The thought of my hot shower every morning—as I cross the Spanish style courtyard on my way to the bathroom—is a delight. It has to be a quick one though, because my housemates need their hot water too.
Then, I hear the church bells begin to ring in the tower of the old colonial church in front of our house…it’s time to go. I grab my backpack and head for the door. I like to walk to work. The others share a taxi, which affords them an extra 20 minutes of sleep in the morning.
Despite the still somewhat dark sky of twilight and the crisp morning air, this, for me, is the only way to commute. I live in Mexico and walking to work gives me the opportunity to experience the early-morning culture.
Have you ever noticed how different things are on the streets at 7.00 a.m. as opposed to noon, or 7.00 p.m. Well, I came to Mexico, not just to work, but to immerse myself in the culture, to embrace a new way to live; to give up the fast paced world back home and have more time for things like…well, walking to work in the morning.
I love my 20-minute walk. I see the shopkeepers out sweeping the sidewalks, getting ready to open up for the day. I smell the aroma of baking bread and feel warmth from the oven radiating through the stone wall as I walk past the bakery. I watch mothers shuffling kids into cars and hear the laughter of teenage boys on their way to school.
But, probably my favorite thing about walking to work in the morning is the shop owners that greet me with a cheerful “Buenos días” (“Good morning”). I’ve never met them. But they know that I am a foreigner here in their country working for the benefit of the people. For that, they respect me and graciously welcome me as a member of their community. And that’s how I feel when I walk to work in the morning; respected, admired, and honored for what I am contributing to their families.
When I arrive at work I am greeted with more respect and admiration from the people with whom I work, both Mexican and foreign. Their friendship here has given me a family and a home-away-from-home.
I mean that both figuratively and literally. Housing was included in my contract, as well as health insurance, and free Spanish lessons. All of which gave me the security to start my new life here in Mexico and the freedom to realize my dream of creating a new way to live.
A way of life where, I am not just an outsider looking in, but a vital, respected member of the community.
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