Mexico Trek!   Trekkers DISPATCH: August 31 Silvia's Log

Letter Home

Dear Mami, Papi, Ana, y Pipo,

I can’t believe that it’s already been over a week since I’ve been with Casa Alianza, experiencing life in Mexico City, eating new foods and testing my tolerance for spicy sauces, staying with 15 housemates, riding buses and the subway everywhere, and not having seen Monica or Shawn for 7 days- we were so busy! They’re with families at the southern extreme of the city while I’m in the north by the Airport. We’re going to spend our weekends together when I’m not with the street children.

Trivia!It’s foggy in the morning, sunny during the day, and has rained every afternoon since we got here. If the downpour catches me outdoors, I slip into a café and drink an ice cold Agua de Jamaica, made by boiling the bright flower leaves of the hibiscus plant and sweetened with sugar. It looks like fruit punch but tastes a lot better!

The constant noise of the traffic, music, and voices has, surprisingly, not made me too nervous, I guess because it’s still so new to me that I find it exciting, but I do miss the quiet siesta time (naps) by the beach in Denia. It’s not a custom here to take a siesta. The air feels dense, hot, and dusty, a mix of exhaust fumes, heat, and grime being blown around by the permanent rush hour traffic! Monica and I both feel like our eyes are sticky at times, but we rub and rub and there’s nothing there!

A fun daily occurrence that I like to witness is the singing vendors that hop in and out of the subway and buses- the drivers let them. They chant a rhyme to sell their gum, pens, candy, photo albums, chocolate bars, lighters- you name it, you can find it through them, and usually for under $1. One song says: "Rico chocolate y mani, 2 por 5 o 1 por 3, deliciosa barrita de regalo para la nina o nino, 2 por 5 o 1 por 3…". That’s "rich chocolate with peanuts, 2 for 5 or 1 for 3 (pesos), delicious bar for gift for girl or boy, 2 for 5 or 1 for 3 (pesos)". That’s selling a chocolate bar. Others get on and play the guitar or sing a song.

The other day a pair of little kids about 6 or 7 years old dressed like clowns with their faces painted played out a funny dialogue between them. They put candy on your lap hoping you’ll buy it by the end of the show, otherwise you put it back into their bag. They talk so fast I couldn’t catch almost anything they say. Sorry I can’t share it with you, because I’m sure it’s funny, since most Mexicans laugh.

When I leave Casa Alianza in the afternoons I often stroll through the Alameda Central Park just across the street, and I eat a huge cup of mixed, fresh fruit- mangoes, papaya, cantaloupe, watermelon, and chayote- looks like a cucumber, and it’s a vegetable. Here the fruit vendor pours hot red chili powder, lime juice, and salt onto it. I actually like it, though the chili is strong! Shawn has been sick to his stomach already, but mine seems to be stronger.

The team joins up again!I saw Monica and Shawn for the first time on Friday night when we went to Plaza Garibaldi where mariachi groups play. Shawn and I surprised Monica by inviting a band to play Mexico Lindo y Querido for her. She was so shocked when we went over to her bench, where she was stuck watching our bags, with the trumpeters, violinists, guitarists, and vocalists dressed in those beautiful mariachi outfits, the black pants with the metal buckles running down the side seams, decorated jackets, and their round sombreros (hats). I can’t wait to see the picture.

We spent Saturday and Sunday in Teotihuacan, where we climbed to the top of the huge Piramide del Sol (Pyramid of the Sun) and enjoyed an incredible view of the surrounding green hillsides while we imagined what it must have been like when the Aztecs were there, marching to the beat of ceremonial drums under the light of burning fires as they offered sacrifices to their gods.

We ate lunch at a popular restaurant that’s built into a natural cave, called La Gruta. It’s been open since 1929. There’s an Aztec dance show, the chairs and tables are painted different colors, the waitresses wore bright dresses full of ribbons or embroidered with flowers. I ate pollo con mole, chicken with an almost black sauce that’s made of chilis, tastes sweet, and has sesame seeds sprinkled onto it. Monica had something that was like Mexican raviolis, little tortilla squares filled with black beans and covered with salsa verde (green sauce) and cheese- I can’t remember the name! Shawn ate tortillas con guacamole and a fruit salad, there weren’t many choices for his vegan diet.

I’m still very happy with my housemates at Casa Aragon. We talk a lot when I’m home until it’s time for bed. The house is really noisy, there’s always a TV or radio on, and just eating together is loud. We laugh a lot together. They say many Mexican slang words and phrases that I’ve never heard before, and some words I use they say are considered bad here. I guess it’s not the same exact Spanish in Mexico as in Spain, even the accent is very different and sometimes I need to ask them to repeat a sentence several times before I get it. It’s not too frustrating, and I know that only by having patience and asking will I learn. They just started high school last week, and they can’t believe it when I tell them Anna doesn’t start school in Spain until October.

Trivia!I’m learning about Mexico, the Aztecs, and street children here, which I am enjoying and value a lot. Mexicans are very friendly and helpful. When I say gracias (thank you) for something, they respond para servirle (at your service). Almost everyone here greets each other with one kiss on a cheek, whereas in Spain we do with two! Sometimes I forget and get confused. The street kids can never get enough hugs, they’re very affectionate.

I miss you all very much. There seem to be dogs everywhere here, I’m amazed I haven’t seen one get hit by a car, and I remember Pipo but I haven’t seen one that looks like him yet. My days are very long, and I miss sharing my bedroom with Nona, even if she snores. I get up at 6:30, leave at 7, and usually get home by 10 after Casa Alianza and writing. I’ve done so much walking that Monica had to pop a few blisters for me, I just can’t bear to poke them myself. I’m happy I have my fellow Trekkers here with me because the city is so huge and crowded that one can feel anonymous and lost when rushing from place to place alone.

Many besos (kisses) for all of you, and I’ll write soon.

-Silvia

Related Dispatches: 
Monica - Por fin! Meeting with Silvia and Shawn
Monica - SACRIFICES!!!
Team - Battle of the Gods!
Shawn - Hangin' with the Gods.
Silvia - Letter Home


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