A Travellerspoint blog

Mexico

Studying in México

Vivir y estudiar en Pachuca de Soto en Mexico

I have spent 174 days in Mexico, most of them in Pachuca. Pachuca is appr. 90km from Mexico City and the capital of the state of Hidalgo, one of the poorest in the country. It's indigenous people are the Otomi who call the city Nju̱nthe.
174 is not such a long time but sufficient for gaining a thorough impression of the country, its people and culture, and academic environment.

People: In general Mexicans (and other Latinos) are incredibly nice and generous, though of course, there are exceptions. It seems fairly easy to make new friends, but most of them do not have an adequate level of English which for me made communication difficult as I was far from fluent. That is my problem and I was well aware of it beforehand, but I can say a very good knowledge of Spanish is a prerequisite for feeling comfortable.
The level of trust between people in Mexico and Latin countries in general is very low and mostly only family and few close friends are relied upon. Family and church are the two centers of life. More information on trust and society here.That has generally little impact on a foreigners stay but can cause funny situation at times.

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BBQ time
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Fuck you deep sausage
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Cool new cafe where we spent a lot of time.

Administration/Planning: *WARNING* this section is nothing but a rant

I knew it was going to be chaotic but it exceeded my wildest dreams. Though there must be some kind of regulation about the administrative processes, the university paper work was out of this world messy. On arrival similar documents asking for the same information had to be filled in but then went into the same paper folder. It took forever to get a student ID (almost til the end of the semester) and it is a lengthy process which requires going to 4 offices across the whole city throughout several days. Though you have this official ID at some point, you also get a card that is something like a preID that is fully recognized. Therefore I didn't want to get the real ID but I was told I wouldn't get graded in the university system if part of the administrative process was not finished. Which turned out to be false.
As soon as I had to provide or receive any kind of document throughout the whole semester I was threatened with withholding my certificate which I needed to receive the scholarship money and gain the required amount of credits to keep my status as a full-time student. Appointments were also an issue as I had to go to the central office (far from my campus and place of living) 4 times to finally get the person I needed to actually physically be there when he promised, without postponing it after a 1 hour wait, for a surprise meeting or any other reason. Still, suddenly new requirements came to light in order to process my grades (which had all been previously discussed to death in the beginning of the semester - have they told us a fictional story?).
The courses started on a rolling basis throughout the semester and I was told that courses starting after the first month cannot be guaranteed until the day they are supposed to begin, so I should change my Learning Agreement from June again in November when I would know everything for sure. Apparently that is common practice but made my life an administrative nightmare cause not once did anything go smoothly and the various offices involved DO NOT communicate with each other. My supervisor was very nice and tried to be as helpful as possible but that was not much. He was new and maybe a bit clueless. And unorganized. He promised to give me my certificate beginning of December, then mid-December, then he changed to sending it to Estonia in January which later turned out to be April. After I had submitted all grades in person in his office before my departure, he again asked me for them 3 months later, even though they were inside the mentioned paper folder where he had put them in front of me!

All those things and more drove me crazy. You may say 'other culture', but partly it seemed like baby-behavior and nothing but carelessness. When it came to deadlines of students they suddenly became strict but when it was about their side of the work nothing mattered and the set deadlines requiring them to issue documents became the student's problem. A big administration has to be organized, especially when a student's future and finances depend on it. From my point of view culture cannot be used as an excuse when the chaos is so extensive. If my home university had not been extremely flexible and understanding of my problems with my host university I could have been expelled and would have been required to repay the scholarship. Not speaking of the regulations broken by the university itself, they also had agreed to deadlines and other procedures by signing the agreement contract with the European Commission. Though they obviously broke this contract as well, there were no consequences for them, partly because I think no one has any expectations towards them in this regard and quietly accept the situation. When it comes to the students writing their reports or communication between universities or the EC and the uni, suddenly they became loads more cooperative because they want the EU's money. Most exchange programs were already abolished by my uni, they mainly participated in EU programmes which are entirely paid for (admin, scholarship, flights, etc.) by the EU.

The horrid organization that greeted me upon first stepping into the central office in the university accompanied me throughout my stay.
Teachers suddenly remembering they had other plans after students had been sitting in class for 30 Minutes, not showing up at all without notice, etc. This on top of the fact that each class was arranged in the previous one, meaning that planning your week was impossible as class times within the same subject varied from 7am to 10pm. And I am not speaking about exceptions, almost no class began and ended when it was supposed to. Almost always it began up to 40 min late if it did happen on the same day.

I have to mention though that I attended doctoral degree classes for my master credits, and not many attended those, also it is unusual to take part in so many classes as I did, as a PhD takes several years and students tend to take only 1 or 2 at a time. This could have been a contributor to the carelessness of the professors and my blood pressure as the others weren't as affected by the constant changes. The English and Spanish classes I attended for extra credits were not as nerve wrecking.

Talking about the quality of the teaching itself for my doctoral classes, it was excellent. I had fantastic, interesting, enthusiastic and friendly professors who were a delight to be taught by. Something I rarely experienced in Germany.

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Friends at the goodbye dinner

Public sport courses were almost impossible to attend as published schedules were never correct, even talking to an instructor by phone the very same day to confirm does not mean they remember that you booked a class! Within 4 months I only managed to get to a course at one of the various sport studios 3 times! I gave up.

Once I have asked somebody if there was a combi going to a certain place where I had to go the next day as there is no easily accessible public transport information available. When I returned the next day I had found out that there was a bus going to that place. When I told the person to inform her about it, she said "yes, I know"... but apparently telling me that was too much effort as I didnt specify I wanted to take a bus because they are less common?! Same thing with printing, scanning, copying at the university. I asked about a dozen people about the procedure and not one of them thought it necessary to tell the stupid foreigner that there is the old 'shortcut virus' still country-wide infested in the whole uni network as no one thinks doing something about it is there responsibility. So I did not back up and erase my USB completely before accessing a file, cuaing all files on my laptop to be change unnoticed by me. After I opened one of those files the virus crept into my software, causing me to contact an IT professional who I had to 50 Euros to kill and revive my entire laptop, losing all my files and data, and now I am forced to use Office in Spanish and my standard home country to Mexico meaning I always google in Spanish at first. An error unfixable as the standard language of my new system is actually English in the configuration. . . have you tried using excel formulas in a language you do not even speak fluently, let alone know the specific vocabulary in software? Thank you very much, Mexico.

This (being late, not-giving-a-shit-attitude, lying/forgetting, ever changing documentation requirements, losing documents) literally made me go insane. I was angry most of the time and frustrated, and by the end of my study time I had a minor burn out. I just couldn't go on like this and was so happy it was over. I might even have battled depression. Some days I didn't leave my room at all cause I couldn't face Mexico; the prospect of facing one more unnecessary bullshit was too much sometimes. I had turned down a cool internship at the European Commission to go to Mexico and had hoped it would make me "less German" but this is a way of life impossible for me. Without any kind of control over your life, everything being random, no possibility to plan anything, I cannot live. I know that now. And most of all, what I have also learned: that is okay. Before I thought that I could live anywhere because I had never encountered too many difficulties, and believed that that is how it should be; that a good person can adjust to everything with the right attitude, but the world is more divers than the small picture I had of it. And it's good that it is that way, there is a place for all of us, and I just don't fit into Mexico, or Latin America perhaps. Despite mental hardship, I am grateful for the opportunity and funding I have received and do not wish I had made a different decision. I am glad I know more about the world and myself. Furthermore, living in Mexico cannot at all be compared with travelling there which was one of the best experiences of my life.

Please remember that this is a highly individual experience, that I am used to an orderly fashion and that this text is subjective. Even for Mexican standards I have been extremely unlucky on the admin side, so chances are this won't happen to you. Or you are used to such things already and see no reason to vent, lucky you :D I m writing all this down so I can laugh at it and myself one day.

3) The Food
The cuisine seems to be a national treasure, their pride. Mexicans love their food and I was repeatedly told it was the best in the world. I have also met 2 Europeans and a couple of Latinos who worshiped Mexican food. 99% of people who claimed Mexican food was the best in the world though have never eaten other kinds of food, except for maybe some local Asian restaurants or American imports, like KFC. American food products, such as cake pops and "natural orange juice," are widely available, the cereal (cornflakes) aisles are massive like I have never seen before or since. Using this as comparison, no wonder Mexicans believe their food is the superlative of taste. You have probably guessed by now, that I am of different opinion. The first week I enjoyed Mexican food but it then quickly became boring. Everything was made of some version of tortilla. Most dishes differ in colour, size and cooking method but it essentially remains a tortilla with some sort of stuffing along the same lines, not even the endless amount of names given to the foods could deceive me into thinking it actually were different dishes. Sure, you may think knowing me, I did not eat spicy and therefore could not have enjoyed the variety of taste of chilli and the different moles. But a changing mole does not not create a different dish, neither does chilli.
I did like guacamole and I may have developed a minor addiction to avocados, now that they were actually affordable. Around 4,5 months I lived with a Mexican family who provided food for me 3 times a day. It was fine, but now and then I had to eat something else. And I was surprised by how little fruit was consumed in Mexico on average from what I have seen. But that was what I loved most over there: fresh, good, but cheap fruit and juice. Once I overdosed on orange juice because it was sold on the next street corner on weekends and my throat hurt for days.

What cannot be ignored when talking about food are frijoles (negros). Beans that are usually cooked and mashed into some kind of paste. It looks like dog food, but tastes fine, though I most of the time avoided it. It's eaten as stuffing or as side dish. And in all households there must always be a big pot of frijoles, at all times.
To close with something I did love: Pastes. I love those things. Especially the ones from Real del Monte. There are so good and available with various stuffings, I especially liked potato or apple, and I miss them.

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Macromural “Pachuca se pinta” on 209 houses in la colonia Palmitas with the aim to create a sense of community and it seems that the crime rate did decrease (Wikipedia, Commons)

4) The Weather
Pachuca lies high up on a mountain, the weather during one day may range from icy cold to scolding hot. Almost always always it's very windy, so Pachuca is also called La Bella Airosa. Ear infections are eager to say hello. Mexico itself has of course a great variety of climate zones.

5) Going to Mexico yourself
First and foremost it is important to distinguish to where you are going. My Mexican university was located in a town where tourism is almost unknown, especially from outside Mexico and even more so from outside Latin America. The same goes for the university. Your experience in la Ciudad de Mexico, Puebla, Oaxaca or Cuernavaca would definitely be totally different, or in other words much easier. Spanish language skills and a flexible attitude are key, but also the university infrastructure and level of teaching would be much higher in Puebla or Mexico City where studying would be more fun and easier arranged. Going to Pachuca I cannot really recommend, but it would definitely give you the deeper Mexican experience - we are talking about one of the poorest states. However it is also a relatively stable one. Security-wise I cannot say I felt unsafe, but when I saw the police with their guns and that was a lot. However, it is by far not as bad a situation as in many other parts from where students told me they saw drug trade with their own eyes etc. It is a troubled country but the farther you are from the US border the more you are "tourist-safe", e.g in Cancun. Overall Mexico was my favorite country to travel in, it is easy, friendly and cheap. As a foreigner i was frequently told I was blind towards the dangers around me as I don't expect them or know about them and therefore cannot recognize them, which I believe is absolutely true, but still I can wholeheartedly recommend visiting Mexico. Living there is harder for people from Europe talking about comfort I would assume, and harder culture-wise for those from Asia. Of course, all this is a generalization. But what I would not recommend is going to Pachuca to study as a young, inexperienced, maybe carefree-chaotic person with no experience abroad. Chances are you will quit and fly home if you do not find strong local friemily support.

6) The language
At first I really didn't enjoy Mexican Spanish as I was used to Spanish from Spain, and specifically the s-sound from Ce Ci z words I didn't want to accept because it seemed so improper. However, I quickly noticed that Mexicans (generally) spoke a bit slower than Spaniards and that words were much easier to understand. The Mexican pronunciation appears clearer because the s sh sch ch th z sounds do not distort the words. Spanish from Colombia and Argentina where they change words completely, do not pronounce word endings or more frequently use sh-sounds is also hard to understand. Til the end I could not make out Colombian Spanish, it is the worst Spanish I have ever heard, and at second place now there is Spanish Spanish for me. Therefore I believe Mexico is the perfect country for anyone to learn Spanish. Later when you have a grasp you can continue to other variations of Spanish. Mexican Spanish is by far my favorite version, beginner friendly and grammatically the easiest. I am also a big fan of ignoring the vosotros words which were usually the most difficult form for me to remember.

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El Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades "Alfonso Vélez Pliego" (ICSyH) donde estudié la mayoría de mis clases en la UAEH

To conclude living in Mexico was a challenge for me, a challenge I am happy and grateful I had. I was already in love with East Asia, wanted to see more of the world, and discovered that I do not fit into this part. If you surrounded yourself with some influences from Latin American culture, e.g. learn the language, cook the food, watch TV, chances are that you will feel more comfortable.
Despite this text being quite negative, I do have plans for going back. I wanna visit some of the most wonderful friends I have met, especially my Mexican sister Luceritititito, and I hope to travel from South to North America, through all or most countries within one or two years, some time in the following years. In this context I am a fan of Mexico and culturally related countries ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Posted by nerikimmera 03:39 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico abroad study_abroad erasmus student_exchange Comments (0)

From Valley to Mountain to Jungle

My final Mexican experiences

After a round of exams I travelled this route, very typical for Mexico-travellers:
(Pachuca de Soto) - Mexico City - Oaxaca - San Cristóbal de las Casas - Palenque - Tuxtla Gutiérrez - Mexico City
From Mexico City I had planed to go to Teotihuacán as my last, and surely impressive, site to visit, but unfortunately ran out of money and energy on my last 3 days.

I had planned to travel 4 weeks throughout the country with more stops, mainly along the Western, Southwestern and Eastern regions, with Tulum being the furthest point, and perhaps with a stopover in Guatemala. However, I got a mysterious and severe infection of some sort no one could figure out, so I spent about half that time in bed, trying to resist taking antibiotics my German doctor had previously prescribed in case of emergency.
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1) The City
Despite still being ill, I decided to start my trip to the famous capital of Mexico, with 9 Million city dwellers and 21 Million people within the metropolitan area. Originally called Tenochtitlan by the Aztecs who had built it on an island it is the oldest capital city on the American continent and one of only 2 founded by its native people (besides the Ecuadorian Quito). It was called Ciudad de México during Spanish invasion and occupation, and after gaining independence D.F. for Distrito Federal (head of the federation of the Mexican states). This name is used still today, though it is not called D.F. anymore as of February 2016 due to restructuring of the political landscape of the country.
Due to its many citizens ignoring the traffic lights during the night, police men handle the traffic at strategic points in the city when it gets dark.
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Impressions of Mexico City. Not how I expected it to be. So bright and friendly :D

My friend Alinne's lovely cousin Shantal (ENT specialist - huge plus for me!) took me in for a few days during my first visit with Alinne, before I wanted to start my adventure, and then again shortly before my departure to Europe. She gave me shelter, food, medication, company and friendliness, and didn't ask for anything in return. I couldn't have been luckier than to meet these two fabulous women. Mexico City seemed very chaotic and didn't have this pleasant atmosphere I know from big cities in Asia, mainly China (yes, it is subjective. Very). Feeling safe and unsafe while exploring the city, paying tons and paying very little for food and drinks alternated every few minutes. I discovered Gorditas de Nata, lightly sweet English-muffin type bread; I tried to eat as many as possible, and also bought many other goodies before going home. Studying in Mexico City may have been more fun, but I don't particularly like this city or at least during those 7 days in sickness and poverty I didn't enjoy my time that much. However, I can say its worth a visit and the fresh, cheap juices you can mix to your gusto are to die for. . .

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Famous Palacio de Bellas Artes

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Ayozinapa was present in almost all places I went to. The outrage became a beacon of hope people tried to hold on to. For a little while the believe was kept that finally real change was about to come and perhaps Nieto would leave (or would be killed by the cartels if he could not calm his citizens down). But months later oppositional leaders all over the country keep being assassinated.
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Some protesters remained day and night.

2) The Valley
I took a night bus from Mexico City to Oaxaca de Juarez or Cuidad de Oaxaca, the capital of the state of Oaxaca, and stayed in a nice little hostel somewhere close to the center, in walking distance from the bus station. In the hostel I experienced for the first time how severe the water shortage in Mexico actually is as it was rationed for bathroom and kitchen use. That day it was el Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe and I could experience the procession and the accompanying fair. Also there were numerous (night) markets I enjoyed. What disappointed me was the lack of fresh fruit offered on the streets and in the supermarkets. Overall Oaxaca was a beautiful, comfortable place worth staying several days to discover the surroundings, while the city itself needs only a day or two. I participated in a day trip which was a wonderful experience and I recommend to do at least one of such trips into the nature outside the city! The prices are cheap and you get very good cultural value! I went to Hierve el Agua, Mitla, Tule, Teotilán y una Fábrica de Mezcal. A little overview about the places you can get here. Although this was my tour operator I do not recommend a specific one; so far I only heard good things from travellers about all of their operators.
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Museum

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3) The Mountain
I took a ADO Platino to San Cristóbal de las Casas during the night which was the wrong choice. I was not given a snack like in the cheap busses before, the nice comfortable armchair of the first two hours became a nightmare longterm, and the monitors in front of each passenger could not be entirely turned of, so that light became very bothering during my failed attempts to sleep. I remember there were more uncomfortable or negative events but my mind seems to have suppressed this information. Definitely money badly spent. However, San Cristóbal became my favorite Mexican city. I love that place. It is full of lovely little streets, friendly people, cheap and fresh fruit, is relaxing and beautiful with impressive nature. As time was a pressing issue I could only stay 2 whole days and 1 night but I remember the feeling of comfort over there. The hostel was very pretty and flowery, but hard to find and for the first and only time the company of the other travellers not enjoyable (Everyone experienced knows the different kinds of hostels according to their suitability for solo travellers). One moment has stayed very vividly in my mind: putting my backpack into the luggage storage (some sort of wooden living room). Two rows of other backpacks were stored along the wall, so I put down mine in a third one and turned around to look at all of them again. My backpack seemed tiny in comparison to all others. I had chosen a smaller backpack made for women on purpose and knew I was travelling lighter than most others no matter the travel period, but for the first time that was so strongly visualized in front of me that I did ask myself for a minute if I was travelling the wrong way and what I could have possibly forgotten to take with me.
As I have been a bit sick and just enjoyed simply being, I did not take many pictures.

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Trip I could not do

3) The Jungle
Though the Mayan city of Palenque was astonishing, the biggest impression on me was left by the bus ride. I bought another (normal) ADO ticket for a ride that was supposed to take 5 hours. After about 7 hours we finally stopped and I got off the bus, went out of the station and searched for the respective street along the bus station that would lead me to my hostel. I could not find it, so I asked a group of men who tried to figure out where this street was as they only knew a park by that name, Juarez. As this place looked nothing like I had imagined, with growing suspicion I, embarrassed, ask for the name of the city I was in. I was in Villahermosa! I ran back passed security and got on the same bus, ask the driver if this bus was going to Palenque after all and after he had finished laughing he told me yes, but it would take a while. I was just on time, 1 minute later the bus left and looking at the pathetic, crouched person I was, they decided to ignore the fact that I could not find my ticket to prove my identity during the second ticket check. Instead the driver and the other passengers had a good laugh again when he told the inspector. After a total transportation time of 11 hours the driver turned to me and very slowly and articulated said: Pa-len-que. I got off the bus and considered a taxi to the hostel as I felt completely destroyed and ready to pass out. I had started my bus ride at 5pm after a long and busy day San Cristóbal and had no food or drink on me as I had planed on having dinner on arrival as 5 hours didn't seem that long considering the distances I was already used to travel. On arrival I was hungry but had lost my appetite. I decided to save the money and walk to the hostel which turned out to be very close, closer than it had seemed on the map. All I could do was to reserve a place on the archaeological site Palenque for the next day and fall into bed in the worst hostel I have been to outside of China. It had no furniture, no shower, no walls, no windows, no security, no kitchen, no nothing. It was sleeping on a mattress in a construction side.

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Serene nature
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To my surprise the booked trip was more than the archaeological site. The Palenque ruins are wonderful to see and the guide an endless source of information. It is incredible to imagine how life must have been there, how colorful the buildings, and the rituals, how different the view of the world, and that 95% is still uncovered. When you see T-shaped holes, windows, statues or signs that place stands for the living, a T on its head refers to places of the dead with whom communication was possible.
We walked through the site feeling so good among the old ruins and the lush green semi-jungle. Splashes of their original colors could be discovered among the ruins, mostly blue and red, the plants sported thousand shades of green as flowers rarely grow in that area. It was serene. I walked out of the archaeological area with an elderly couple among my tour group, who incidentally came from Pachuca. The archeological site of Palenque is by far not the biggest one in Mexico (not in terms of what is excavated, but it shows some of the finest art or works of the Mayans still visible today.
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From the side
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From below
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From above
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toilet hut
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That is what I look like trying to jump
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Painting of the carvings on the lid of the tomb of K'inich Janaab Pakal I in the Temple of the Inscriptions which was build as his last resting place. For a long time his tomb couldn't be opened because no one could figure out how, after it had already taken years to even discover it inside the temple. His pose on the carving was compared to that of an astronaut, leading some to believe that the Mayans were in contact or influenced by extraterrestrial beings. Others interpreted him as being reborn and/or in contact with celestial beings or items. What many found surprising and interesting is that the middle is widely interpreted as being a World Tree, a symbol found in many believe systems and mythologies around the world, most notably in North and Turkic Asia, Northern Europe and ancient peoples in the Americas. Therefore some scientists and scholars believe the concept of an underworld-earth-heaven connecting tree is in our subconscious collective human memory due to human evolution having started in nature/in trees. Pakal was said to have become a god after is death. He was born in March 603, during a very violent period, and is called Pacal the great or "Sun shield" from the Mayan work Pacal for shield. He reigned 68 years, the longest reign in the Western hemisphere. His features and depictions of his life are all over the Palenque ruins (of what little we can see today) because he constructed and extended inscriptions and buildings, and some of the finest Mayan art has been created under him, including his unique stone sarcophagus.
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Interesting history about that which I have forgotten
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Decoration showing Pacal
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More and more parts cant be visited due to destruction by tourists. 95% of the site is estimated to is still be buried underneath
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You can see some hints of the ancient colors
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Museum about the Mayans. Much about Pacal
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Cactus and tree symbiosis
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Bʼolon Yej Teʼ Naah (House of the Nine Sharpened Spears) or Templo de las Inscripciones. It is not allowed to be climbed anymore.

Later on we visited the corresponding museum close to the exit. After that we continued to the Cascadas de Agua Azul and the Cascadas de Misol-Ha where we went swimming, had a late lunch and bought some souvenirs. By the end of the trip I made friends with two Mexican sisters and decided to switch to their hostel as mine was so bad. These two lovely ladies let me stay with them for free for two nights and celebrated my birthday with me. Together we discovered the city of Palenque and Mexican lemon tart. We also had a bad experience at a restaurant that brought us closer together. They were happy to spend time with me because in my company all but my poor self were safe from mosquitoes.

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Nature = love

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From behind (cascadas, not on the archeological side)
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Birthday cake

I really wanted to visit Guatemale, I even had arranged accommodation with a friend's friend en la Cuidad Guatemala but I did not have any money left to spend in Mexico, so I planned on taking a chicken bus. Crossing the border is nothing like crossing within Europe; it is wild, dangerous, adventurous, needs several modes of transportation, and long story short, I became the chicken and then bussed my ass back to the capital.

4) Last days

The bus ride of almost 1000km was horrid! I wanted to stay in Tuxtla Gutiérrez for a day but when I arrived due to financial and organizational issues could not stay there for long. So I stayed for 5 hours and went on to Mexico City. I assumed to be able to go around town, but the bus station is surrounded by nothing but giant streets and few, tiny food shops. I would have had to walk too far and without a map to reach a residential or otherwise interesting area. With my (for me) heavy backpack. Also the big shopping center beside the bus station was closed as it was too early in the morning. Therefore these 5 hours passed slowly and agonisingly without a comfortable place to rest after the previous bus ride. Until I reached Shantal's place again, who I woke up in the middle of the night, I had been travelling all in all from Palenque for about 50 hours due to various challenges and unforeseen events. Once I arrived in Mexico City taxi drivers refused to take me home as the distance was too short, despite it feeling like a mountain climb to me. I started to feel sick again which continued into the first 2 weeks into Germany. In Mexico City I spent some nice hours with Shantal and her friends but I mostly slept. I was dead tired. I barely made it out of bed for my host. I have been regretting not going to Teotihuacan ever since.
On my departure day Alinne and her friend, who carried my luggage through several vehicles to the airport as I didn't want to pay for a taxi, came from Pachuca to support me and say goodbye which I was so happy about. They waited with me to check-in at the long queue and made these last hours a bliss despite me still feeling a bit nauseous.

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5) The Aviation Adventure A Alemania
Due to European Union regulations I had to start and finish my Erasmus Mundus Exchange at my home and host universities' countries - a rule I find to be completely outdated in today's world. Therefore my itinerary looked as follows:
D.F. Mexico - Amsterdam - Tallinn - Amsterdam - Frankfurt
I am too thrifty to buy food at airport, I rather starve, which is exactly what I did. Flying Air France was bad as always and since I had already been awake 24 hours after my first flight I wanted to rest at my next departure gate. Lest I forgot that I transferred from an international to an inner EU flight, meaning I had to go through security again. Knowing my lack of adequate nutrition was coming up in the Netherlands I had packed a big amount of food and different drinks to gain some energy for the next 3 flights. Of course, these couldn't go through security. After passport control the security guy asked me about liquids and suddenly I remembered my stock. I almost started crying and begged the guy to let me return through passport control, so that I could eat and drink something to avoid death. Looking at the mirror later I know I looked like a battered ghost. The police guy told me to think first the next time as security protocol forbids such action but they let me through and I could eat and drink and rest at the nice Schiphol airport. When it was time to go through again I was afraid to meet the same police man again but a new shift had started. Contrary to that I was hoping to meet the nice security guy to thank him for saving my existence as I had just left like in trance last time without a thank you; unfortunately he was gone as well. But wonderful, nice, Dutch security man please know I remember your kindness, you showed compassion where there was only supposed to be regulation. Thank you.
Overall, going home took about 2 days and when I arrived on 24th December around 5pm at home I had 2 hours to shower and rest before the start of Christmas dinner. Thankfully my family let me sleep until the last second to help me recover as much as possible. Still, I wonder how I managed to keep my head out of my plate. Well, barely.
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Posted by nerikimmera 11:46 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico backpacking san_cristobal_de_las_casas mexico_city palenque oaxaca study_abroad Comments (0)

WHAT HAS BEEN HAPPENING IN MEXICO?

Problems^2 in Mexico

SO, I havent posted something in a long long while!

First reason: Due to horrible organizations skills in all offices across the university all my exams happened around the same time. Which had not been the plan at all.

Second reason: When that was done I wanted to upload videos I had already recorded but I needed to get my papers for my next semester ready; I needed to print, sign and scan different documents. Not knowing that the whole university, the city and most likely the whole country was infected with a very old virus "the shortcut virus" because, as so often, nobody cared enough to really do something about it. Only AFTER I asked Mexicans about the virus I have and if it was actually possible to have gotten it from the university (incomprehensible for me at that time), they told me how normal this virus has become and how they deal with it by having a "virus USB" they completely erase after each use and they never let scanned documents be put on their USB, rather have them send by mail. And this all never came up when they talked to me about where and how to scan, copy, etc. One thing I really dont enjoy about Mexicans is that they never tell you anything you dont specifically ask for. Once I asked if there was a Combi (a bigger car mostly used for travel within a city) going to the shopping mall. No, there was none. But there was a BUS going which I had found out later, as well as that this was not news for that person, but I didnt specifically ask for a BUS... . Things like this happened on several occasions and as much as I hate that, it is actually harmless. The virus though did some damage. I was confused about all my files appearing as shortcuts and stupidly clicked on some. The virus spread to my laptop and I could not use any flash drives anymore, hence not access my files from my camera.

Third reason: Waiting for repair. Permanently damaged USB.

Fourth reason: Internet blackout for several days. The internet has been deteriorating for the last 2 months. My theory is the state ordered it due to the rising protests, but of course I dont really know. This would be easy to do as there is a quasi-monopoly in telecommunications of one man with strong ties to the government. A change was ordered, but it there has not been any noticable change so far. report by the Economist

Fiith reason: the connection has been so bad that it could not handle uploading a video, photos, or downloading 2 pages as pdf. or sometimes even opening my mails. As it works better in the morning I am trying again and only use photos. This I will probably have to continue until I am back to Europe.

SO, NOW WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO?

A few days back was the Kosmo-Con in Pachuca to which a friend invited me. It was all about Asian Anime Culture.
My friend's K-Pop dance group was entertaining the crowd, which I cannot show unfortunately.
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Typical Asian pic :D
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The university made a big deal out of an international dinner with the director and then he didnt even show up.
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Then I went to Veracruz to a governmental event with a friend who studies with me. The event happened on the ground of the Navel base and school. Veracruz was an important place in the earlier days with wars at sea and fleets from Spain and the USA.
The navel golf court to train concentration
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The navel library
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Veracruz is known for fresh sea food. As it was really cheap I kinda overdid it and suffered a bit afterwards
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A lot of fresh fruit and drinks were available as well
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Veracruz is not know for smart architecture
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If you have wondered how the tense situation in Mexico manifests itself in Pachuca here is one picture. On universities and high schools there are banners like these, always stating solidarity as usually there is one saying: we all are Ayotzinapa. Protests happen now and then, once mildly violent as some students destroyed private property when marching along the streets. The university campus for the arts located in Real del Monte did a very artsy and informative protest day with many workshops which was awesome and peaceful but far from being widely noticed. I went to the cinema on thursday and students blocked a big, important road for about 5 minutes, so we had to get out of the taxi (didnt want to be late for the movie) and cross the road while the cars didnt move.

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Posted by nerikimmera 09:01 Archived in Mexico Tagged university la el director was cena been veracruz con virus happening Comments (0)

Las Grutas de Tolantongo

A new weekend adventure

So here is a summary of what has happened during the last three days.

The Grutas were actually a bit dangerous. I was wearing flipflops but due to the strong under current I lost them in a super dark grotto. This has also led to some cuts on my feet, as well as an awefully big and black-purple-red and stripped bruise on my thigh and mildly infected cuts on my knees as I have lost balance a couple of times due to the pain in my feet and fell on sharp edges of stones. Aimé from Argentina also lost one shoe. She and a few others discovered one of mine later. Unfortunately we both were left with a right-foot shoe, so none of us could walk comfortably anymore. That's only fair, huh?! :D haha Other people were wearing normal shoes, but the pair I had with me in Mexico was unsuitable for that purpose (yes, i travel light). The scenery though was beautiful! Swimming in beautiful stone tubs on mountains so high up and overlooking the surrounding nature was an incredible experience! And I looooved the strong massage by the waterfalls!

Here are some impressions.

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As always - I can't keep my eyes open :D
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This is from the picture time! Our tutor Adrian was not included as part of our group by the university administration, so we did it ourselves instead!!large_DSCF0564.jpglarge_DSCF0560.jpg

Posted by nerikimmera 19:12 Archived in Mexico Tagged grutas tolantongo Comments (1)

Real Del Monte

The small silver mining town

Hola!!

So I have done a little day trip to one of the more famos places around here in Pachuca: the little silver mining town of Mineral del Monte. The video contains information about the town, but if you are interested in more, check out its website here.

The mining museum. The guide was one of the old miners who has worked there his whole life until closing. There the very first strike in the history of North America happened in 1766 against the inhumane working conditions. Later the strike turned violent. The guide also experienced one strike, for which the leader of the union demanded money for representation, even when they had already stopped working. When he had enough money, the labour union guy fled the country and is now searched for by interpol. I was told.

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Picture time!! SMIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILE

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Hanging around in Real del Monte

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Selthree :D

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In the mine, protecting my backpack. You never know...

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Real del Monte from above

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The arts campus of my university is situated in Real del Monte and so much prettier than mine. But that seems to be a global phenomenon ... that (economic and) art faculties are always the prettiest.

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A mystical or a cursed city? (Just like Pachuca; filled with the tortured souls??) Probably just the rain-season-weather.

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Una fiesta de quinceañera/quince años we witnessed (the girl is called quinceañera. Boys do not celebrate this birthday that pompous way)

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These fruits are from tuna/Feigenkaktus/prickly pear. I (right) eat 2 different sorts of tuna with pomegranate, Lucero with tons of Salsa and Chilli.

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Posted by nerikimmera 12:50 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico semester_abroad real_del_monte Comments (0)

The Caribbean!!

Cancun y Playa del Carmen


:) :) :) :) :) :) :)

Hello, lovely people

before uni started I have spent a couple of days in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. A few impressions can be seen in the video and others are on the pictures below. The one thing I can say for certain is that this (THIS CLIMAT) is not a place for me. Complaining about being in the Caribbean is like the biggest non-problem ever but I definitely prefer icy dark Estonian winters to that humid hellhole. I am going to follow the advice of Tabea and a few others and gonna look towards the south of America. But of course I super enjoyed lying in the hammock between palm trees.

I have had few advantures again due to a lack of signes and wrong bus schedules. For example I took a bus at 5am to get to the airport in Cancun from Playa del Carmen and it was supposed to take 2 hours. But it was around 50 minutes and I was way too early for my flight. But I wanted to take the early bus because there wasnt another one for the next two hours and I wanted to be safe. At Cancun airport there are no places to sit at the Terminal 1 except for one cafe for which I was too thrifty of course. So I was sitting in the dirty airport floor for hours reading the book Kai gave me and being starred at by hundreds of people, probbaly wondering how disturbed I seem to be wearing my dark hoody over my head.

(To pretend to be more professional I tried to put in an introduction for a few seconds :D )

Thats how I watched the finale of the world cup in Puebla (was kinda obligated to haha)
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The beautiful under water world at Isla Mujeres
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Joy, joy
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Kinetics, aweful and awesome
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My hostel in Cancun; living the life :D :D
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One of the beautiful naked goddesses
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Yeah, babe, looking super professional, no?
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My two companeros
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Dancing Salsa at the beach at night. Or trying to... The beach is on the right side of the pictures
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My beautiful gigantic Mosquito bites, so you all can be disturbed with me, yeayy!!
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My plane ticket was just a tiny piece of paper
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Posted by nerikimmera 19:21 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico caribbean cancun playa_del_carmen exchange pachuca Comments (1)

Bienvenido a México

First days en los Estados Unidos Mexicanos

Though it took a while before I figured out how to get to my gate in Paris, it was nothing compared to the time I spent at the Mexican airport. I arrived a bit late in Mexico City as my plane had to circle above the airport for 30 minutes due to an air traffic jam. Going through immigration was not difficult, they barely looked at my papers but the whole thing is super unorganized and has taken more time than was necessary; f.e. the person organizing the lanes is more than useless. After that my luggage was checked very thoroughly, each bag, and they asked me questions about it! My luggage was checked 5 times during my first 3 days, at the airport a couple of times, at the bus station and on the road from the trunk of a car when we were stopped on the way to Pachuca. The Mexican airport is also not the most well- structured one and I have never experienced such a slowliness in selling tickets! I was repeatedly told that I cannot buy sim cards anywhere and the wifi is even worse than in Paris, something I could not believe when I was in France. But then again, I am spoiled from Estonia, even Germany is far behind in this regard. So I had some trouble telling my friend when I will be arriving as there were also no public coin-phones, only payable with visa card, and of course mine was not accepted. Just as with almost all ATMs which forced me to open a Mexican bank account, which is a foreigner-unfriendly process due to its (new) requirements.

With Eduardo, who I had met just like 2 months before in Riga when my friend Jasmin came to visit me in the Baltics, I went around Puebla. Puebla is one of 31 Mexican states and also the name of its capital. Its origin in today's form is from the Spaniards who founded this place 1531 in order to secure a trade route from Mexico City to the port of Veracruz. But settlement dates back thousands of years, the youngest ones known by the general population are the Aztecz. Those before include tribes and cultures with funny names such as Mixtecs, Olmec-Xicalancas and Nahuas. Earlier findings cannot be connected to names.

At a certain point in time the Spanish people came and the great pacifist Hernán Cortés called for peace talks, f.e. in 1519 with the Massacre of Cholula (an old city, now part of Puebla). It was peaceful after that. As can be seen in the video, the Spaniards also tried to take over land spiritually and built their own Christian buildings. Today many Aztecs pyramid are covered by plants, some can be entered for a small fee.

Pachuca seems like a cursed place...
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This has been the most "typical Mexican" photo I have taken so far
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A club/bar in Puebla (Cholula). I like that things are so colorful here
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Posted by nerikimmera 07:12 Archived in Mexico Tagged paris mexico puebla semester_abroad pachuca Comments (1)

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