Monday, January 19, 2009

The Beginning

Buenos dias a todos! Boy, do I have some stories for you.

Saturday. We had quite an adventure getting to the airport, because the 101 was closed most of the way, but we made it in good time. The airport was pretty empty. I don’t think we stood in a single line. Even the security checkpoint was ridiculously fast- we didn’t so much stand in line as walk up behind someone who was just finishing. So we had plenty of time once we got to the gate.
While we were waiting around to board, we met three other students from NAU who were on our flight. We all had seats near each other (well, one girl didn’t, but someone offered to switch seats with her, so then she was with us) and it made the whole thing a lot easier having a group of us together instead of just Laura and I. (For those of you who don’t know her, Laura was in my ward at NAU and we are roommates here in Mexico.)
The flight was fine, nothing too exciting. The wheels made a HORRIBLE sound while we were on the runway, which was kind of alarming, but they worked just fine. If you’re like me and haven’t flown in a couple years, you’ll be saddened to know that they charge for drinks now and they don’t bring you peanuts anymore. At least, that’s how US Airways does it. Maybe American Airlines will be different. I guess we’ll see in April.
When we landed in Mexico City, we all had to go to the bathroom, so we decided to do that before getting our luggage. We started walking down the corridor toward the bathroom sign (and past the signs for immigration and baggage claim) and a girl from our flight caught up to us and asked if we were the group from NAU. So now we had six Americans walking down the hallway looking for the bathroom. The nearest one was closed, so we had to keep walking for a few more gates before we found one. But find one we did, and once we were all ready to go, we went to immigration. All they did was take the paperwork we filled out on the plane (with all our info) and gave us the bottom half of the form we filled out. This bottom half is our visa and we have to have it to get out of the country. If we lose it, they’ll charge us $50. So, that is locked up and safe :)
Baggage claim was easy- we must have been the only US Airways flight or something, because there was nobody else around. (A sad side note- the handle on one of my bags broke. I couldn’t roll it, so I had to carry it. It was rather awkward. And heavy.)
We met up with the rest of our group and our program coordinator and his wife. We all hopped on a very nice bus (it was better than the airplane) and spent another two hours traveling. We watched Rush Hour 3 in Spanish en route. It was hilarious.
In Cuernavaca we all loaded into taxis and went to the school where we met our families. Laura and I were first, so we got out of there quickly. Our mama made us food when we got home and it was delicious. Ham and cheese quesadillas with a pasta salad type thing (also with ham) on the side. We met everybody, called our moms, and then went to bed. I was exhausted.

Sunday. Laura and I woke up early, got ready, ate some cereal, and went to church at 8:00. Our mama, Osbelia, helped us find the building Saturday night so we wouldn’t have to walk around looking for it Sunday morning. She ended up driving us there (she said she had some errands to run, though we’re pretty sure she was just being helpful) and we were a few minutes early, so we went in and sat down and everybody came up to us and introduced themselves and welcomed us. The brother who was leading the service asked what our names were, and then he welcomed us from the pulpit! It was really cool, and I can’t wait to go back next week. We only got to stay for the sacrament meeting (which is the general worship service), but next week we’ll get to go to Sunday School and stuff, too.
We didn’t go to everything because we had to get back and get ready for a group excursion with all the other students from NAU. We took a bus to a nearby city called Tepoztlan and hiked to the highest peak of the nearby mountain. Now, I’m not a big hiker AT ALL, but this was an exceptionally difficult hike. It was basically a gigantic staircase made from rocks, but each “step” was differently spaced and uneven. And it was steep. My legs still hurt. And the hike back down was almost worse, because instead of going down a hill, where you can kind of pick up momentum and just keep going, we were going down the crazy steep rock stairs. I didn’t even realize I HAD the muscles I was using. Our legs were basically jelly after that. But it was all worth it. Because at the top of the mountain, we got to stand on top of an ancient Aztec temple. It was amazing. I love learning about ancient civilizations like the Aztecs, and to actually sit atop one of their temple pyramids was awesome. (see pictures)
After the hike back down we were all exhausted, so we sat down at some tables on a patio right at the end of the trail and a bunch of the group ordered drinks (I was not one of them). We sat around for a while, and then we started moseying our way back to the bus station. There were tons of cool shops lining the street, but I didn’t buy anything. I was too exhausted. (Our family might take us back tomorrow night because they are having some kind of celebration with fireworks, so I’ll get something then.) Oh, and it cost 5 pesos (50 cents, more or less) to use the bathroom! And there was no toilet seat. It was weird. There was, however, a shower.
Anyway, some of the group was going to stay in Tepoztlan and the rest of us were going to go home, but when Javier (the program coordinator for NAU) tried to explain to the others how to get home, they decided it was too confusing and so we all went back to Cuernavaca. We were kind of half asleep on the bus, and we still had to walk down the street to get to our houses when the bus dropped us off, so when we finally got home, all I wanted to do was sleep. We relaxed for a while, had dinner (I can’t remember what it was called, but it was like an open face sandwich with beans and melted cheese, and she gave us tomatoes, onions, and peppers to put on it… I avoided the peppers), and then we found out that our family has wireless internet access! So now we aren’t confined to using the computer lab at school- we can use the internet from the comfort of our bedroom!

Oh! One other thing of interest- there are two other American students living in our house right now. They were here for a three-week course, and one of their weeks overlaps with ours. So Laura and I are in Karla’s room (the 19 year old daughter in the family) until the other girls leave. So on Saturday we’ll be switching rooms, and we’ll be staying in that room for the rest of our time here.

Well, I think that’s all for now. I know that was a lot :) Hope you all enjoyed hearing from me! I miss you all! If you feel like making an international phone call (or text message!), I got a cell phone today and my number is 044-777-152-3525.


PS: Also, my address...

Allison Ridley
Privada de la Pradera
Num. 9 casa 4
Cuernavaca, Morelos 62170

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