to take a picture... and at first it was awkward, then it was just funny, so they had someone in the bus station take a picture, and so did I. We got photo bombed and we weren't even taking a picture, so we took a picture of it. Then they were on the same bus as us. Crazy... Next stop--->

Palenque y las ruinas! 
What Mexico tourism is known for... the ruins! The first ruins we saw were Mayan, from the classic period (220 B.C.-1120 A.D.) at Palenque! We didn't have as much time at the actual ruins as we probably would have liked, but we got a tour guide and learned A LOT and went on a little adventure through the jungle... so I think we got the most out of it that we possibly could in the time that we had. Along with the canyon, pictures do this place no justice.
 It seems like any place that has a solid tourist attraction completely plays it up, and it becomes a theme for the whole city. In this case, there's a giant mayan head in the middle of a round-about. Why not?
 love me some jungle
 first glimpse
 see the still buried ruins? that's how all of this was not too long ago.

The observatory
 the bathroom!
This is where they held council meetings and things like that
 red bananas anyone?
 It doesn't really look like it, but all the stairs here are STEEP. We definitely got another good workout in that day
 Our jungle exploration
 flyin on a vine george of the jungle style
My first mexican taco! and man, was it good!

Villahermosa, los mosquitos y el templo!
Our last stop was in Villahermosa and it started getting hard to be enthusiastic, because we all really just wanted to be in Tehuacán and get into a routine. So, Villahermosa. We went to La Venta National Park, which was cool... except for that I'm pretty sure none of us have ever been in mosquitos that bad in our entire lives. combined. We completely covered ourselves in bug spray at least 3 times. It did practically nothing. So, that was great. They had a small zoo which was fun, but by the time we got to the actual monument things we were too sick of mosquitos to even care. We just wanted out of there!
 Turns out, crocodiles and turtles can live together just fine. I had no idea. Never really thought about it before, but still didn't know.
so cute!
 This guy seriously came over right next to us, but i couldn't get a good picture. It was so cool!
 These were my favorite :)
a lil otter!
These little guys were our buddies. This one's just a baby and came over to play with us, but then someone fired a gun so they all ran away... it was sad.
interesting art, eh?
we were sick of the mosquitoes and still had a lot of time to waste before our last bus ride. What better way to waste time than by going to walmart?? We also just wanted to be in an air conditioned building. so we found some chairs and started to lounge. anytime people would start walking around us, we'd start talking like we were testing the chairs out because we were thinking of buying them. It was great fun. Then, one of the best parts of the whole vacation came... we went to the see the temple!
Amanda, Katie, Cassie, Me, Janessa, Madison, and Sophia
 We were both very ashamed to be wearing shorts... and we saw missionaries! so that was good...
I just really love Captain America protecting me....

After that we played phase 10 and messed around in a bus station for like 5 hours. We all got subway, which was really interesting to order... didn't really think that one through ahead of time. Luckily, the boys that were working found us really entertaining and didn't get annoyed with us. Some of the most fun memories are when you're just so lost about, or horrible at, what you're doing, all you can do is laugh, and i love it. <3
After one last long bus ride, we finally made it to our lovely home city of Tehuacán, and we all love it. We just finished our first week of teaching, and we all made it through alive. I love my host family. I love mexican food. There will definitely be more on everything to come. And i might even try to blog about things that happened while i was at college! crazy, i know, right?
This is a google maps version of what our vacation looked like...

We were so close to Guatemala!

Love Southern Mexico <3

1 comment:

  1. So glad you are having fun. We Love and Miss You. Be careful and we will see you soon.