A Year Gone By
Recap: favorite activities since my trip during Semana Santa: the beach and baseball! One of the many beach trips finally consisted in catching (or trying to catch) fish off of the dock in Progreso. No fishing pole necessary. And the process you ask?
1. Cut up a bate fish into three even pieces.
2. Put a piece on your hook. The tail or the head work best as they have shiny scales that attract the bigger fish.
3. Throw your line into the sea and work it back towards the dock- wrapping it around an old water bottle or any other circular object.
4. Have the fish eat your bate but not get hooked.
Baseball is also an awesome experience that is universal. Baseball in San Francisco is the same as in Yucatán except that the beer is cheaper and random cheerleaders dance on the field between innings. But the laid back atmosphere is igual. A nice bag of cotton candy and sunflower seeds and your all set to enjoy America´s pastime.
On a sadder note, t-minus 10 days until I am back in the motherland. It is hard to believe that almost nine months have flown by. While it seems like yesterday that I was staring out of the airplane window, looking down on the green shrubbery of the Yucatán peninsula thinking to myself “so this is where I am going to live for the next year”, I have grown so much since my arrival. I still remember my anticipation, my fear, my uncertainty… But as time passed, those doubts slowly dissipated, or rather evolved into an independence, self-confidence, and longing to delve deeper into my experience.
I don’t want to go home. I have developed a home here, a routine. Yet while the trip to the airport is inevitable I leave knowing that I have lived my experience to the best of my ability and have no regrets. I accomplished everything I set out to do. I truly believe I became another member of my host family. I love our Sunday gatherings and the grandchildren’s newest obsession of playing baseball with a stick and inflatable ball- running from flowerpot to corner as they round their imaginary bases. Some of my closest relationships are no longer solely lie north of the U.S. -Mexican border but in the Yucatán peninsula as well. The thought of leaving these people I care so much about is heartbreaking. The thought creates a hard knot in the pit of my stomach. Although small, this knot is charged with emotion that requires me to stop breathing in order to suppress the vast array of feelings that resonate throughout my core. When I try to explain the overwhelming emotion, my friends tell me “But you’ll come back and visit”. And I will. I have already pinky promised to return in December during winter break. But it will never be the same. I will no longer be living with these people. I will no longer see them daily. These next ten days are going to be stocked full of activities. I need to make sure I have the time to close the many circles I have opened in my time here in Mérida.
The other day all of my compañeros within the IFSA-Butler program and I debriefed our experience- what we liked and what we found difficult during our study abroad experience. Most people answered that they liked the architecture and the safeness that the city holds, while they disliked the honking and “springbreak” stereotypes that is quickly applied to anyone who could pass for gringo. As I reflected on my experience, I decided what I grew to love the most about the culture here is that it is laidback. But this tranquility and slower pace does not pertain to flojera or laziness. The people here establish relationships and cultivate them. Each person is important and to spend time with each other is valued. The work always gets done, but it is never more important than a human being. In my university, people are overloaded with work, overcommitted to activities to get into the top grad schools, and bombarded with messages saying that if you don’t have your whole life already planned out you are going to fail. Life needs a plan. End of story. And for the majority of us have lived in this hyper-bubble of stress since elementary school. We look so far ahead to the future that we forget about the present. The next project, the next opportunity to get ahead is much more important than the friendship I might form with my classmate if I took the time not only to ask her how she is but the time to listen to the response. I hope that I can keep this perspective when I return to the United States and not get wrapped up in the unnecessary worry and hustle-bustle that resonates throughout our culture. What is meant to be will happen. I hope that the year abroad has solidified my ability to live in the moment and not try to control my future.