Sunday, 20 April 2014

One Month Later…

I’ve been meaning to send an update on my last few weeks in Mexico since…well…the last time I wrote. Hey ho, that’s life. So instead I’ll compile it all here for you. It has been an incredible whirlwind of highs, mediums, and (luckily!) very few lows.

The day after my birthday, my friends Ammal, Renée and I flew to Playa del Carmen for four days of sun and fun. We rented a condo right near the beach and the main street, and spent a lot of time wandering about to different stores, bars, restaurants, and some clubs at night. I found all the clubs to be just a bit too ‘American Spring-Break’ like, and didn’t really enjoy them. There were tourists everywhere, both from other parts of Mexico and from the USA and Europe. It was strange to have people speak to me in English first, not Spanish. I found it discombobulating and I tried to maintain answering them in Spanish as much as possible, throwing them off sometimes when I was able to perfectly express myself in Spanish!

Playa del Carmen
We also rented a car and drove to the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza. This is one of the most famous ruins in the world, and a UNESCO world heritage site. The site is beautifully well presented and the buildings are well maintained, and the ‘pyramid’ is perfect! Every year at the spring equinox, the sun shines on one side of it just right, creating the form of a snake, slithering down the side. This is called the Kukulcan, and people come from all over at this time of year to see the phenomenon. We planned our day to arrive to see this, and it was really cool! It didn’t appear until late afternoon, so we had a detour at a cenote (cee-no-tay) on our way there. These are sunken holes of fresh water that are found all over the Yucatan peninsula. They are connected to each other under the ground through a vast collection of underground caves, and you can actually SCUBA dive through from one to the other. They are really beautiful, with pure, clean water, fish, turtles, and bats calling the water and caves home. There are white sand floors, rocky outcroppings surrounding the water holes, and stalagtites and stalagmites rising out of the caves like wrinkled fingers. We swam around the Grand Cenote for a while, venturing a wee ways into one of the caves (we didn’t have SCUBA equipment or snorkel equipment, just my swimming goggles), and soaking it all in before heading to Chichen Itza.

Both were definitely worth the total drive time of 6 hours. That night we took it easy, being tired from the trip and sun.

The next day, we switched gears and lay on the beach all day at one of the beach clubs. A dedicated waiter brought us drinks and snacks all day, and we lounged in the sun, getting a bit of colour and relaxing. Later we ate tacos (surprise!) and went out for drinks. The next morning, Renée left to meet her family at another beach, and Ammal and I lay at another beach club for a few hours before heading to the airport. It went by too fast, and I wish we had stayed longer, but it was a really fun trip! 
Grand Cenote
pre-cenote swim

Chichen Itza! 
Ammal, Renée, Me
Pelican and the Playa
Upon returning to D.F., it hit me just how little time I had left. I had so much to do and felt like I had so little time. Seeing friends, visiting clinics, getting last-minute useful information from my informants, soaking up as much of Mexico City as I could, while not getting too overwhelmed or completely giving up sleep. Turns out, the one thing that lost out was my writing. I took raw notes, yes, but I didn’t ever get around to writing many of them up in full-length. But I was able to spend some good quality time with my friends, enjoying getting to know a few newer friends, and eating as much good Mexican food as I could. The notes will wait, they’ll be there once I start back to work this coming week!

I was able to also spend a lot more time with two of the Doctors I had met, we really enjoyed hanging out together and they loved taking me to new places that I hadn’t seen in the City, like the Desierto de los Leones, a national park in the south of the city where monks had built a beautiful monastery in the 17th century. I also made sure and spent some quality time with all my other major informants/doctors, and to get some good pictures of them working for my thesis. Hopefully once I start analysis and writing, I’ll be able to see some good patterns in the notes I have taken and build a good argument about natural medicine in Mexico.

For my last weekend, I actually moved to a hotel in order to really enjoy my last few days in Mexico. I stayed in a beautiful old hotel in the Zona Rosa, and had all my friends come over on Friday for a night out to say goodbye. It was a lot of fun, getting some drinks and ending up at a taco place at 2 am, as most nights out in Mexico do. The next day, I wandered around, doing some shopping and then meeting Ammal and Alé for dinner. It was a relaxed evening, perfect for a pre-flight good-bye. The next morning I got a taxi to the airport, feeling like I really wasn’t ready to leave. I got so much out of my time in Mexico, met such amazing people and learned so much about myself. It was hard to leave that behind. I can honestly say that I am really looking forward to going back to visit, and I really would not mind getting a job there in the future to spend more time getting to know the country.

Before Renée left for Japan :-(
Library/Bar at my hotel
out with the group

Me, Alé, Marce and Steve
Ammal, Alé and I on my last night
When I got back to California, I found myself speaking Spanish to the waitress at dinner by habit. So at least I know that my Spanish really did sink in! As the week went on this impulse grew fainter, but it still crops up every time I order a Mexican beer, and I’m still structuring my sentences like I’m speaking Spanish. So I have faith that at least I shouldn’t forget it all before my next trip back!

After a few days of visiting friends and family and re-packing all of my clothes, I headed back to LAX for the long flight back to Edinburgh. It actually went by quickly, although I wasn’t able to sleep at all on the long 10.5 hour leg to London. Upon arrival to Edinburgh I was met by the smiling faces of Lucy, Siobhan and Lucy’s son Yasin. It was so good to see them, and seeing them straight away really made me happy to be back. I have been staying at my old flat with Kate and her boyfriend, who were nice enough to take me in. I have also been busy catching up with all of my friends, finding a new flat, having my first shift at Wedgwood, and overall enjoying the sunny Edinburgh weather. It’s nice to be back, but I am feeling a bit nervous about starting my thesis. I plan to go back to work on Tuesday. Wish me luck in the next phase of my life!

Airport send-off <3 td="">
Lauretta, Grandma, Grandpa, and I 
Picnic in the Meadows with Siobhan and Jenny
Happy in the sunshine
A swan in the ocean at Portobello beach, Edinburgh
Yasin and I. He loves a selfie!  
oh, hey there Edinburgh! 

Kim x