Hello! My name is Amelia Harris and I am from the Bay Area in California. Today is Day 15 of our CIEE trip in Mérida and we spent the day with our host families. One of my favorite parts of our trip has been spending time with my host family and being able to practice my Spanish with them and learn about the city from locals. Staying with a family is obviously a more immersive experience than being a tourist in a hotel, but I didn’t realize how exciting this would be until I arrived.
My host parents, the Coronas, are named Alma and Albero and they have two kids but only one lives at home. Andrea, my host sister is 25 so I don’t see her super often but I have a roommate named Alexis. We also have a nanny named Rosy who does the cooking and cleaning but has lived with the Coronas for so long that she is basically part of the family. The cultural transition has been so much easier because the Coronas have welcomed me into their family in a way that I feel like their daughter and some days it feels like I’ve always lived here.
On Sunday morning Alexis and I got up early to go to the mercado with Rosy where we bought souvenirs for our families. (I gotchu Mom and Dad!) It was super fun to walk around and see all the vendors, but Alexis and I were excited to get home because we were going to spend the rest of the day at the beach! Our family has a beach house in a town called Chicxulub which is about 45 minutes away from their house in Mérida. (Fun fact: this is the town that the meteor which caused the dinosaurs to go extinct landed in, also creating the cenotes which are sprinkled all across the Yucatán.)
The house is very pretty and has a relaxed, beach house vibe to it. Alexis, our host parents, and I went swimming in the ocean immediately after we arrived. Being from Northern California I’m used to the beach being a blanket and wetsuit affair. I hardly ever swim in the Pacific Ocean and usually just dip my feet in if it’s a nice day. Here the water was as warm as the air and a clear greenish blue. We swam on and off all day because we were in Mexico and we could! It was breathtaking and looked like a scene out of a postcard. There were coconut trees near the houses which faced the water and were only 40 (ish) feet from the ocean. The sand was fine and white and there were perfectly intact shells everywhere.
Our host family has a casual family dinner on Sunday nights so our host dad’s sister came over with her father and her daughter. We ate a pretty casual late lunch and sat around the table talking and visiting. Since arriving in Mexico I’m now able to hold a conversation in Spanish and follow along, something I would’ve struggled with before. I’m also a lot more confident with my Spanish and willing to speak up and join in the conversation. After lunch Alexis and I swam in the ocean more and then we played cards with our host mom. We were sitting on the floor in the family room playing Uno while our host dad and Abuelo napped in hammocks and as I looked around I felt such a sense of belonging in a family who were all strangers to me only two weeks ago. Overall I’m so grateful for this experience and to have such a welcoming host family.