For the first sixteen years of my life, I could have been described as a hamster. I’m not referring to the fact that I have slightly big cheeks or that I often display the twitchiness of a rodent, I’m referring to the way I used to view the world. I live in a little county called Goochland where I’m related to half the population, everyone knows my grandpa’s name, and poverty is detachedly defined as little African children on infomercials, begging for twelve cents a day. I literally was living in a hamster ball, a perfect, blissful confinement unaffected by the woes of the dangerous world outside. However, all that changed when I took my first leap outside my bubble. As the tiny plane containing my youth group unceremoniously slammed down on a dirt runway in Oaxaca, Mexico, my hamster ball was irrevocably shattered.
Our mission was simple: love the people. So, for the next ten days, we lived in remote Mixteco villages with people who literally had nothing. As in, they lived in tiny mud houses like the ones replicated in Jamestown, they only had one pair of clothes, and they slept on the ground. We worked and ate their…delightful food alongside them, spending hours out in the infinite fields weeding with the women while trying to avoid the burning acid plants, killer bees, and scorpions. I played endless bouts of “bote” with the children, which, as far as I could translate, was a variation of tag involving an empty coke can, before they abandoned the game to braid flowers into my hair. After begging my youth pastor to allow me to go despite being a girl, I traveled with the men to a village called Juxtalahuaxa to undertake the grueling, exhausting task of digging wells with a hand crank to provide families with fresh water. The villagers were so grateful that they slaughtered a goat to provide us with a meal of goat intestine stew. We were all extremely sick with “the whammy” at this point, and no one was really feeling inclined to eat the stringy, grass containing meat mixed with cactus. However, after learning that a goat was worth a year’s wages, we humbly received their selfless gift and asked for seconds.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.