New Year Event 2014
Our Cabana - Tara Witney
Late in December 2014, I got up really early, grabbed my brand new suitcases full of clothes, and headed to the airport. Destination: Mexico!
I was honoured to be representing Girl Guides Australia as a part of the New Year’s Event held at Our Cabana in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Rebecca, a Girl Guide Leader from Victoria, and I met at Sydney airport and flew the 27 hours to Mexico together. We were met at the airport by a lovely man and his son who took us to “Ticalli”, a Girl Guide host house in the middle of Mexico City. Here, we met a lot of the girls who were also going to the New Year’s Event. On our first full day in Mexico, we joined the Canadian Contingent on a walk around Mexico City before we made the ninety minute trip to Our Cabana!
At first, I was a bit worried about dormitories but luckily enough I was put in a dorm of girls who became great friends. Of the 10 of us there was one American, one Mexican, two Scottish, five Canadians and me! The Cabana’s were well kept, clean and quite cosy- in a good way! We got a guided tour of Our Cabana and met the volunteers who would look after us for our event.
We stayed at the Cabana on day one and made Mexican crafts, got to know each other and play games. It was a good day, especially after all the travelling it took to get there!
For our first adventure we made the one bus trip to the Xochicalco pyramids. Before arriving at the pyramids, we went to the museum to learn about them. Xochicalco was a steep walk in the warm Mexican climate. All the girls thought it was boiling hot, because in their countries, they have low temperatures. I thought it was any other normal day, for a Queenslander. I know I am small, but these pyramids were huge! And they got higher and higher, the further back you went into the site. They were hand built with grey brick and the main ‘aisle’ pyramid had a dragon sculpted onto the side. Today was also New Year’s Eve! Back at Our Cabana, we had a dance party and brought in the New Year with a few Mexican traditions.
As part of our stay we joined in on a service project. As briefed the day before, each contingent planned an activity for the children at the community centre. Beck and I taught the children action songs. But in English! So it was very interesting. The Mexican Contingent were spread around to be interpreters which was the best idea ever! The children were so cute! They were all so fascinated with my blonde hair, and saying I looked like a movie star. It was a great day and very!
We visited the lovely city of Cuernavaca, with the beautiful Cathedral and bustling markets. The markets were the most fun, as I am a really good shopper, and being somewhere foreign just made it even more exciting! We were told to be in groups of three, meet back at three and have fun! And we did! I purchased gifts for my family and even some girly treats for myself!
In the evening, we had a salsa dancing class. Just let me tell you though, I am a terrible dancer! The most fun part about the class was laughing with my Canadian friends.
The event also included some learning about Mexican Fiesta and the traditions surrounding these celebrations. We also sampled some ‘Free Being Me’ activities, which proves that this WAGGGS initiative is truly global. We all wrote a little encouragement message on a speech bubble and stuck them all up together. It was a lovely gesture.
Day 7, and it’s our last day! Today is also one of the most exciting days because we went to Taxco, the biggest silver city in Mexico. Goodness me it was beautiful! We started at a silver shop where we got a short session on how silver is made, and how to determine what is real silver and what is not. Then, we got to check out the store, and I spent more money than intended. Then we heading to the city square where we were let loose to do whatever we wanted. A small group of us decided to look at some of the markets, the Santa Prisca Cathedral and look in the shops. I am pretty sure we walked between people’s houses… But the buildings were stunning! Old white concrete, with cobblestone streets. And I got ice cream. The flavours were very exotic, including tequila. I opted for my usual cookies and cream though!
In the evening it was our turn to finally have a fiesta filled with Mexican food, a piñata, a matriarchy band and dancing! It was a great night to finish off an incredible week with some very amazing women. We were all given special Our Cabana pins that only people who stay there get, and then we all hugged and cried. I made some great friends.
Our Cabana is a beautiful Girl Guiding World Centre and I was honoured to represent Australia in Mexico. If I could do it again, I definitely would like to. Our Cabana is having an event in November this year to do a Turtle Conservation project which I would love to go to, but unfortunately do not have the funds for. I highly recommend Our Cabana to anyone. I have made friends to last a life time, and I have memories that will last forever.
Tara Witney – Girl Guides Queensland
Download Tara's Travellers Tale.