July 10, 2016

Entonces Dios pone personas esas maravillosas

en tu camino las cuales siempre tendrás

en tu corazón a pesar de la distancia.

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Then God puts in your way these

wonderful people, which you always have

in your heart despite the distance.

 These are the incredible words that I found my name attached to on a Facebook post made by my host cousin, Diana, about our friendship. Although I have only known her for four weeks, we have so much in common and she has become my mejor amiga in Mexico. I am so thankful that God lead me to her and her family for my study abroad experience. I know that our friendship is going to continue far, far beyond my five weeks here.

The photo above is of Diana and me during our day trip to San Miguel with four of her best friends from Monterrey. I am so thankful to have been invited to join them as they celebrate Diana’s last days in Mexico before she leaves for a month in Poland. We had an incredible time. Our day began with an hour of so bus ride around 10am.

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When we arrived in San Miguel, we were greeted with this view of the city below. As we wandered our way down the hills of cobble stone streets, we stopped for several perfect photos along the way.

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Once we got to the center of town, we were awestruck by the beautiful church, Misas. It is the anchor of the center of town. We did not enter the church at this time because Mass was in progress, but when we went by again later the church was open and we were able to admire the beauty of the inside as much as the outside.

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Around the church is the main plaza in the center of town. Diana told us that the reason the plaza is raised significantly higher than street level is because when the Spaniards conquered Mexico, they built the plaza above an ancient temple and ruins.

Diana led the way to a restaurant for Deysayuno/Comida. It was buffet style. We all went up with plates in hand; I filled mine to the very edge with several different dishes. When I sat down, I felt like a piggish American when I saw that all the girls had only taken a little bit of fruit, some soup, or nothing at all. I was confused. I tried to figure out why we had come to a restaurant if no one else was hungry or if they were hungry, why they were not taking advantage of the all we could eat buffet.

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But, as I worked on clearing my plate, the girls all got up and filled their own plates. It turns out that when you go to buffets in Mexico, you serve yourself courses beginning with fruit/soup, then the main dishes, and lastly more fruit and whatever you want more of. I was relieved to see that I wasn’t being a piggish American, but just more of a rushed American like I always tend to be.

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After we had spent a good deal of time at the restaurant, we paid our roughly $70 pesos each and hit the streets. There were many shops to browse and more selfies to take. We had a wonderful time. I bought classic Mexican candies after the girls helped me pick out what is best. I am looking forward to sharing them with my family when I get home. I also bought a cute carved wooden burro (donkey) with terracotta pots and a few logs strapped to its back from a girl walking around selling them in the streets. As we continued to wander, we got ice cream to fill in the cracks in our stuffed stomachs and found our way to another small plaza.

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Before I left Oregon, I was packing gifts for my host family when I decided to bring several pairs of earrings that I had made in hops that I would make friends with girls here in Mexico. I brought them along with my last Sunday to share with Diana and her friends, but little did I know how impactful a few pairs of earrings would be.

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They were all siting on a bench in the plaza looking gorgeous when I pulled the earrings out of my purse. Diana recognized them right away. (My first day here, I gave pairs of earrings to all of the ladies in my host family who were celebrating my arrival). As I told the rest of the girls that I had made and brought earrings to share with them, they immediately began looking over all of the pairs trading them back and forth. I had enough pairs for them to each pick three pairs, I hoped.

As they were all focused on the earrings, I noticed a young girl, about five years old, sitting on the short wall right behind the bench. She was wearing all pink and peered between their shoulders at the earrings they all held. I could not help but smile. I do not think any of the girls had a clue they were being looked over. I really hoped that there would be one extra pair of earrings after they all made their selections.

After a few minutes, they had sorted them all out. Diana and her friends all chose earrings that were literally perfect for each of them. They all put in a pair right away that perfectly matched their outfits.

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Diana then held up the last pair, pink and sparkly. I was so relieved that there was one last pair. Diana passed them to me and I looked behind Diana’s friends to the little girl still sitting behind them. As I held the pair out to her I asked, “¿Quieres?” (Do you want?) Her eyes lit up as she looked at me and nodded her head yes. As I handed the earrings to her, she giggled and danced right to where her mom was nearby selling things in the plaza.

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We all sat there for a while longer talking about the little girl and watching her smile and laugh and look at the earrings. When she came near us again, I asked her if she would take a photo with me. She smiled even bigger and Diana and her friends snapped a few photos of us. I asked her what her name is and she said Estrella, which means Star. She does not have her ears pierced, but that isn’t a problem. I was amazed by how much joy those earrings bought her and how much joy she brought all of us. A moment before, those earrings had been the least desired out of all the ones I had brought, but to that little girl, those earrings became something she held tight for who knows how long. Perspective is an amazing thing.

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After this touching moment that brought tears to my eyes, we went to a bar to get drinks and take in the remaining of our time together. I ordered a Piñada (Piña Colada without the yucky stuff), and others ordered smoothies and beers. We were sitting on the roof top of a three story restaurant and could see bits of the beautiful view of San Miguel below. While sipping away, we took more selfies and shared conversation. Actually, I was mostly listening and trying to keep up with the fast Spanish and quick topic changes. But I did not mind listening. I am so thankful to have shared the time with them.

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Afterwards, we continued walked through the streets and worked our way back to the bus stop. We had to wait about 45 minutes to catch the next bus back to Querétaro but it wasn’t a problem. These busses are larger, more tour-style buses with comfy seats and a little air conditioning. But, this doesn’t mean that everyone gets a seat like I originally assumed. On our way to San Miguel, we had no problem finding open seats. However, returning home was a different story. Most of us ended up standing in the center aisle for at last half the ride, but by the end the six of us were happily sharing four seats.

Once we got home, it was time to say good bye. I had such a fun weekend experiencing many new things with Diana and her best friends, from going to a club for the first time, to going to a local bar to listen to Diana’s mejor amigo sing awesome live music, to exploring San Miguel and learning a lesson in sharing joy and appreciation.

I am so thankful for all of the blessings that I have received throughout my time in Mexico. I am so saddened to be leaving in a little more than a week. Every day I love Querétaro and my family and friends here more than the day before. I am going to do my very best to live up my last few days of this experience.

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Although I had to say adios to Diana’s friends, it really is more like Hasta Pronto because I know I will see them again. They actually are making plans to going to vacation at a Mexico beach in December and invited me along! I am not sure if I will be able to make it back so soon, but I have no doubt that I will make it back in the future.

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