Field report

MAYA - MI CASA ES TU CASA IN COLOMBIA AND MEXICO

You live a completely different life, it feels like you're in a dream and at certain moments I thought that if someone were filming now, it would be the best and most adventurous movie.

July - November 2023
Girl in lagoon

Maya spent four months traveling through Latin America with WanderWorld Travel. During this time, she not only supported the teaching project in Colombia and the local children, but also had cool experiences in the Hostel Experience in Colombia and Mexico. On her adventures, Maya got to know incredibly great people, experienced the hospitality in Latin America and grew beyond herself.

MAYAS PROGRAM:

My preparation time

Colombia and Mexico caught my eye. As I was considering studying to become a teacher after my stay abroad, I opted for the teaching project. I also wanted to gain as much experience as possible and be able to exchange ideas with other people from all over the world, which is why I ultimately opted for the Hostel Experience project. As soon as I knew where I was going to be, I looked at lots of posts on social media about the cities of the respective program locations, which made my anticipation that much greater. And, as we all know, anticipation is the greatest joy.

The first days

Despite my anticipation and pure energy, the first few days of my arrival were quite slow, as I first had to adjust to the very tropical climate. Not only is the climate unfamiliar, but the food is also different to what I was used to. It therefore took my body a few days to get used to this change.

However, I was well equipped with my first-aid kit, so I was well prepared. At this point I recommend electrolytes, a drink that can work wonders despite its bad taste :). I was also lucky enough to get on well with the other two volunteers from WanderWorld, which made my time on site even better.

A day in the Hostel Experience project

My favorite project was definitely the Hostel Experience project in Colombia, as there were several volunteers there and I was lucky enough to get on really well with everyone. After a short time, we felt like a family and did lots of things together. In addition to the other volunteers, I also had good contact with the staff there (for example at reception), as well as the guests who were on vacation there as backpackers.

As I was usually assigned to the reception shift, I had free time until 2 p.m. and could go to the beach, into town or to the hostel pool.

During my shift at reception from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., I was responsible for checking guests in and out. As soon as check-in was complete, it was my job to show all newly arrived guests around the hostel to inform them about the hostel's rules, opening hours and activities. This was mostly done in Spanish, but of course also in English and in rare cases in German. My contact person at the hostel was great and was always interested in whether I was doing well.

My experience with culture

In both Colombia and Mexico, I can only speak highly of the local people. Overall, I only had positive experiences. I often came across the phrase "mi casa es tu casa", even with people I had only known for five minutes. In my opinion, helpfulness and the sharing of food, living space, information and knowledge is the top priority for many people. This made me feel welcome and at home quickly and everywhere.

What surprised me positively and I think is really great is that people speak openly about their feelings and opinions. Because such an attitude towards honesty makes life much easier and prevents conflicts and, above all, misunderstandings, which can naturally arise due to the language barrier.

Overall, I am a huge fan of Latin America because of the mentality of the local people. I only had positive encounters during my time there and am extremely impressed by the hospitality and the willingness to help that is shown. Another reason why my heart beats faster is the landscape and the variety of animals and national parks to discover.

My favorite place

My favorite place during my four-month trip was the town of Sayulita in Mexico, where I also did my volunteer work in a hostel. I spent two months in this place and it was my first real stop after spending a day in Playa del Carmen for my introduction day. Sayulita is a small village in the state of Nayarit and is a well-known surf spot. In addition to good waves, the place is super nice with small stores or markets with everything your heart desires.

This place was particularly beautiful on "Dia de los muertos" at the beginning of November. Everything is even more colorful than usual. Another reason why Sayulita won my heart during my time there is the fact that I also got on really well with the locals due to my passion for surfing.

My accommodation

During the teaching project in Cartagena, I lived with two other WanderWorld volunteers with an extremely hospitable Colombian in the center of Getsemaní. I had my own room there, including my own bathroom. He cooked food for us every morning and evening and we all ate together. On some evenings, he also invited friends over so that we sat together as a larger group.

The location of the guesthouse was ideal, as it was right in the center and you could easily reach everything on foot. We also had the option of using the kitchen and washing machine as required. It was about 20 minutes by cab from the accommodation to the project with the children.

During my projects at the hostel, I lived in a room with the other volunteers on site.

My tips for future participants

Overall, I think if you're interested in Latin America and have found a project that you can identify with and think is right for you, then that's the first step to having a great time.

However, you must also be aware that the general conditions cannot be compared with those in Europe. For example, that hygiene in particular is not as important. If you keep these aspects in mind, the trip will be one of the best ever 🙂

I wholeheartedly recommend a stay abroad in Latin America, not only because it gives you the chance to learn a wonderful language, but also because it gives you an insight into how people live outside your own familiar surroundings. You also see that many people get by with far less on a daily basis than you would imagine.

Especially in a project like the teaching project in Colombia, it makes you even happier when you can put a smile on the children's faces with simple things.

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