(Manny and I at the Tenochtitlan excavation site, with modern-day Mexico City and the Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de María behind it.)
As I’ve said before, one of my favorite things about Florida Tech is the number of international students on campus. It gives you a chance to explore new cultures and meet new people from all over the world. One of the people I’ve gotten to know best is my friend Manny, who is an electrical engineering major from Mexico. Right after school got out this semester, I went with Manny to his home “town” of Mexico City.
Before I went down to Mexico, I was kind of nervous about going to such a big city. I’ve lived in Florida my whole life. The biggest city I had ever been to was Seattle, which doesn’t even begin to compare with Mexico City. When I found out from Manny that the population of Mexico City was the same as the entire state of Florida, I couldn’t shake that thought from my mind. Can you imagine the entire population of the state of Florida being condensed down to one giant megacity? I couldn’t.
Despite my worries, my time in Mexico was absolutely amazing. I stayed with Manny’s family and they were honestly some of the most wonderful people I had ever met. They showed me around the city and I got to experience Mexico not just from the tourist’s side but also from the local’s side, which was incredible. On my first full day in Mexico, we went to a different part of the city. Slightly hidden away, in the corner of this one plaza, were ruins of the Aztec city Tenochtitlan. I’m completely in love with old stuff (I’m one part history major, after all), so I was in heaven. While you walk throughout the ruins and through the museum at the end, they tell you all about the different stages of the Temple Mayor as the temple was expanded and repaired during Aztec times, with its drainage systems, shrines and more.
His family also took me to the pyramids of the sun and the moon. These pyramids are not smooth like the ones in Egypt; they have steep steps that you climb to get up to the top. It can be quite a workout. Manny’s oldest sister, Viry, told me that “with all this climbing, the Aztecs must have had great legs. That’s why the Spanish fell in love with them.” She also told me that when you go to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun and raise your arms up, it’s supposed to recharge your energy, which I thought was a cool legend. So, naturally, we all had to try that once we finally got to the top.
Besides visiting all these great tourist sites, I really enjoyed just walking around the city. Just being able to walk 5 minutes to go to a taquería (taco shop) or a café or 10 minutes to get to the metro was pretty awesome — you can’t do as much of this in Melbourne. I thought it was really cool to just be able to stop on the street and buy things like food, drinks, trinkets, hats and purses. It was just so different from life in Melbourne and I really enjoyed it.
There are so many great sites in Mexico that I got the chance to visit. A few examples include the castle of Chapultepec, a convent, some absolutely gorgeous Catholic cathedrals, the Torre Latinoamericana and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). To anyone that’s even remotely interested in going to a foreign country, I would highly suggest you do it. There is nothing more interesting and eye-opening than leaving your own culture to go explore another. This has been one of the best experiences of my life so far and I have my friend Manny and his family to thank for it. So, thank you all very much. You’ve given me the experience of a lifetime.