Having breakfast Saturday morning at the local taqueria in the main center of Puebla, Neal and I realized that we have been here in Mexico for a whole month. In some ways it feels like the time has gone by so quickly; in other aspects it feels like we have been here forever. Although we still have a long way to go with Spanish, we are starting to feel less like gringos and more like residents. We are definitely feeling settled here in Mexico and can’t wait to move to Puebla in two short months. We have taken some time to reflect on the past month and some of the lessons and things that we have learned so far.
- Enjoy your health when you have it, you never know when the tides will turn on you. Let’s be real here, when living in a new country with new food and new germs, you’re bound to get sick at every opportunity. It doesn’t help that we also have to get plenty of vaccines during this time as well.
- Mexico is actually very, very clean. People wash the streets and sweep the plazas on a daily basis. The trash is also picked up every night. I hardly ever see trash anywhere but the trash can. Now to get these folks on the recycling band wagon…
- Tuna (below) is the fruit of a cactus; atún is the meat of a fish. This gets a little confusing for the taste buds. Tuna is actually quite delicious and tastes like a sweet melon of sorts; atún is also delicious, but rare here since we’re in the middle of the country.
- Peace Corps Mexico is probably the best program in all of Peace Corps. We learned about our future site the first week of being in Mexico; other programs tell you at the end of training. We also got to go visit our future site, which I’m pretty sure doesn’t happen in other programs. In my opinion, that puts PC Mexico at the top of the charts.
- Community is a big deal here; family is even more important. We are very happy that PC Mexico hooks us up with a host family in both Querétaro and Puebla because otherwise I would feel just like a tourist without them. We feel very blessed to have two super awesome families that are happy to take care of us!
- Being in the Peace Corps means resigning all your free time over to being a Trainee – at least for the first few months. During training, we are in “class” from 8:30am to 6:00pm Monday through Friday. Saturdays we have Spanish class from 9:00am to 1:30pm. We spend a lot of our time indoors, and when we are not in “class” we are most likely preparing for the next day of training.
- Opening a bank account can actually take over an hour. There is a term here called gestión, which means a certain procedure or set of rules that must be followed in order to accomplish one thing. For five Trainees to get their visas and open bank accounts took a total of 5.5 hours, 3 different personnel at the immigration office, 3 different bank tellers, and 2 ice creams for us to keep our sanity.
- People seriously know how to party here – tequila, fireworks, dancing, food, and music for days! Do you remember El Dia de la Independencia? I am still hearing fireworks in our neighborhood. In fact, one just went off a minute ago. There is always a new fiesta to celebrate here in Mexico, whether that’s a quinceañera, a saints birthday, or Día de los Muertos!
- Climate change is a part of reality here in Mexico. There is a new law that essentially states whether you personally believe that climate change is real or not, you must actively work against climate change. The bill contains many sweeping provisions to mitigate climate change, including a mandate to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and a change to renewable energy sources.
- Learning a new language is difficult, but rewarding – especially when you get to apply your newly acquired knowledge in the next conversation you have. Learning Spanish requires so much energy and effort, but we are happy to expend the energy when the results are so gratifying. Neal is being able to speak/understand more, and I am being able to communicate ideas and feelings at a more rapid pace.
We are still very content and happy in Mexico. Thank you so much to those who have taken the time to send mail or e-mails or skype conversations. We really, really enjoy your words of love and encouragement. Please let me know if you’d like our mailing address! 🙂
Number of mosquito bites: 4
Weeks left in training: 6