Last Friday, a fellow student Alex and I were invited to Linda’s birthday celebration. Linda is a retired Cuban American who’s been living in Merida for the past 5 years and is a good friend to Eva, the director of my Spanish school. Linda said she’ll be making her famous mojitos and since I’d been wanting to see the house she spent two years renovating, I told her she could count on me. It was a really fun evening, with promises of potent mojitos and delicious food fully fulfilled. And indeed Linda’s house was beautiful, complete with talavera lined Mexican kitchen and a gorgeous swimming pool. But more than anything, the evening’s festivities got me thinking about all the interesting people I’ve met here, and their kind and generous hearts.
Because there are just three of us at the institute, we are spending a lot of time with the school staff and their friends. I’m very appreciative of how attentive and thoughtful they’ve been, and happy that I get to spend time with time with them outside of school. Of course I enjoy learning and trying new things, eating my way through cities and countries, but it’s the people I meet who have my travels so special. I miss and think of my amazing friends from India often but so far, Mexico has been just as exceptional.
My conversation partners have been a fun bunch. My first guide was a skinny nineteen year old named Orlando. He is a transplant from Puebla who loves music. He surprised me by telling me how he and his friends, and apparently other young Mexicans, are all into K-Pop. *K-Pop = Korean Pop* He was eager to let me listen to a bunch of his K-Pop songs on his i-pod the day we met. There was Walter who moved to Merida from Cancun to attend medical school, very respectful and always using the “usted” form to talk to me. My next guide Eduardo and I spent two hours each day talking almost exclusively about movies during my third week. And then I had the lovely Vera for the last two weeks as my conversation partner. Vera has been amazing as my Yucatan history teacher and truly dedicated guide to Merida, even though she’s from D.F. (Distrito Federal- Mexico City).
Through Eva I got to meet Carlos (aka Charlie Brown), Oscar (another transplant from Puebla who worked for Volkswagen as a designer in Germany, now is a yoga teacher), and Linda. Alex, with whom I went to Linda’s for her birthday, is an American from Georgia taking a year off from college to study Spanish. He’s been here for about five months now and starting January, he’ll be taking classes at a local university. I briefly got to know Ken, a guy who left the week after I arrived. Ken was a young Grandfather at the age of 54 (looked mid 40s to me), a surfer, Latin dancer, ex-Navy turned engineer for the Kennedy Space Center. To study Spanish, he was spending 4 weeks each in Puebla, Merida, Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia. And then there is my classmate Chris whose lovely family I just adore. I am in awe of her and her husband for taking their three kids on a year-long adventure, and doing it with such positive and easy-going attitude. I don’t know that I’d be brave enough to move to Mexico with three children, travel through Asia, and live in Morocco while home schooling them. Just hearing about all the obstacles and oddities Chris is dealing with her three kids in the Mexican school system is enough to make me feel exhausted. She’s got tutors for them, after school activities, weekend outings, plus her own work and Spanish classes! She’s amazing and the entire Bennett family has my respect!
I know that I’m living somewhat of an unusual life myself, but it’s inspiring for me to see others following their dreams and creating their own paths in the world. They fortify my resolve to live well and make me say without any fear, “what’s next?!”