It’s been weeks since I’ve written, and much of that probably has to do with the fact that I’ve finally settled into a routine here in Mérida, and it’s increasingly difficult to get myself to sit down and reflect. I don’t want to get too far behind though! Tomorrow I leave for Yaxunah, a Mayan village nearby, where we will be staying for three days. Then I’ll be back in Mérida for a couple of days, next we’ll head to Chiapas for almost a week, then back to Mérida for a little over a week, then a few friends and I will be going to Mexico City for a few days, and then there will only be ten days left in the program!! Time is FLYING.
In the almost 4 weeks since my last blog post, I’ve spent little time outside of Mérida, and it’s been great. I’ve gotten to know my neighborhood and the city much better. The cashiers at the 7-eleven know me, I discovered a delicious bakery next to the park that is just block away from my house, and Sara and Maryclaire and I have been going to salsa classes at a dance studio near our houses. (We’ve even made friends with a couple of the dogs whose houses we pass on the way to class) Salsa class is a lot of fun. Our teacher is a great dancer and all the ladies are very sweet. It takes almost half an hour to walk to class and another half hour to walk back home, and the class itself is one hour, so this makes for a lot of exercise, which I think is a good thing considering how much pork is in my diet here. Haha but seriously, they eat so much pork. My other attempts at fitness have included four early morning walk/runs. I don’t have class until 10 a.m. and I have very little homework, so there’s really no reason I shouldn’t be able to wake up at 7:15 every morning to get some exercise in. Except it’s just really hard, so I usually don’t. Although every time I’ve gotten home from a morning run, my host parents have greeted me with applause and congratulations! This should be motivation enough.
Another part of my routine has been my volunteer work Friday mornings at a private elementary school in the city center. I help out in a fourth grade english class for an hour and a half. It’s me and the teacher and about 40 students (the kids like to refer to us as “Teacher number one” and “Teacher number two” – or occasionally I’m called “Teacher New York”), all of them clearly ready for the weekend, but we have a great time playing and reading and learning vocab together. This week I taught the kids how to draw turkeys. The teacher that I work with is fantastic, super hard-working and so fun. For the second hour and a half, I get to hang out with the teacher I work with (Carla) and her co-workers, the other english teachers at the elementary school. Another IFSA girl who I am close with and I just get to talk with them, practice our spanish and their english, share Pringles and relax. They’re all so interesting! They make me want to be a teacher too.
At this point you all must think that all my friends are either children, adults, or one of the ten IFSA students, but that’s not (completely) true. Since I last blogged, I’ve been somewhat more successful in making Mexican friends my own age! I’ll confess that overall that’s been one of the biggest challenges though. I came here expecting to make tons of of local close friends very quickly, and that wasn’t the case. It’s been a slow process and I’ve had to adjust my expectations. School isn’t necessarily an easy place to get to know people – many students already have their tight-knit groups and aren’t looking to go out of their way to get to know someone new. Some students are excited to meet new people though, and coming to terms with the fact that not everyone is as interested in becoming my best friend as I am in becoming theirs has been interesting, to say the least. I’ve learned a lot about how I relate to people though, and have actually met some great Mexican friends here that we hang out with regularly on the weekends.
I literally cannot believe how quickly this semester is going by! I promise that I’ll post again soon!
For now, here is a song that my friends and I have been listening to a ton lately: