Laughter and tears in Mexico City


Month 12 of my adventure was a time for reflection and planning for the future. One of the things that rolled through my mind was – how do I want to show up in my community when I return?


I’ve lived in Kelowna for 10+ years and have lots of friends and business contacts I’m looking forward to reconnecting with. But is there something more? Is there a way I could give back after my year away?


As always, once we ask the question, the answer appears.


One of the things I love to do is laugh. I laugh every day – all the time – and always find things that make me happy.


When I was in Bogota, I met a woman who was a “happiness consultant”. I asked her more about this and she told me she goes into businesses, talks about mindfulness and gratitude and leads a laughter yoga session.


Laughter Yoga – yes, it’s a thing!


I first experienced it in 2012 when I went to Sanoviv, an integrative medical facility in Mexico. Now I had this experience in Bogota and later I dreamed about it at a meditation retreat in Ixtapa so took it as a sign – I was going to get certified as a laughter yoga instructor and offer classes when I get home to Kelowna!


As I began my search for training, there were no options in Canada and I wondered how this dream was going to come together.


I contacted my original instructor at Sanoviv and he put me in touch with the International Laughter Yoga University. Turns out, they had an instructor in Mexico City so I contacted her right away.


And would you believe she was offering the training that weekend?! And she spoke English!


She only offers the training twice a year and it happened to fall exactly when I needed it. (I love it when things magically line up!)


I enrolled and spent a full weekend with seven amazing women, laughing, sharing, learning together. I walked away with not only a certificate but seven new friends to keep me laughing every day.


Although most of my month was filled with laughs, I also had some scary moments, as I experienced my first major earthquake.


Of course, we’d heard about the devastating earthquake in Sept 2017 and many of us expressed concerns about living in the city for a month. But we were assured everything was safe and we’d have no issues.


On February 16, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit near the coast and shook things up again in Mexico City.


I was home alone and felt things start to sway. It was a disorienting feeling and I wasn’t sure what was happening – until the wall-mounted TV crashed to the floor. Then I realized it was an earthquake and went back to my elementary school training – dive under a desk or get to a doorframe.


Not having a desk or a table, I stood in the doorframe waiting for things to stop moving, as pictures fell off the wall, furniture moved, and car alarms sounded outside.


Then there was banging on my front door and yelling in Spanish. I opened the door to see the building’s security guard standing there and he grabbed me indicating to get out.


I gingerly ran down the metal steps in my bare feet and went outside – where traffic had stopped and people stood around, cautiously looking up.


As I stood there, I thought – this is crazy! If anything collapses, we’re going to get hit with falling debris!


But when in a foreign country, my policy is always “follow the locals” so I stood there and waited.


About an hour later, they let us back into the building but my nerves were rattled and I couldn’t focus for the rest of the evening and definitely didn’t sleep that night.


We had a 5.2 magnitude aftershock the next night, which shook me in my bed and ensured I wouldn’t get a full night’s sleep for the rest of the month.


I experienced physical symptoms afterwards and felt like I had vertigo. (Trusting this goes away once I get home!)


Determined to experience a final few tourist stops while in the city, we turned to a classic choice – the hop on-hop off bus. This is such a great way to see a city, especially one as big as Mexico City.


We explored two of the four options in one day, stopping at the Basilica of Guadalupe, a destination for many pilgrimages.


We also got tickets to see a folklore dance at Belles Artes, a gorgeous theatre in the heart of downtown. The evening was full of traditional regional dances including costumes and music.


My heart sang with the beautiful, soulful sounds and I knew it was the perfect way to wrap up my time in Mexico.


The only thing left was our final farewell party. We boarded vans and drove two hours out of the city, along dusty, narrow, windy roads to arrive at a gorgeous villa at the mountain foothills. There was a pool, mansion, guest house, gardens and so many lovely places to curl up in the sun or shade and share memories with friends.


We spent the whole day together – the final 42 people who “graduated” from the Remote Year adventure.


We shared what we’d learned this year, how we’ve changed, what we were grateful for. We signed each other’s yearbooks, we posed for photos and we wrapped it up with an outdoor dinner under twinkle lights in the trees.


It was magical.

It was sad.

It was happy.

It was perfect.


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  • Yvonne Pitura

    It must be bitter sweet to leave the 42 friends you have met and “loved” to be with this year. But I’m sure you have so very many wonderful memories of the 12 countries you visited with these great friends. I have very much enjoyed all your posts and I thank you for sharing. Are you back on terra firma in Kelowna? You must have mixed emotions being home….happy to see your family and friends, but missing the adventure that each new country provided. I wish you well and hope we keep in touch.

    • Michelle

      Thanks Yvonne – I’m so happy you enjoyed reading about my adventure. Yes, I’ve just landed in Kelowna and am adjusting to the cooler temperatures (yikes!) Let’s definitely keep in touch! xo

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