I just got back from my first international speaking gig teaching body language in Mexico City. In the months leading up to the gig, all I heard from people was how dangerous it would be and they strongly alluded that I’d be lucky if I didn’t get kidnapped, robbed or worse. But it sounded like an adventure so off I went. (My boyfriend Matt went, too)
Once we arrived, we saw things about as we expected with lots of smog, crazy driving and what seemed to be lots of not so good neighborhoods. As we got to our hotel night was falling and I think both of us were concerned about what we’d gotten ourselves into. Should we leave the hotel the next day or just stay there in our comfort zone?
When the sun came up, my curiosity got the better of me and off we went to see the city. And both of us were amazed at what we found. Mexico city is absolutely filled with centuries old ornate buildings, museums and fountains. We found a pedestrian mall, bustling with people, all sorts of shops and street performers leading to an amazing cathedral more ornate than anywhere I’ve ever been. The people were friendly and the food was good. And my limited Spanish didn’t even put too much of a damper on the adventure.
That evening came my speaking gig which was in the courtyard of a 500 year old hospital turned museum. As I spoke, darkness fell and the 1000 candles surrounding the courtyard and fountain started to glow, making the event turn magical. The 6 course meal we were served was fantastic and I made friends that I know I’ll see again.
The next day as we flew to Playa del Carmen for a little downtime at the beach, I was amazed at what a different experience we’d had in the city than what everyone had predicted. It made me think about all the judgments and opinions that I’d formulated because of news media just looking for a sensational story or because of stereotypes. Almost all of them were just dead wrong. The experience made me realize what a sheltered American I’ve been as opposed to my new Mexican friends who are much more worldly. There are good people everywhere and the few bad apples out there getting attention ruin perceptions for us all.
Could my trip have turned out in a completely opposite manner? I suppose so. Am I suggesting that you throw caution to the wind and get yourself into dangerous situations? NO. But I am suggesting that you join me in opening up your mind to see all the good in the world and reserve judgment until you find out what’s real for yourself. If everyone did that, we’d be living in a different world. Give it a shot for a couple of days and let me know how it goes. I bet, like me, you’ll be amazed at what you find.