Venezuela

Este semestre he asistido a varios eventos sobre la situación en Venezuela. Han venido varias personas para hacer un panel. Algunos de los panelistas han sido venezolanos mientras otros han sido profesores de la universidad. Todos han compartido sus perspectivas de lo que está pasando. Aquí son mis conclusiones de lo que he escuchado:

 

La situación en Venezuela siempre me ha parecido muy complejo y así es. Cada día me parece que hay algunos acontecimientos nuevos y es difícil saber todo lo que está pasando. A pesar de esto, yo pensaba que casi todos apoyaban a la gente de Venezuela y no a Nicolás Maduro. Estaba equivocado en eso. Hay muchas opiniones diferentes. Muchos quieren dar la culpa a alguien, a Maduro, a los EEUU, a Rusia. También todos tienen pensamientos diferentes de lo que debe pasar. Algunos dicen que los EEUU debe estar involucrado mientras otros dicen que no sería bueno que los EEUU hiciera algo. Para mí, fue muy difícil a veces escuchar estos paneles. Los panelistas venezolanos que han vivido los eventos trágicos de su país muchas veces tenían que estar luchando más o menos para compartir sus pensamientos contra de lo que estaban diciendo los profesores.

Pude ver también cómo la política afectaba a las opiniones de todo cuando un estudiante español respondió a un panelista venezolano con comentarios y preguntas muy duros a favor de Maduro. Fue más que evidente que sus pensamientos fueron afectados por la política en España.

No estoy seguro si estos eventos ayudaban o no… Por supuesto pudimos oír varias perspectivas diferentes pero terminaron con más conflicto y confusión. Por lo menos, fue importante asistirlos y intentar a tener un mejor conocimiento de lo que está pasando allá.

También quiero hablar de otro evento venezolano que asistí este semestre. Tengo muchos amigos que están involucrados en la Asociación de Friends de Venezuela. Cada año hacen una noche cultural y siempre lo hacen muy bien. Fui este año lo disfruté mucho. Su tema fue un viaje de carro por todas las regiones de Venezuela. Hicieron bailes y cantaron. Después, comimos ricas mini-arepas.

Durante la noche, tomaron un momento hablar de la situación en Venezuela y cómo los afectaba y tomamos un minuto de silencio de apoyo para los venezolanos. Esto fue muy poderoso, tal vez más que los eventos de discusión porque solo enfocaba en lo que está sufriendo la gente y no en creencias políticas. Fue muy buena experiencia asistir a la noche cultural.

 

No sé qué va a pasar en Venezuela, pero espero que todo se resuelva pronto por lo mejor.

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A Semester Back in Norman

I have now completed one semester back in Norman after my study abroad experience in Puebla. How was my transition back?

 

When I first arrived back home in St. Louis in December, I didn’t feel too much reverse culture shock. I was excited seeing friends and doing things around the city, and it just felt like a normal time. Whenever I got back to campus at the start of the semester though, I did feel the shock. There were so many things that seemed different. Big things and little things that added up to making me feel like I had been gone forever. We even had a different president from when I left. Also, getting readjusted to my friend groups took a little time. I had to catch up on everything that had happened in the Fall, and some of my friends had left to study abroad this semester.

After the first few weeks, the shock subsided, and I was able to get into the swing of things. I was still often overcome with a longing to return to Puebla, Mexico City, or Guadalajara and would look at pictures to remind myself of those places. I missed getting to go around and visit all these different, cool places. I would also try to keep in contact with friends I made there, but it got to be hard sometimes. I would also always be excited to see other OU students who had been to Puebla, and we were able to spend a few minutes reminiscing.

Now, the semester has ended. I am sad to have gone from Mexico, but I am also happy to be back. I have been excited to get more involved in different activities like volunteering at Manos Juntas and OU Cousins Advisory Board, and I have gotten even closer to my friends.I am also already thinking about the next study abroad program that I will do. Journey to Peru?

 

I definitely experienced a bit of reverse culture shock returning the Norman this spring. I think that’s natural, and you just have to work through it because it will all work out great. As some of my friends prepare to go to Puebla in the Fall, I’m jealous of them but also grateful for the experience I have to look back on.

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Noche Cultural Peruana- 4 de Mayo 2019

Fui invitado por mi profesora de la clase de español médico a la noche cultural de la Asociación de Estudiantes Peruanos. El evento tuvo lugar en un salón de Cross. No sabía que existiera ese cuarto pero fue muy lindo. Llegué y todo fue adornado con banderas de Perú y telas muy hermosas. Más, hubo música tradicional muy linda. Yo estaba muy emocionado ver algunos de mis amigos allá también.

El foco de la noche fue probar comida peruana. Nunca había probado ninguna comida peruana pero sí había oído de la reputación de esa comida. No me decepcionó. Para beber, hubo Inca Kola y Chicha. El Inca Kola fue como un refresco de Tutti-Frutti y no me gustó tanto. Por otro lado, me encantó la Chicha. Creo que es una bebida de maíz morada, frutas y otras especias. Tenía un sabor muy especial.

Las dos entradas principales eran Causa y Ají de Gallina. Causa es un plato muy importante en Perú por las celebraciones de la Independencia. Consiste de dos capas de una mezcla de patatas y en el centro son rellenados con pollo o atún. No me gustó tanto este plato. La otra entrada, el ají de gallina, fue como un guiso de muchas especias y pollo que se come con arroz. El sabor de este plato era increíble. No podía parar de comerlo. Una chica de la Asociación me dijo que tiene una especial especial, el ají, que es muy difícil encontrar aquí en Oklahoma.

También había dos postres: Flan y arroz con leche. Normalmente el arroz con leche es uno de mis postres favoritos mientras el flan no me interesa tanto. En esta cena fue al revés. El flan fue el más rico que he comido y el arroz con leche no fue nada especial.

Después de la cena, hablé un ratito con unos miembros de la Asociación de Estudiantes Peruanos. Me invitaron a juntarme con la organización y me contaron sobre lo que hacen. La mayoría de sus actividades es cocinar. Me parecía muy divertido todo lo que hacen y me gustaría participar con ellos en el otoño. Más, todos eran muy amables.

Estoy muy feliz que pude ir a esta noche cultural. La comida, música y amigos todos eran muy buenos. Más, pude probar por la primera vez la famosa comida peruana.

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OU Cousins Advisory Board

This semester, I was a part of the OU Cousins Advisory Board (CAB). I joined at the end of last Spring just before the OU Cousins barbecue, and today we just had the barbecue again, so it has officially been one year. I didn’t know going in how important being in CAB would be to me. First, the people who are on CAB and our advisor Quy are all so incredibly kind and make it a joy to work together on the events. Also, getting to meet all the international exchange students through the program is always a great experience. As CAB, we have the opportunity to meet even more of them, and it is exciting to see how the international and US cousins grow closer to each other across the semester. Also, the OU Cousins are just fun. From going to Thunder games to Smores nights, they’re always a great opportunity to take a bit of a breath during the semester.

I planned a trip for OU Cousins to the Norman Art Walk. We met at Rusty’s Frozen Custard, and then dispersed in groups to visit the different shops on Main Street. I had never been to an Art Walk before, and it ended up being a lot of fun! There was good music, cool art, and cute shops that I didn’t realize existed on Main Street! I’m glad that we went did this event and that both international students and I were able to experience the Art Walk.

On top of being on the Advisory Board, I also had my own cousin this semester. Her name is María, and we were in Puebla last semester together. It was nice getting to take advantage of the Cousins program to have a chance to spend time with her now that we are back in Norman.

OU Cousins and CAB has been a source of such positivity for me this semester, I could never have expected what a positive impact it would have on me, and I’m so glad that I made the decision to be a part of it. I’m excited to continue next year, now with more experience on how to make OU Cousins the best it can be!

 

OU Cousins BBQ 5/1/2019

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Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol- “Asalto al Agua Transparente” 4/19/2019

Hoy fui a ver una obra de teatro de la compañía Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol. Lagartijas vino de la Ciudad de México. Su obra trata de la historia del Valle de México desde el tiempo de los Aztecas hasta el presente. En particular, enfoca en la historia de agua y su uso allá. En la época de los Aztecas, había lagos muy grandes alrededor de la ciudad de Tenochtitlan pero los españoles y gobiernos de México drenaron los lagos. Ahora, casi el único lago que queda es un poquito de Xochimilco al sur de la ciudad. México también tiene un gran problema de falta de agua potable.

Después del drama hubo una sesión de preguntas y respuestas y pudimos aprender más. Mencionaron que en noviembre toda la ciudad estaba sin agua por un problema con un tubo importante. Recuerdo esto porque yo estaba allí en la ciudad al inicio del periodo sin agua. Recuerdo que todos hablaban de cuando iba a para el agua y que había que hacer. Es algo interesante porque yo no puedo imaginar una ciudad de ese tamaño sin agua.

También dijeron una teoría que los mexicanos están rechazando su agua y que poner los ríos en tubos y así es un señal de la modernidad. Esto también fue interesante porque en Puebla hay una avenida principal que fue construido encima de un río canalizado. Los demás ríos de Puebla son contaminados y huelen bien feos. Es otro ejemplo que yo pude ver con mis propios ojos del problema de México del agua.

A través de la obra, se podía ver que el problema del agua no es un problema único de México sino un problema mundial. En una escena, la actriz habla de todos los privilegios de la modernidad mientras el actor tira un montón de basura por todos lados. Es impactante.

Otra observación que hice a través de la obra tiene que ver con todos los nombres mencionados durante la obra. Ya había oído esos nombres en el Metro de la CDMX. No sabía pero los nombres de las paradas del Metro sí tienen un base histórico muy fuerte. Nombran los ríos y acueductos y ciudades de los aztecas del pasado. Hay incluso una parada que significa “salto de agua.” Aunque muchos de los lugares ya no existen, los nombres de las paradas del metro nos reconocen de la historia de México.

 

No lo esperaba, pero me encantó esta obra. Fue tan interesante y tan impactante por su sencillez. Espero poder ver más obras de esta compañía.

 

Paradas del Metro de la CDMX

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Mi Semestre en México: Una Revista

Ahora que he terminado mi semestre en México, estoy analizando mi experiencia. ¿Qué aprendí? ¿Cómo cambié por la experiencia? Claro que mejoré mis habilidades de español, conocí una nueva parte del mundo, y conocí varios nuevos amigos. Pero estos son las cosas obvias. La verdad es que este semestrucha emoción y algo de nervios también. No sabía qué esperar. Muchos me preguntaron cuales opiniones yo tenía sobre México antes de llegar. La verdad es que no tenía ningunas opiniones específicos. Nunca había estado allá, entonces cómo podría tener una opinión? Creo que esto fue una cosa buena que hice. Fue bueno llegar al país con la mente abierta. Por eso, pude conocer el país sin impedimentos de prejuicios. Esto es algo que quiero continuar: siempre entrar con la mente abierta.

Al llegar en México tampoco conocía a nadie. Vine con un grupo de 15 estudiantes y 2 profesores de OU y estábamos en la universidad de UPAEP en Puebla. Quería conocer muchas personas en México y creo que logré en eso. Terminé con buenos amigos del grupo de OU y también conocí a muchos mexicanos amables. Conocer a gente de México fue muy importante para mi experiencia. Por eso, pude ver un poquito más de la vida cotidiana en México y conocer a partes escondidas del país. Algunas de mis mejores experiencias este semestre fueron con mis amigos mexicanos.

También fue bueno tener los amigos de OU en México. Ellos entendían cómo es estar en el extranjero por un tiempo largo. Lastimosamente, creo que muchos de este grupo no querían hacer el esfuerzo de conocer mexicanos. Se quedaban muy encerradas en sus grupitos. Por eso, ellos perdieron una experiencia más profunda del semestre. Entonces eso fue otra cosa que hice bien este semestre: conocer muchas personas incluso mexicanos.

Este semestre también hice el esfuerzo de organizar mis propios viajitos. Con el grupo de OU, ya fuimos en 3 viajes a la Ciudad de México, Oaxaca y Cancún. Yo también fui a Guadalajara y varias veces a la Ciudad de Mexico. Estos viajes solos fueron bueno porque pude sobrevivir solo y seguía aprendiendo disfrutar tiempo solo por mi mismo. También pude conocer más de México.

Estos son cosas buenas que hice este semestre. Ahora hay que pensar en las cosas que podría haber hecho mejor. Al fin del semestre, yo estaba muy preocupado con proyectos y ensayos y tarea. En ese tiempo, dejé de disfrutar de estar en México y solo me enfocaba en la escuela. No organicé bien mi tiempo para poder estudiar y explorar México. Quería hacer unos otros viajitos pero no los hice por no darme tiempo. Solo en los últimos días del semestre regresé a explorar y disfrutar Puebla cómo había hecho en los principios del semestre. Reconocí mis lugares favoritos de la ciudad incluso mi parque favorito, el Ecoparque, y los visité unas últimas veces. Fue bueno que por fin pude reconocer dónde había fallado y debo enfocarme siempre en organizar mi tiempo para estudiar y disfrutar dónde estoy. Debo reconocer mis lugares favoritos y visitarlos.

Otra cosa es que a pesar de conocer muchas personas, sentía muchas veces una soledad fuerte. Desde mis viajes anteriores, ya sabía que este sentimiento es una parte de viajar. Es una cosa solitaria estar en un lugar nuevo sin amigos muy íntimos. A través del semestre, luché en aprender cómo disfrutar tiempo solo pero sí fue difícil. Es algo en que tendré que seguir mejorando.

Todavía hay mucho más que analizar sobre mi experiencia en México. Con más tiempo, voy a reconocer más las cosas buenas y malas del semestre y cómo maduré a través de mi tiempo en México. En general, sé que era una experiencia muy importante y positiva estar allá y agradezco haber tenido esa oportunidad.

 

Pues, hasta la próxima!

 

Foto: Vista de mi parque favorito

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Mexico City

Puebla is located only a 2-3 hour bus ride away from Mexico City. Because of this, I took several trips to Mexico City. As the largest city on the continent, Mexico City is full of things to do. Each visit went similarly. I would get up early and spend the whole day going from one thing to the next. I would walk and walk and walk and often not take time to sit for meals. Traveling around the city is easy with the Metro but can take a while, so the amount of activities that can fit into one day are limited. Needless to say, I always came back tired, and even at by the end of the semester I still had more things I wish I had been able to do there.

Mexico City is interesting. There are just so many people there. No experience further demonstrates this than riding the Metro during rush hour. I saw Metro stations filled to the brim with people and was flattened against a wall by a stampede of people trying to board an arriving train. Getting shoved or knocked over is not an uncommon experience.

Overwhelmed by this craziness, I was always happy to return to the quieter city of Puebla. Also, Mexico City is very polluted, and I definitely felt the pollution wearing on me. Within Mexico City, one of my favorite places to visit was Coyoacan, the neighborhood where Frida Kahlo’s former home is located. Coyoacan is more peaceful than the center of the city and is full of green trees. The air felt fresher there. Even better, there is a giant park there called the Viveros that has even more trees and green space. It is a gem in the city. The center of the Coyoacan is also very beautiful.

Just a little further south of Coyoacan is the campus of the National University of Mexico (UNAM). For me, it was really cool to visit the campus of the largest and most prestigious university in Mexico. It reminded me a lot more of the sprawling US university campuses than the campus of UPAEP. In the heart of the campus is a large quad where students were relaxing and picnicking on the Friday afternoon. On nearby basketball and soccer courts, students were in the middle of intense games. I couldn’t help but to imagine what attending UNAM would be like and how it would differ from OU.

Walking further to the outskirts of the campus, I arrived at the Olympic stadium of the university. This stadium had been built for the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico. I was unaware, but I was visiting the stadium of the 50th anniversary of the Opening Ceremonies of the ‘68 games. The Olympic Flame was burning in the cauldron, but the stadium grounds were otherwise silent. Either way, as someone who gets excited every time the Olympics come around, it was an exciting experience for me.

The next Mexico City highlight brings us to the complete opposite side of the city. Before coming to Mexico, one of the things I had put on my bucket list was to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I had always thought that the story of Juan Diego and tilda was amazing, and Our Lady of Guadalupe is such an important figure in Mexico. The day I visited the Basilica, it was bustling with people but not overly crowded. I stepped onto the conveyor belt that brought me along to gaze up at the tilda that contained the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. After this, I set out to explore the grounds of the site. There must have been at least 5 different churches there from little chapels to the huge basilica itself. My favorite church to visit was on top of the Tepeyac hill where Juan Diego actually saw the Virgin of Guadalupe. From here, I could look back and see the skyline of downtown Mexico City in the distance. I’m glad I was able to see this important piece of Mexican culture.

Mexico City is amazing. Mexico City is gigantic. Mexico City is crazy. I always enjoyed my days in Mexico City, but was always happy to return to Puebla at the end of my trip. Mexico City is a great place to visit but would be hard to live in. Here, I’ve only scratched the surface of all the things I did. There’s also Bellas Artes, La Reforma, the Palacio Nacional, Chapultepec Castle, Los Pinos…You’ll never have a boring day in Mexico City.

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Cancún Trip

With our finals submitted, the OU in Puebla crew excitedly boarded the plane from Puebla to Cancún for our final group trip. We arrived in Cancún and were whisked away by buses to our resort. The path from the airport to the zona hotelera was sparse and forested, but once we crossed the bridge to resort town, huge white towers stretched on as far as the eye could see. After an hour of waiting, we were checked in and headed down to the beach. I had been told that the waves in Cancún were calmer, the waters shallower. This was anything but the truth. Maybe it was because of the time of year, but the waves were coming crashing down forcefully and a strong current was dragging out to sea. Still, the beach was pretty, and I enjoyed walking along the beach. As the sun began to set, we entered the resort once more. We were staying in the Royal Solaris, and it was very beautiful. It had a sprawling complex of multi-leveled pools. Also, it was “all-inclusive.” This meant that we could go and eat whatever we wanted whenever we wanted. Unfortunately, the food was not good.

The next day we spent the morning in the lagoon on the other side of the hotel strip where we kayaked and some people sailed on a boat. The waters here were calmer and we were able to paddle right by some really cool water birds resting on wooden poles. After this fun excursion, we spent the rest of the day on the beach. Not wanting to end up burnt, I alternated time out in the sun with relaxing in the shade and playing some beach volleyball. Since starting college, volleyball has been one of my favorite sports to play. Sand volleyball with the ocean right there is even better. It was a very nice day on the beach.

The next morning we left bright and early to go visit an archeological site. We were all taking an archeology class that semester from an OU professor and had been visiting various sites throughout the semester. This would be the first and only Maya site we visited as a class. I had been to another Maya site called Tikal during my times in Guatemala. The site we were visiting was called Cobá and was located about 2.5 hours away from Cancún. We drove past Playa del Carmen and Tulum to get there. The site was small but interesting. Supposedly, it has one of the tallest Maya pyramids that exist. The site also had a couple of very cool ball courts and long sacbe (Maya roads). It was very cool seeing the similarities between this site and Tikal like the limestone buildings and sacbe. It made me feel like I was back in Tikal. Climbing the pyramid here in Cobá was also really cool. When we got to the top, we were able to look out over the forest canopy and see other structures peeking through the treetops. After eating some pollo pibil in an adjacent restaurant, we headed back to the resort.

The final night we made a reservation in the fancy (but included) restaurant of the resort. The food was much better here, and I enjoyed a nice steak. It was a great last celebration together. The next morning we woke up at 4 AM to head to the airport for our flight back to Puebla.

Cancún was interesting. It’s very different than Puebla ecologically and culturally. Cancún has tourism down to an art and that is what it runs on. The endless line of resorts is impressive and unsettling all at once. When people come here and never leave the resort, are they really seeing Mexico? The great thing about Cancún is that there is so many great things to experience nearby from several Maya sites to beachside towns. I’m glad that we were able to venture out a little and see a bit more.

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Día de los Muertos 2018

This week, I had the privilege of experience the Día de los Muertos celebrations here in Mexico. On Halloween, I was in Mexico City. There, all along the Avenida de la Reforma there was art for this special time of year. One project involved renowned artists from all across Mexico painting giant skulls. The variation in the styles between each of the skulls was impressive. There was a talavera-inspired skull, a loteria skull, and a skull inspired by the pre-hispanic culture of Mexico and INAH. Another project involved giant alebrijes. Alebrijes are strange mixes of different animals/monsters that are painted with vivid colors. Even cooler, the Ángel de la Independencia was surrounded by orange cempasúchiles. That night, I headed to the Zócalo to see the mega-ofrendas there. The Zócalo was lit by peaceful lights and filled with beautiful music like the traditional song La Llorona. Because it was Halloween, I saw a lot of people dressed up and with face paint. It has been cool to see in Mexico how people do things for both Halloween and Día de los Muertos.

On Thursday, I went to the small town of Tochimilco in the countryside of Puebla. Here, the tradition for Día de los Muertos is to construct huge ofrendas, then open the house to guests and to provide the guests with food and drinks. We spent the evening visiting the different ofrendas and accepting the alimentación offered to us. We were given bread, chocolate, tea, atole, and tamales. The ofrendas here were really beautifully constructed, and I was very grateful to receive such hospitality from these families. In the center of the town, various tapestries had been constructed out of seeds and other materials. The tapestries were brightly colored and had beautiful designs for the Day of the Dead.

Finally, on November 2nd, the actual Día de los Muertos, I went to visit a nearby Panteón. It was a very beautiful experience. It was quiet, lightly raining, and the graves were decorated with candles and flowers. Small pods of families would emerge from the darkness and walk together towards the exit. After taking time to experience this special part of the day, I headed off to see the desfile de catrinas. It was an awesome parade! There were countless marching bands with all the students in costume and with painted faces. There were decorated cars, dancers, and so much more! It was a great way to end the night.

Día de los Muertos is not just a special day but a special temporada here. Starting with the appearance of hojaldras, the season had begun. Then came the cempasúchiles, the ofrendas, and so much more. It is a special time with a lot of tradition, and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to experience it.

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Oaxaca Trip

Recently, we went on our first group trip as part of the OU in Puebla program to Oaxaca City. This was the first time that OU organized a trip here. We left on Friday morning and had a long and bumpy ride down. It was difficult to ride in the bus through the mountainous terrain. Upon arriving, we got settled into a beautiful boutique hotel and then headed to Museo de Las Culturas. This museum is in an old monastery next to a beautiful church. We visited a colonial library and saw beautiful artifacts from Tomb 7 in Monte Alban. It was cool seeing things that we had already learned about in our archaeology class. The best part of the monastery was that it looked out over a beautiful botanical garden. After that, we took some time to walk the streets of the city and to see the different artesanias of Oaxaca. We went into Mayordomo chocolate and tried a delicious mole negro as well as a chocomio (a little chocolate milk drink). After that, we went to El Mercado Benito Juarez and bought beautiful flowers!

The next day, we drove up to Monte Alban, an ancient city that controlled much of the Valley of Oaxaca. The view from the top of the valley below was amazing. We walked across the Main Plaza, on top of the North and South Platforms, saw the Danzantes, and visited Tomb 7 where a lot of cool artifacts came from. Once again, it was awesome visiting a place we had learned about in class. Additionally, our professor did research last summer in Monte Alban and discovered hidden underground. As a group, we marked out where the structure would be, and it was huge!

After Monte Alban, we descended back into Oaxaca and had lunch. There, I tried tlayuda which is basically a tortilla pizza. Afterwards, the group split up as not everyone was staying an extra night. A few of us walked to our hotel through some beautiful streets and found Benito Juarez’s home on the way. The museum was small but cool. Then, we went to tour an Ethnobotanical Garden. This was my favorite part of the trip! This was the garden that we could see from the monastery. The garden was beautifully well maintained and had plants from all over the state of Oaxaca. There were cacti, agave, and beautiful trees. Ever better, there was a wedding going on in the garden! We got to watch people walk by in beautiful suits and dresses, admire the wedding decorations, and dance to the 80s music as we did the tour. It was awesome.

The next morning, a few of us took an adventurous journey to see the tree with the biggest trunk in the world. On the way, we walked past the stadium of the Oaxaca professional baseball team. Then, we got in a taxi colectivo to take the short drive. The tree was amazing. It is called the Arbol del Tule and supposedly you can see the figures of animals in its trunk. The town square around the tree is beautifully maintained as well with vibrant flower gardens and cutely trimmed hedges.

After visiting the tree, we hurried back to the Oaxaca bus station to make our return to Puebla. Oaxaca was a nice! It is smaller and more personal than Puebla and has a different feel to its culture.

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