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Editor’s Note: This guest post was written by recent Ambassador Coordinator, Donna Baldwin-Haut, a member of FF Greater Milwaukee, Michigan, USA. She and 14 other ambassadors traveled in January to Mexico and developed incredible friendships with their host clubs of FF Tuxtla Gutierrez and FF Mexico City, while learning about Mexican culture, history, and customs.
Fifteen very enthusiastic ambassadors from throughout the US, Canada and England had the opportunity to enjoy a two-week Journey to wonderful Mexico. After a brief overnight in Mexico City, our first week was spent in the state of Chiapas in the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez. Chiapas is one of the poorest states in Mexico. but amazingly rich in friendly and welcoming Tuxtla Gutierrez Friendship Force club members. The club did an outstanding job in sharing its rich history with us.
We were welcomed by government officials, learned about the local flora and fauna, fell in love with the music of the magnificent marimba, shared a Mexican breakfast in the indigenous community of Zinacantan, were moved by our visit to the San Juan Chamula indigenous community church, witnessed the celebration of the “Combat” fireworks in the Grijalva River at Chiapa de Corzo, and enjoyed the spectacular Festival of the Parachicos with its colorful and fun parade that brought smiles and laughter to all our faces.
Our visit to historic San Cristobal de las Casas was wonderful; conversely, our visit to two local hospitals to bring small medical equipment was emotional and highlighted the extent of local poverty. We finished the week with our outdoor fun-filled farewell party along the river, an event none of us will soon forget.
With lots of tears and long hugs, we said “adios” to our new friends and ventured forth to Mexico City, a huge city of over 21 million people which accounted for the overwhelming nature of traffic witnessed throughout the week. A long ride from the airport to the welcome party found us in the warm inviting arms of our new hosts.
With new found respect for Mexico City and all it had to offer, we had an super week. The hop on-hop hop-off bus gave us a great feel for the city. We enjoyed our time in the heart of the city visiting the Zocalo, the National Palace with the Diego Rivera murals, the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Aztec remains. Our afternoon at Xochimilco on the floating trajinera party boats was great fun as we enjoyed the local food and Mariachi music with the club members. The beautiful church in the town of Tepotzotlán (Unesco World Heritage) was the backdrop for an enchanting performance of the university a capella quartet, Shemesh. Our visit to the Teotihuacan pyramids and the Basilica of Guadalupe gave us a deeper understanding of the history and culture of the Mexican people.
The highlight for many of us was the Museum of Anthropology that we visited with an terrific guide, followed by lunch in beautiful Chapultepec Park. A delightful evening performance of the Ballet Folklorico was enjoyed at the castle of Maximilian. The generosity and kindness of our home hosts was evident each and every day. Club president, Maru, was an knowledgeable historian and she brought this incredible city into greater focus for us all. It was a perfect week with perfect home hosts who shared their homes and hearts with each of us, making it all the more difficult to bid them “hasta luego” at the end of our delightful Mexico Journey!
– Story by Donna Baldwin-Hunt, Ambassador Coordinator, FF Greater Milwaukee