I didn’t really know what to expect getting into Mexico yesterday. Maria kept telling us to write down our expectations, but every time I sat down and thought about it, I drew a blank. I felt like even if I did write some of my expectations down they would be contrived, because I really had no clue what it would be like. Its hard to envision a place you’ve never been, kind of like how I couldn’t tell you what I’d expect to see on Mars (not that Mexico is a distant planet, but for the sake of a metaphor…). Anyways, when we got to Playa del Carmen, I felt this strange tug between being an outsider and feeling welcomed by people who wanted me to buy their stuff. I’ve never really felt comfortable going to a place where the people know you don’t belong there, but I guess as much as they stare at me, I stare back. Its just unfamiliar, thats all.
So I took this photo of the reflection of the Mexican flag in the second story of a building across from where we ate dinner the first night, and it kind of summed up my first day there. I guess my experience in Mexico hadn’t quite been tangible yet; it was the first day, I was in an area where scorched pasty American midwesterners and way too many white people with cornrows roamed, and everything was new. All I knew of Mexico up to that point was what I read in school books and saw on Flickr accounts, so I only really got a reflected, filtered version of Mexico. I tend to dwell on being outside rather than work on being inside, but each day so far has been more and more encouraging and comforting, especially because of the people I’ve met.
Language barriers are big intimidators, which I knew from being in France, but its no different here. I lack direct communication with the people here because I’m always asking a translator to speak to someone or translate something, so I feel like I can’t connect very well sometimes. I also never know who to make eye contact with when I am speaking through a translator, I end up looking at the translator but feel like I am being disrespectful to the person I am speaking to. But I can’t let that stop me from noticing meaningful moments that may not have anything to do with language.