Long story short, I made it to Mexico! Orientation week is over, as is our first week of classes.
Thanks to IFSA’s orientation, a little talk from representatives of the US consulate in Mérida, and my first few days of Spanish class, I now know what to do if a hurricane hits, what to do if I get arrested (the answer: don’t get arrested,) who to go to if I get sick, several different accounts of whether or not street food here is safe to eat, a very tiny bit of Yucatecan slang to have at my disposal (or avoid in certain situations,) and how I too can work for the foreign service.
I’ve also slowly and not necessarily so surely been finding my way around Merida – I’m pretty confident walking around the neighborhood now, and getting to school, but I’m very grateful that Ben and Kristen, two other students from the program, live really close to where I do, or I would have spent a lot more of the first week wandering around looking for my house.
We spent a good amount of orientation at the IFSA Butler office, which has its merits (air conditioning,) but the highlights of the week were definitely our weekend excursions – we spent Friday of orientation week at Telchac, a nearby beach, and then visited Uxmal and Chichen Itza over the weekend. Both of them were spectacular, but I think I have to say that I preferred Uxmal, mostly because you’re allowed to climb most of the ruins there, whereas at Chichen Itza, everything was roped off. Pyramids seem kind of like mountains to me – beautiful from the bottom, but so many times better from the top. It was also wonderful being able to wander in and out of the rooms at Uxmal, and to discover that they are in fact still occupied- by thousands of small birds that take shelter in there to avoid the heat. Upon walking in I was suddenly surrounded by a giant swarm as they all evacuated at once.