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My Trip From Memphis to Mexico

Ben Hicks

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At the end of the 2017 school year, fellow senior Louise Wilford and I went to Merida, Mexico along with Mrs. Shute for three more weeks of school. Earlier in the year when Mrs. Shute had approached me about it, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go, and almost ended up not going. However, I changed my mind and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

We left Memphis on the last day of school. Our flight left at 7 AM and got to Houston at 9 AM or so. Our next flight left Houston at 11 so we had a couple hours to eat and do whatever in the airport. The 2nd flight of the day, Houston to Mexico City was completely in Spanish, as we were flying on a Mexican airline, and it was pretty confusing at first. Stepping off the plane in Mexico was quite a shock, as it was painfully hot. The inside of the airport wasn’t much better; there wasn’t air conditioning. After going through customs and rechecking our bags, we went to get our first meal in Mexico. I had tacos with guacamole, but I’ll talk more about food later. After a several hour layover, we got on the plane, only to sit on the runway for another hour. At last, we departed Mexico City for a short flight to Merida.

Shortly after landing and getting our bags, we met out host families in the terminal. I stayed with Ernesto Canto, who stayed with me during the whole month of August last year. Seeing Ernesto again for the first time in months was awesome, and I finally got to met his family which made getting to Merida even better. We said goodbye to Louise and Mrs. Shute to head back to Ernesto’s house to drop off my bags and eat dinner. Little did I know, “eat dinner” meant going out to eat at 9:30 at night. I didn’t mind going out to eat that late though, as I got a small taste of some of the great foods I’d eat during my stay. After returning to the house around 11:00, I unpacked and went to bed so I would be ready for my first day of school.

My first day of class started out pretty hectic. I was almost late to school, and no one around me except a couple people spoke English. I didn’t go to class my first day of school; we just toured the campus, met the teachers, and got my schedule. I was surprised at the small size of the campus. All of the classes except a few are in one building, and there’s no cafeteria. The closest thing to a cafeteria is a little snack shop that sells candy, tortas, quesadillas, candy, drinks, and other snacks. Classes work much differently at Blas than they do at ECS. An entire class of students has about 25 people or less in them. Each class is around 2 hours with a 30 minute break in between each class. I only went to 2 classes a day, then did tutoring and had free time during the afternoon classes. The students in the class seemed like they had total control over the class, and it was rather difficult to pay attention. Most of the class is spent working on projects, and a small portion is set aside for instruction. Visiting Blas Pascal made me appreciate ECS even more.

Most of my afternoons and free time were spent with Ernesto and other friends I had made in Merida. When we weren’t playing guitar, napping, or watching a movie at Ernesto’s, we were always out doing something. I don’t think I went anywhere in Merida as much as Amanto Le Tuch, a wonderful little coffee shop owned by people from Ernesto’s church. Two of Ernesto’s (and now my) close friends, Luis and Gonzalo, work there and we constantly went to get coffee or just hang out while they worked. Several nights the four of us went to a restaurant called Absenta Pub, where we’d get wings, watch sports, and talk. Some of my favorite moments were on Friday nights with Ernesto’s youth group, who I grew close to in the short time I was there. After worship, we’d always go out to eat somewhere for a couple hours, and I’d work on my Spanish and form some great relationships. We also went to the movies several times, and unlike how it would in America, it didn’t burn a hole in my wallet. Each ticket for the movies cost about 50 pesos, which roughly equals $4.50 in US Dollars. One neat place we visited was a cenote called Hubiku. A cenote is a well that forms inside a cave or a sinkhole, and it’s filled with clear, chilly water that’s great for swimming. We also went downtown several times, and downtown Merida is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. All of the buildings were built during the 1800s, and the architecture is indescribable. Downtown Merida is almost always busy, with many places to shop. We usually shopped when we were downtown, or just explored. One of my favorite memories of Merida is playing soccer with Ernesto and his cousins at 11:00 P.M. one night, and I’m glad I got to experience that. I wouldn’t trade my time in Merida for anything.

Whenever people think about “Mexican” food, they think of ground beef tacos and cheese dip, and I can assure you real Mexican food is nothing like that. Yes, there are tacos in Mexico but they’re quite different than in America. One thing I ate that I really enjoyed was poc chuc, a traditional Mayan dish. Poc chuc is a dish with grilled pork and vegetables, and has great taste to it. My least favorite foods were quesadillas; they had way too much cheese on them for my liking, and also I didn’t like papayas at all. I have a newfound love for chicken wings thanks to Absenta Pub, the wing restaurant I spent many nights at spending time with friends. I still go to Mexican restaurants every now and then, but not a singe restaurant comes close to what I had to eat in Mexico.

Overall I had a wonderful time in Mexico, and it’s an experience I’ll never forget. I’ve never been that far out of my comfort zone, and I’m glad I decided to get out of it. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have had made the friends I made or had the experiences I did. I’m very glad Mrs. Shute persuaded me to go, and will cherish every memory I made there. So, if you get the chance to, get out of your comfort zone; you’ll never know what you’re missing if you don’t.

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My Trip From Memphis to Mexico