Tori: Although it is only our first day, I can already see the many differences between our cultures. It is very refreshing to get an entirely different perspective on how to live. It is also nice to take a step back from my own life and see what I take for granted that they don’t really have here, including the ability to flush our toilet paper :). I’m excited to see what the rest of the week holds and hope to learn something new about life in Mexico.
Olivia: Yesterday was easily one of the greatest days of my life! Our day was so packed and it was such a blast. We started at Our Lady of Guadalupe, and it was beautiful. We were able to see our Lady and also reflect within the Basilica. We then visited the old Basilica and also the original spot where Juan Diego met Mary on the hill. In a quest for holy water, a priest blessed the water from a water bottle! It was an experience that will never leave any of us. Despite a bit of a glitch at La Casa Azul, we were able to go the home of Leo Trotsky and see his house. We then took some pictures to show Mr. Klepper, our Modern European History teacher. The Frida Kahlo Museum, or La Casa Azul was absolutely awe-inspiring. In her home, there wasn’t just art, there was her death mask, her leg, her corsets, her pain, and her hope. It was something I’ll never forget. We capped our evening with seeing the remains of the Aztec Temple at night, and also touring some old architecture of the city. Mexico City has been such a blessing and such an experience that I don’t think any of the squad will have again. So far this trip has been absolutely fantabulous and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week brings.
Victoria: Yesterday was a great day in Mexico City! In the morning, we saw Our Lady of Guadalupe. I had no idea that the area would be so big and that there would be three churches. The area was really pretty and the old churches were beautiful. I am glad that I got to see them. After lunch, we went to see Leo Trotsky’s house. I did not know anything about Leo Trotsky before. Also, I was able to read some of a sign that was in Spanish and I understood it. After Leo Trotsky’s house, we went to see La Casa Azul, where Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived. It was cool to see their house and paintings. We also saw the Olympic Stadium and the university. It was interesting to learn about Mexico’s college system. Finally, we saw the Aztec ruins. It was cool to see them and to imagine what the temple once looked like. Today we are on our way to the Sacred Heart school here. I’m excited to learn more about Mexico’s culture!
Max: Today I woke up to the sounds of Chris snoring and the phone ringing. Libby, Kam, and I went on a run and then we had breakfast as a squad. The breakfast was great and the ride to the Sister School was better. We met some girls who like to party and they toured us around. They did a good job. We played soccer, (even though Cameroon cheated) and then basketball. Rob dominated. After that, the girls offered us some delicioso ice cream.
Christina: Today was a rollercoaster. The groups started the morning off with a delightful breakfast on the roof of Hotel Canada. The room looked out over downtown Mexico City, letting us overlook the history we’d explore all day long. After breakfast we packed in our mystery machine vans and made our way to the Lady of Guadalupe shrine. There we learned about the story of Juan Diego and the appearance of Our Lady, after a wonderful lesson by both Mr. O’Connor and our guide, Arturo, we were able to experience the story in real time. We went into the newer shrine and saw the original Tilma that the image appeared on. The experience was overall insane; the shrine was packed as Mass went on, people pilgrimaged to the image on their knees, and it was truly an amazing experience. After going through the large shrine we trekked up the steep hill to the multiple churches that marked the multiple appearances of Our Lady to Juan Diego. After making it to the top of the hill and enjoying some delicious palletas we made our way to the Frida Kahlo museum, La Casa Azul. The line outside of the the museum was extremely long, so we resorted to buying our tickets online and went to find some tostadas. The tostadas and fresh juices were the best we’ve ever had in the heart of the bustling district mercado. After lunch we went to the Leon Trotsky museum which was in his home, also the place that he was killed. We learned about his life and the political history of Mexico City. We then split up and some of us went to the Frida Kahlo museum. The museum is in the house she was raised in, spent her adult life, and died in. The culture of her artistry resounded through the entire experience. We were able to tour her house, see her dresses, and get a taste of the suffering she experienced throughout her entire life. After the Frida museum we headed back to the hotel, then went and grabbed some dinner. We walked to the Aztec ruins, and despite the museum being closed we were still able to see the ruins from the gate. There, Arturo (possibly the smartest man alive) gave us an in depth history of the conquest including the importance of indigenous culture in Mexico today and he showed us the diversity that lives in every culture and life. Arturo told us about the importance of agriculture, diversity, and most importantly solidarity. This wrapped up our long day of experiencing the culture of Mexico preparing us for a week full of new experiences and new knowledge.
Ms. Arce: It’s 4:25 p.m. We’re currently stopped en route to Cholula. Our guides, Arturo y Sergio are calmly performing as Mexico’s version of Click-n-Clack. The air is cooling as the sun begins to wane–a refreshing change from the hot air of the sun and thousands of packed autos on the roads. To the south of us are the mountains covered with snow. Santa Maria Texmelucan is the name of the three jagged peaks calmly rising boldly up from behind layers of brown avocado hills, rippling their variegated physiques, or maybe simply stretching out their golden supine bodies under smog and shade.
We miss everyone in the other car. But suddenly, Sarah and Sophia suddenly appear at our open door to ask : “Has anyone missed us?” We admit the trip has been a little bit calmer without them, though the gang in the back of the van has been singing “Don’t Stop Believen” with a lot of decibles.
We’re tired from the traffic but our group continues to bond and create positive energy with each other. I ate lunch with T.J and his wife, Alexis today. We shared some of our faith stories and challenges while trying to stay hydrated on bottled water.
Riding in the van has shown us the density, poverty, and tenacity of Mexico City. I spent a lot of time becoming aware that I am looking towards millions of houses and cars, looking down tiny dusty streets with thin street-dogs panting near tiny tire shops and worn apartments all within a few feet of the never ending commute. Vendors, some women, weave through the traffic selling sodas, bottled water, plastic toys, carnations; offering to wash our front windows, showing us a parking spot in a cramped alley.
Cars. Cars. Cars. Shops. Taquerias. Everywhere. This is a world that is packed with people trying to work and survive. This is much of our world and I feel quite aware of my temporary visit through a busy post-colonial, still-auto-centric city. It is both a new place with beautiful people, and unfortunately an intense “photo” of the struggle of being human together in a class-based world. I am grateful to be here in the capacity of a teacher and group member, and I am hoping to grow as a member of the human community.