Bus rides (when they’re not in the dead of night) give the amazing opportunity of not having cell service so I can write and not be distracted but the outside world— well maybe the baby crying next to me is a little distracting…
If I’m not mistaken we left of in my story a while back with the change of families in January. Since then life has been moving so much faster than I want it to be, although I continue enjoying all the day to day occurrences.
In the latter part of January, I got to travel with my mom and their very first exchange student Malu to the state of Jalisco and visit the city Guadalajara and a few areas around. Taking an overnight bus we arrived early in the city walked around and got ready for the next few days. We took a couple tours in the surrounding area going through the artesanal tequila manufacturers, the city named Tequila, and to a giant lake (less giant then Lake Michigan) called Lago Chalapa. It was so cool to meet Malu, see how even after many years the family has kept in contact and hear in which direction she took her life after going on exchange.
UPAEP received a new exchange student! Giulia was having some troubles with the school she had been attending the first semester and luckily she was able to transfer to UPAEP for the second. She also decided to enter in the health area of study so we are together all day (fiesta!!!). School is going as always, I am still not a fan of that 6 AM alarm. The classmates make it all worthwhile, and the days like international women's day when they bought nieves (water based ice cream) for the whole school! I had so much fun scooping out the cups from the big barrels that selling nieves on the side of the road is my new 57th backup career!
While not in school it’s been a mix of everything. I’ll go out with friends, have some activity with Rotaract, go walking, watch Netflix, eat, hang out with the siblings-Marley included, or improvise something with Isa and Giulia when we get bored. I can almost always count of one or both staying at least one night at the house on the weekends. Now that it’s (already) hot, the cleaning of the small pool in my house has been a great back up plan whenever the need be. Also my brother Juan has “challenged” me to read every Sunday and while I don’t always achieve that I did recently finish a book.
Two weeks ago-- and the same day as my graduating class’ graduation photos--Robert, Dorothy and I were scheduled to meet in México City (CDMX) in the afternoon. In the morning I had the photos at the school and they took longer than anticipated. I did appear in the whole generation photo bur had to leave before our “casual” group photos. I arrived by bus in CDMX after both Dorothy and Robert had landed so we had no trouble meeting up outside the foreign arrivals and I did indeed hold in the tears! After settling into our hostel for the next few days we headed out on foot in the historic center of CDMX. The VERY first thing Dorothy wanted to buy there was bread- and it became a very common theme of going to a panadería almost every day.
In CDMX we did all kinds of touristy stuff: we went to the Chapultepec Forest, the artisan markets in Coyoacán, checked out the Diego Rivera murals in the National Palace, used the Metro, and tried some vegan street tacos in Roma. I tried to get used to translating although often times I looked to my siblings expecting an answer but was received with a what-is-happening-face and in other cases google translate came through for an unusual word in a museum. The nights were calm as we were all rather tired from walking around all day, still, they formed some of my favorite parts of the CDMX part of the trip. On the rooftop lounges of the hostel we were able to talk into the night, play cards or simply watch the nighttime city movement.
Another new experience for me was staying in a hostel. The dynamic for me was such more enjoyable than a tradicional hotel. We were able to get recommendations from fellow travellers, were identified as from the USA by Dorothy´s and my Chacos, but above it all I met two rebound exchange students who were travelling in México several years after their own exchanges. Rotary is everywhere, if there was a group that would take over the world-- I would bet on us
We bused back to Puebla, and from Puebla, Atlixco. This was the moment I was anxious for: the combining of my two lives, and my two families. Turned out there was not a problem at all! It was really fun from the start. We went out that first night with my siblings, which was funny to see everyone trying to find a balance of the languages between English and Spanish-- both Dorothy and Robert exceeded my expectations of how much Spanish they remembered--and I stayed in the outskirts understanding everything and throwing in a couple words when there was a look of panic thrown my way.
Our days in Atlixco were calm. A few of our original plans or want-to-dos we were unable to achieve but I was happy to stay in my city and walk and explore all the places I have come to know.
At the end of the first week it came time to put Robert on the bus to the airport. This time I let a few tears slip through.
But life had to keep moving and Dorothy and I had cheddar cheese to find. Why cheddar cheese? Well, Mac and Cheese is a quintessential USA food and it had come the time for me to give my Rotary country presentation, and as a part of that I wanted to make a dish to share with the club. After walking around in Puebla for a bit, we went to Walmart thinking they would have the supplies we were looking for-- we were wrong (kinda). Our original plan was to make puppy chow and mac and cheese. We got there started in the cereal aisle and NO rice chex cereal, I had not even realized that it wasn't available here. With that option out of play I thought, well what about root beer floats for the dessert? NO root beer! So we settled on banana bread as a dessert. Next we started looking at the cheeses and NO cheddar cheese-- we did eventually find cheddar slices and a pizza-type blend of shredded cheeses that served the purpose well. As much as I think México offers a very similar range of products as good ´ol HyVee, having my siblings here and actively looking for typically American food made me realize that several item are missing from the selection.
My presentation the next day went over smoothly and the mac and cheese and banana bread were a hit.
The end of Dorothy´s time here was topped off with a trip to the beach. We were also joined by Isadora on our few days in Acapulco, Guerrero. The time on the beach was the perfect way to soak up the sun and get to know another part of México.
In Atlixco the last night, Dorothy and I stopped once again at a panadería, bought some churros and climbed up the Cerro of San Miguel for sunset. We also had a ¨surprise¨ birthday celebration for Dorothy (I put the quotations because the surprise was broken before the cake came out and I for one am a rather bad liar when it comes to it). There was family, magic candles, and the Mexican tradition of taking the bite out of one´s birthday cake
We were out early this morning, and as I dropped Dorothy off at the bus station I again couldn't help but cry-- even knowing I would see her and be home soon enough.
So now we return to the normal. Or maybe I will shake it up a bit and return to the not normal and the daily adventure here in México. Until then,
See ya later,
What was left out...
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