Throughout the week your experience will be interwoven with the perspective of Indigenous peoples, their history and their current reality; the remaining legacy of Spanish language, governmental and religious structure; and the new challenges of migration and globalization. Starting in Mexico City, the multi-character of the country will be revealed in visits to historic sites. As well, you will learn about the current issues of the population through engagement in a program dedicated to the right to water.
Traveling on to Queretaro, you will spend time in one of the cities known for a beautiful colonial center and a grand aqueduct. Your time in community will include visits and activities oriented around sustainable development, rural agriculture, the educational system and community initiatives for vulnerable groups, including the Indigenous community.
Duration and Directions
Groups will arrive and be greeted at the Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City. Transfers to Queretaro are included in the fees. Ground transportation is included from time of arrival until departure from Mexico City.
Upon arrival and after resting from the flight, an orientation will be provided including an introduction to Central Mexico with facts about local customs and culture, safety, rules and expectations. Volunteers will also learn about the critical issues facing communities, including access to water and food. The orientation will provide an overview of activities for the week and background on the projects, people, and places where we will engage.
Food and Accommodations
The cuisine of Mexico is known the world over for its unique use of traditional foods including corn, beans and squash, often called the three sisters. While in Mexico City there will be opportunities to try various traditional dishes including Mexico City style tacos, mole (from Oaxaca) and chilaquiles (a breakfast specialty). In Queretaro there is more rural fare and the opportunity to taste some specialities of the region including cactus dishes and various sweets. For those with food allergies or needing a special diet, accommodations are made.
In Mexico City, a modest local hotel will provide double accommodation that includes breakfast. This historic hotel is located near the major avenue of Paseo de la Reforma and the US Embassy. While in Queretaro a small local hotel near the city center will house the group and provide breakfast.
Community and Region
Mexico City is the oldest capital in the Americas and the only one founded by Native Americans. The city was originally built on the island of Lake Texcoco, where the Mexican people (called Aztecs) were directed to build when they saw an eagle on a cactus with a snake in its mouth. This remains the symbol on the Mexican flag. Built on a lakebed and with ongoing issues related to sinking, with the arrival of the Spanish, the city was re-conceived and built under Spanish colonial style. In the modern age the city and the surrounding area is now home to 22 million people, one of the largest in the world. The systems necessary to serve this level of population are precarious in a city that grows outward every day with the arrival of rural folks from all over Mexico. Discussions during the trip will include themes related to water scarcity, food systems and energy.
Queretaro is known officially as Santiago de Queretaro. Founded in 1531, the historic city center was named a UNESCO Heritage Site. Known for its high standard of living and safety, the city has expanded in the last 15 years to a population of 1 million plus. Many manufacturers have opened plants here and Queretaro houses a number of the highest rated academic institutions in the country. The rural area is known as part of the Bajio, some of the most productive in Mexico. There are several indigenous groups still working in artisanry including glass and bead work. Among these are the Purhepacha and the Otomi.
Via Local Partner Organizations
Isla Urbana - is a non-profit organization that believes a scarcity of clean water for humans is an unacceptable injustice. Daily, millions of people living in Mexico City fathers, mothers, sons and daughters strain to meet their fundamental water demands. Isla Urbana secures families water future by catalyzing the rainwater harvesting revolution.
Fundacion Comunitaria de Queretaro - is a civic engagement organization, socially responsible and committed to social justice. They work to strengthen community organizations and initiatives, forge alliances and mobilize resources that support a process of sustainable development.