By: Cameron Rodeck, Wyoming, USA
Mexico. Wow, it’s good to be back! This is such a special place, full of wonderful culture, but even more importantly, full of wonderful people. As a second semester student, I’ve had the privilege of visiting Mexico City on both of my international tours.
I must confess that prior to my involvement in Up with People, I was apprehensive of traveling to Mexico. My view of Mexico had been clouded with stereotypes – many of them negative. However, what I’ve come to know, enjoy, and admire is a country full of adventure, enchanting culture, and rich hospitality.
There are so many adventures to be had in Mexico City. With over 20 million people in the Mexico City metropolitan area – there is lots of action – everywhere! Whether you’re riding in a car with a host family, on your way to a volunteer site via bus, or navigating the subway with the whole cast to experience a regional learning activity – there are always adventures to be had in colorful Mexico City. With shops, street performers, and sidewalk vendors in abundance there is much to see and experience.
Mexico’s historic and cultural heritage is amazing as well. The Cast visited the Castillo de Chapultepec for regional learning – this incredible museum provides a beautiful glimpse into Mexico’s rich history. The view from the Castillo is stunning as the panoramic scene from the black and white checkered patio overlooks modern skyscrapers and stone monuments. The Cast also had the opportunity to visit the Pyramids of Teotihuaćan – much of their story and culture is unknown, but the view from the 63 meter-tall Pyramid of the Sun is breathtaking, both because of its beauty and because the steep incline of stairs is a keen reminder of the high altitude. After exploring the pyramids Cast B enjoyed some authentic Mexican cuisine at a colorfully adorned restaurant nearby. The stories and lore of Mexican history along with all the bright colors, ancient and modern architecture, and festive food create a culture of enchantment.
In addition to having an enchanting culture, Mexico knows hospitality! I was welcomed to Mexico City by a wonderful host family – they truly went above and beyond to make the week a special one. Most host families plan special activities for host family day; however, my Mexican host family planned special activities throughout the week in addition to planning an amazing host family day. I enjoyed their favorite ice cream, Beso de Angel, in the historic Coyoaćan Park and visited one of their favorite restaurants, trying a plethora of Mexican cuisine. I experienced a bird’s-eye view of the most populous city in North America as they took me up 42 floors in the Latin-America Tower. Somehow, we also managed to visit the Cathedral, had dinner overlooking the historic center of Mexico City, visited the “magic town” of Malinalco, climbed through a sub-tropic forest to some ancient ruins, and visited UNAM - the oldest university on the continent. It was a fast-paced, fun-filled week of Mexican hospitality at its finest.
Whether it’s exploring the Pyramids, riding in the Mexico City Subway, trying new foods with a wonderful host family, experiencing a Castillo, or learning how to communicate in a foreign language to students during a classroom workshop – Mexico has so much to offer as a reward for those who accept the challenge: Step away from the stereotypes and towards exciting adventures, robust culture, and true hospitality. Viva México!