It turns out that we have had the best of everything here in Mexico, except for the weather. The schedule change because of bad weather allowed us one extra day to visit the haciendas of Mexico. On January 15 th we headed to our day filled with haciendas. Our first stop of the day was at Hacienda La Escondida Soltepec which was situated in the state of Tlaxcala, and where we could observe the pre-Hispanic and colonial architecture. After the check in at the hacienda, we had breakfast and without wasting anytime we got in our van and drove off to see two more haciendas nearby.
After a one-hour long van ride, we reached the hacienda of Tenexac. This place has been raising bulls since 1950 for bull fighting. It was very interesting to see how the people who own these haciendas have tried to maintain it exactly the way it was since its early time. The owner of the hacienda along with our guide for the day, Livingstone, gave us a tour of the haciendas where we got to see how the old rooms were still in use and preserved. However, there were some additions to the haciendas. For example, the owners had added modern attached bathrooms to the bedrooms. This hacienda also had a stable of horses and a collection of saddles hundreds of years old. The tour helped us imagine what these places actually looked like during the Spanish colonization.
We then headed to a small farm where the owner made a traditional drink called Pulque. It is an alcoholic beverage that is derived from a cactus. The producer of Pulque demonstrated how the drink was made by showing us how they use the primary ingredient “Honey Water” also known as “Bebida de lo Dioses.” It means “Drink of the Gods.” After the farm, we went to the third hacienda for the day which was called Hacienda Santa Barbara where we had a late lunch. This place was owned by our guide Livingstone, and was being remodeled.d
The next day the group met at 9 am to head towards Cuetzalan. On our way we stopped at Apulco, and ate breakfast at Hostal Hacienda. Then we went to the waterfall in Apulco and walked on the “Sendero Del Amor,” “The path of love.” The scenery was breathtaking. After a long photo session we went to Tosepan Kali, a coffee corporation, which was on the way to Cuetzalan. We got a detailed tour of the corporation where the guide showed us the coffee plantation and how the coffee beans were processed. We learned that Mexico is one of the biggest roasted coffee producers/exporters in the world. The company seemed to be a socially responsible one as it took extra care of the environment of recycling and reusing rain water for its factory.
Our next wstop was the town of Cuetzalan, where we visited a church, then walked through the market and a graveyard with a pre-Hispanic, colonial church called Heaven's Door. Patrick, our guide, gave us a lot of information about the gothic church. After the check in at the hotel, we headed back to the market and did a little shopping. Then, we saw a traditional dance which was quite scary as the dancers danced on a wooden mill. This dance wasn’t as scary as the famous Cuetzalan dance, however, which we also saw. This is an indigenous celebration where five dancers climb up a 150-foot-pole and tie their waists to ropes wound around the pole and then jump off the pole. As the rope unwinds and they descend, it seems as if they are flying. While the four dancers jump off the pole, the fifth dancer is on top of the pole and plays tunes on his wooden flute.
After a chilly night we had breakfast at our hotel, which was run by women who made and sold bags, shawls, homemade soaps and herbal medicines at the hotel store. Then we went to the Sunday market which was a large traditional market with delicious food, handicrafts and lots of practical stuff like pots and pans. After that we had lunch in downtown Cuetzalan and headed to UDLAP.
The next day , January 18, we had an early class Dr. Dario on “Small and Medium-Sized Business.” According to Dr. Dario, it is the role and duty of the secretary of economy of Mexico to promote, help and protect the SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises), but unfortunately the Mexican government fails to do so. He also stated that nations that have higher competitive advantages in the world have policies that support and protect their SMEs. He also listed some success factors that a nation should possess in order to gain the competitive advantage which were minimum scale, etc. Dr. Dario believed that the medium enterprises employ more people than any other industry and hence, it needs to be protected. He also suggested that the government embark upon serious structural changes in order to help the SMEs.
After the lunch at the comedor, we had free time the entire day. We decided to play soccer and then table tennis that afternoon. It was a fun-filled day. Oh, and from that day on, we also had great Mexican weather!!
On Tuesday, January 19 we went to visit the factory of Grupo Modelo which is the largest brewery in Mexico. It accounts for about 65 percent of the beer market and is a large exporter of beer to the United Kingdom, the U.S., etc. The factory that we visited was not a bottling factory; however, the process of making beer was thoroughly demonstrated and explained. Then that day we had a class with Dr. Dario on the topic “Commercial Background of USA,” where we discussed how due to America’s interference with the policies of Latin America, there has been inequality in the countries of this region. It was a healthy, heated discussion session we all of the Salem students voiced their opinions. After the class we met for dinner.
On January 20 we had our last lecture at 8.30 in the morning with Prof. Hector Pelaez. His presentation was entitled “Development and Environment.” He talked about the global problems of the 21 st century regarding environment and development. While discussing development in economics, we took the example of Mexico and the successes and weaknesses of NAFTA on the Mexican economy. His presentation had some graphs and charts to help us better understand the issue. After lunch, we went to the famous Volkswagen Factory where we were given an hour tour.
The next day, January 21, was our last day at UDLAP. We attended the closing event which was a farewell brunch at the comedor. Then headed to our next destination, ACAPULCO!!
On January 22 , we had breakfast at 11 am and then headed towards Princess Beach. We spent the entire day at the beach. Some of us went horseback riding and some went jet-skiing. People also chose to just swim or sunbathe. Some of the students started to interview people for our assigned projects. We were supposed to interview people in Acapulco and compare their responses and analyze the tourism industry of Acapulco. It was a great day!