As mentioned before, my school asks us to do a form of social service or human experience which corresponds to a month in an NGO in order to obtain experiences different from the business oriented education ESSEC provides us. After a lot of research, the AIESEC failures, and other non-convincing opportunities, I decided to choose a place I still had not visited in Mexico in an area that both would boost my interest and my curriculum.
I wanted to take part part in a program of microfinance in any NGO. Unfortunately it resulted as very difficult to find as almost all the micro-credit institutions in Mexico are companies and not NGOs.
When I found the link of Casa Hogar Nueva Vida on internet, I was delighted to see that it was not only a form of orphanage but that it also had a rehabilitation home and sold its own products such as honey! One email, one call and it was set ! The volunteers could arrive whenever they wanted, meet the kids and choose their schedule between morning and afternoon … I booked an hostel and the adventure was on.
I truly believe that I have luck issues because the spell I was under started even before leaving Mexico City. Two days before leaving we casually went to the bus station in order to buy our 21-hour-bus-ride tickets with the 50% student discount … as we are students to be told that the discount only worked with a letter from the university. After a two-hour-car-ride to go to and come back from the university with the letter, they told us my letter is not valid because it does not mention when I get back to school … I went home upset and the falsification process started with tap, printer, stamps in order to have two identical uni letters only with different names. On the next morning, we took a last look at our pieces of art before heading to the station…and leaving the papers on the desk !!! Until the last minute before we took the bus, the spell was on …
But arriving in Puerto Escondio, the sun was shinning, the air was warm and the DF was far far away, so all my worries and misadventures flew away !
I know what you think : I am the worst wanna be blogger : 1 month without writing is inadmissible. But I have valid arguments ! :
1. A hurracane hit Puerto Escondido 2 days before we arrived there, therefore there was no internet (sometimes no water) and no signal.
2. I was very busy helping in the Casa Hogar (orphanage in which I did my social service)
3. I wanted to enjoy the sun (finally some heaaat), the beach and my boyfriend by taking some detox from internet, cell phones and other electronic devices.
4. My keyboard’s C - R and Ts stopped working so it was basically impossible to write any word in less that 1 minute…
The good thing is that I lived incredible experiences that I will try to share as vividly as possible with you. The bad thing is that TOO many events, experiments, adventures, discoveries took place and I don’t know where to start … let’s try !
I hope you wil laugh reading the following posts and that your envy will rise because I had an incredibly delicious amazing time !
It is well known that Mexicans are party rockers ! As I was telling people I was about to hit Mexico 8 months ago, their response was : sooo you are going to “fiesta fiesta and drink a lot of tequila” …Indeed true but not only ! Anyways, one of my wishes was to assist to an official Mexican party whether it be wedding or .. graduation. Wish granted ! Last weekend, a friend graduated from the UDLA university in psychology. The ceremony was held in the Metropolitan Theater of Mexico City and the dinner + party in the two block away Hilton. How can I explain my excitement ? Instead of accepting my friend to lend me a dress, I wanted my own dress ! Instead of patiently waiting for D-day, I was harassing my friends with questions about the food served in the dinner, the dances and other customs as I did not want to feel too much like an outsider.
Two days before, I went to the center of Mexico City (Centro Histórico) to buy a dress. This district is impressive as the main avenues are essentially composed of shops selling party dresses … very cheap ! My first shopping spree was a blast but as always, the first item I see generally turns into the one I purchase. The tradition says that the Graduada (the one graduating) is supposed to wear a long dress while the guests should wear cocktail dresses. Well guess what ? I wanted a long dress - so I bought one (with the agreement of the Graduada). After some tailoring, the dress was PERFECT !
Back to the ceremony ! I went for some make up and hair and nails with my girl friends before heading to the theater. As I entered I could see the pride of all the Mexican families waiting impatiently for their children, grandchildren, cousins and friends to walk down the stairs with their togas. After an hour and half waiting, the ceremony began with a speech from the Dean and some early works of G. Bizet, played by the national orchestra of Bellas Artes. We then watched all the 132 students coming up the stage for their diplomas, hugging their professors and smiling like it were the best day of their life. We (finally) came out for another family/friends photo shoot before heading to the Hilton to hit the dinner and party !!!
The dinner hall / ballroom was impressive. Hundreds of tables with roses and waiters ready to drown us with rum, tequila and champagne. The dinner was delicious : my first non-Mexican dinner with butter, bread, SALMON and VEGETABLES ! I perceived the dinner as express compared to our never ending meals. We soon were on the dancefloor to start the party, the dancing and singing like crazies. The school has contracted a live band singing both Mexican and International songs with Elvis remixes in Spanish and other songs with funny choreographies. By midnight, off the band and HELLO MARIACHIS ! My friends were on the stage, stealing the microphone and guitars from the Mariachis …
I know they were partyrockers but that much, sweating and yelling without ever getting tired … that I had no idea ! I hope you will all be able to experience a Mexican Party someday !!!
Usually I do not like to write about politics but I believe that this subject is extremely meaningful and particularly relevant for other university students around the world. I was aghast to see that none of the international newspapers mentioned anything and keep on talking about Mexico because of the murders and drug dealers when the democracy is being compromised.
Currently, four candidates are running for President in Mexico. What they usually do is to make debates in the private universities to present their program and answer to the questions of students. This time was a bit different : one of the candidates refused to assist to the debate therefore they all cancelled and came individually to make some conferences. In ITAM, two candidates came just like in other universities. The movement I want to talk about started on May 11th when one of the candidates (EPN) went to La Ibero University and was completely booed by the students. They were yelling ‘Asesino’ - ‘Fuera’ (OUT!) - ‘Tenemos memoria’ … The reason for such rebellion is because this candidate pertains to the PRI party, responsible for many historical atrocities (check Tlatelolco 1968 and Atenco 2006). EPN himself has been the Governor of the State of Mexico since 2006 and many accuse him of being responsible for the increasing insecurity (namely many women homocides). In short, the conference in La Ibero was a chaos (as shown in the video below) but the following day, many national newspapers had the following front page : “Success of Peña in la Ibero despite an attempted boycott” (supposedly of a competitor from another party). As a reaction to this manipulation of information, the 131 students of the Ibero that assisted to the conference made a video in order to denounce the partiality of the media of communication in the country. Subsequently, many students responded to this video by creating the #YoSoy132 movement (I am the 132nd supporting you in this fight for impartiality) which resulted in pacific demonstrations in the historical center and around the headquarters of the concerned television and newspapers.
I would have thought that the movement would have turned violent as many political ‘uprisings’ tend to. However and surprisingly it remained very simple and pacifist. All the students want is that the PRI does not come back to power as since Fox’s mandate, the situation has been improving. If the archaic PRI government returns, lies and opacity will return.
The main issue is that the Mexican population does not have the possibility to understand genuinely and transparently the candidates’ campaigns as the media only diffuse what they wish to. Consequently, as the vast majority of the population is quasi illiterate and does not get objectively involved in politics, any candidate wishing to ‘buy some votes’ could easily do it with a few pesos or food.
I really insist that you look for information about the subject as I do not want to give too much details on this page (who knows what could happen). But I will let you know of the situation’s evolution.
I roll up whenever you call baby I roll up ! Sunny Sundays !
I used to believe (at the very beginning of my acquaintances with the country) that Mexico City was a dangerous city in which it was impossible to walk or spend any good times outside like in parks or riding bicycles. Well you know what ? Sunny Sundays in the DF are the most exquisite things ! Every last Sunday of the month, the city council closes the beltway for the Chilangos to take out their bicys a ride a 32-km-road going through all the most beautiful places of town, namely the Zocalo, La Condesa, Reforma …
Of course as a huge fan of bikes, I wanted to experience it … and once again I forgot about the altitude, the heat and my lack of physical condition … But I had a lot of great motivation. We put our shorts on, caps and sunglasses, took the dogs (bad idea) and went for the ride … After the first climb I was DEAD but only because the bike I was using was so minuscule for me that I could not even stretch my legs … Thank God (sorry) but the dogs got tired and injured sooner therefore I took a long break to take my breath back. After a few hours under the sun, we finally enjoyed our Barbacoa Tacos and Multifruit juice.
It was a long ride, and intensive but I enjoyed it ! Can’t wait for next Sunday to do it again (with 5 more bottles of water and a light breakfast before !)
Unfortunately I haven’t found a dance studio as excellent as the Parisian One. Therefore, instead of mediocre dancing, I chose exceptional Yoga. I am not very sure which we practice, I only know that my buddhist professor manages to make me forget about everything, once or twice a week during a few hours.
People usually see yoga as weird positions that only supple people can reproduce. Indeed, yoga is physical (and not only a little) but also and mostly spiritual. It can be about religion if you believe in God, it can be about the Universe if you only believe in the world we are living in. The practice consists in devoting your soul, your energy and your thoughts to another force and therefore to let yourself free from negative spirits. In this way, one can realize that negative thoughts, difficulties, obstacles are only perceived as such if we want to, but that each of us is doted with a capacity enabling him/her to surpass barriers.
We usually need to dedicate the practice to something or someone or a part of our body that we wish to honor, to struggle for and by the end of the practice, after the exercise, the sense of peace, the reassurance are so intense we realize that the effort made by the body is an incredible representation of care, love and worship.
This week my group and I participated to an art installation in a surrealist exhibition held in my neighborhood of La Condesa, in an old building. The artist had filled an empty apartment with all sized speakers in order to diffuse his compositions made for the occasion. Even if it was a pure coincidence, the music coincided perfectly with our moves, with our energy. Beautiful experience !
Yoga contributes to my daily happiness :) Have a beautiful week !!!
I know I don’t give news, I know I am a bad long distance friend/ family member and many more. But it doesn’t mean I don’t think about you all every single day, it doesn’t mean that I don’t miss you or that I might forget about you and the luck I have to have you in my life.
Just so you know, despite everything happening in Mexico and the distance from home, I am not homesick, I do not feel uncomfortable in this country and above everything I am truly happy. I think more than an Exchange, it was for me an opportunity to take a step back from everything and to finally think about what I want; to distance myself from some people in order to evaluate the different relationships and to realize what really matters in (my) life.
I think one doesn’t need to be close to the people he loves to feel their presence. The actions that the people take show their care, so I promise to try to take some actions to get in touch with you more frequently so you can laugh about my awkwardness that hasn’t changed at all.
Much Love and smileeeeeeeee Summer is around the corner :)
The famous ones !!!!!! Let me explain the whole thing with those waterfalls. One of the Chiapas Team Member has already visited them last year, and fell for them .. Why ? Because they are part of the only waterfalls that are still not invaded by families eating, drinking and derping all over the place.
The water is deliciously warm, there is no one in the water because of the relatively strong current and … it is very entertaining to jump from the rocks ! It had been long since I had not played so much in the water like a little girl. But it is physical exercise! So we stayed about three hours there, jumping, trying to fight against the current, swimming and taking pictures …
The city of Palenque is ugly. And I am not making this comment because we arrived there at night with an excruciating heat and general bad mood because we could not find any hotel. It is just that the center of the city has no particular interest or beautiful monuments. The only agreeable element is the zone called La Canadá which is the Hotel Zone. It is pleasant as it resembles Disneyland’s hotel plaza, with different themes, people walking without bags and wanting to try all the restaurants after an exhausting day. We felt the same ! Unfortunately all the hotels/hostels of the zone were too upscale for us, therefore we found one in the Center Center, with folding military beds … I think our tiredness was stronger to any other feeling of comfort, so we accepted the beds. The night was not that bad after all as we found a delicious mariscos (sea food) restaurant and some sort of party in one of the hotels.
The following morning, we headed up to the ruins of Palenque, which is one of the biggest Mayan site. Only 10% has been discovered so far (or about 2.5 square km), the rest remains hidden in the jungle. However, the visible part offers the finest architecture of the community ruled by K’inich Janaab’ Pakal (aka The Great Pakal). I am sorry not to recall every single detail that we learned during the two-hour-individual-tour but once again the History is very interesting and rich …
Let me give more details about the WELIB-HA Cascades !!!!
Yaxchilán was my favorite stop from the Chiapaneco trip. I guess it is mainly due to the whole jungle adventure. As mentioned earlier, we arrived the previous night at the Echeverría Reserva, with the cabañas and the mosquito nets … On the next early dawn, we took a local lancha (gunboat) that took us to the archaeological ruins of Yaxchilán. It was delicious to be the only courageous ones awake, enjoying the sunrise from our private boat, with the frisky morning rose blowing and the monkeys hurling like jaguards. After the 40 minute ride, we finally arrived at the ruins - even before the tour guide.
For the historical back ground, Yaxchilan means “Place of Green Stones” in Mayan, is a place of wondrous temples, plazas and story-telling carvings and sculptures. As shown on the map, it is located in a curve, poised on the banks of Rio Usumancinta, the river separating Mexico from Guatemala. This imposing compound has been swallowed by its jungle surrounding—ceiba and gum trees are home to chatty howler monkeys and toucans (that we saw !!!)
When visiting the ruins, I really felt like I had stepped back in time. Our guide managed to make vivid all the Mayan rituals and make us feel the pain of the sacrifices. If you wish to read more, I invite you again to Google it, but the history is impressive. I must admit that I was not a big fan of the Mayan history before, mainly because I assimilated it to some boring facts like the Greek or Romans that we learned in middle school. I guess the way the story is told changes everything and can become fascinating.
We finished the tour by 9am, starving and sweating but it was soo worth it ! No time to relax, we took the car and drove to the Golondrinas, some cascades on our way to Bonampak (another Mayan site). Objectively, the cascades were beautiful, the only problem in Mexico (from a Mexican point of view) is that those natural sites are opened to the public for very cheap (less than one euro). Therefore, they easily turn into Tepetongo - understand a form of beauf attraction. I’ll let you imagine … remember that Mexicans love to eat and drink … The pictures can give you an idea of the situation. BUT .. we managed to find a secret hidden place at the source of the cascade in order to enjoy the delicious fresh water for a fast swim.
Unfortunately, we arrived to late in Bonampak, therefore we could not make the tour. We drove directly to Palenque in order to spend the night there before the following visit.
After a short night the road trip finally began ! Two friends joined us to form the Chiapas Team !!! We drove two hours South to reach the Lagunas de Montbello. It is a national park close to the border with Guatemala, created in 1959 and lately (2009) designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO
The main attractions are its 59 lakes, striking because of their gorgeous colors, which vary due to their different mineral contents, ranging from emerald and turquoise to dark green. About 15 of the lakes are easily accessible by car or foot and the others are supposedly (according to our 8 year old mini guide) only accessible by … Helicopter ! As none of us had its engine, we only saw about 9 of them including Montebello, La Cañada, Pojoj, and the group of five lakes known as the Lagunas de Colores (Lakes of Colors: Encantada, Ensueño, Esmeralda, Agua Tinta, and Bosque Azul). Many of the lakes are open for swimming, canoeing, and kayaking which we were craving, but the prices were way too exaggerated therefore we decided to head to the frontier with Guatemala to chillax and take some pictures. Everything was very peaceful especially with the sunset …
All very tired, we decided to travel by night to reach the Frontera Echeverría in order to visit the following day the Mayan ruins of Yaxchilan and Bonampak. The particularity about Chiapas, and because of the historical Zapatista movement is that soldiers can stop you in the middle of the road, just to check in you are not a drug dealer (just in case uh ?). Therefore we have been stopped about four times, in the middle of the night, in the middle of NOWHERE, by a band of armed soldiers searching our car. I must admit that we were petrified because the were in the position of power and could have done anything to us. Fortunately, we did not look too suspicious and everything went SMOOOTH.
We had calculate (with GG maps) that the Border was four hours away from the Lagunas, therefore we drove gently towards the Frontiers. A bit preoccupied we decided to ask (just in case) on our way through a village. A random man told us : ‘Oh it’s about nine hours away, good luck’. And this is how the whole car suddenly started to depress … But with some good mood, songs and jokes, me managed to drive in the night and arrived to the Frontier five around later.
The reserva in which we stayed was lost in the jungle, impossible to find if you haven’t came before. Everything felt delicious after so many hours seated in the car. Our dinner was composed of canned tuna but tasted like the best meal ever. And I loved sleeping (for five hours) with my mosquito net (LIKE IN AFRICA MUAHAHA). Next day : YAXCHILAN !!!
After 11 hours of car, a billion songs sung, too many sandwiches eaten and a few fights we finally arrived to Chiapas. Thanks to Le Guide du Routard, my little friend for the whole trip, we found an excellent Hostel, clear, cheap and cute that quickly became our Home Sweet Home. The hostel had an Hippy Touch with Globetrotters cooking in the kitchen and the included breakfast enabled us to try a delicious banana jam while enjoying San Cristobal sightseeing. So romantic haha. We only had one day in SC so we decided to do the main attractions, namely the Churches, the restaurants and the cute little streets. SC does not seem like a real town, it is very cosmopolitan and it seems that all the alternative hippies emigrate there because of the weather, the authentic essence and the friendly way of life.
My lovely guide also recommended to visit the two Tzotzil villages called Zinacántan and San Juan Chamula. As we wanted to escape from the numerous tourists and taste some popular cuisine, we took the car to visit these two villages. Unfortunately we were well disappointed.
The village of Zinacántan could be described as a tourist trap as when we entered, a rush of children appeared in front of the car telling us they could make us a visit of the village for cheap, that with them we would not pay the entrance to the village, and that they could show us the different monuments. We might be tourists but we are not so naive, therefore we let go off them and continue our way. As we get to the ‘center’ we realize there is NOTHING to see. Yes it’s a village but without any interest. Another rush of girls come to the car to tell us they can take us to their house, that we can see how they make tortillas ‘a la mano’ and that they sell some cultural craft.
1. We were starving
2. We had nothing else to lose.
This is how we found ourselves with two Tzotzil girls, age 8, barely speaking Spanish, taking us to their home. As we arrived, the mothers were waiting for us smilingly - a bit too much maybe - happy to see that their daughters had caught some BIG FISH. I was looking for a tablecloth for my mother and surprisingly they had hundreds. While one was taking them all out, the other was trying to get us drunk with their Poch a drink with agave, sugar cane and watermelon flavor … I believe I was a bit forced to buy something because of their amiability despite the fact that I didn’t fall for any of the tablecloth. The second part of the experience was … delicious. In case you haven’t noticed, everything that involves food in Mexico is delicious to me. The little girls started to make in front of us some tortillas, all warm, all melty and make us try all the spicy sauces, pumpkin powder and more. I ate 4 tortillas (and wanted more !!). All in all, the amount we paid for the tablecloth, the poch and the entertainment was worth it!
Of course after Zinacántan, we were still hungry and decided to visit the second village : San Juan Chamula, hoping to find more life ! Unfortunately the village was as shabby as the first one … we got out of the car and went back in !
Conclusion, San Cristobal de las Casas is a very beautiful town, with great bars (REVOLUTION) in which to drink beer and cocktails for cheap and dance salsa until dawn. San Cristobal has this great hostal : QHIA. With a good atmosfere, location, rooms and prices. I guess it is a good Chiapaneco stop before or after the adventure of the jungle, a good transition to civilization !
But what came AFTER SC … was even more INCREDIBLE …. wait and read :D
I think that for this trip the best thing to do is to write a daily journal because it is going to be rich in adventures and discoveries. It was a bit complicated for us to decide of a destination for Semana Santa. Semana Santa is our only week of holidays and usually, it is planned weeks, months ahead because all the hotels are full and the prices go crazy. Months ago we planned a trip to la Huasteca Potosina, where we would have done rafting and rappel and other “extreme” sports. Unfortunately, a week before the holidays, despite the planning and meticulous organization we found ourselves trip less. You all know me and you can imagine my mood when realizing that some friends were heading the next day to Cancún, others to romantic getaways in Oaxaca and its beaches and me: staying in the DF. But Semana Santa in México, the Catholic nation also consists in religious rites, officially : it is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter. It includes the religious holidays of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday), Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.The most important day is the Holy Thursday, day on which the only Mass on this day is the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper… I read tons of things about it and could have stayed the whole week praying and eating BUT after four days of pure LAZINESS, watching movies, eating like fatties and wandering in the house, we finally decided to head to CHIAPAS. Many of you are going to think Where The Hell is Chiapas, therefore I will give you here a small introduction but invite you to search the web in order to find more information about its beauty and richness. Chiapas is a state of the Mexican Republic located 1000km South East away from Mexico City. It is economically speaking the poorest state of the country but faune and flora speaking, one of the richest. An enormous part of the state is jungle and the other are Mayan ruins, lakes and cascades. It is also the land of the rebels and Zapatistas which is one of the reasons why it can be dangerous, especially for girls alone, as militaries can stop you, take you some money and other interesting stuff out of your suitcases.
The map below explains our road trip and here and the distances so you can imagine easier and understand the challenge it was to drive there.
ð Mexico City - San Critobal de las Casas (900km - 10 horas)
ð San Cristobal de las Casas - Lagunas de Montebello (145km – 1 hora y media)
ð Lagunas de Montebello - Frontera Echeverría (297 km - 5 horas)
ð Frontera Echeverría - Yaxchilan (40 min in boat)
ð Yaxchilan - Palenque (244 km - 3 horas)
ð Palenque - San Cristobal de las Casas (220 km - 3 horas)
The famous and well-known SMA ! I wanted to visit this village because many of my Mexican acquaintances spoke about it, telling me I would fall in love with its streets. Well guess what ? I didn’t like it that much … It is a very beautiful place but the only thing that bothered me is its Gringo-ization. Many retired North American buy houses there and start to “invade” the place. I was disappointed to see that some restaurants only had their menu in English and that the all the real estate is sold in dollars. With a good budget and as an introduction to the Mexican society it is beautiful and worth it, but if you want adventure, dark places as I LOVE, maybe it’s not the best place. HOWEVER, we had a great time !!!! We went to our first Cantabar (Karaoké) a strong Mexican tradition and sang The Spice Girls and Wonderwall ! We finished to night drinking Mezcal in a nice rooftop. That’s it, SMA is very Nice a bit too much maybe … but I visited it and I’m proud I finally did :)
The second step of our girl road trip was the city of Querétaro, capital city of the eponymous state, 220 km in the North of México City. Our stop has been short but enough to realize the beauty and tranquility of the city. Querétaro is one of the colonial cities of the country, full of historical (over 3000) buildings. Very different from the noisy DF, Qro is full of light, beautiful walking streets and haciendas turned into typical restaurants and Posadas (luxury hotels). What I liked is that the people is very relaxed and disposed to sit and chat unlike in the DF. I believe the majority of the inhabitants is more well-off and less disparated by income inequalities which justifies the more cosy atmosfere. We spent the night with locals, went to eat in Maria en su Bici, a beautiful restaurant with a huge patio covered with lights. The menu offered the famous chapulines, typical oaxaqueñan food and served mezcal in large bowls with fresh agrums. Our night raging hunger pushed us to Tako Kong a funky taco place also serving … Delicious stir frieds. The advantage of the colonial streets is you can walk safely and go from bar to bar to enjoy the different atmosferes, dance and stay wherever you prefer. The historic center (Zocalo) is bordered with plazas and churches where people have lunch of terraces, dance salsa and enjoy the Sunday Sun. I liked Querétaro… a lot. Prefered it to México for its human size and evenly mixed Euro-latino atmosfere! I hope I will be able to go back for a longer stay !
Following the advice of our beloved roomies [..] we decided to start our 4-dayègirl-roadtrip in the Sierra Gorda region in the State of Querétaro, which village in called Jalpan. None of our Mexican acquaintances had ever heard of this place but we decided to try the adventure, and it was SO worth it ! It is the best place to take a break from the crazy, noisy and polluted Mexico City. The two days we spent there were very different from any of the past experiences we’ve had so far in Mexico. We first experienced the five hours road full of bends. Thank to my incredible capacity of falling asleep in any circumstance, I had a nice rest but unfortunately my roomie suffered A LOT! Arriving in Jalpan, we were caught by an oppressive heat ut WHATEVER ! We went straight to the information office to know all the options we had during our two days. The hostel our roomies recommended us was great, for $125 (7€30) we had a huge comfortable room with a queen size bed each. Our first excursion was to the Adjunta of AYUTLA, it is located fifteen minutes away from the village in the mountain where two rivers join : one of hot water and the other of cold water. What locals do is that they let themselves go in the current and enjoy the warmth of the water… Anne Cécile and I only put out leggies in ..HAHA.
The next day was the real expedition! Exhausted from our first day between bus and walking we went to bed VERY EARLY after a delicious dinner of the local dish : the Cecina Serrana which is salted dry beef with a touch of beer, served with salad, frijoles and French fries … The next day at 8am we were all fresh and hyper to leave for the Puente de Dios a sort of waterfall in the mountain. The walk was EXCRUCIATING, I think I hadn’t walked so much in years!!! But after two hours of intense climbing we finally got to the Puente! The whole landscape was gorgeous, similar to some places in Provence ! At 2pm we were done and back to our room – dead ! Without a taking another breath, we took the bus again for the beautiful town of Querétaro !!!
I didn’t want to recall the whole AIESEC Story but I guess you need a little introduction in order to understand. AIESEC (@) is another civil organization but way more professionalized and professionalizing than the other one I might have evoked before. The acronym stands for Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales. Yup you got it, it’s French and was created post world war too with the following core mission : the wish to spread World peace, knowledge and openmindedness. Today, @ is “present in over 110 countries and territories and has over 60000 members. It is the world’s largest student-run organisation, focused on providing a platform for youth leadership development. @ offers young people the opportunity to be global citizens, to change the world, and to get experience and skills that matter today … For further info I recommend you to visit their website : http://www.aiesec.org/
It is an incredible opportunity both in terms of carreer and personal development. I previously had an opportunity back in France to recreate the ESSEC Office. Unfortunately it hasn’t been possible due to the flexibility of my Bachelor. However, we I got to México and ITAM, I was happy to see the local and very dynamic office. Sincerely, I had not plans of applying, until SOMEONE changed my mind… We took the interviews together and went to the 3 day seminar in Oaxtepec in order to have our training for the GCDP Summer Experience.
LET ME EXPLAIN !!!
GCDP stands for Global Community Development Program which is a 6 week minimum for of internship in a Non Profit Organization anywhere in the world. Rather than just randomly volunteering, @ responds to offers submitted by organizations and sends students to use their skills in order to develop a project. I still do not know where I will end up this Summer but as soon as I will know I will share for sure !
Concerning the seminar, I have to admit it was a BLAST. We were a bit reluctant at first, but the compulsory nature of it forced us to go. Basically the seminar was a succession of conferences, workshops, experience sharings and training sessions concerning global issues, cultural shocks and personal development within an organization. It enabled me to discover more about myself and the goals I envision for the next months and years and made me think about the impact I wish to have in my life. Despite the strict schedule and intense path, the experience was very rich. The facilators and lecturers came from all around the world, from China (GO KITTY !!!!) to France ! Many of them have leadership positions responsibilities among their respective local offices and sharing with them was truly inspiring !
@ also proposes another program called GIP : Global Internship Program which provides intership in the world’s best corporations. I hope I will be able to benefit from this network for my future internships and projects.
I will not yet reveal my options as I haven’t started the selection process yet, but I can only say my Summer will be even more beautiful than my time here and that I AM SO EXCITED !!!!!!
Last Saturday, my roomie, some friends from Cuernavaca and I experienced an typical Ancian Aztec tradition called the Temazacal. The description might seem suprising but it was truly an uplifting, revigorating and moving experience spiritually wise.
I know sometimes I can be over spiritual and have strange beliefs but don’t think this experience was linked to any sect or secret covent (the first reaction my mother had).
The Temazcal is a prehispanic bath. The most ressembling thing we know is the Hammam I guess. It is a Mesoamericans purifying ritual which dome-shaped steam house symbolically represents Mother Earth’s womb and the beginning of life. The doorway to the womb is oriented towards the South, which symbolizes life’s end. The Temazcal therefore represents the cycle of life, and participants experience a rebirth in the ritual bath.
More concretely our experience started in a Funky mini van full of 10 people in direction to the Centro Holístico Mandala, a centre of massages, yoga and meditation. After getting changed everybody started with an introductory massage and a clay face mask (photo!). After a presentation of the security rules due the fact that the Temazcal bath is a VERY STRONG physical experience without natural air or light. According to the description we were supposed to lose an average of 1.5 to 2 KG of weight over the whole experience - but personally, we didn’t … Nudity in the complete darkness may have applied over certain times of the experience , though I cannot tell (and do not want to know) if any of the 20 people was naked.
At first, they told us the experience lasted three hours, thank God it only lasted an hour an a half which was way too sufficient. As you can see on the photo it is a closed round sort of cave, in which half of the people are seated and the other half on the floor. The lower part is the “coldest” and as you reach the top (by standing up) the heat is just insuperable. During the hours and a half, we sang Aztec chants , made some dances, covered ourselves with aloe vera and ate Mexican honey - in the dark.
As we passed the four ‘virtual’ or spiritual doors : the Earth, the Water, the Wind and the Fire, the temperature gets hotter and the Shaman throws us bowls of water in order to survive. I have to admit I asked myself what the * was I doing in this thing at some points but the overall experience was delighting.
I will not say that I felt like a new woman coming out, however I did feel very relaxed and happy (for a change). The little plus were the tacos and water offered post experience.
If you have the opportunity and if you are not claustrophobic, you should definitely try it, but go with a friend .. one never knows what can happen in the TEMAZCAL ..!
Haloa ! and Sorry ! In order to make you forget how long I haven’t been writing I’m coming back with a metro annecdote … so you know I’m still taking the metro and I have my little routine ! Seriously how do them cool daily bloggers make it to write with so much consistency ?
Where do they find the time ? Maybe with an iPad I could keep you updated..but Im in Mexico and I have no money ! Whateverrr !!!
As you have been very patient, I promise to deliver GOOD STUFF from the past two weeks!
The other day at the rush hour : 7pm/12 hours without eating - and in the biggest connection : Tacubaya - the escalator suddenly stops. Instead of logically walking up the stairs, people stand immobile. Instead of acting, people start whistling (Mexican way to express impatience). And the other fortunate that are already up take pictures instead of going on the metro. Some Mexican behaviors remain not understanble to me. From an external viewpoint I would have gently mocked but fighting for your way wearing a dress among exhausted and hungry men is neither pleasant nor funny - trust me !
I am sure you all remember the previous introductory post about Un Techo Para Mi País. After a few weeks of wandering about, we finally went to the Comunidad last Friday. The comunidad is located in Tlílac, Xochimilco - in the South of Mexico City. We went by bus withe the other techeros and the evolution of the landscape is incredible. We came from skyscrapers, buildings and banks and gradually entered the countryside in which Oxxos and other franchises completely vanish.
Tlílac is a small village in the middle of … nowhere. We enter through a rocking bridge. Large lettuce fields fill the landscape, no tap water and an excruciating heat forcing us to lumber between the muddy ways. Our objective of the morning was to submit surveys in order to evaluate both quantitative and qualitatively the degree of acceptance of the Microcredit + Finance courses program. Surprisingly enough, we didn’t find a lot of workers as they were all resting in the fresh air for some hours. However, those we encountered were well disposed to answer despite the complexity of the survey. Unfortunately I do not have my word to say - yet - in the organization but I sincerely believe that questions tackling issues of accounting, loan and even savings management are inappropriate for people cumulating many jobs in order to eat by the end of the day. The bottom line is that the men seem well interested about our proposal - even if the classes needed to be of Sunday evenings; their only moment off.
I liked the experience as it consisted in meeting new - Mexican - people with a point of view completely unknown to a person like me. This issue of surveys also comes in the line of sight of my Marketing class dedicated to the development of market studies. I hope we will find many participants and be able to finally !!!! start them courses. More news next Friday !
Not everything is pleasant in México. Despite my natural attraction to the country and lifestyle there are some repulsive elements. One of them is Corruption. Fortunately enough I ran only into one type of corruption : that of the police. When one generally turns to the police in case of emergency or looking for a direction, the tip in Mexico is : Ask anyone but the police. The reason why is called Abuse of Power. To power in this country lies within the hands of an insignificant percentage of the population, therefore the public authorities - which obtain their power because of their job tend to take advantage of it.
My first confrontation with corruption was a night before going to a night club. Like every youngsters we went to buy alcohol in an Oxxo because hitting the Rhode club. Making our mixes in front of the Oxxo, we didn’t realize there was a camera taping us. 5 minutes later, a patrulla (patrol car) arrives and asks us what we are doing … well just making our mixes but not drinking in the street - obviously. After talking with us 15 minutes, with a friend saying his father is the chief of Some Important Public Office and another begging because it’s her Birthday, the two policemen ask three of us to go back in the car and they stay ‘talking’ with one of us. Then go down the street, far from the camera, and five minutes later, my friend comes back and just says : 200 pesos. This is what it costs : 5 minutes or 200 pesos for them to let us go …
The second time was worse. Going out for dinner, they stopped us without any reason. Asked for the driver’s licence - that he didn’t have. 10 minutes of talking out of the car, 200 pesos, and we were free.
People say the more you talk with them the more you can negociate the “price”. But anyways I find it disgusting because even their chiefs wouldn’t approve. The most hyprocrit is that the policemen hide from their own cameras to ask for money.
Here is the link of the some art I found relevant to this theme, coming from one of my favorite blogs : Cultura Colectiva.