Today we host our very first ‘guest of honor’ of the section”Crónicas en el extranjero” (chronicles abroad) of this blog. Julia Davies is a classical dancer, born in England, and she tells us all about her experience “viviendo en el extranjero” (living abroad). In this case, how it was for her to live 2 and a half years, away from home, in México!
As Isabel has already explained, it is very common for dancers to leave their home countries to go wherever an opportunity arises. For us, is is normal and expected, because a love of dance and a desire to be dancing easily trumps the wish to be close to home.
That is why, when I was offered a contract in Mexico, I said: ‘Why not?’ It is true that there were moments when I thought I might be crazy. I didn’t speak a word of Spanish, and I am about as ‘un-Mexican’ as possible: English, pale, blonde, blue-eyed and prone to getting sun burned in about ten seconds. Good start! Yet what I did have, (apart from the job) were two Mexican friends who gave me the confidence to go for it, with their friendship and their stories of Mexico. And what is life without adventures?
When you arrive in a new place, you immediately notice all the differences: how the meals are eaten at different times; how EVERYBODY arrives late; how taking the bus number 8 poses a daily risk to you life(!)… but before long you stop noticing differences and comparing, because before you know it, that place has become your home.
Mexico was full of surprises for me:
I never imagined such a diverse place, where jungle and beach, mountains and desert unite to form such a stunning landscape. I quickly realized that I could happily spend all of my holidays traveling around within Mexico, and still never experience even a small part of her beauty.
On my first day, my friend took me to eat tacos. I had never seen anything like it in my life! What we call ‘Mexican Food’ in England would surprise my Mexican friends too. But during my time in Mexico I came to love corn, avocado, chips with chili, tamales and enchiladas with mole sauce. (On the rare occasions where I have attempted to explain the concept of chocolate and meat to my countrymen, I get a horrified face of ‘Yuck’ – I’ve since given up trying, but I do miss them a lot.)
What I loved about Mexican Culture was that the people have a genuine desire to preserve the customs and history of their country. I had the pleasure of celebrating 15th September with friends, of visiting and hearing about ancient ruins, and of constantly seeing how music, dance and traditions are an integral part of everyday life. This gives Mexico a beautiful and defined identity, which remains strongly with me, even years after leaving.
I went to Mexico with the expectation of staying a year at the most. I ended up staying for two and a half years, and I could have happily stayed longer had I not felt it was time to dance in another company. Why? Mainly because the people I met in Mexico became friends that I will have for life. Without a doubt, the Mexicans are a very special people. They are always ready to help you, and do their utmost to make sure you are properly taken care of. They have great warmth and are naturally disposed to enjoy life. They are quick to love, to smile, to celebrate and to treat you like part of the family. People would ask me: ‘Don’t you miss your home country?’ And of course, I missed people and home comforts, but I never felt homesick because my dear Mexico made me feel at home from the very start.
It is easy to miss opportunities in life, for fear of stepping out into the unknown. I could so easily have decided that Mexico was too far or too different, and missed out of one of the most enriching and exciting experiences of my life. If you don’t know, you’ll never know!
Para ver la versión en Español de este post haz clik AQUÍ