There's a group in Monterrey called Bungee Adventures that's basically a tour guide group for like, "extreme" outdoor activities. They have a deal through the Tec to take groups of students to do stuff for a highly discounted rate. Which is what the waterfall/hiking/spelunking tour I went on yesterday was.
Suffice to say they're quite unorganized, and pretty much nothing went as planned yesterday. We were supposed to return back to school at 7 pm, and we got back at 4 am. But not before being left on the side of a mountain at 1 in the morning for almost 2 hours. By the tour guides and the truck driver.
Though I don't regret going in the slightest, if I'd actually known what I was signing up for yesterday, I probably never would have done it. We were whipped, beaten, starved, submerged in freezing water in pitch-black caves a mile underground, and left on top of a mountain in nothing but wet swimming suits in 60 degree weather. At 1 am. So we built a fire and huddled together for warmth, our filthy, damp towels wrapped around us as a slight barrier against the wind.
But we bonded. There were about 19 people on the trip. The only other St. Eds people besides me were The Girls, and nobody else really knew each other, but we all decided we'd seriously been through something together yesterday, and we joked about it being so traumatizing that it would just have to be our secret, our own internal grief about which we would never speak. But of course we all had a total fucking blast.
But it was all amazing. The waterfall, the cave, the weird, poor family that lived on top of the mountain that it takes 3 hours to get up. Which, incidentally, we were taken up in in one of those flatbed trucks, with the wooden planks going around the outside, like what they used to haul people off to concentration camps. There were 19 of us stuffed back there-for an almost 3 hour trip up the side of the Sierra Madres, on a rocky, curvy path usually no wider than the truck itself. It was absolutely the most horrifying thing I've ever been through. But not as horrifying as the realization that after we were finally done "adventuring," we all had to pile back into the back of this truck for the trip back down. It freezing cold. In the dark. After being wet, muddy and completely exhausted. And for "lunch," all they gave us was the equivalent of about a half-sandwich on some bullshit croissant thing, and cans of generic fruit soda. So we were all starving to death.
After lunch we did the Cave. Which was supposed to take 30 minutes, but really took 3 hours. We had wet suits, helmets and heavy-duty life vests. And about 5 flashlights to share among 20 people (2 of which burned out during the spelunking, by the way). We crawled and crawled through that giant pile of mud. We shimmied through jagged holes not much bigger than an air-conditioner vent. We submerged ourselves in water that couldn't have been more than 60 degrees, up to our chins, with the ceiling baring down on us in almost total blackness. I've probably never come closer to completely losing my shit than when I was in that water. It was so cold, my body just went into a sort of shock: everything went numb, I couldn't breathe, my heart was racing to keep my body warm. I started to panic, but managed to get control, because there was absolutely nothing to be done. You can't fucking go back once you're in there.
After the tire popped on the way back down the mountain (for the second time that day; it popped on the way up, too), and we had to stop, because there was no spare, and the tour guides and the driver all abandoned us up there to empty out the pickup the tour guides were driving and come back and pick us up (or something; no one really knew what they were doing), and after we built the bonfire, we starting talking about what we would most like to eat. The most common consensus was hot dogs or pizza.
I love everyone on this trip (Baylor frat boys excepted). Everyone is so nice, and inclusive, and curious, and open-minded. Smart, very literate. After all of this yesterday, on the way back, the multiple conversations I was hearing were about literature, one about agriculture, and one about Cuban politics. But mostly I just can't get over how nice everyone is. There are so many walks of life, backgrounds and personalities here. There's just no bullshit or pretense. It honestly gives me a lot of hope for the future of America. I'm not being hyperbolic; it truly does.
My roommate and I are getting along really well, too. He's taken to calling me Senor Poopy, for obvious reasons to anyone who knows me. The other night he told me all about going to a gay bathhouse in Pittsburgh with his gay friends because he was curious. Which led to a very long and graphic conversation about anal sex and enemas. He's really funny. He also always makes fun of my Spanish, because apparently I speak it with a very thick Southern accent that I don't normally have. Which must be hilarious; I can't imagine what I sound like.
Today I went to the mercado negro (black market) with my prof and some kids, and bought a real cute shirt for $12.