Tag Archives: michelada

Tuxtlayork

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After a week settling into my new Mexican home, I was informed that another exchange student from Columbia would be arriving the next day, hosted by my host’s best friend (conveniently also named Valeria). As I tend to be, I was leery about introducing someone new into my comfortable Mexican life… but (as is so often the case), I should never have worried. Sandra “La Columbiana” arrived in full force the next morning, flooding Mexico with “usted” (the respectful form of address is used almost exclusively in Columbia, even between dating couples) and exclamations of “chiquitico” and “poquitico” (the Columbian diminutive form manages to be even more adorable than the standard Spanish diminutive).

Warm, generous, wildly affectionate and wickedly hilarious, Sandra was a welcome addition to my exchange experience. From our first day spent together exploring the many parks of Tuxtla, it was evident that the four of us fit comfortably together, and rarely a day or night passed without us going out for micheladas, going out dancing, or sleeping over at one of the Valeria’s houses.

La Marimba, Chiapas’ signature sound, de la Parque Chiapasonate   

Getting pulled into a sexy catwalk/dance contest hosted by a clown in the park. After some Ukrainian Baptist dance moves that I believe only thoroughly bewildered the crowd, La Canada won second place! My prize? A light-up hippo keychain and a heart balloon.    

The next week, we found out that one more exchange student would be joining Tuxtla for the summer – a chico from Venezuela who was studying medicine in España. We went to his SCOPE welcome dinner more out of curiosity than anything: he was a research student while the rest of us were clinical students, and he would be living on his own by the university campus instead of with a host family, so the expectation of seeing him regularly was low.

However, Andrés had the definition of buena onda, the Latino description for that indescribable quality possessed by truly genuine people that irresistibly attracts you to them. Impulsively, we invited him out with us the next night for more micheladas… which turned into a uninterrupted string of beautiful days and impossibly fun nights together.

In all the roads I have travelled, las cascadas de Aguacero is the most breathtakingly beautiful place I have ever seen   

Enjoying pollo asado for lunch after miraculously keeping it dry walking through the falls  

Reina de la cascada! 😛 (gracias a Valeria para encontrar mi corona jajaja)            

It wasn’t only the insane weekends spent dancing until 6AM in Sancris that made our time together unforgettable (although those certainly helped 😉 ). It was also the mornings after dancing, when we’d go out for breakfast empanadas at noon in the Mercado de los Dulces and argue about body image and health education in our respective countries. It was the long afternoons in Andrés’ apartment, watching Amityville Horror (not my choice, I assure you!!), eating Rockoleta chili suckers, and discussing our countries’ views on homosexuality, our own views on sexuality in general, and all the social/political/religious/personal elements that affect our relationships whether we want them to or not. It was sharing stories about taking night shift at the hospital, our agreements and disagreements regarding doctors’ bedside manner, our arguments about antibiotic use. It was the twelve hours round-trip to Palenque that we spent crammed in a combi together, careening through the jungle and tipping precariously over mountain cliffs, trying to sleep wrapped around each other like the canned tunafish we shared for supper on the road. It was the long afternoons spent lying on Valeria’s bed, sharing pictures from our incredible day and stupid memes on Whatsapp.

While out dancing at a club in Tuxtla, we got our photo taken for a local pop culture magazine. Apparently I’m a bigger deal in Mexico than in Winnipeg!

Sancris 2.0
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Afternoon sliding fun at Rancho Nuevo with new Sancris friends
  

Sancris 3.0: Midnight birthday celebrations with more wonderful new friends  

“Hay figuras…” Informative and hilarious guided tours through Las Grutas by local kids    

This is the golden reward of an exchange. Unlike, say, a conference, where you have the opportunity to talk to people of different backgrounds and cultures, but only for an isolated moment in time; an exchange gives you the gift of actually living and breathing and eating together in a real snapshot of your life. Having the gift of time allows you to spend time doing absolutely nothing together, thus cultivating a level of comfort that paves the ground for even more genuine conversations. And surprisingly, it is the in-between times, the times between ridiculous adventures and intense conversations, where you learn the unexpected things about yourself and others that you can both laugh at and challenge each other on.

We were five individuals of different ages, skin colours, faith backgrounds, language backgrounds, travel histories, sexuality, and definitions of family. One of us can’t handle spicy food. One of us doesn’t drink. One overuses antibiotics. One didn’t know what cystic fibrosis was. One of us was terrible with changes of plan. One was terrible with punctuality. We were all medical students, all determined to improve the health of our world around us in some way, with different resources at our fingertips, different supports at our back, different goals in front of us. And wherever we went next, we would all be immutably changed by our time spent together in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico.

Valeria, Valeria, Sandra, y Andrés, como podría describir la importancia de su amistad en mi vida? De nuestros conversaciones, de las historias de sus vidas, del tiempo que pasamos juntos, he aprendido un chingón de cosas de ustedes que van a cambiar mi vida por siempre! Muchísimas gracias para desafiar mis pensamientos y me daban apoyo y amor cuando lo necesitaba. Tienen siempre una casa y una amiga loca en Canadá! Los quiero muchísimos, mis bebés, y los extraño. #Cancún2016!!

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¡Bienvenida a Chiapas!

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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!”

Bienvenida!

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).

view from my bedroom balcony:
Bedroom balcony

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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 😛

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Parque de Marimba

Michelada

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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:
SCOPE & Zoque pizza!

Afterwards, however, the SCOPE team witnessed my most essential experience so far (/who are we kidding, most essential experience, punto.)

MIS PRIMEROS TACOS MEXICANOS.

PRIMERO TACO

Neurology knowledge will come. International trade relations will be analysed. But at least now I know I am truly in Mexico.

MIrador de Tuxtla