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I never once actually expected my parents to agree to let me spend ten days alone in Mexico. Of course I would not be completely unsupervised—the trip was school-sponsored and would have plenty of chaperones—but it would be my first time traveling without my family. We prepared for that trip for over a year, but I literally was on a plane bound for Mexico City before I finally realized my unbelievable luck.
From the first step I took on Mexican soil, my senses all seemed to be in overdrive trying to take in everything at once. It seemed disappointingly like the United States on the surface, but it did not take long before our entire group was marveling at the dissimilarities. Neon-colored buildings, brightly patterned clothing, lime green taxis…simply everything seemed to be more festive than the U.S. version. In the next few days, we toured (at breakneck speed) as many highlights of Mexico City as we possibly could. It would be an understatement to say that we were all completely overwhelmed by the time we moved on to Guanajuato.
In a vast, bustling place like Mexico City, the word “bored” had been all but annihilated from our vocabularies. During the four-hour ride to Guanajuato on a hot, cramped tour bus, however, it became our complaint of choice. The city turned out to be amazingly picturesque and historic, but much of our group was too sick, sore, and ill-tempered to appreciate it. Likewise, the meal we ate that night was a handsome three course affair, but few of us took much notice amid our grumbling. We might have recovered our enthusiasm eventually if it had not been for the five-hour bus trek in store for us the next day. Our next destination, Guadalajara remains a blur in my mind, and I will always regret this. In fact, the main feature I do remember is that my friends and I were so horribly hot, tired, and frustrated that we started taking it all out on each other. Angry outbursts, sarcastic remarks, and countless eye-rolls blackened an otherwise glorious day.
By the time our tour bus was headed to our final stop, Puerto Vallarta, we were quite a tired, battered, uninteresting bunch. I, myself was mourning the time we lost being peeved at each other. Sure, the food and the travel time had not been kind to us, but how did we react? By continuing the cycle and making it worse for ourselves. I was well aware of how much my parents had spent and sacrificed so I could have an unbelievable time in Mexico, and I finally made the decision that absolutely nothing was going to stop me from enjoying the rest of my vacation. I made the most I possibly could of the precious last few days in Mexico, and I ended up having almost as much fun as I had when we were all fresh and excited in Mexico City.
Mexico was the experience of a lifetime, yet I hope to continue to explore other countries and see new sides of the globe throughout my life. Although I absolutely loved seeing a new country, the most important lesson I learned there was not of history or culture, but of optimism. A vacation is only what you make it. The most thrilling locations and fascinating adventures can end up being complete wastes if the people seeing them let trivial inconveniences dampen their spirits. Whether a trip is an hour or half a world away, it will be enjoyable, memorable, and downright extraordinary with simply the right attitude.