Each day that comes and goes here in Merida is another page in a book that’s slowly being written by all the culture we’re seeing, the people we’re meeting and the experiences we’re having; at this point, the end product is looking to be nothing short of a best-selling novel.
With the third week now over, looking back on it makes it feel like the events that played out happened months ago. Another weekend of freedom presented itself to us and we all decided that we wanted to get a taste of the music scene here in Merida for people our age. Conveniently, a Puerto Rican group by the name of Wisin & Yandel that specializes in reggaeton music was holding a concert at Estadio Kukulcan, the local baseball stadium in Merida. Much to my surprise, the concert experience in Merida was much more laid back than in the states. The belligerently drunk people that usually roam the general admission area weren’t present and teenagers seemed to carry themselves in a far more respectful manner, actually appreciating what they were seeing. All in all, my love for Merida has continued to grow with each passing day.
On a more serious note, Susana and Claudia, our program coordinators, arranged for us to take a trip to the U.S. Consulate to meet with Richard Hays, the Regional Security Officer for the State Department, specifically for the U.S. Consulate located in Merida. A very sleek, tall individual who obviously meant business, his blue eyes and warm smile thankfully eased everybody into the talk we were about to have. With topics ranging from the political state in Mexico, the overall safety in his region that included the surrounding states of Merida, national security in Mexico, as well as foreign affairs between the U.S. and Mexico, the hour long talk seemed to fly by. At the end, he opened up the floor for questions and I was anxiously waiting my turn. I was curious about the safety of journalists in dangerous areas of Mexico and whether or not his department did anything to ensure the safety of those reporters. A simple, “No, we just don’t have the funds,” came out of his mouth and left a sting, but I don’t think that’s going to be enough to deter my dreams just yet.
School more or less has been exactly what I expected it to be, very manageable yet still challenging. This week, I was most excited to take my assigned group of kids in the neighborhood to the zoo to show them the animals. The goal behind our excursion was to use disposable cameras and have the kids take specific pictures of different animals to help develop their creative skills and appreciation for learning. In addition, we provided English translations for every animal to give the kids a start on a new vocabulary set. It’s with a warm heart that I begin to try to explain how rewarding it was to see every kid smiling from ear to ear and beyond eager to be at the zoo. It is these sorts of situations that one takes for granted back home, where the idea of going to the zoo is never as special as it is to these kids. Running from animal to animal, snapping pictures of the animals and each other, their moms looked on delighted.
More than anything, the perspective and outlook that I’ve had on life in the past has evolved into something that I’m truly proud of. Kids who have experienced equally as much as I have, but from a different lens, have taught me more than any classroom ever could. They’ve given me insight into how I can appreciate life and the little things in them that are essential to having a fulfilling one. Sooner or later I’m going to have to grab the reins and tame this adventure before my 10 weeks are up and I have to let this wild horse run free.