Maybe it was youthful carelessness, maybe curiosity, truth is that my best friend and I decided to travel across Mexico for four weeks. Yes, two women all alone in Mexico. Why not? Probably the heart of all concerned mothers will now stop for a short moment. Especially because that’s not the whole story. The plan was to sleep on strangers’ couches every night.
The whole thing is called Couchsurfing: An online platform with a network full of crazy travelers, students, young people who offer or look for a place to sleep for free. In the meantime, however, the portal has long since ceased to be an insider’s tip and is used by all people of all age groups. And so everything is there, from cellars to luxury apartments. So why do you do this to yourself? Of course, it’s not just about travelling around the world as sparingly as possible. The magic is that you can experience the country and the locals up close, you are right in the middle of it. Right in the middle of everyday life, right in the middle of the action. Thus, one experiences the culture much closer than in a hotel for example. So for us it was burritos and tequila. (Among other things …:))
We step on Mexican soil for the first time arriving in a small place called San Miguel de Allende. With bags as heavy as us and no prior knowledge of Spanish, we make our way to the first couch surfer. The thought of going to a complete stranger to stay overnight is slightly frightening. This could also be the beginning of a horror movie: “Midnight in Mexico” or “La Casa Mexicana”. The first horror was the taxi ride. Like a live Formula 1 race, zigzagging through the streets, red traffic lights mere suggestions and the oncoming traffic lightly considered, our driver feels visibly comfortable. No, this is not a horror film; rather, the continuation of “The Fast and the Furious”. To the right and left small narrow alleys fly by–beautiful houses of the old town, houses from which the their colorful tapestry is peeling off. People are everywhere; they are preparing for the upcoming Independence Day. The streets are decorated, the whole city is transformed for the big, colourful festival with lanterns, music and pure joie de vivre – Viva la vida.
I begin to fall in love with Mexico, slowly.
We survive the first night. The next morning, we hear a quiet knock on the door. Leila, the child of our Couchsurfer family sneaks up our beds and sits down with a book in her hand.
Later, her mother Maya prepares breakfast in the kitchen. “Chicas are you hungry?” By now, we are in the middle of the buzz and busyness inside the house. This experience is not scary at all, like we thought. We spend the rest of the day with the family, visiting the Aztec temples, secluded in the mountains, and learning a lot about the impressive history of the Mexicans, their traditions and their culture. A culture that is very dear to the family. For a while they lived in an ecovillage in Oaxaca, a project to preserve traditional Mexico and fight against consumerism and commerce. Because the craft, the variety of food and the old culture are gradually disappearing, they still making their own chocolate, with beans from their own cocoa plantation. At home, mushrooms are cultivated in the basement and on the roof there is a kitchen garden and chickens.
After four days, numerous Mezcal drinks, fried insects and long conversations until late at night we say goodbye. Strangers become friends and the farewell feels tough. Our next stop is Mexico City and the difference to the contemplative life in San Miguel de Allende could hardly be bigger. The metropolis, once the capital Tetochnitlan of the Aztecs, overwhelms with treasures such as the Pyramid of the Sun and the Street of the Dead, has about 20 million inhabitants. The wide streets, the big square “Zocalo” (Plaza de la Constitución) and the architecture of the city centre with the cathedral, the town hall and the national palace are breathtaking. And people everywhere. Masses of people.
Mexico – a breathtaking journey, a country with unbelievably many facets and an inconceivable nature. But above all with truly hospitable, warm and open people. We will see each other again very soon, dear Mexico, you have really taken a liking to me.
Do you also have experience with Couchsurfing?
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Masha is the founder of Literaa Poetry and the better half of Pedro.
She likes to write columns and lifestyle topics and takes care of the editorial staff.
Read more about Masha here.