Six Pathfinders/Rangers and three Guiders from Monklands District headed off to Mexico City and Cuernavaca to attend a Summer Friendship Event at Our Cabana, one of the World Centres. Each member took turns helping to blog every night. This is a condensed version of their posts. The originals can be found here.
Day 1: Welcome to Mexico
The day started off well, with everyone arriving on time! We’d learned a few weeks ago that we got an amazing deal on our tickets and half the group was getting to travel first class each way. It turns out the perks were great – better food, extra snacks, fancy napkins, actual cutlery and even footrests! In economy, breakfast (or disappointment) involved a perfect semi-sphere of powdered scrambled eggs with ham, a questionable red sauce, some fruit and yogourt.
Once we arrived at the airport, we went through customs, including being fingerprinted at a machine. We made it through looking for our driver with a sign with our name. Unfortunately, we finally managed to contact him 45 minutes later and found out that he was another 45 minutes out, having gotten the day wrong.
The drive to Ticalli was uneventful and the Mexican Guide Centre is welcoming and functional. We didn’t take too much of a break for fear of not getting up again so we dropped off our gear and headed out. We were very excited to find “churritos.” We opened the bag, dug in to enjoy our mini churros until we discovered that they were hot pepper flavored. Someone more observant might have noticed the chili on the bag.
Last on our day’s bucket list was actual churros. They were as good as we hoped, dipped in sweetened condensed milk, caramel and chocolate. They were much longer than we expected so we could break them into pieces and dip multiple times.
Day 2: Over 20,000 Steps!
After the feedback we received from yesterday’s blog (too much talk about food), today we saw lots of CULTURE.
We visited the Mexican Guide shop before heading out towards Chapultepec park. It’s amazing to have so much green space in the middle of the city!
Bathrooms were harder to come across (and cost 4 pesos, about 25 cents), but searching for one led us to the entrance of the castle we’d planned to visit. We felt very lucky as they told us we didn’t need tickets – being students and “teachers” – and started the long walk up a hill to the entrance. They checked our bags at the bottom of the hill and told us we were ok to bring our water bottles up as long as we didn’t drink from them, but apparently communication between them and the security guards at the top was iffy because they insisted we empty our water bottles and also head back down for tickets since we didn’t have student ID.
The castle was much bigger than we expected and also more museum-y, but we enjoyed it all the same. We found a globe from 1816 that included Montreal but not Canada. After all the running around, it was noon by the time we went in so there were some sections (apparently more castle-y) that we didn’t make it to as we were starving by 2 when we headed back down the hill.
The Museum of Modern Art had packed picnic lunches you could buy and eat in the park so we headed in that direction. Apparently siestas are a Mexican thing so we lay down on our picnic blanket and enjoyed a nice nap (some more intentionally than others) after lunch before heading in to the museum itself.
Beverly was extremely excited to see Frida Kahlo artwork and there was a neat interactive exhibition about art and games. A few pieces of art we’d like to mention: a neat painting of a Ferris wheel and people walking by, a boy peeling a creepy mask off his face, a shadow wall that you could stand behind with props, a weird movie with detached hands and legs reassembling their body, and a wall of stencil signs about Trump.
Day 3: Eagles and Eternal Spring
Today was a travel day: van, boat and feet. We left Ticalli right after breakfast and headed by van towards Xochimilco, the city of eternal spring.
Upon arriving in Xochimilco, we headed onto a boat called Fernanda. A dog followed us on and we were all sad when he had to be shooed off. We traveled around in the boat surrounded by 2499 other boats for about an hour. It felt more like 5000 boats because they were all we could see. There were carnivorous plants for sale for 30 pesos ($2), water hens, dead fish, people selling food and flower crowns and Mariachi bands. We decided to pay for a song.
We had lunch at a small place recommended by Luis (tacos for many of us) and saw a performance of circus performers dangling and spinning down a large pole. One of the played the flute while spinning upside down. Wow! We then got an hour to wander around the stalls and buy things like bags, magnets, plates and coconuts.
When we arrived at Our Cabana there fancy gates and we were greeted with chocolate and lemonade. We had some free time so lots of us headed to the pool with floaters, water guns and balls. The water was nice and warm!
We all joined up again for a tour of Our Cabana, and then dinner (quesadillas). During a short break after dinner, Alex, Stephanie, Chloe and Rebekka played tennis. We then played some icebreaker games (Stephanie won one of them) and then got an intro presentation.
Day 4: Our Favourite Things
Rather than a chronological post today, we’re posting everyone’s favourite event/activity/moment. We are writing to you after a Just Dance marathon and we’re very sweaty but happy!
Kathryn: THE GIANT BUG: A giant bug!!!!!
Stephanie: THE PANCAKES: they were delicious for breakfast. They were light and fluffy and covered in fake maple syrup, chocolate and sweetened condensed milk.
Fred: SITTING BY THE POOL, BEING ALL TOGETHER AND BLOGGING: I like it because it makes us think about our day and share our favourite moments. I also like having my feet in the warm pool water.
Beverly: DEAD SCORPION SOCIETY CHALLENGE: Lizzie roped me into attempting to become a member of the Dead Scorpion Society by completing the Our Cabana challenge. We have been working on doing things like learning 10 Spanish phrases, learning about the history of piñatas, complementing people in Spanish and doing a Mexican craft.
Alex: HENNA: as part of a World Centre tour we did different activities relating to the countries the world centre are in. My favourite was doing henna designs as part of discovering Sangam, a World Centre in Pune, India.
Clara: DECORATING BAGS: it was fun because we got to see everyone’s creativity and because everyone made different things. There are many crafts in the craft house we can do and I’d like to go back and try them. These bags will be used for secret friend gifts.
Lizzie: THE NOT LIME: we were told we could pick fruit from the trees so we found a lime we were excited to squeeze into our water. We cut it in half and discovered it was orange – not a lime but a very unripe mandarine! It was sad but also funny!
Other notable activities: a round robin of activities about leadership, a hilarious video and ultra competitive scavenger hunt about the history of Our Cabaña, a group photo, swinging and Magnum popsicles.
Day 5: Old and New
The 3 of us Guiders contributed to colours this morning with the theme of Leading for Innovation: Creative and Critical Thinking. We began with some inspiring quotes, then had groups of ten do the human knot and finally, raised the WAGGGS flag.
After breakfast we boarded mini busses for our excursion to the village of Tepotzlan. We started our time there at an ex-convent where Dominican friars converted the locals to Catholicism. Then, we continued on to the local church that has been under repair since an earthquake a few years ago.
Since it’s been a while since we talked about food, we will permit ourselves to discuss this morning’s highlight: a local ice cream shop with 138 flavours (but only 125 were available). Flavours we tried included vanilla, blackberry, cream, mango, chocolate, kiwi and litchi. Some were made with milk and others were more icy but all were flavourful.
This afternoon, we played a game about WAGGGS. The girls were far more competitive than we were – especially Beverly who hates competitive games when they get violent. There are only of battle scars to show – none of them belonging to our girls because we are mean and make them were shoes rather than flip flops or bare feet.
We ended the evening with a fabulous campfire where everyone led songs from their country. There much hilarity, silliness and dancing. Then we had s’mores! Including some with pink marshmallows that tasted like fake strawberry flavour. They were…interesting…
Lizzie was very disconcerted when the buckets next to the fire that she expected to be water buckets were lit on fire! Where was the safety?!?!? It turned out later that there was a water bucket way off to the side.
Day 6: Tiny Humans, Lizards and Snacks
Today we drew on mini children with tattoo markers during a community service project where we welcomed tiny humans (orphans) to Our Cabaña. They were very cute and sticky. They were the best behaved children we have ever met and made us emotional. They also drew on us.
There was an awesome huge lizard that we kept scaring back into its hole. Did we mention it was huge??
After lunch we headed out walking around the neighbourhood. We found a Starbucks and, by chance, happened on some pyramids. We couldn’t get past a fence but it was still kind of neat!
Tonight was an international festival where each group presented something about their hometown/country and we all set up tables with food, badges, etc. The Bahamians handed out as much candy as people could carry, one of the US groups let us taste test all their cookies. We had maple cookies. During our presentation, we sang Oh Canada in both official languages and taught Cathedral Bells.
Day 7: Over the Falls Without a Barrell
After an early breakfast, we boarded a coach bus that drove us an hour and a half away into a different province (Guerrero) where we then took a half hour ride in the back of pick-up trucks. Amazingly the excitement didn’t ware off as the pain of the bumps began and continued. There was great joy through the “owwww”s. According to Rebekka’s Fitbit, we did 10,700 steps during the just a few hours today because it kept counting the bumps as steps.
The company providing a waterfall jumping experience gave us PFDs and helmets and we started out 1 mile hike out through twisting paths, rocks, mud, and trees that led to jumps that grew in height. We started with a 1m one to see what our technique was like and they eventually increased all the way to 6 and then 10 meters. A couple stray dogs followed us all the way through (minus the jumping) and we saw a number of cows and donkeys on our journey too.
All of our group members were brave enough to do the 10m jump and some of them even did it twice – they say they would have done it a third time too!
Day 8: SDGs and STDs
Most of our girls led the opening activity at colours today. Their theme was gender equality so they led a game where they read our jobs and character types and invited us to move between “male,” “female” and “unisex” depending on who we thought held these roles in our cultures.
The entire event group was divided in two and the other half went waterfall jumping today so our numbers were smaller (around 40) for our morning program centering on gender violence. We talked about different types of violence, their causes and what we can do to take action. We weren’t running around as much as most of our programs but that was nice given how much we ran around yesterday and we had some really good conversations as we all sat together. Many girls said they wished they had more of that kind of conversations in school and at a younger age.
After lunch we had a nice pool party with music and fancy drinks. There was an epic game of monkey in the middle and lots of sitting on floaty toys.
After dinner we gathered at the craft house and worked on various projets like pottery painting and straw art. Then, we participated in an evening program about kindness. We played a buzzer type game with questions about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and when one of the questions came up asking us to name at least 8 SDGs, one of the groups started naming off STDs – accents can be confusing! We were all laughing so so hard!
Day 9: Practicing Our Spanish
We started out with a short program called Free Being Me which tackled the image myth. The focus was on social media and ads. We discussed how images are manipulated to present one standard of perfect which doesn’t truly exist. The final activity in the program was for each of us to write on a sticky note what physical feature of ours we liked the best. We then stuck them up on a wall so we could see all of our love for ourselves!
Visitors to Our Cabana create a page for a scrapbook so we spent some of our free time in the craft house working on our page. We have a Quebec flag as our background with pictures of us glued on and cute Canada stickers stuck on a bit willy-nilly.
After lunch learned about Mexican traditions. There were a bunch of stations set up with different activities. Three stations helped us practice our Spanish: loteria (Mexican bingo), a market game where we learned how to haggle and a word search. The haggling was one of the most fun, as June, the staff member running the station, was really playing the part. When we we were asking her to lower the price she rocked her imaginary baby and said it needed tacos.
For those more artistically inclined, there was a Day of the Dead makeup station and for trivia nerds, there was a challenging game of Jeopardy.
Day 10: Hasta Luego, Our Cabana
In the morning we went to Cuernavaca. We started off visiting the oldest Catholic Church in the Western Hemisphere (1500s) before buying our final souvenirs in a local craft market.
We made it back in time for a late lunch and some free time before our evening Fiesta! The few of us who were working to complete the Scorpion Challenge finished that up just in time. Examples of things we had to do were: taking a selfie with Nieve (Our Cabaña’s cat), finding out the meaning/history of things like the piñata (did you know it was originally from China?) and the Mexican flag, completing a Mexican art project, taking a picture of a volcano at sunrise and helping to ring the morning bell.
Our evening festivities began with some games like pin the tail on the burro, a ring toss, and other silly games.
Then, after dinner (with churros!!!), we’re treated to a show by a Mariachi band, girls got to hit a piñata, we enjoyed a slide show of the week including blooper photos and we received our special Our Cabaña pins that you can only get if you visit. There were some (lots and lots of?) tears, many goodbyes and photos.
We also traded the secret friends bags we had been filling all week and received fun things like crests, magnets, socks, snacks, tea, oats, water guns, a hand-painted journal, etc.