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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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Tepito & Valle de Bravo June 7, 2010

Posted by lbuckley3 in Travel Log.
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Wow time is flying by– it’s truly amazing how many things we pack in each day here!  Since I last wrote, we went to a neighborhood called Tepito, one of the poorer, more troubled areas of Mexico City, to work with kids in a weekend workshop designed to channel their energies into productive activities like reading and crafts. We played dominoes with them, read Spanish children’s stories, and helped them make puppets.

Historically, Tepito has been an artisan neighborhood and Don Luis, the man who started the workshop, also trains apprentices in shoemaking. According to Don Luis, the neighborhood took a turn for the worse under the influence of narcotrafficking, which was in part related to the rise in popularity of boxers from Tepito who made a great deal of profit from the sport and got involved in drugs and alcohol. However, after spending a day in Tepito, it is clear to see that it is an area home to many talented athletes and artists alike. It was inspirational to see what a positive impact people like Don Luis are having on the children there and I’m confident some of my little puppet-makers hold great promise for the city of Tepito.

Another one of my favorite trips was our weekend spent in Valle de Bravo, about three hours away from Mexico City. This is the kind of place you make plans to retire to and spend the rest of your days there. It’s a small town on a beautiful lake with winding roads on the mountainous shoreline, making it a favorite destination for athletic travelers interested in water sports, hang-gliding, or hiking. We did some hiking after we took a boat across the lake to a waterfall called Velo de Novia (or Bride’s Veil). The rest of the day we spent strolling around the sleepy town, stopping to admire the artwork of street vendors, and just taking in the breathtaking views. I literally never wanted to leave, but I can’t wait for our next excursion to Puebla!

La Vida Chilanga June 7, 2010

Posted by lbuckley3 in Travel Log.
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For having only spent two weeks in Mexico City, I’m extremely impressed with everything that I’ve seen and done through the Mexico LBAT program so far. Living la vida chilanga (Mexico City natives call themselves Chilangos) has been absolutely incredible and I can’t wait for the weeks to come!

We hit the ground running our first full day here as we headed for Teotihuacan, an ancient city with buildings dating back to 200 BC. The most prominent structures include the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon—we climbed both of course! The Pyramid of the Sun alone has more than 245 steps so reaching the top is no small feat, but definitely worth the view.

We also rode the Turibus (think London double-decker buses Mexican style) for several hours taking in some amazing sights along the way, including the beautiful cathedral in the Zócalo, or main square of Mexico City, just in time to hear a special Mother’s Day service (Mother’s Day was celebrated on May 10th here instead of May 9th like in the US) and my roommate, Leah, and I made sure to stop by a flower shop on the way home for our host mom. Our host family consists of Doctora Guillén, a dentist, and her 18-year-old son, Israel, who is studying architecture. They’re such giving and friendly people and made us feel right at home.

Other adventures include a trip to the Basílica de Santa María de Guadalupe, touring the home of painters Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and going to a lucha libre show! The Basílica is where according to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared to an indigenous man for the first time, which marks a significant moment in history for a culture that is a unique mix of both indigenous and European traditions. Another fun fact about it is that if you look closely you can see that the Basílica is sinking, which is due to the fact that Mexico City was built on top of a drained lake. That’s because the Spanish built their city directly above the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, even using stones from the main Aztec temple, Templo Mayor, to build their cathedrals. We got to tour Templo Mayor and everyone got to serve as tour guides for the rest of the class in their assigned section of the museum— my presentation was about the practice of human sacrifice in ancient Mexico.  That being said, there is literally never a dull moment here and every excursion we’ve gone on has taught me a great deal about Mexican history, language, and culture. Can’t wait for the next 4 weeks!

Above are pictures of the pyramids, the cathedral, and some gringos singing karaoke in Spanish 🙂