It’s officially 12:05 am and I’m ready to celebrate the end of the Challenge by logging onto Facebook for the first time in a week (I kind of wanted a Big Mac, but it’s a little late right now… tomorrow?). Before I go anywhere, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the past week.
In the last seven days, I’ve been to Mexico City, seen a Ballet performance and an Orchestra Concert, hung out in my new favorite cafe overlooking the Zocalo, eaten Tostadas, Tamales, Quesadillas, and lots of Tortillas, visted the artisan market and talked with my host-nietos and some high school teachers from Cuernavaca.
In the last seven days, I have not: Eaten at McDonalds (even though it was our bathroom break and you had to buy something to use the restroom), been on Facebook, Twitter, or any other American site (Save research for my history paper and email. It’s easy enough when Google only gives you Spanish results anyway), watched any American programming (novelas are way cooler), nor have I purchased OR consumed, any American snacks (ahem… Dr. Bertsche).
In the last seven days, I’ve learned a lot about myself and where I’ve come from. I’ve noticed a lot of the Mexican customs that are familiar to me, but a little odd for others. When we got to Ecuador, we were told to greet everyone with a kiss on the cheek and before you leave, say goodbye to everyone. A lot of people I know forget this and it’s sometimes funny to see their reactions when they’re suddenly greeted by a stranger. When I was having coffee with Gabi, Olga and Sara the other night, it was like a revolving door of their friends. It reminded me a lot of Christmas time and meeting the cousins and aunts I never knew I had, but I get up and kiss each of them on the cheek to say hello anyway.
In the last seven days I’ve found new and interesting ways to combat boredom, including, but not limited to: changing all of the settings on my laptop to look like Halloween, taking long walks to the Zocalo before class just to get coffee, watching the Mexican version of MTV(when MTV was still music videos), coloring Day of the Dead pictures with my host-nietos, playing with their pet-baby python (still unnamed), walking through the market in search of the tackiest pair of earrings I could find, and completely ripping on the sources I’ve found for my history paper (Dr. Todd would be proud at how critically I’m thinking about their origins and intent ).
In the last seven days, I’ve explored new places. I had no idea there was a market next to Burger King! I’ve also discovered three new ways to get to the Zocalo…. none of them are any faster than the original way I knew. I’ve also gotten to know the people at the taquilla at Teatro Ocampo where I saw the Ballet and the Orchestra Concert (I always got there a little late… whoops!).
Most importantly, in the last seven days I’ve pushed myself beyond my comfort zone and had some really cool experiences as a result. If I hadn’t bought those tickets to the ballet, I would have never met Gabi, Olga and Sara. If I hadn’t met them, I would have never learned to salsa and I would still be conjugating everything in the present tense and not venturing to flirt with the subjunctive.
I got beyond feeling awkward sitting alone at a table staring at people going by and noticed something special that I hadn’t before. It wasn’t until I watched girls my age (and older) walking hand in hand with their mothers going down the street, that I made the connection between private family life and public family life: There isn’t a difference. How many times have you put up with the embarrassing things your family does at home, and then not want to be seen with them in public? Maybe some of that goes on here too, but never in the US have I seen families go out of their way to “be together” in public the way I have in Mexico. Except here, they’re not going out of their way…They’re family and it’s completely natural.
It’s 12:55 am on the 8th day and I no longer feel like going on Facebook.