Saturday afternoon never felt so good. I have a Snickers in my belly and I’m nursing a Gatorade in bed while the cicadas buzz away. I’m pretty spent after another night in the boiler room, but I’m absolutely stoked by the influx of new people over the last forty-eight hours. Just when Cuernavaca was starting to get boring, Al and I came across about twenty new friends in two days and it’s a whole new city; proof that it is the social aspect that really fuels a trip like this.
Yesterday, Friday, Alex and I went to Universidad Internacional (Uninter) for the afternoon to figure out when my Gonzaga family arrived. We walked in and immediately sat down with the head school coordinator Francisco for a half hour. He talked to us about everything; the school, our trip, the weather, even the mosquitos. I was saddened to hear that most of my previous professors had been laid off due to a lack of enrollment. With the recent violence in Mexico and its amplification through American media, the school’s international student body has dropped from 200 to 50 during the past four years. There are still plenty of local Mexican students keeping the doors open, but Uninter is not the white man stronghold that I remember it to be.
Eventually Francisco had to get back to work and he told us that we could wander the campus and use the facilities freely. He also said that Luis and the GU students we’re arriving at 8:00pm in the evening. Knowing they’d be busy when they arrived, we decided to wait until Saturday to track them down. Alex and I toured the campus and then headed for the computer lab to plug in for a bit. We caught up on the internet for a couple hours and then went back home to cook an early dinner.
Last Friday night in Cuernavaca had been a blast, so we were ready for another long night of Mexican entertainment. The plan was to meet Cintia and our neighbor Leti at Los Arcos around 9:00pm. Alex and I arrived first to learn that the bar was already full for the night. Unless we had a table reserved, we could not enter the Salsa Bar. With no phones, we decided to wait around half an hour to see if our friends would show up with any different ideas.
We sat outside the main entrance for about fifteen minutes people watching… and being people watched. At one point a group of young girls walked by and point blank took a picture of us sitting there. Then, minutes later, they returned for a photo-op with the gringos. It turns out that two tall white guys get the superstar treatment once in a while in Central Mexico. A lot of people have called us the ‘Torres Gemelos’ (twin towers) and everyone thinks we are brothers (we all look the same anyway). We posed with the girls for a few photos and they went on their way.
Then, out of nowhere, a guy and girl came up to us and invited us to their table at Los Arcos. With no better option, we obliged; great decision. It turned out that our table was full of Uninter employees and they had seen us walking the grounds earlier in the afternoon. I had a great time hearing about everyone else’sUninterexperiences since I had studied there four years ago. Eventually Cintia and Leti showed up, joined our table, and the drinks kept flowing.
I love Los Arcos, but after three hours of screaming over Salsa music, I was ready for something else. Alex and I were getting along very well with our three new friends Olympia, Pamela, and Daniel. The kids are locals here in their early twenties and each of them speaks at least three languages. We all decided to stroll to a nearby alley full of smaller bars to continue getting to know each other.
We stayed in the alley for at least another hour until everyone was tired of spending money and ready to call it a night. On the way out we made plans with our multi-lingual trio for Saturday night and then parted ways. Alex and I slept a little easier last night because our landlord finally gave us a screen for the lone window. Now we can finally sleep with a light breeze and hopefully less mosquitos.
At 10:30am we woke up, ate a quick breakfast, and took off again for Uninter. Francisco had told us that Gonzaga would be on campus Saturday morning and I was ready to see a familiar face from the United States after six weeks in Mexico.
Looking around the campus, Alex and I immediately wen t to the only white kids we saw and introduced ourselves; of course, they were the Zags. Luis was wandering around campus and we quickly met up with him also. It was quite a trip seeing my former Spanish professor two years after graduation in the same place that I met him: 5,000 miles from home. Luis is in good spirits, although a little more protective of his students this year due to the growing violence.
I really enjoyed talking to some fellow Washingtonians about Cuernavaca, the motorcycle adventure, and Mexico in general. I hope we opened some eyes on where you can take a Spanish degree in the future… if you’re willing to ice road truck for six months. We hung out with the Zags for about two hours until the group split off to continue settling in.
Now, still in bed and finally rehydrated from the Gatorade, I’m about to eat my body weight in chorizo compliments of Alex’s cooking. Cintia has been a great host but it’s time to give her a break after an entire week of putting us on.This evening we are going to meet up with some of the GU kids and show them the downtown. After that, we will head out with Olympia and Daniel again for another night of festivities. The world seems a lot smaller when you’re making friends.