Somehow it’s been two weeks since my last blog and I’m beginning to feel like I’m settling into life in Mexico. My first week at the University consisted of not doing very much at all; I was introduced to A LOT of people (instantly forgetting most of their names), planned my classes for the following week and generally tried not to get too confused. Luckily there are three other language assistants working at the University (two from France and another from England), who have been invaluable in explaining what I should even be doing! It’s not that the University haven’t been helpful – everyone here is SO ridiculously keen to help me with anything and everything – however I have been surprised by just how laissez-faire it is. My tutor gave me some suggestions as to what sorts of things I should do (such as conversation classes, cultural presentations and exam practice sessions) however I have been pretty much left to my own devices in organising my timetable. That said my classes this week have gone surprisingly well! It has been rather varied week, with one conversation class of twelve people squashed into a room which would comfortably have held 6 and the following day having only one person turn up… luckily it wasn’t too awks. I’m beginning to realise that over the next few weeks it’s just going to be a process of trial and error! The students are however all really lovely and surprisingly keen. Having missed a significant percentage of my oral classes over the first two years of my degree, I am pretty impressed that so many people are bothering to come!
On Saturday Helen and I decided to venture out of Toluca to go and visit one of our friends in Coyoacán, Mexico City. After an hours coach journey for the bargain price of £2.50 (it seems that coaches are something that Mexico does extremely well!) we arrived in DF and were picked up by our friend Charissa and her host family, who were kind enough to let us stay the night in their house. Needless to say, Helen and I were both extremely jealous when we discovered that Charissa has her own ROOF – mental. Anyways, during the afternoon we went for a wander around Coyoacán, a really cool and hippie part of DF. Later on we went to a salsa bar after being given a quick salsa lesson by Charissa’s host brother (who just so happens to be an expert). Despite not being the most coordinated person in the world (as I successfully discovered this summer) it was SO much fun!
Some more cultural shockers this night revealed are as follows. In Mexican clubs it seems that no one really goes to the bar to order, but rather they bring a bottle of whatever you want to your table and then just keep topping up your drink when it’s empty. Hence how I managed to consume at least 5 mojitos… Continuing with the driving theme, Charissa’s friend who drove us to the club actually did so WHILST drinking…. This I literally don’t understand. It takes drink driving to a whole new level and cannot possibly be legal, even in Mexico. Having driven through countless red lights, it seems that here stopping is taken as more of a suggestion than a legal requirement. Crazy. After waking up rather late on Sunday and being treated to burgers for breakfast by Charissa’s host family (literally) we spent the afternoon wandering around Chapultepec and watched some crazy Mexican ‘Voladores’ (they may or may not have been called this). Essentially a group of men each with a length of rope tied around his waist who ‘fly’ (or rather descend) upside-down in circles from the top of a reeeeeally tall pole. Charissa’s host brother and friend very kindly offered to drive us back to Toluca in the evening so we stopped in DF before leaving and had dinner at one of the many road side ‘cafes’ (this definitely isn’t the right word, it was more of a table outside with a tarpaulin roof, although it was a lot nicer than that makes it sound!) I had something properly Mexican, and I’ve no idea what it was actually called but it was rather delicious! All in all it was a brilliant weekend!
Yummy Mexican street food
I’m still surprised by how welcoming everyone is – people keep inviting me to everything! I’m not sure how much this is due to the novelty of being friends with an English speaker, but if it means I can make some Mexican friends then I’m willing to take advantage of this! So on Friday I took at particularly terrifying journey to the house of one of the students. After somehow fitting seven people into a car that could barely hold five and bursting a tire (queue about five stops in fuel stations to temporarily fix the problem) we arrived! I tried some more proper Mexican food – this time enchiladas, which thankfully weren’t too spicy!
Enchiladas – yay!
After eating I was rather surprised when, at about four in the afternoon, the vodka was cracked out…! Not being the biggest fan of vodka shots, I discovered that they’re actually not that bad when combined with a lime with coffee on one side and sugar on the other. Weird? Yes, but rather nice. I’m not sure if this is normal in Mexico or just some random creation, nonetheless it made for an interesting afternoon!
Later on Helen and I went to La Quimera with Julianna, a two week festival taking place in Metepec with tons of stalls selling all sorts of Mexican crafts, jewellery and food as well as live music. We tried something fun involving maize and went to a bar for beers. I still can’t get my head around the obsession with putting chilli in everything, so wasn’t the hugest fan of the Michelada Cubana (basically beer with a spicy tomato sauce, tabasco and lime and chilli powder around the edge of the glass). I’m going to persevere though! Helen and I went back to Saturday to do a spot of shopping although we greatly underestimated the weather and got quite wet in our flipflops!
Julianna and I with our Michelada Cubanas
As the title suggests, the Mexicans are still all being rather starey. The was especially the case with the driver of the bus we took on the way back from La Quimera. After coming to the conclusion that it was probably the worst bus we’d ever been on in our lives we decided it was necessary to take photographic evidence. However we forgot to actually turn the flash off, so the driver was pretty much laughing the whole journey home. He probably thinks his bus is some kind of tourist attraction.
Anyways, that’s all for now! Next week I’ll be continuing my hunt for stamps. Even after I realised I’d been asking for the wrong thing (appaz they’re timbres here not sellos) everyone I’ve asked has still been quite confused as to why I’d even want them…