Estoy disfrutando el aire. It means that I’m enjoying the air, and Tilsa (my Teaching Fellow for this semester) was absolutely right when she looked over and saw me learning towards the open car window with a smile plastered on my face as we drove amidst the rolling mountains of Chiapas on our way to Jaltenango–or “Jalte” as the pasantes call it.
I was reminded of the untouched serenity of the mountains of Tanzania that I had seen during the summer after my freshman year of college–similarly dusty roads flying past and a strikingly blue sky overhead. There were small tin-roofed homes dotted the landscape and the rare internet café made an appearance every now and again. In the background remained the mountains, smiling despite their stoic faces.
And last but not least, there was the wind that we were generating as the car tires spun and we made our way from Tuxtla to Jalte, where Compañeros en Salud’s (CES) main site is located. I knew I would be spending a good portion of the next 3.5 months in this small town and, to say the least, I was anxious to see it for the first time. But for the time being, I was enjoying the ride and the only beating that I would ever take willingly: that of the wind against my face, creating a soft numbness that would soon spread from my forehead to my upturned chin. It has always been one of my favorite feelings in the entire world.
Why? Well, this particular feeling of wind beating (I suppose I can call it that) has a remarkable ability to give me an incredibly visceral reminder of my place–physically and otherwise. For me there truly is something special about being able to appreciate something, like the wind and the air that it consists of, that is always invisibly surrounding us. It reminds me that no matter how much my body might resist movement as I change and age with time, movement itself can be generated externally if only we take the time to discover it.
But, putting my rather grandiose reflections aside, I am happy to recall bits of my first week here in Mexico. Looking back on it, I can see that the benevolent beating of the wind is not unlike my experience in Mexico so far, where I’ve had pieces of a vibrant culture that I’ve only ever studied from afar beaten into me.
And I’ve been enjoying every minute.
A few pictures below!