Connie Fitzpatrick - Puebla, Mexico
It is 7 a.m. as I wake up to my alarm clock on Saturday morning. I walk down the stairs quietly, since my host family is still sleeping, and grab a bowl of “Zucaritas” or Frosted Flakes, as they are known in the United States. I have now been in Mexico for a week. I have just started adjusting to my new family, the food, and the language. I am studying Spanish at Universidad de las Americas in Puebla, and am participating in the Spanish immersion program, which includes cultural activities, field trips, and weekend trips. Today I will be traveling to Tepotzlán, a small town about two hours away. I will be hiking up a mountain to see a small pyramid at the top. I take the now familiar five minute walk to campus, and get on the charter bus with other students in the program.
Here, I meet up with my friends, Anna and Keely. After waiting for everyone else to get to the bus, we finally leave around 8:30 in the morning. This is Mexico time, something I am still trying to get used to. Being at least a half hour late is considered being on time here. After about two hours, we reach our destination. All around I see huge, green mountains as we walk along the small, narrow, steadily rising streets of the small town, filled with vendors. Everywhere I look, I see bright colored clothing, small toys, intricately designed ceramics, and some interesting looking food. I am excited to buy some things, but first we must climb the mountain.
Our guide tells us about the history of the pyramid, most of which I don’t understand because he talks fast and my Spanish listening skills are not up to par at this point. Then we start to walk. It is a beautiful, warm, sunny Saturday, and I see all sorts of people attempting the hike; from toddlers to adults. The trail starts out as steps, but eventually, it turns into a pile of rocks that we have to maneuver our way on. Everyone gets tired very quickly. The town is at a high altitude, and now that we have started climbing, the air is getting a little thinner. The further we climb, the more separated our group of about thirty becomes. I have stayed in the front group with the guide; we climb faster than the others but we have to stop often to catch our breath. Man this is hard! I am constantly wheezing and my legs are burning! It is hard but I am enjoying the climb, as we hike up the side of the mountain, shrouded in shrubs and trees, with the sun shining through the leaves in sporadic patches.
Finally we reach the end of the trail, which concludes with steep steps. After an hour and a half of walking pretty much a mile straight up, I reach the top, tired, hot and sweating. Waiting for my friends, I sit and enjoy a cool breeze. Once they arrive, we explore the top; climb up the steps of the small pyramid, and enjoy the spectacular view of the town below. We rest and relax, but all too soon, we must make our way down the mountain trail, which in my opinion, is harder than the climb. I have to go slow and deliberately place my steps, so I do not slip and fall on the rocks, but each time I stop, my legs shake. A short forty five minutes later I am at the bottom of the mountain. We eat, shop, and then head home. I am exhausted, but I have had such a fun time. It was a hard, tiring hike, but it was worth it.