Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Field Trip to Tapachula

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to accompany a handful of students from UNICH (The Intercultural University of Chiapas) on a field trip to Tapachula, Mexico to study immigration. 

Tapachula is located near the Guatemalan border, but interestingly enough, we didn't focus on Guatemala to Mexico immigration, but rather Japan to Mexico immigration. Who would've thought?

We spent our first day exploring a smaller municipality and having Japanese cultural lessons. We learned how to make origami, speak a few japanese words and say the alphabet, and we also learned how to use chop sticks. Crazy thing is, this was new to most of the Mexican students - which seems strange coming from the US where we are surrounded by so many different cultures all the time. 
With my origami crane.
We had a chop stick using contest, and I am happy to say that I won. But it was kind of unfair since I was the only one who had ever used chop sticks before. 

We were down there the week before Dia de los Muertos, so we stopped by a cemetery to check out the different Japanese/Mexican style graves. All of them were bright colors. I'm not sure which culture that comes from, but it was a lot of fun to walk around the cemetery and see the different crypts. 

On our second day, we went to a banana plantation to see how bananas are grown and shipped to the United States. Can I just say, we are so spoiled. Everything they do at this plant (which shipped Chiquita bananas) was tailored to our super picky market. They had to make sure the bananas had absolutely no blemishes, and even that they grew at the right angle in order to ship them to the United States. They also have to be washed in chlorinated water and prepared special just for us. 

The second batch ones went to a lesser known US banana seller. These were bananas that weren't necessarily grown in the right angle or that didn't have enough bananas in the bunch to be classified as perfect. The third batch ones (or the leftovers) were the ones sold in local markets or shipped to different parts of Mexico to sell. They seriously get the third string bananas. It reminds me so much of the Hunger Games, with the United States being the capitol. Eventually we're going to have a revolution.

The canopy of banana leafs.
We also went to a cool Mayan museum, except it wasn't a Mayan museum. The tour guide kept telling us that these things weren't Mayan, but the Mayan had the same things. It was kind of weird, and maybe something was lost in translation. Too bad my Spanish isn't perfect, it makes me wonder if he knew what he was really talking about, or if I can't understand Spanish as well as I thought. 
This was my favorite piece in the exhibit. It is a real skull with turquoise, gold, and jade. It was so cool. It was how Mayan royalty was buried. So interesting. 

I actually had a really good time on the field trip, but I had to come back early because I had work that I had to do, but it was fun to get out of San Cristobal and see another, completely different part of Mexico. Hopefully we will get to do a lot of exploring in the near future. 

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