After the final test of a week of exams (their trimester exams I believe), classes ended at 11 and the rest of the school day was spent with celebrations-- September 15th is the day of independence for México. This consisted of honoring the flag, a VIVA MÉXICO yell and a fair-like set up of Mexican food for sale and made by 5th semester students (excluding myself). This was a fun time to hang out with friends- and I even got married…
After a tearing down the stands and dancing a tad- I went home to prepare for La Cabalgata.
For a word that can be translated into either ¨parade¨ or ¨ride¨ both descriptions held true last Friday night- la cabalgata was a parade and there were lots of horses. I participated in the parade with Rotary. Dressed as the typical China Poblana-- I along with Giulia, Isadora and Meg (from Ohio)- marched with our flags through the Zócalo trying to avoid the massive amounts of horse poop. I personally felt strange carrying the USA flag during a celebration of Méxican culture and independence. However it is also a tradition for the exchange students to parade with their flags, so it is what it is.
When the parade had finished I changed out of the heavy dress and went with some friends- Ruth and José Luis- back to the Zócalo. As it typically goes- they asked me if I knew what something was (even now I can´t remember the name) and I said no. It ended up being a state-fair-like ¨scam” game-- but I won bubbles! After, we walked through the crowds of people to get some chalupas and horchata. Later I practiced my cumbia skills.
I already know that dancing is going to be something I will miss about México. I am still not that good, however, the sheer act of dancing with someone to a rhythmic tune is a dream.
Saturday we took a lazy morning, then made our way to Libres for the night and Sunday. If the weekend before I suffered from heat in Veracrúz- in Libres I was reminded of the cold. I felt silly-but also kinda normal- walking around in my Chacos while wearing a borrowed parka coat. In my amazing style my family and I made our way to downtown.
We first found a group of people grouped around a cock-fighting ring- it´s not illegal here. I was definitely an interesting experience- one I had read about several times. The fight was quick and less bloody than I expected. Even if I did not get grossed out it will not be something I actively seek out in the future.
The main event of September 15th is ¨el grito¨-- literally the yell. So in the dark and cold we walked, ate tacos-potato enchiladas for me- and waited for the ceremony to commence. El grito in Libres was a little underwhelming- without much passion and the history incorrectly retold according to my Dad.
Sunday morning we got up, I borrowed a wonderfully comfortable poncho and we drove down to the ruins of Cantona.
Cantona is considered one of the most urbanized prehistoric site-- safe to say it's pretty big. I absolutely loved walking around, up and down, all the pyramids and ¨roads¨ snaked through the city. There was such a feeling of peace and calm going out- far from the currently civilized world- reaching the top of a pyramid to see the city laid out in front of me, and thinking of the lives of people thousands of years before, at least trying to imagine them.
Driving home, we stopped for pulque- and then it was time to make some food!
Chiles en nogada are one of the most typical Pueblan dishes- and Sunday I got to help my tias and abuela make some. These chiles are filled with a shredded meat, fruit and spices, fried in an egg white and flour batter, bathed in a walnut sauce (nogada), and topped with pomegranate seeds and cilantro. For me they were filled with cheese and mushroom.
In my personal opinion kitchens are the best place in any house and as much time as you can spend in them- the better. At first I just observed--which is the best way to learn-- and if I saw a simple task I could easily help with, I did it. After everyone was served- I stepped up to help with the battering and frying of the chiles which was fun.
I continue to see one of the biggest differences is the amount of time given to relaxing- usually centered around food and family. That night we sat around for hours chatting and yes, dancing!
School keeps going. I started staying for volleyball practices. Anything else? Not at the moment I suppose.
see you soooon
What was left out...
No I haven’t missed the heat- and after spending a weekend in Veracruz, I’ve made up my mind that Atlixco has the best climate I could wish for. And the heat started on the first 5 hour bus ride…
Friday I spent the day with Giulia and Isadora before driving to Puebla and being dropped off at the MegaBus station with around 25 other Inbounds from the state of Puebla. I don’t mind traveling by car in the slightest but my excitement dimmed when after the first 40 minutes or so the fans were still blowing room temperature air- and there weren’t any windows. Nevertheless everyone was in good spirits and the Brazilians brought the party as we headed down to Veracruz, VER, México, and soon the sweaty bus ride was over.
In Veracruz we stayed with Rotary families and my exchange sister for the weekend was Sofie from Finland! Which brings me to the best part about the weekend-- having the opportunity to meet and talk with people from all over the world (and yes others from the USA). Which is something that exchange is meant to do-- bringing together people from all over the world.
Veracruz itself was a beautiful city with a palm tree lined boardwalk and all. We walked some within the downtown, had a welcoming party, got some amazing coffee and of course went to the beach for an afternoon.
A shorter post because tonight I get to parade in the Cabalgata- a celebration for the Méxican Independence Day. More photos and stories to come!
What was left out...
Watching everyone speak different languages
(although the majority knew English)
Sunburn (I forgot to reapply sunscreen)
I have now spent a month in México- although it feels like a much shorter amount of time. Everything that has happened since August 8 was a roller-coaster where I had no idea of what would come next.
Starting with the high of arrival- my family is so caring, and for this I will be eternally grateful to have them as my first family. My parents- Lily and Antonio- both have helped me in unique ways and from their actions especially I see they listen to me and they understand where I am struggling or what I´m interested in learning more about. Lily is going to teach me how to knit- something I have wanted to learn for a very long time! My brother Emi- who today will be proctoring an exam or the states of México for me- is all you could expect from a 13 year old. He is a funny guy with a sassy streak and loud laugh. Beneath all that he helps me a ton- revising my sentences and pronunciation when he notices something is wrong. My two weeks with my sister Fernanda was a flashback to my last two weeks at home- frantic packing and being very sad about leaving friends and family for a year. Even from my short time knowing her I know that she will be amazing in France and we all love looking at her photos and sharing photos from home.
While visiting with my extended family- their excitement for teaching me about México definitely rubs off on me. I absolutely love listening to the long histories on my Abuelos´ lives, which reminds me of hours of sitting on the couch at my own grandparents- hearing about past generations.
Growing my family even more is the amazing group of Rotary exchange students that I have here in Atlixco. Giulia and Isadora are two Brazilians living inear me. While we do not see each other every day, we have shared the same struggles and good times thus far during exchange and they make Rotary events much more enjoyable. There are also several Rotex students in my school. They too understand an exchange student´s life and are really great people all in all. I´m also incredibly lucky to have my friend Elle (from Dubuque, Iowa) living down the road in Puebla! This coming weekend is District 4185´s orientation weekend in Boca del Río, Vera Cruz, and I am so excited!!!
School has been good, and about as boring as American school! My classmates have taken me under their wings, even if they annoyingly teach and reteach me all the cuss words in the Spanish language. My favorite class is probably math because I already know all of the material they are learning so it´s easy and I get to show off my crazy Hogg family math skills. I´m happy that I´m in their senior year as I´m with people my age. I also get introduced to many people-learning names is so incredibly hard- and it´s frustrating to repeat basic facts about myself almost every day (this will hopefully stop soon).
For those who don´t know- I am a rather clumsy person, and I have a bad habit of hitting my head. Which of course adds up to rather painful headaches. Long story short I was having some bad headaches last week, and it stressed me out as well as scaring me. This (and a much needed phone call with Robert) led me to realize one of the first big lessons of exchange: you cannot be in control of you´re own life 24/7. Which made me remember a simple piece of advice from one of the RYE mentors- remember to breathe. I know that I should be able to trust the people around me to help me in the right direction when I don´t know what will happen or where to turn to, and I made a pact with myself to attempt to be more open about how I´m feeling. Which scares me just a bit less than losing control. (Thank you to all my friends for keeping my spirits high and Lily especially for helping me with this past hurdle)
I as always have a lot to look forward to, and please (as always) comment or email me any advice or thoughts!
more to come soon,
What was left out...
((Starting now...each blog post I will share the best, worst, and a funny thing that has happened since the past post))
At Fernanda´s goodbye party, there was dancing (of course) and my friends taught the basics of Cumbia
Leaving class sobbing because stress + headaches
Going shopping at Walmart with my family and pushing Emiliano in a shopping cart
Hello, I’m Isabel Hogg, a Rotary Foreign Exchange Student for the 2018-2019 school year. Story 18 is a documentation of my year living in Atlixco, Puebla, Mexico.
Youth Exchange “Slang”
Outbound: A person departing a country, similar to emigrant
“I am an outbound from District 5970”
Inbound: A person coming to a country, similar to immigrant
“I am an inbound to District 4185”
District: Divisions of countries/states that organizes Rotary clubs across the world
Rotex: An Exchange student who has already completed their exchange term
RYE: Rotary Youth Exchange