The worldwide Augustana College experience

Mexico, According to Taralee

Now that we’ve spent a couple of weeks here in Mexico, I would like to give a small taste of my experience so far.

Top 5 things I think of when I think of Mexico:

1.  Cat Calls

            If you are in Mexico and you are a woman, there is no doubt that you will get a minimum of 5 cat calls a day, especially if you are a foreigner.  I think I have yet to travel anywhere in Mexico without either hearing a whistle, Mexican-accented “Hello,” or having a car literally slow down to make remarks.  It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, or how bad one looks, it continuously happens.  As a result of this, I have started this little game with myself to see who exactly it is who is getting all of this attention.  I thought that I was receiving a lot of this action; however, Christina F. Brennan is clearly the winner.  I’m pretty sure that she has at least 17 cat calls minimum directed her way every day.  It must be those husky eyes of hers.  I’m also pretty sure that Gianna Leonetti has yet to obtain one.

Christina and Gianna

2.  Spicy Salsas

            About a year or so ago, I decided to expand the variety of my chip consumption.  I had always been wary of salsa, seeing as I don’t like vegetables, but I hesitantly tried the spicy salsa at Chipotle and instantly fell in love.  I had been seriously craving some of this salsa picante since day one of this trip, and I found my solace salsa here in Mexico.  During one of our first homestay meals, a couple of salsas were brought out, and Rachel decided to try one.  About three seconds in, her face turned completely red and she looked like she was going to cry.  Laughing hysterically, my roommates and I tried to suggest drinking water and such, but Mama was the one who came to the rescue, insisting that she eat pure salt and that her solution was the one and only.  I, however, have come to love the spiciness of these salsas and have become quite accustomed to my mouth being on fire to the point that I am convinced I am a dragon.

3.  Bad Grades

            For some reason, there are many people who have yet to obtain a decent grade (I being one of them) on papers.  We are very busy here and time is limited, yet I have been doing my best to put a good deal of focus into my classes.  To my dismay, these 300-level classes require much more than that.  Let’s hope that my participation grade can be changed from 25% of my grade to 95%, and I will ace this last paper and my finals.

4.  Cerveza

            The above mentioned commonality (#3) has led many of us to the drink.  After spending days working on a paper only to get an unsatisfactory grade, it’s nice to be able to sit down to a beer and simply try to relax and figure out how to improve.  The strange aspect of cerveza in Mexico is that they often like to put a significant amount of lime juice in it and dip the edge of the glass in a very chunky variety of salt.  I never thought of having salt with beer before this trip, and I have to say I’m not a fan.  I am a fan, however, of the liter of corona for only 30 pesos.

The best people you will ever meet.

5.  Heat

            I’m sure that by now if the reader has spoken with anyone on this trip, it has been mentioned that we have a pool at Cemenahuac (our school).  I do enjoy swimming, and many of the students like to lay out and tan.  The problem is that it is extremely hot out, yet the pool feels like arctic waters.  I’m not sure how the sun does not warm it up, but it is definitely not happening.  This leaves me with the option of laying out to tan, an activity that I enjoy because it’s very relaxing and social, but I think I may just be one of the most pale people on this trip.  I’m simply really bad at tanning.  My skin does not take to the sun, and when it does, the color leaves me in about two days.  However, we’re not allowed to wear shorts above our knees, flip-flops, or shirts that don’t cover basically all of our skin (t-shirts are a bit scandalous).  This means I always want to be in my swimsuit, leading me to “lay out” with everyone, but leave puzzled at the extreme whiteness of my legs.

Despite the how different Mexico is from everywhere else I’ve been, I really do enjoy this country.  The people are kind and welcoming, and the atmosphere is really positive.  We always manage to find something fun to do, and my host mama is incredibly generous and a great cook.  Although my studies tend to take up a lot of time, I am having an amazing time.  Hopefully my effort in my classes will help to improve my grade and my performance, and in the meantime, I’ll spend my time trying to get to know more of Mexico with the incredible new friends I have made.  I can’t believe we only have a week left here – I feel like I have so much left to do and so much left to see.  Halloween and the Day of the Dead are coming up rapidly, and I’m pumped to see the turnout of costumes and to take part in the Mexican festivities.  This trip has been one of the best times of my life, and I owe that to the new cultural experiences I have had and all of the amazing new people I have met.  I can’t believe that nine weeks ago, I didn’t even know the majority of the people on this trip.  They will forever be in my heart.


Lately, we have been working on something called the Mexico Challenge (the Cuernavaca Covenant), which is designed to give us incentive to immerge ourselves in Mexican culture as much as possible.  Today is the last day of the Covenant, and I think I’ve faired pretty well.  I have been much more disconnected with home because of the lack of Facebook, and I believe I’ve lost about 50 lbs. starving because I can’t eat anything that comes from the States.  We’ve been trying to figure out what the reward for this starvation and deprivation, eh, I mean wonderfully designed cultural immersion challenge is, and we have found out a few clues about the prize.  We know it’s an outing to somewhere about an hour away from Cuernavaca, rain won’t heavily affect the plans, and we will need to wear helmets.  I’m thinking spelunking?  Perhaps skydiving or para-sailing?  I don’t know, but I’m sure it will be fun and maybe intense, judging by the helmets comment.  Any guesses?

Today Group A went on our last excursion to Mexico City.  I believe that we visited the National Museum of Anthropology and a castle on a hill.  We saw a lot of similar artifacts to what we have seen so far, but they were a lot larger this time.  We got to explore the castle on our own, and after looking around a bit, Rachel and I decided to seek out some authentic Mexican food (accordingly to the Covenant) to stave the hunger pains.  We were walking around with our authentically un-pasteurized ice cream and heard someone on a microphone and lots of cheering.  Naturally I was drawn to this excitement, and as we drew closer, we saw a clown entertaining an audience in a plaza.  He seemed very goofy, and when he saw us he asked us where we were from and such.  I obliged to answer him and he made fun of basically everything that I said (all in good fun), inducing much laughter from myself, the audience, and a confused Rachel.  He told us to come forward, and we tried to neglect at first, but when the audience started cheering and with his highly sexual jokes, I just couldn’t resist.  He brought up some Mexican boys about our age and a couple of little kids and proceeded to declare a dance-off between the gringas and the Mexicans.  The younger Mexican boy went first and proceeded to strip off his shirt and moon the entire crowd.  I think I screamed in shock several times at the audacity of this young boy’s actions, and partially in fear that I was supposed to follow suit.  Sure enough, the next boy who went was one of the ones around our age, and he stripped off his shirt and threw it to me.  Oh boy; my shirt was definitely staying on.  Just as the horny clown decided that it was my turn to dance, a few more students from Group A showed up confused but with cameras in full force.  Wow.  The music came on and I tried to show off my best moves while making full effort to not double over in laughter at the craziness of the situation I had gotten into, and I believeI did receive a few cheers and a bit of applause.  However, the little girl who went next showed me up exponentially, and her provocative dance moves were more than a bit concerning to me.  I think she might have been about six years old, yet she knew how to move her hips like Shakira.  The clown decided that Ben needed to come forward as well since Rachel had chickened out on the dancing, and he had him do a Michael Jackson impression.  We had to leave to catch the bus, but that clown was priceless.  I can’t wait to see what else Mexico has in store for us, and hopefully Group B will be subjected to the same amusingly embarrassing jokes of the clown tomorrow.


One Response to “Mexico, According to Taralee”

  1. Interesting stuff. I plan to go to Mexico soon.

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