All things considered, leaving Merida was not one of my most favorite moments I’ve had during my 10-week study abroad experience in Mexico. Standing outside of our Spanish language school at seven in the morning while the Mamas and Papas said their goodbyes was more than sad – it was the final reminder that our adventure shared by 50 Ohio University students had ended. The next 12 hours were spent in buses, airplanes and cars all headed toward home in the States.
During those hours we chatted about memorable excursions and escapades and about the little things we would and would not miss. For me, my favorite program excursion was our visit to the large Mayan city of Uxmal. We basically had the entire place to ourselves and were able to roam around and climb on all of the pyramids and structures. At night there was an unforgettable lights and sounds show in the center of the ruins that provided a multi-colored view of the city at night while stories were told of Mayan legends and ancient gods.
A weekend visit to Playa del Carmen with a few friends was my favorite mini-vacation from classes. Everything including the beach, the nightlife and the shopping was much needed and fully enjoyed. Having the free time to travel all over the Yucatan Peninsula was a luxury and it contributed to the excessive amount of incredible memories I made with the other students during the quarter. The bus tickets and hostels were all relatively inexpensive and were important components of the student-traveling experience.
Although most of my 300-level classes were tough at times, my favorite was Conversation. Most days we would talk about all sorts of topics, anything from cultural differences and human rights to Mexican music and Yucatecan food. There were only two other students and myself in the class, which resulted in the three of us becoming close friends by the end of the quarter.
I never thought I’d be able to choose my favorite meal in light of the fact that I love Mexican food, but my Mama’s famous panuchos won that contest hands down. Fried tortillas stuffedwith black beans and topped with shredded chicken, pickled red onions, tomatoes and avocados – my Mama made plenty of them for my first and last meal I had in Merida. She was never successful at convincing me to try her homemade habanera salsa, though.
La Despedida, meaning “the farewell”, was the final group celebration held at a local food and concert venue in Merida. A group of 14 of us had been learning how to do the traditional Yucatecan dance called La Jarana, in preparation for performing it at La Despedida. We wore the typical white outfits with special shoes that had little metal bars on the bottom to make a clicking noise when we would step. We danced to two songs with different rhythms and then grabbed our Mexican families to join us for a third song. My Mama, at 77 years young, loved being on the dance floor and even taught me a few salsa moves to show off in the States.
My list of favorite memories from Merida is much longer than what can fit in one blog entry, and, luckily, I have a journal and plenty of photos to remind me of the people I met and the places I visited. Leaving the city was difficult, but returning home to friends and family eased any anxiety I had. It’s good to be home. Merida – I will miss you