The musings and misadventures of a girl unprepared

Monday, 8 September 2014

22 Reasons I Have Fallen in Love with Mexico

Happy Birthday to meeeee (only five days late, this week has been a mad one!) I can't believe it's already come around again, seems like only yesterday that I was writing 21 Reasons to Love Being Alive and dressing up as Alice in Wonderland like the big kid I am. And now I'm on the other side of the world in Mexico, celebrating my first birthday abroad, which has been filled with extraordinary amounts of cerveza, drunk tacos, incredible friends and merriment, as well as a failed attempt at making skittles vodka (please don't try that at home kids... not without a recipe at least).

In other news, my laptop has FINALLY arrived so that means more blogging! YAY!

*tumble weed*

Well, at least I'm excited. I've challenged myself to try and start writing twice a week now rather than just once, because really, how often does one get to live in Mexico on government funds, with barely a care in the world and only three days of actual responsibility? Plus I have sooooo much to catch you all up on. I mean I still can't believe I haven't written anything about San Cristobal or living here in DF (that's Mexico City, FYI). However after such a lovely lovely lovely birthday week, I'm feeling all the Mexican love and it seems only right to dedicate my birthday post to the country and the people who made it so great. Then I'll get round to more travel things, I promise :D

So here it goes, 22 reasons I have fallen in love with the amazing country that is Mexico...

1. It's one of the most beautiful countries I've ever visited, with an incredibly diverse landscape.

2. Tacos are the best drunk/hangover food ever.

3. It's literally impossible to get bored.

The landscape, the history, the culture, the food, the people... combine it all and there is honestly never a dull moment. By the time I leave Mexico I will have been here nearly a year and there is no way I'll have experienced there is to experience, eaten everything there is to eat or visited everywhere there is to visit. Which, on the plus side, gives me another excuse to come back (not that I'm actually lacking in those).

4. The weather (I'm English, of COURSE that's important).

Los Mochis, all of the heat, EW.

After 2 weeks of intense sunshine, I nearly cried of joy when it rained in Guadalajara.

I've endured highs of 40 degrees and torrential downpours. Of course I'm usually happier in the rain, but as I'm always game for trying something new, it's been really cool to experience the extremes in weather that I would never be able to at home. Even if that does mean that my shoulders now look a different race to the rest of my body, and that due to the rainy season, I nearly drown on my way back from class everyday. 

5. All of the swimming.

Swimming in Hierve el Agua, in a natural infinity pool on the edge of a cliff in the mountains. Say WHAAAAT.

6. The questionable levels of health and safety, making everything just that little bit more exciting.

The first line of the sign reads, 'Use the door', which considering the side of the wall was covered in large, rusty nails AND we'd been drinking all day, would have been sensible. But then again it was locked, so I mean, we didn't have a choice... right?

7. There are over 60 recognised languages spoken here. So much language geeking.

8. They love the gays almost as much as I do.

This was taken at Guadalajara Pride. I'm very aware that the level of homophobia varies from state to state and generation to generation, but here in Mexico City I've met nothing but positivity and love for diversity. There are even adverts on the underground for equal rights for the LGBT community and posters supporting transgender people. It's incredible and to be honest we could learn a thing or two from this back home.

9. No matter what the weather, there is never a grey day.

10. The warmness of the people.

I'm a very tactile and huggy sort of person, so it's wonderful to come to a country where this is completely the norm. I love that I greet my friends with a kiss whenever I see them and holding hands with someone isn't automatically misconstrued as something more than just friendly touch. Maybe is because it's one of my 'love languages' or maybe it's because the people back home are just a lot less open to platonic physical closeness, but this is one of the elements of this country that I will miss the most when I leave.

11. But seriously though, the food.

Empanadas and chilaquiles and sopes and posole and tacos and beans and quesadillas and enfrijoles and that weird cheese from Oaxaca and MOLE ROJO and all the pollo and homemade guacamole and gorditas and enchiladas and pastor and just all the food love.

12. Happiness isn't determined by your bank balance, but what you do with what you have.

This is the class that Adriana teaches in one of the rural communities in the hills around San Cris. The areas and villages that these children and their families come from are far from the wealthiest, and yet they were some of the happiest and smilyest people I've met. I could give countless examples, but out here, it's the simple things that make people happy, and despite the many elements of development that still need to take place within society, I've met very few Mexicans who aren't happy with what they've got or don't know how to make the most out of a difficult situation.

13. The rich and diverse culture.

I'm a little ashamed to say I knew next to nothing about Mexican culture or history before I came here, aside from the fact that everyone owns a sombrero and speaks like Speedy Gonzalez. But there is an impossible amount to experience here, from the familiar capitalist culture of the big cities (of course with a Mexican twist) to indigenous communities that are scattered throughout the entire country, which all have their own traditions and languages and ways of life.

14. Chiapas, or more specifically, San Cris, completely stole my heart.

It's now a running joke that all my stories and all the people I have met here come from San Cris, because I spent so much time there and just can't seem to stop going on about it. I will be writing about it soon, but until then just know that it is a must visit. So add it to your bucket list and if you're ever in the town, stop by Casa Caracol and give my best to Juan.

15. Waterfalls.

16. 'Mañana, mañana' and 'horita'.

Stress? Worry? Rush? I think I've forgotten the meaning of the words. The above roughly translates to, 'There's always tomorrow' and, 'I'll do that/be there in a little while, but really what I mean is somewhere between 10 minutes and 2 days. Your guess is as good as mine to be honest.'

17. Meal times are for more than just eating.

Although I'm still finding it difficult to get used to the HUGE breakfast thing they've got going on here, I love how meal times are used as a social time with family and friends. The culture of wolf-it-down-as-quick-as-humanly-possible just simply doesn't exist. Where as back home, social food consuming time is usually reserved for special occasions and the like, here every meal is a sit down, hang out, phones away ordeal and can last hours with no-one itching to rush off or find something better to do.

18. A cawama (about 1 litre of beer) costs £1. ONE ENGLISH POUND. My liver hates me.

19. Riding in the back of pick-up trucks.

...on roads with 100ft drops on either side, with no seat belts. Ok that was just once, but everyother time I've done it it's be entirely invigorating, especially after a day of hitch-hiking in the scorching heat.

20. Mexicans are literally the most welcoming people in the world.

I have never visited another country and felt so immediately at home and welcome. I can't count the amount of people that have told me, 'Our doors our open whenever you want', 'If you need anything, don't hesitate to ask' and, 'You're always welcome here'. In the above picture my friend Shelly is adding to a wall in a hostel I lived in for some time, which simply states 'My house is your house' in lots of different languages, painted on by the people who have stayed there.

21. The incredible people I have met/had the opportunity to revisit.

I could compliment you all until the cows come home, but really I just want to say thank-you for everything and I'm so glad that the adventure is far from over.

22. I have learned so much about myself.

Looking back over the last three and a half months, it's crazy to think that for one reason or another, I nearly didn't do my year abroad. I mean everything was pretty much planned out; I was to go straight to fourth year, I'd picked out all my modules, I knew where I was going to live and life seemed stable and good and safe. And now, I suppose due to my 'fuck it, let's just go for it' attitude, I'm now here. Like I actually LIVE in Mexico. I have done and seen so so much and have met some of the most beautiful people to have ever existed, and the best part is, it's only just beginning. University only started a month ago, and when I think back over everything I've done since arriving in Mexico, it seems unreal.

I feel so incredibly lucky to have been give this opportunity and without sounding too big-headed, am so unbelievably proud of myself for taking it. Travel is about so much more than just looking at some pretty views and getting shit-faced at party hostels (though both of those can be great fun), it's about discovering more of what the world has to offer and in turn, uncovering parts of yourself that you had no idea existed. Every time I travel and meet new people, I can feel myself not only become more knowledgeable and worldly, but also a much stronger and well-rounded person. The more I see, the more I want to see and Mexico has been one of the countries that has driven my thirst for life to a whole new level. 

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