I started out from Puebla with my knitting needles in my hand and sitting next to Elle crocheting. The first long drive from Puebla to Oaxaca brought the usual loud Brazilian music as well as stretches of quiet. You could always tell when entering a new beautiful part of the countryside by the amount of camera phones pointing out the window and then you get to relive them later through the extensive coverage on Instagram stories.
My Poblano friends were a solid rock of sanity through the entire trip and of course I remembered many people from orientation in Veracruz. The amount of new exchange students was surprising (either they could not attend orientation or they arrived late) and I spent a lot more time talking to new faces the first days. In total we were 83 students from more than 20 countries.
Anyone who works with students (or adults for that matter) knows that 83 people is a lot of people. There are times when it is really fun, or incredibly frustrating. Restaurants, hotels, ice cream shops, and Oxxo bathrooms alike were always flooded with people when our two charter buses rolled into town.
The travel themes consisted of driving a lot, doing a city bus tour, eating at the same restaurants, staying at the hotel for two nights, taking a day trip to something nearby, going to bed late, waking up early, and driving a lot more. Our stops: Oaxaca, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Palenque, San Cristobál, Chetumal, Playa del Carmen, Cancún, Tulum, Uxmal, Chichen Itza, Mérida, Campeche, and Villa Hermosa. (If you scroll down past my sign off there is more description of what we did in the specific places:)
The Mexican countryside is incredibly beautiful with mountains and jungles but that means it took a long time to get anywhere. If there’s a scheduled three hours of travel in the itinerary it almost most certainly doubles. I think the longest we spent in one day was ten to twelve hours, it was somewhat horrible. I feel like a third of the time I was standing in the aisle of the bus and trying not to fall during the sharp mountain curves. Nevertheless, time stuck on a bus together makes it easier to form a new connection with a different person. One interesting thing that happened on the way through Chiapas was that at one point the bus was stopped and some sellers came aboard. We were told not to buy anything but they wouldn’t let us pass the road if we didn’t let the seller come aboard for a time.
The first four days through Oaxaca and Chiapas were the awkward stages of the trip. When we reached our resort in Playa del Carmen, things clicked in place. For me my group of best friends for the trip started to form. Shout out to the Chickens!!! We also found ourselves with a lot more free time in order to hang out, swim and play volleyball on the beaches. They had hammocks in every room, one night I fell asleep outside but unfortunately at 4 AM the adults in charge woke me up and told me to go to bed...in an actual bed inside. The nights were filled with shenanigans and games of probability. I lost the probability to enter the Ruta Maya Royalty contest by Romina (from Belgium), only to be beat by Romina herself after she was crowd nominated to enter. Johannas from Germany won king.
I can not fail to mention Brazil. With close to twenty Brazilians on the trip there was so much Portuguese, it was so interesting to try and listen to see what I could understand. Isadora always saw me listening- laughed at me, gave me a hug and said ¨you are trying¨ which is true and I was also failing horribly. Still, times on the bus I requested lessons and some phrases we learned were constantly repeated in both suitable and unsuitable times. Brazilian reggaton and dances (mostly twerking), were learned and attempted every time there was opportunity for it.
Through the whole trip the sun was shining and it was HOT. I am happy to say I only burned one time and it was not even that bad. At times we complained and compared the temperatures of our snowy homes with the blazing heat. Ice cream was a necessity every time we got to explore the city centers.
The inevitable final morning brought foresight to the eventual end of the year. Everyone felt it. Promises to visit were made, and it is sad to think about what will happen in June. here in Mexico there is chance to visit, when everyone goes home there will be continents separating us. This trip brought me so many amazing memories, and more importantly many amazing friendships. Nothing and nobody beats exchange students. The time we spend together in this year is so incredibly special because we will never have the opportunity to repeat it. Dear District 4185 I love all of you so much and can not wait to see you in May if not before!
Christmas is coming! See ya soon
Stops: Oaxaca City, Monte Albán archaeological site
Stops: Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the Canyon of Sumidero, Cascadas de Aguas Azules, Palenque archeaological site, San Cristobal
Stops: Playa del Carmen, Xcaret, Tulum, Cancún
Stops: Mérida, Chichen Itza, Uxmal
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