Elayna McCall-Querétaro, México
During the five months that I spent in Querétaro, one of my most memorable adventures was camping in the Sierra Gorda with the Rock Climbing Club from my school, el Tecnológico de Monterrey. The Sierra Gorda is located in the state of Querétaro, under the state of San Luis Potosi, about three to four hours northeast from the city of Querétaro. It is a beautiful mountain range, filled with green forests, wildlife, rivers, and deep valleys. It was my last weekend there and I wanted to do something fun and exciting, so my roommate asked me if I wanted to go camping.
It was so breathtaking driving through the mountains. They were so much bigger than I had imagined. We drove back and forth, curving around the rocks overlooking the valleys, as we got higher and higher. From the passenger seat I could see how high up the peaks went into the air. There were signs along the road warning for crossing donkeys. This was funny to me because we actually started to see donkeys grazing along the road waiting for their owners to return. Our advisor explained to me that this was typical.
About half way through the drive, we descended down the other side of the mountains into a valley containing the small city of Jalpan. We stayed outside the city under a bridge by the river with campers from all over México. The water levels were so low that the current was not strong at all. We went swimming in both of the rivers that ran under the bridge. It was really interesting to look at because one of them was warm and the other cold, we could actually see them mixing in the water. We walked up one river before they came together and swam under a small waterfall where the water was calm.
The last night we roasted marshmallows and I described camping in the United States and making smores around the fire. While looking for sticks for the marshmallows we saw a small herd of wild bison gently grazing in the shallows of the river. It seemed so unreal because I was looking for sticks and looked up, squinting without my glasses on, and there was a group of black, hairy animals not more than twenty yards in front of me. They did not even look up, just kept moving down the river. Our advisor told us that they were common in the Sierra Gorda.
We drove back to Querétaro after a very exciting weekend. The next day I left Mexico for Michigan. I kept thinking about how I could not imagine what my semester would have been like in Mount Pleasant instead. I met and traveled with so many different people from all over the world. My life experience grew so much. Study abroad helped to immerse me in the Mexican culture and increased my fluency in a way that I could not have experienced at CMU.