A Day in Mérida
I have now been here for over a month and feel like for the most part I have adjusted to my life here in Mérida. However, there are still many things I just don’t understand. For example, no one here uses street names except for Prolongación de Paseo Montejo. A few days ago, I tried to go get more pictures taken for my visa. I took off on foot instead of waiting for the bus knowing the store was somewhere near the Office Depot on Pronlongación Montejo- about a 25 minute walk. I walked up and down the Paseo and could not find any place that takes photos. I called my host mom, Rebecca, and she tells me “Find the grocery store on the corner. Turn right and walk a few blocks. When you see the curtain store, turn left and you’ll eventually come across it.” Well, after a good hour of sweating, walking up and down various streets and asking everyone if they know where this photo shop is, I find one- two stores down from where I started. I was exhausted and frustrated, but at least all my walking gave me the opportunity to get a good sense of where other things are located that I can’t see from the bus (aka I found a sushi place that has dirt cheap sushi Wednesdays and Thursdays and is suppose to be one of the best sushi places in Mérida).
Another perk about living here is that no day is the same. For example, Mondays and Wednesdays I wake up at 6, eat breakfast, grab the bus and am in class from 8-2, no breaks. By the time I eventually make my way back to my house, I am exhausted and STARVING. Tuesdays and Thursdays are my favorite days. I only have my Spanish class at three in the afternoon and thus have the morning to do whatever I need to get done. Often times I go to the launder mat these days. Its run by an old man who went to live in México (if you here someone say I lived in México, it always refers to the D.F.) and returned because he missed the friendliness of laid back Mérida. He greets everyone with a smile and loves to share stories about his life and listen to our opinions about our study abroad experience. The rest of the morning I normally spend with Rebecca and normally get a little cooking lesson. But if you think I’m going to come back an enchilada or taco expert your mistaken. My favorite dish I have learned so far is how to make Kiwi’s- a baked mixture of ground meat and tabouleh that was brought over by the Arabs. Yesterday we ran errands and went to three grocery stores trying to find out favorite yogurt (if Alpura exists in the United States BUY IT. Its delicious!). During our travels we stopped by Parque Aleman because Rebecca wants to start walking there. This park has free exercise machines, and when we got out of the car we decided to investigate how they worked. A 65- year old and 20- year old began to run from machine to machine bursting out laughing during their “attempts” to exercise. Everyone else in the park must have thought we were absolutely crazy, but we enjoyed ourselves.
There is one thing that bothers me about this study abroad experience and it is how easy it is to speak in English. If I talk with my parents- English. My friends- English. If I don’t talk to anyone any specific day, I have to write an email to someone in English. Although my Spanish has improved, I have realized it is much better if I don’t use any English during the day and am forced to speak in Spanish the whole time. I feel like my speaking skills would improve much faster if I never had to speak in English.
But all in all I am content in Mérida. It is no longer deathly hot which makes a huge difference. I can sleep in my room now without sweating and find the city much more enjoyable overall. I love my host family and spending time with them and can’t wait to see what the next eight months will bring.