This is the reason for exchange. This was a once in a lifetime experience.
I am excited. I am also nervous but in that opening-act type of way. This Sunday is the Peregrinación to the Basilica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe, located in México City. The low down is I will be walking for a day and change (total just under 50 kilometers) from Puebla to México City with around 1400 students from the UPAEP system. I am feeling physically up to it. The only catch being I will be carrying my sleeping bag and warm clothes for the overnight camp out somewhere in the mountains. Today I walked for 21:35 minutes with a backpack carrying two 8 lb hand weights and it was slightly horrible so I will be packing less than 16 lbs (7.3 kilos). I keep hearing horror stories about how cold it is at night--I currently am aching to be in a slightly colder environment--so I hope my few warm clothes are enough to keep me sane. Overall I am really happy I am able to have this experience especially with several of my classmates.
When I woke up Sunday I had a bit of extra time and I started writing my scrambled thoughts and continued with some ¨live updates¨ (I did not make changes to what I wrote so forgive grammar errors (@Dorothy) and nonsense sentences)
It’s 2:26 AM and I find myself in a position of being awake an hour before my alarm, wonderful right. My throat hurts and I think I’m going to eat some garlic and honey before hand. Maybe an extra hour is a blessing, less of a rush. But this has like not happened to me for a while so I’m not sure what that means. The bus leaves from Atlixco at 5.
Now it it 3:21 and I get to wait for an hour whooooo!!!!! I ate some bomb avocado black bean toast, which hopefully wasn’t a bad idea. While I have experience with hiking, lugging around bags for 40+ kilometers isn’t exactly the same thing. One of the cool things about exchange is there’s almost always someone awake at every hour (s/o Eva in France and Irina in México who should really go to bed).
I feel so content and accomplished that I was able to walk 40 km. I truly feel this was an experience where I could bond so much with my classmates and I like campfires and it’s really cold. We walked from 9:20 until 7:40. Given with breaks for lunch and stops for oranges and water.
A los que fueron caminando: cuando me preguntan “estás disfrutando de aquí” , la primera razón son ustedes. Siento que tengo mucha suerte por estar en Atlixco y en UPAEP con todos ustedes. Por todo lo que han echo , estoy muy agradecida y los quiero mucho. Gracias por apoyarme en todo. No puedo esperar para los próximos meses
We woke up. It cold. Too many people in the tent. So Ruth and I went outside to the fires and I would like to stay here to sleep. The stars here are a blessing, I feel like I can’t see them at all from my house in Atlixco.
Never have I walked so much in my life. We started with an opening blessing in a little town (marked with red) and walked from 09:20 until 19:40 (our camping spot marked with blue). Along the way there was good conversation, complaining, singing, stops with oranges provided and miles of beautiful Mexican countryside. Some of the worst parts were the steep inclines and declines, as well as times we walked in single file lines. I loved it. I already would love doing it again. Fortunately I now do not miss the cold.
On Monday morning I did indeed stay at the fires sleeping on and off until our wake up call at 06:00. It was cold- around 8 degrees Celcius or 46 degrees Fahrenheit -but still a good time. I didn't really eat breakfast because I did not want to buy anything and only had a little extra food in my bag. We took down our tent, organized ourselves by school and walked a bit more along a highway to a pick up location. There we were met by several more classmates and welcomed into a comfortable charter bus. We drove into México City and we walked (yes more walking) down the Ruta de Peregrinación until we reached the Basilica.
After grabbing some chow it was time for the mass. The original Basilica is not used because it is slowly sinking into the ground. The ¨modern¨ basilica is truly beautiful. While I did not come into this as a religious experience, the exhaustion and feeling of everyone coming together after a struggle gave me such a sense of peace.
Finally came the return trip, sleeping on the bus and Cars 3.
Coming soon, Ruta Maya and more
What was left out...
After the hardest and longest leg the forest opened up to this valley with a beautiful lake (of course I did not take photos) and I was happy and almost fell like 10 times because there were a ton of holes
My cold got worst, and my left foot got three really bad blisters
During the last leg we were walking and singing and I started singing the American national anthem and the Mexicans sang theirs- I was louder
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