My first big trip was Mexico!!
I decided to throw caution to the wind, put it out there and just go for four months. My Spanish consisted of “Hola” – Hello and “Cerveza” – beer!
Call it naivety or an unknown adventure but I was off!! I had decided one of the best ways to familiarise myself with the country was to do a couple of volunteer stints and registered with Workaway, a website for finding volunteer postings.
After much research and emails with hosts, I had just under two months of volunteer work. One was on a horse ranch and eco-farm three hours west of Mexico City in Valle de Bravo, and the other was in a small city of 50,000 people called Coatepec in the State of Veracruz.
My first big adventure on my trip was trying to locate the Hotel I was staying in which was actually in the airport terminal in Mexico city as I was petrified to leave the airport. Once I managed to locate my Hotel I was a lot better but after a nights sleep, locating the bus from the airport was a mission in itself. I made the bus and could sit back and relax for a couple of hours taking in the sights from the bus.
The landscape was different, the people were different, there were massive car transporters everywhere as Mexico was a hub for car manufacturing (something New Zealand didn’t perform anymore) and big factories dotted along the highway.
I had to at some point change buses and ask for assistance from the Spanish speaking staff who didn’t understand a word I said and were unable to read the address of the town I was going to. Apparently, I not only had to change buses but also bus depots. In the end, we all figured it out and I was back on the correct bus to Valle de Bravo. I decided the best thing to do when I got there was to take a taxi to my hosts Eco-Hotel that they owned and had the same problem, the taxi driver was unable to read the address and after much driving around we finally found it! A good take-home point from that exercise is to have the address where you are staying, translated to the local language.
After meeting my host’s Dad, I had a couple of hours to kill while waiting for Eric (my host) I decided to have a wander around the town. It then decided to rain, and when I say rain, it rained so heavy and so hard the streets almost flooded and I soon found myself lost. Most of the shops and streets all look the same, they have the same frontage and similar signage and I was beginning to panic, but then I saw where I had started and breathed a huge sigh of relief.
The Del Rio family had been taking volunteers for years and I was to stay in what was their old family home on the farm, and after Eric (my host) turned up, we drove to the farm where I met Brett, the other volunteer there and we sat outside with a cheap Mexican beer and watched the fireflies. And so ended day 1 in Mexico.