A Foreign Feeling

Traveling the world is a truly breathtaking and awe-inspiring experience. There are so many unique and scintillating places to see and things to do. As an American, I have been blessed with the opportunity to view different cultures through a controlled environment.

Being able to have Chinese and Jamaican food on the same night is a luxury I never knew I took for granted. However, upon arriving in Mexico, where English is spoken sparingly, I have gained a deeper appreciation for those labeled ‘immigrants’. Today I will be discussing three hurdles I have faced on my journey. Firstly, and also my personal favorite, the food.

In the kitchen

For the readers who do not know I am a Taurus, that means I run on my stomach. Diet is very important to me, so when I touched down in Mexico, as someone who does not consume Mexican food I had trepidation. However, to avoid starving, I adapted. Above is Doña Socorro. She is making an authentic dish for breakfast using items obtained from her hundred-acre farm, freshly picked only a few hours before she started cooking. The wood-fire stove had to be maintained while she cooked, and as depicted above she masterfully flips the ‘gorditas’ and keeps the flame without fear, the embers licking at her hands and singeing the hairs on my chin in tandem (I was sitting rather close). While she fed the community with the fruits of her labors I couldn’t help but think we were missing something in the states, something that only eating what you grow can give. I like authentic Mexican food now, to say the least. My next hurdle: the cultural shift.

Chiltepec, a lovely mountain Pueblo (Town) with world-class views

Growing up in cities and suburbs, I thought I would be well-equipped to easily blend into rural areas. Let’s just say that there was nothing easy about it. The climate shifted from baking in the sun to feeling Jack Frost whispering his frozen soliloquy down your spine, but somehow it all felt perfect for the area. An American in a close-knit community in between a volcano and the hilly terrain of the mountainside was bound to stand out, but the people were friendlier than you can imagine. They opened their homes to me, took pictures, shared laughs and danced under the Super wolf blood moon to a live band with live instruments and I have never felt so Alive. The houses were built with such grandeur, more akin to mansions on the hill, high ceilings and architecture both ancient and modern, with gated pathways and ornate doors lined with the most beautiful flowers you’ll ever see, colors of red and blue and yellow and white tinged with an earthen splendor unrivaled in the concrete jungles I hail from, though some entrances were not built for someone who is 6’4”. So I ducked my head low and thanked them for allowing me entrance in the first place. Which brings me to my final hurdle: the language barrier.

The artwork on the walls reminds me of the murals in Philly

I will never disparage someone from outside the country again, being unable to fluently hold a conversation is a multi-tiered frustration that I can encapsulate in one word: humbling. And I had made it to ‘Spanish V’ in my high school. I stumbled through speaking to the natives and nodded my head when things were said that threw me for a loop. To know what you want to say, but not know how to accurately convey it, showed me a sliver of what it must be like for those entering the US for the first time. It is a beautiful struggle, and I respect travellers the world over all the more because of it. To think, sometimes my own lexicon betrays me speaking English, grammar rules rear their ugly heads, and then there is ‘slang’ and other such colloquialisms to add into the mix. Now imagine all these hang ups in Spanish…yeah let that marinate for a little bit. I would suggest every American learn a new language, just to see what the rest of the world has to deal with. Curb your ego to gain a deeper, more resonate understanding of the human condition.

We are all one under the Sun

My time here in Mexico has shown me that we are not all that different. We want to live, laugh, and love without judgement. We want a bountiful and prosperous existence. We want our kids to have the chance to experience life’s abundance as well. As I continue to learn and grow through this experience I hope that someone takes these words and embarks on a journey of their own. We all have hopes & dreams, desires & fears. There is a truth within us all. I dare to dream, in remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. and in honor of his legacy, that we can all bear witness to our shared equality.

2 thoughts on “A Foreign Feeling

  1. This was amazingly refreshing. I vicariously lived through your experience. Thank you for sharing. We are all one under the sun! Travel to come back new!

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