There were sixteen of us boarding the plane that sunny May morning – twelve students and four chaperones.After weeks of being drowned in soap bubbles, buried under piles of garage sale fodder, and going hoarse from shouting “Bake sale today!” we were finally on our way.Mrs. Christensen, our trip coordinator, said the purpose of our expedition was to examine social justice issues.We came back with WAY more information than that.
Our accommodations were provided by a local family in Merida (about a four hour drive from Cancun).They consisted of a concrete block on the roof (accessible only by ladder), a very small, dirty bathroom, and hammocks to sleep in.Honestly, I cried the first night, but the next day I was happily crouching under the shower spigot and actually enjoying my hammock.My quick transition had a lot to do with our loving, accepting host family.We would stay up late laughing with them every night, language barrier forgotten.And they always had breakfast for us in the morning, even “American-style” pancakes!
Over the course of the week we visited a school, an orphanage, the beach, an open air market, and several restaurants.At Restaurante de Toro I did, in fact, eat a fish eyeball.It was squishy and juicy except for the crunchy pupil … I definitely don’t recommend trying it!Despite the fun adventures during these escapades the event that impacted me the most wasn’t exactly very fun.
I suppose the adventure began with a breakdown in communication.It was our last day in Mexico; we had packed up and left Merida that morning and were in Cancun looking for our hotel.We had a caravan of three vehicles, weaving through the narrow streets.All six of us girls were in one van with Rafo, the cute Cuban chaperone, on whom we all had a crush.As it turned out Rafo had no clue where we were going.The others hadn’t even told him the name of the hotel!Inevitably, we lost the other vehicles in one of the huge traffic circles (more like “suicide circles” if you ask me) and BAM! We were lost.Over the course of ten hours we tried in vain to relocate our caravan and ended up in the depths of the tourist section of Cancun.We were surrounded by bars, closed malls, and blaring music.Three creeps tried to sell Rafo drugs.Now that I look back on it, we were in real danger – six girls running around with only one guy.Kudos to Rafo though for keeping us calm, buying us pizza, and finally finding a place to check his e-mail.Thankfully, Mrs. Christensen had sent him the address of the hotel.
This trip taught me that not even one second of life has to be boring.It doesn’t matter how much stuff you have or the money you make.It’s important to reach beyond your comfort zone, try new things, meet new people, and make the most out of every situation.That is what makes life rich.Any place can be a paradise if you approach it with open arms … just try to avoid the fish eyeballs.
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