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Los Recuerdos de México July 13, 2010

Posted by awheble in Travel Log.
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So even though it’s been over a month since I was last in Mexico City, my last two weeks were so busy that I didn’t have chance to update on my last memories there.The second to last weekend we visited the town of Puebla, a colonial town about 3 or 4 hours east of Mexico City.  Whereas Mexico City is a more commercial, obviously urban life, Puebla is like something out of a post card. The city was designed to be the second capital of Nueva España and the place for all the royals of the colony; so all the buildings are in the beautiful Spanish architecture. In the center of the town, they have a precious plaza, with clowns, balloons, and child floating around throughout the weekend. On the one side of the plaza is a beautiful cathedral, while the other 3 sides are occupied by the Edificio Municipal, cafes, and local shops.

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We spent much of Saturday wandering around the many markets of the town. Each street seemed to specialize in a different type of sale. Whereas one street had tons of beautiful handmade jewelry, turquoise, and silver, another was completely filled with antiques. My favorite street would most definitely be the talavera street, which is a special type of pottery that Puebla is famous for (I am mother’s daughter after all). All the pottery is handpainted in beautiful floral patterns, and I had to use all my will power to resist buying myself and my mother a whole set of dishes. We also visited the Capillo del Rosario, which is a beautiful chapel covered almost completely in gold.

For dinner, we went to a well-known restaurant, where I tried the typical cuisine of Mole Poblano, a dark, rich sauce made of chocolate and peppers. It sounds like a weird combination, but it was pretty good and is definitely worth a try! Just don’t eat too much or you will feel unbelievably stuffed.

Our last full weekend in Mexico was definitely the highlight of my whole trip. We arrived at the Laguna de Sontecomapan on Friday morning after an 8-hour bus ride through the night. After watching Mexico tie South Africa in the opening game of the World Cup, we took a motor boat across what I thought was giant lake. Looking around the picture of what I was seeing almost didn’t seem real. The “lake” was encircled by rolling mountains covered with a pattern of forests and pastures. Rancho de Los Amigos, our resort for the weekend, is a small eco friendly resort nestled in the space between the mountains and the lake.  We stayed in a row of cabins, with bunk beds that were air conditioned only by the breezes that blew through the screens on two of the walls. Looking around the only sign of civilization is a tiny fishing village on the other side of the water, however, it is this isolation from the rest of the world that makes the resort so beautiful in appearance and atmosphere and gave me an amazing opportunity to learn more about the people on my trip than the four weeks with them in the city had taught me.

On Friday afternoon, we took a hike through the hills to see the whole ranch. It was then, at the top of a hill that overlooks the resort, that I learned that on the other side of the opposite shore of the laguna, the Gulf of Mexico waited peacefully. I guess I should have known from the fact that the place is called Laguna de Sontecomapan, but it wasn’t until I stood on that hill that I realized we were less than a mile from the ocean.

After the hike, we took part in a Mexican (pronounced Me-shi-can because its talking about the ancient civilization) ritual known as tamascal. To preface this story, let me say that I have never been so hot in my entire life. Tamascal starts by forming a circle around a hole in the middle of a tent.Then the leader, in this case Antonio the resort owner, begins adding volcanic rocks that have been sitting in a fire to the pit. Finally, after the pit is full, they close the tent and add water to fill the tiny space with steam. I could hear the beads of sweat hitting the leaves I was sitting on, but to keep us occupied, Antonio played the drums, led us in a loud Mexican chant, and had us say the emotions that we wanted to rid ourselves of. When I finally left the tent and felt the cool breezes of the ocean, my body felt so relaxed and as cliché as it might sound, cleansed.

On Saturday, the spiritual cleansing continued. We all awoke at 5 am and climbed to a hill far above the one we had visited the previous day. With absolutely no light pollution, we could see every star in the sky, venus, mars, and even a faint shimmery strip of mist that was one of the spirals of the Milky Way. Slowly the light started to appear with a beautiful mix of pink, orange, and yellow contrasting with the black shadows of the landscape. By 6:30 we figured that we weren’t going to be able to see the actual sunrise, but finally this little smidge appeared on the horizon right over the ocean. Within 5 minutes the whole sun was burning red in the sky casting the most amazing reflections on the water. I have never been so in awe of God’s creation before!

On Sunday, in our final hours we took a boat tour of the laguna that wound us through rivers that run threw the surrounding pastures. The boat drivers took us to a little swimming hole and told us we could take some time to get out and float around. Though I waded in the water, I told myself I would not go all the way in since I already had on my clean clothes for the bus ride home. Our TA David, however, had other plans. Jumping right in, he swam to the other bank of the river, bear hugged his way up a tree that bent over the water, and jumped in. Not to be shown up, a couple of the guys swam across to join him, but all the girls, including myself were still hesitant. Finally, as I’m standing in the water watching the guys jump in, I can’t help but think I would be missing a once in a lifetime opportunity. With that, I pulled up my hair, jumped in- clothes in all, and swam across. Once on the other side, it only got more difficult. The boys had made it look easier that it was and I had to use all my strength to pull myself up because there weren’t a lot of branches along with all my courage to overcome my dislike (not quite fear) of heights. However, as I stood on the tree overlooking the river, I was filled with the feeling of strength and security, something I had come to doubt in the previous days. With that, I took a breath and plunged into the river below. Truly an unforgettable memory!

My last week in Mexico City was pretty calm and mainly consisted of spending time my family and finishing up our final tests and projects. Our mother surprised Katie and I with goodbye gifts on Saturday: for me, a Paul McCartney tshirt from the concert and a beautiful necklace. Ade was such a mother figure for me during those six weeks and I will miss her, Diego, and her family so very much.

Though after six weeks I was ready to see my family in Georgia, I was sad to say goodbye to Mexico. Despite their reputation, the people of the city are filled with a warmth and kindness that I have experience nowhere else. It’s almost as if they know that their city is infamous for its crime and are anxious to do everything they can to make sure you’re kept safe in their homeland. I hope that over time people can come to realize the richness of that country, but more than anything I know that I have to return!

¡Y ahora, a España!

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