Before leaving my home in the UK to come to Latin America I think perhaps the most used phrase by my friends and family was “stay safe” which is of course very good advice, however is not particularly useful when it actually comes down to it. The most helpful thing anyone told me before I left was “just take one step at a time” which is advice that I will be using for the entirety of my travels and would recommend that everyone should always remember such advice…
Coming to volunteer in Mexico at Our Cabaña was incredibly daunting, not least because I was going to be travelling on my own from Newcastle, via Heathrow Airport, to Mexico City Airport, from where I would then have to catch a bus to Cuernavaca once in the airport. There were so many things that I was worried about; having to change at Heathrow’s terminal 5, getting the bus to Cuernavaca, and flying itself I am not entirely comfortable with! But I just focussed getting from Newcastle to Heathrow and then Heathrow to Mexico City, reading magazines, watching films, and listening to Harry Potter to keep my mind occupied. Once I arrived at the airport I got through immigration and security smoothly, there was lots of airport security around so I felt very relaxed and found my way to the bus station very easily, thanks to the clear instructions sent to me by Our Cabaña before I left the UK.
The bus journey was a mere 2 hours, my luggage was checked into the underside of the bus, which initially I was a little wary of, however each bag had a ticket attached to it, and you were given a matching ticket that you needed to hand over before collecting your bag so it was impossible for someone to claim luggage that was not their own. Once in Cuernavaca I waited in the departures lounge, where I felt completely at ease as it was still fairly busy for 10pm, until Dany arrived to greet me and take me back to Our Cabaña. She took me straight to my room and ensured that I was settled in with my house keys and made me aware of the safety deposit box in the house, before leaving me to sleep- as I had been awake for nearly 24 hours straight at this point! The next day myself and a fellow volunteer decided to do some exploring around the local area, walking about half an hour to one of the local shopping centres; the staff members at Our Cabaña had given us clear instructions on how to get there so I was not in the slightest bit concerned about getting lost on our way down. I realised when we left Our Cabaña that in addition to the large sets of gates (that are kept locked at all times unless someone needs to get through) there is also a security guard positioned inconspicuously outside the gates to keep a watchful eye out for any suspicious behaviour in the surrounding area. Once at the ‘Gallerias’ we found there was also security inside, so our experience was relaxed.
Overall, all of my experiences in Mexico thus far have been nothing but positive. I am very much looking forward to the next four months here at Our Cabaña, not least because of how warm and welcoming everyone has been.