El Espíritu Aventurero.

29 Aug

Listening to: “Action/Adventure” – Andrew Bird, Weather Systems

So it’s been a couple of days since I posted something, but I have been nonstop busy every single day. If I really talked about everything then I would end up with something resembling a term paper with footnotes and all, so I am going to do my best to summarize what I have been up to.

Tuesday, as I posted about previously, I went to the Xochicalco pyramids. We went with Abril, an archaeologist and professor for CEMAL during the Spring semester, and she knew an unbelievable amount about the Xochicalco pyramids, the indigenous people living in the surrounding area, and the Aztecs. If I lived in Mexico my entire life I could probably have never learned everything that Abril taught us, so we were very fortunate to have her as a tour guide to teach us all the secrets of the pyramids. We also had to hacemos our own “tortas,” which means that we made our own sandwiches, and I made the most delicious sandwich I have ever eaten – homemade Mexican bread, black beans, tomatoes, onions, provolone? cheese, another cheese that looks like mozzarella but I am sure isn’t, avocado, and cucumbers…and I washed it down with guava juice. Have I mentioned that the food here is awesome? Mexican food all day, every day, and it has never once not been delicious. Servo has long been forgotten…

We spent Wednesday in Amatlan, an indigenous community that is about an hour away from Cuernavaca. There we talked to a Nahuan man who has lived there his entire life. He spoke to us about the history of the Spanish conquest and the impact that it had on indigenous communities. It was a really thorough historical account, similar to the one that Antonio had given to us earlier in the week, but from a different perspective because he spoke specifically about how the Spanish invasion (and later, the American invasion) affected indigenous groups and the Nahua. After the lecture we went on a hike to a sacred spot for ancient rituals in the mountains and were able to participate in an intro to a Nahua indigenous ceremony. Pretty cool, am I right?

Thursday we went to the Palacio de Cortes, or Cortez’ Palace (although according to the Nahua people it should not be referred to in this way because the Palace was actually built on the remains of a Nahua sacred place that they destroyed for the purpose of building the Palace during the conquest). We spent the time with Anita, the director of CEMAL, looking at the mural in the building painted by Diego Rivera of the Spanish conquest and the Mexican Revolution. This provided us with a visual representation of the history that we had been learning about from the Nahua and from Antonio, and Anita also provided another perspective on the Spanish conquest and the Mexican Revolution. It is incredible…I have learned about the same Mexican history three times now (not including all the readings I have had to do for classes), and I have absolutely loved it every time. Each speaker has had their own story about the historical and political situations of Mexico, and it is so fascinating to hear about the history of a country from people who actually live in that country. The Spanish conquest and the Mexican Revolution are both very important to the people of Mexico, which is evident in the buildings and signs around Cuernavaca, as well as the names of the streets, most of which are in some relation to those events. Living in Mexico makes it seem as though history is still alive, something that I have never really experienced in the United States.

On Friday we went to Anita’s house to have a barbeque and pool party for her birthday! We did some work and interdisciplinary sessions in the morning to talk about identities, cosmovisions, etc., but we got to spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing and eating even more delicious food.

Now that I have completed one week of classes (although it wasn’t a full week as we haven’t yet started Latin American dance class or our  Spanish classes), I am absolutely certain that Cuernavaca and CEMAL are the place and program for me. Everything about how the program is run is geared towards full cultural immersion and understanding, and even after a week and with no Spanish classes I can already understand so much more Spanish than I could before I left. The rest of the weeks here won’t be as busy with excursions, etc. but we will still have lectures and some adventures each week, and as long as we get to keep eating all of the fantastic food, then everything is good for me! More later.



p.s. I accidentally put my toothbrush under the water from the sink rather than from the bottled, filtered water, so I already had to buy a new toothbrush. Hopefully I can break the habit soon, or else I will be buying one toothbrush a week for 15 more weeks…

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