After 13 hours of travel, I was speechlessly excited to look out my window and finally see my final destination. My first impression of Tuxtla was intensely green… In a rainforest rambling into jungles, in the middle of rainy season, with bright hot days and warm rain every evening, Tuxtla was putting out its finest for me. I disembarked, felt my hair grow 12x larger with the humidity, and walked into the terminal to find a smiling girl and man waving a homemade sign: “Bienvenida a Chiapas, Sara!”
My host family consists of Valeria, a first year medical student from Tuxtla, her brother Diego, sister Aránzazú (Zuzu), mamá Magali, papá Ubel, and crazy baby chiahuahua Toretto. Vale and her uncle Milton drove me to my new home for the month — past palmas and taquerias, fig trees and combis screeching to a halt, roadside tamal stands and the Mexican version of Squeegee-kids (except instead of Squeegeeing your car, they carry boxes selling everything from gum to newspapers; and instead of kids, they’re very respectable adults… it’s actually quite handy, like a little supermarket that comes walking past your car at every red light).
The minute we walked in the door, Magali kissed me and proclaimed, “Bienvenida a tu casa, Sarita!” This family is the type that not only says “Make yourself at home,” but actually expects you to do so. Within the hour, Valeria, Zuzu, and I had walked to the tienda, bought 8 different bags of chips (to make sure I tried all the different flavours), and were curled up on the couch to have a movie night, while Toretto licked my toes in a hostly fashion (and later stole my sock, which we have yet to find).
One of my first evenings, Valeria and her best friend Valeria (convenient to only have to learn so many new names) took me to la Parque de Marimba, where every single night there are live marimba bands and dancing! Afterwards, they instructed me in the art of both drinking michelada (beer, lime juice, and piquante seasonings) and in the art of shamelessly asking waiters for the nearly-untouched tapas platters leftover on other patrons’ tables 😛
The next evening, all the other SCOPE members took me out for Zoque pizza at a beautiful pizza place on the other end of town, where we impromptly become part of the birthday party going on next to us and were given free cake, as well as a free jarra of tascalate from the restaurant owners:
Afterwards, however, the SCOPE team witnessed my most essential experience so far (/who are we kidding, most essential experience, punto.)
MIS PRIMEROS TACOS MEXICANOS.
Neurology knowledge will come. International trade relations will be analysed. But at least now I know I am truly in Mexico.