Anas Saba
Anas Saba
Mexico, 2022
Hi! My name is Anas Saba, I will be working with a social enterprise in Mexico City called Someone Somewhere. They are a lifestyle apparel brand that provides work for rural artisan women. Looking forward to sharing this experience with you all! Read More About Anas →

Tacos, trees, and Traveling with Humility

Wow, it’s hard to believe a whole month has passed since I have gotten to Mexico! Over the last couple of weeks, I have had the chance to connect with my coworkers, contribute to some awesome projects, and attend our annual reforestation. More on that later!

In life outside of work, I have continued to enjoy connecting with street vendors and small business owners. One of my favorite places is a plant based “seafood” taco stand, named Paxil. When I make a connection with small business owner, I love to offer a free photography session. Back in Nashville, it’s what I do for work, but in Mexico I like to use photography as a way to connect with the local community.

I met the sisters who run Paxil after being recommended to them from a vendor at a local market. They are super sweet and make such delicious food! They were curious about how I learned Spanish. As I shared with them a bit of my story, we got into the topic of the impact of foreigners from North America and Europe in Mexico City. It is a topic that has been getting a lot of attention lately. With many people working fully remote, they have been leaving large American cities where rent is expensive to go to trending areas in Mexico City where their dollar goes further. Subsequently, rent has gone up in these areas, as people from San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York rent apartments here at a fraction of the cost of their previous places.

Prior to coming to Mexico City, I thought deeply about what my presence and impact as an American means here. The issue is much deeper than the cost of rent going up in these areas (areas that in general, were already expensive). The other, more insidious issue is an exploitative and entitled mindset that some of the people who come to live in Mexico City possess. In my short time here, I have personally witnessed foreigners being rude to locals in restaurant settings for not speaking English or not speaking English well enough. Many Mexicans have shared how these sorts of interactions are uncomfortable, belittling, and overall hurtful.

You certainly don’t have to travel outside the country to come across demanding and entitled people. However, I think it’s important when traveling to approach new communities with humility and a desire to learn from locals. Especially as Americans, when we travel to developing countries, we may be coming from a higher socio-economic position than locals we interact with, especially in the tourism and hospitality industries. It is important to be generous, polite, and understanding, especially if it has to do with people not speaking English. I am curious to hear any thoughts and opinions on this in the comments!

A week after meeting the owners at Paxil, I came back to take some photos of them and the food! Attached some of my favorites below.

At work, I have been helping the creative and marketing team with product shoots, copywriting, marketing for the U.S. channels. It brings me so much joy to see how Someone Somewhere helps lift artisans in rural communities out of poverty by working with them to create unique products and a stable work environment.  Last weekend, I joined the team on an annual reforestation day they do with a couple other organizations based in Mexico City. We were part of 300 volunteers who planted 3000 trees! The place was beautiful and I got to connect with my coworkers. It made waking up at 5 AM worth it. Attaching some photos below!

Planning a trip with my coworkers to one of the artisan communities we work this week, looking forward to sharing my next entry!

 

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