Volunteering in Tapachula Mexico

Authored By Nelson Santos 0 Comment(s)

After all this time, I finally arrived in Misión, Mexico after what felt like a never-ending bus ride. Somewhere between getting on, traveling, getting off, I realized that I’d spent about 16 hours on two different busses all the way from Palenque. I just said goodbye to my good friend Merob. We had just spent the last ten days together getting my tattoo, which was a great experience. However, there was something inside me that was ready for the next adventure. It was time for me to move onto my final destination, and do what I enjoy most: volunteering.

I arrived at the bus terminal in Tapachula in the middle of the night. Nobody would open their doors until six in the morning. I waited around in the terminal until I flagged down a taxi at sunrise, and made my way to the refuge. The taxi driver asked me a lot of questions about my journey, and where I was off to.

When I arrived at the refuge it was early in the morning so the kids had not woken up for school yet. I walked into the refuge and straight to the room they had set aside for me. They offered to give me a brief tour of the facility, but I politely declined. My travels have taught me to keep my expectations low when it comes to accommodations. Generally speaking, I imagine the worst possible conditions for my upcoming living arrangements just so I don’t get disappointed.

One of my pet peeves is dealing with the heat. Even though I grew up in Miami, Florida, and I love being outside with just a pair of shorts and some flip flops- when it comes to sleep I’d rather be bundled up, in the cold. But again, this is volunteering. The accommodations aren’t exactly fancy (sometimes they’re less than basic), and we don’t get to choose where people need help. I always make sure to mentally prepare myself and remember that it’s all for the greater good.

I was surprised that my room had two beds all to myself, and even though there isn’t air conditioning, I have a fan I can use. At this point, just having a room with an actual door is a treat to me, which gives you an extra layer of privacy. I was so tired that I laid down and rested immediately.

I got the chance to meet some of the other volunteers. There were a lovely couple and two other women who were volunteering at the refuge. We exchanged stories about our time volunteering with other organizations, and the journey we took to arrive here in Mexico. The curious thing is that I get to meet people from all over the world, with different backgrounds, ethnicity, religions, personalities, etc. For some, it’s their first time volunteering. For others, they are a seasoned traveler. But no matter what, we’re all connected by our passion to seek something more in this life. Something greater than ourselves. I spent the rest of the night getting to know the volunteers and the other staff members, and of course, eating tacos.

I had a whole two days to settle in before I started my first shift. I’ve traveled enough to have a good understanding of myself, and what I need in order to make my transition easier. In most countries, and Mexico is no exception, there’s usually a market where you can buy some essentials. Markets are always so filled with life and activity. It’s lovely, and usually, the cheapest way to shop. I bought some fruits and vegetables, dropped them off, and went to the supermarket to get some additional supplies. The more I travel, the more I realize that it’s far cheaper and more convenient to cook for yourself at home, especially if you like to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Mexican food is absolutely delicious, so the pounds can add on pretty quickly if you go out to eat every night. For a small town, Tapachula has a lot of amenities and stores that you might find in a major city. I was able to find everything from a GNC to a Walmart. I had no problem finding apple cider vinegar, which I drink religiously every morning for many years now.

The next day would be my first shift at the refuge, something I’ve been eagerly awaiting for quite some time now. My new journey will begin soon.

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