Travel Q & A with Maria Salazar

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

One of my best and first friends (ever), Maria Salazar, recently embarked on a family trip to Mexico. I sat down with her at South St. Cafe in Bennington to hear about her Central American adventure. She graciously offered to share her experience on my blog. After spending nearly an entire year traveling, I love hearing other travel stories and memories. Feel free to share yours with me! xo ~ e.

Who did you travel with?

My dad, Anthony, and my mom, Carol.

What was the reason for your trip?

We hadn’t been on a family vacation in a long time, and we had a friend to visit and stay with. I also wanted to practice my Spanish, because it’s one of my majors (and my mom is fluent)!

Where did you stay?

Our friend, Kate, works for CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center). We stayed in the rooms they had there in Texcoco. We fit comfortably in one bedroom and had a small kitchen and bathroom to share.

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You stayed in Texcoco but spent most of your time in Mexico City. Tell me about Mexico City!

Texcoco is 45 minutes away from Mexico City, so it was easy to get into the city. There are taxis, buses, and subways to get around. When we were there, people were celebrating Pride Day, and it was especially crowded outside the train station. Mexico City reminded me of Nicaragua; I absolutely loved it. The driving though was insane. People drove so close to other cars at high speeds. I was scared of getting hit! I got a big kick out of the hot pink taxis that could be seen from an airplane. They’re not your typical yellow cabs you find in NYC!

Like most cities, it perfumed a classic city smell: a medley of garbage, animals, and sweat. I never got to try corn with chili and mango which I really wanted to, but that’s okay!

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What was the weather like when you were there in mid-June?

It was pretty nice. Temperature ranged from 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit, and it wasn’t very humid. It was wet season, but we only experienced rain for a couple days.

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What was some of the best food you ate?

I fell in love with Mexican food. I never consumed anything close to authentic Mexican cuisine in Vermont. One of my favorite desserts was Mamey ice cream. Mamey is a fruit that looks similar to an avocado (grey on outside, pink on inside) and tastes like a papaya. It’s naturally sweet and very refreshing!

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Tlacoyos were another big hit of the trip. It’s a traditional Mexican dish with beans, cheese, cilantro and cactus in a blue corn tortilla pocket. We ate lots of these!

I wouldn’t have done Mexico right without daily smoothies or a piña colada!

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How was the language immersion aspect of the trip? Did you get to practice your Spanish?

I was really nervous about speaking. I could understand mostly what everyone was saying though, which was reassuring. The Mexicans were very patient and forgiving. They seemed appreciative of me trying to learn their language. I first utilized Spanish at the airport in the the taxi, so I was immediately thrown into it! Talking about money was the most difficult for me. Both my parents spoke Spanish (my mom more than my dad), and by the end of the trip, we were all more comfortable speaking it. When we first returned, we struggled with switching back to English!

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Did you do any service at CIMMYT?

Yes! We contributed items to a tag sale and lend a hand at a soup kitchen. There were 15-20 people regulars there, and we gave them each a sandwich, banana, apple, yogurt, coffee, and tea. They were very gracious.

Trip highlights?

The Frida Kahlo Museum was really cool and the pyramids in Teotihuacan were awesome. I got to go dancing which was unlike any dancing experience I had in the U.S. I enjoyed a stroll though a local craft fair (lots of vendors selling trinkets under tents) and admiring a gorgeous basilica too.

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How much did a meal cost?

I never spent more than $5 on a dish 🙂

Did you have any travel mishaps?

My dad left his bag at the airport (luckily it was retrieved), my mom left a bag of gifts at one of the landmarks we visited, and I left my camera behind accidentally. Other than that, we were golden!

Takeaway from experience

I loved being surrounded by Hispanics and experiencing a different culture. This trip solidified my dream to study abroad for a semester and polish my Spanish! FullSizeRender

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