I honestly don’t know if there is a better way to expedite learning and personal growth than travel. A new place, new people and new challenges can all serve as catalysts for change. Moving somewhere new takes this process to a whole new level. You have to learn to work within the cultural norms of a new environment and accept that your assumptions will be challenged. Although I make an effort to take on professional and academic opportunities abroad, every single time I underestimate the transformative power of these experiences. San José del Cabo has been no exception. Here are 4 lessons from my time in Los Cabos.
- Routine can be fun, especially if it involves weekend adventures.
I have never been particularly fond of routine, but maybe I just wasn’t doing it right. Things are so relaxed in San José, especially in the evenings, that Chantal and I have fallen into a pretty satisfying routine of working out, eating well and sleeping lots. It’s been a great reminder of how good it can feel to slow down sometimes. Plus, with so many people holidaying around you, it’s kind of hard to get stressed out. The one thing that gives me anxiety is making sure I maximize my time here. The perma-sunny weather amplifies this anxiety because it always feels like you need be doing something. I’m not complaining though, I love being outside and there are a whole lot of ways to do that Los Cabos. The mountains, canyons, beaches and desert are all within a 45-minute drive of town.
Playa Los Frailes – Day trip to one of the beaches of Cabo Pulmo
- Don’t forget your coffee thermos!
One thing that has been difficult to adjust to in Los Cabos is the lack of recycling. Every time I throw a glass jar or an aluminum can in the trash, I feel that reoccurring sensation of eco-guilt. Luckily, this has been an important exercise in self-reflection. In Canada, under the cover of recycling, I imagine that I produce a lot less waste than I actually do. Here I have had to face my waste. As a result, I have become so much better about carrying my coffee thermos and bringing a Tupperware to restaurants for leftovers. I have also made it a personal rule- no thermos, no coffee.
Using baskets at the market to reduce waste!
- Small gestures matter.
Whether it’s a proper hello, a “buen provecho” or a Valentines Day rose – small gestures matter in Mexico. These social norms are ingrained in Mexican culture and are part of everyday life. Example #1 – Every morning, when the Director arrives at IMPLAN he personally greets each employee. Example #2 – When Mexicans walk by somebody eating, they say “provecho”. Without fail, fellow restaurant-goers will wish you a good meal as they walk past you. Example #3- On Valentines Day, José Juan brought chocolate bars for everyone in the office and the mayor sent out roses to the municipal staff. Over and over again, Mexico has reminded me that small actions can have a big effect on feelings of community and camaraderie.
“Buen provecho” – Chilaquiles and green juice
- Use your relationship resources.
We were facing some serious delays putting our Seed Fund project together. It was the beginning of February and we were starting to feel the pinch of time. After weeks of cancelled meetings, we still hadn’t secured a partner for our school garden project. These struggles coincided with the arrival of Caroline (the other Caroline, supervisor Caroline). During an enchilada lunch meeting, Alex, an old member of the IMPLAN team, sat down with us for a bit. Caroline asked him straight away if he had any ideas about who we could partner with and…. BAM! He had an answer. Since arriving here, I have been reminded again and again about the power of using your relationship resources. Sometimes help comes from surprising places. All you have to do is ask.
Fellow interns- some of the best relationship resources around!
Bye Mexico! Miss you already!!
By: Caroline Morrow