This past summer when I interviewed to be a head teacher with the International Language Programs (ILP), my top country of choice was for the Dominican Republic. I wanted to live near a beach, pig out on mangos and beans and rice, and most importantly wanted to serve the underprivileged children there. Unlike most of the other ILP programs, the children here in the DR can’t afford tuition and come from families of poverty and I wanted to make a difference in their lives, specifically. I made a mental agreement in my head that if I got accepted to head teach in the Dominican Republic, I would go and if I didn’t, I would go to school (because the lord knows I need to start that up again). During the interview the director told me the head teachers spots had already been filled for the Dominican Republic and the only countries left were Mexico, Russia, and China. Mexico? Too close. Russia? Too cold. China? Already been there. I ended the phone call accepting that I’d be going to school in spring rather than traveling and volunteering. When I sat back down after the phone call, I started researching. About an hour after researching, I broke my mental agreement and called our director back and asked for further information about Mexico. Upon the completion of our phone call, I had committed to head teach there for spring. Fast forward 6 months and here I am, laying in my bed on a sweet Sunday morning in Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico. I didn’t completely break my previous mental agreement though because I made a compromise with myself to still take online classes while volunteering.
Living in Mexico has had so many highs, but they don’t come without a few lows. Our washer broke, our kitchen flooded, our oven exploded and despite my two years of high school Spanish and two semesters of college Spanish, the language barrier is still standing tall and well. But I’ve been able to explore a couple of new cities, see beautiful cathedrals, spend time with the smart and adorable kids we teach, eat MOUTH-WATERING tacos, frijoles, arroz, enchiladas, elote, y más and live a different lifestyle again. We walk everywhere- to school, to the grocery store, and downtown. We use buses to get from one city to another, and I’ve already hand-washed my clothes (broken washer!) Living in a different country is like living life on a different level. My perspectives have already shifted again and that’s what I love the absolute most about traveling and being immersed in a culture different from my own.
My plan was to go to the Dominican Republic but that changed; however, I couldn’t be happier about it. From the kids, to the food, to the other girls I’m here volunteering with, choosing to come to Mexico was a decision I won’t ever regret. Being Mexican-American, immersing myself in my true culture has been a treat.
We woke up at 7:00 am (the earliest we’ve been up since we got here) and made it to the bus station for our 8:10 departure. Upon our arrival in San Miguel de Allende, we headed straight to Escondido Place which is this hot spring area right outside of the city. The hot springs were more like giant jacuzzi’s since they weren’t natural but lounging in them so was nice. There were indoor and outdoor ones too!
Downtown reminded some of the girls of San Francisco because of all the hills we had to walk up. On top of one of the hills was a hotel with a rooftop restaurant which the waiters so kindly let us invade to take our myriad of pictures. The view looking over downtown was so wonderful!
We had lunch at a Mexican food buffet and continued to walk around and soak up this new environment. Also, we just had to get these Mexican blanket woven hoodies because did you even go to Mexico if you didn’t get one?
When we returned to the city center by the giant cathedral, someone was giving out free puppies. We just about all died from the cuteness and not taking them home was an incredible act of strong will power on all of our parts.
After our tears were dried from the puppies’ cuteness, it was time to return to the bus station to take our ride back to Celaya. Exploring another city and a different area of Mexico was so fun and I realized how underrated this beautiful country really is. Next weekend we’re heading to the gorgeous natural hot springs of Las Grutas de Tolantongo in Hidalgo for our first real vacation.