In just one short week 10% of the GWSB MBA Class of 2017 will be in Mexico, and I can’t wait to show my friends this great city! Though they will be here for a class entitled Doing Business in Mexico, for which I am also enrolled, there will be plenty of time to show them my favorite sites in CDMX.
Their visit corresponds with the end of two week spring break we have been fortunate to have. Similar to our Consulting Abroad Project where the first year GWSB MBA class does a consulting project abroad during the end of our first year, the students here at IPADE go on a similar visit in the spring of their second year. This year the IPADE students are in the UAE and China for the two weeks, leaving us with some time off to once again explore the many sites in Mexico. This time we decided to go visit the southern state of Chiapas near the border of Guatemala. The state is mostly known for beautiful sites like the Cañon del Sumidero, many waterfalls, and the ruins of historic Mayan city of Palenque. As with just about each trip, about 75% of the international students went together but in separate groups giving us the opportunity to meet for dinners between tours. I went with a group of other American exchange students and after a few incidents, including two of our reservations being canceled by AeroMexico and me almost missing the flight (woke up at 6:03am for a 7:15am flight and somehow made it with time to spare), we had a fantastic trip.
From Mexico City we flew to Tuxtla Gutierrez , a small town and the region’s main airport, a newly built three gate airport set between the mountains of the region. From the moment we landed we had our days packed. We immediately went on a tour of the breathtaking canyon via boat. When we got into the boat the canyon was not very impressive but as we sped through you could see the canyon grow and grow in size until we were about 1.5 KM deep with the walls soaring above us! During the tour we got to see crocodiles, spider monkeys and amazing rock formations. Since the canyon is only open for a small number of tours there were few few other boats giving us the feeling as if we were the only ones there.
After we finished with the tour we drive to our adorable little hostel, the Snail B&B, in the city of San Cristobal, about an hour from Tuxtla Gutierrez. The town is a traditional Mexican town with cobblestoned streets, fantastic restaurants (where I had, hands down, the best meal of my time in Mexico!), and a mix of internationals (of course by luck I found the one Lebanese restaurant in the town and had my fill of Kebabs, which was of course after finding the French bakery and eating six pan au chocolates over four days). The city offered informative cultural museums of the region and a great jumping off point to see other sites. From there we were able to take a tour to two amazing waterfalls, one called Agua Azul where we got to swim in water that is a fantastic shade of blue, and Misol-ha a massive waterfall about 50+ feet set in the jungle.
Though they were beautiful, the true highlight was seeing the ruins of the ancient Mayan city of Palenque situated right in the jungle five hours north of San Cristobal. The ruins are more recently discovered with only a few of the hundreds of structures excavated. What was amazing to see is that the “hills” around the ruins were not hills at all but unearthed structures still left to be discovered. This gave me the urge to run up to the mounds and begin excavating myself!
On the final day of the trip, we decided to go by horseback to the next town through the mountains with fantastic views. It was my first time on a horse in over seven years, and days later I am still sore! The town, San Juan Chamula, is known for their church. The church is different than any other in Mexico as it mixes traditional indigenous culture and Catholicism. When entering the biggest difference I noticed was the lack of pews but instead reefs on the ground where worshipers were sitting surrounded by lifelike models of saints all around the church. There were candles in every corner and traditionally dressed residents played indigenous music while the worshipers sipped locally made alcohol. It was unlike anything I have seen in Mexico, and a great mix of the two cultures.
Now back in CDMX, I am very excited for the visitors from GWSB and the Doing Business in Mexico class. The students who have taken it before have had nothing but good things to say about the week. I have been told it a great mix of meeting with businesses and learning about the Mexican economy and business sector, but also cultural as we get to see sites in the city to give us an understanding of Mexico’s past, present, and future. Once that class is finished, I am sure to have more stories to report on.