México, A Recap.

Hola a todos mi querida familia y mis queridos amigos también. It’s been a while; a whirlwind of a time, these past six weeks — but here I am going to attempt a recap. Something to catch you all up on where I’m at and where I’ve been, what I’ve done and what I’m doing. But even more so, this is something for myself. A dwelling in the memories and the experiences. Here goes.


Yesterday (18/02/18), I left Mexico City (La Ciudad de México, CDMX, México) and I realised something. Over the past 6 weeks, fragments of my soul have embedded themselves into the Colonias of Roma and Coyoacán, the zócalo of Puebla City and it’s colourful streets, the vegetarian Indigenous cooperative in Chamula that sat right opposite a Mayan pyramid, the community garden of Huerta Roma Verde (where we made salad out of vegetables grown by the community in CDMX and picked by my peers and I and where I am sure I will return to volunteer), and Chiapas. It’s a far healthier, less destructive, and less egotistical formation of horcruxes, but I hope it means that parts of me will live on through and in these memories.


The places and experiences I mentioned were all part of the 6 weeks course I did on Social Realities in Mexico, at the Universidad Iberoamericana. While not every adventure was a direct element of the course, staying with a Mexican host family took me to Puebla with my lovely roommate, our mamita mexicana and our tia mexicana (her sister) for a gorgeous long weekend. Our weekly excursions opened my eyes up to the realities of living in a city such as CDMX and a countries such as Mexico. From refugee houses to the Museo del Arte Popular (MAP) to a community garden and a community centre, we were privy to an amazing array of insights and experiences. Enhanced by the knowledge we were coming into each week — Human Rights / Poverty & Social Inequality / Indigenous Studies / Migration / Environment & Sustainability — I feel as though I have expanded my realm of understanding. I feel deeply connected to parts of Mexico that I never expected… its markets and its uneven roads, its wild traffic and its street food, but most of all the depth, complexity, and spirit of all its peoples — and their inherent connection to the land they inhabit.


Monday the 12th February, 2018. We woke at 5:30am to leave the house at 6am to be at the airport at 8:50am (just in case you hadn’t been quite able to envision the nightmare of traffic that is CDMX’s roads). Our destination? Textla Gutierrez airport, in the southern-Mexican state of Chiapas. Chiapas is the Mexican state with the second highest Indigenous population, and the second highest number of diverse ethno-cultural Indigenous groups (the first in each category is Oaxaca). We were heading there for a week; the sixth of our course; the final week. Landing in Chiapas to a balmy 30 degree day (a lovely change from the max. 18 degrees days we’d been seeing in Santa Fe, CDMX), we were ushered into a coach by our driver Juan (who came to save our lives on many an occasion). We drove for two hours into the highlands and arrived at San Cristóbal de las Casas, the birthplace of the Zapatista movement and a hub for hippies, hipsters, retired US travellers, and Indigenous peoples alike. It was incredible.

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Our first afternoon there, after lunch at the collective Tierradentro, we walked along the cobbled, gridded streets dotted with colourful houses, tiendas, hotels, and coffee shops (the coffee scene in San Cristóbal could definitely rival both Sydney’s and Melbourne’s) up to the main church. There were a lot of stairs to climb and a lot of group pictures to be taken (by our resident Dad, Florian (the German living in Mexico with his Mexican wife and children who was the head of our department at the uni)) but it was worth the wait: We stepped into the arch of the entrance and were met with singing and choreographed dance numbers. We had arrived at a Mexican mass. Looking around, there were only women: grandmothers and mothers with their daughters, cousins, and aunts; nieces and great-grandchildren, and in the midst of all these women pure, tangible joy. Almost unintentionally, I found myself joining in; singing words as I slowly but surely picked them up, and finding myself a dance teacher to walk me through the steps — a young woman and her mother. I danced and sang and laughed and prayed and overflowed with joy and familiarity for the duration of 3 songs — or about 30 minutes. As the sermon began, we slipped back out of the arch and I had tears wetting my eyelashes. I felt so moved and so connected in a way I never had before. Finally, after learning and observing much of the realities of Mexico, I felt as though I was living them.


After this brief detour, we made our way to social enterprise Kiptik via the handcraft markets — an NGO partnering local Indigenous artisans with big clients, ensuring fair pay and safe work environments. With a stop off at one of our teacher’s favourite coffee spots in San Cristóbal, Carajillo, which soon became my favourite as well (PSA: all cafes should offer horchata con espresso), I headed back to the gloriously rustic hotel for an early night. We were in San Cristóbal until Thursday morning and had some big days up ahead: the Tuesday bought an excursion to a canyon, where we boated down the river, saw crocodiles and monkeys, had lunch at a fancy restaurant (famous for an amazing soup, flavoured by garden herb chipilín and floating balls of masa), and spent the afternoon at Melel X — an NGO working with Indigenous children in the region.

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Wednesday we visited two Indigenous communities. The first, San Juan Chamula, is insular and private despite it being quite a tourist attraction. This particular community is famed for its fusion of Catholic practices and Indigenous Xaman (Shaman) ritual. The church, the main attraction, is heady and thick. Candles burn in every corner, along every table, and in front of all the 82 saints that adorn the walls. There are no pews, only palm branches, and the floor is scattered with bottles of Coca Cola (to encourage the expulsion of demons and bad spirits through burping) and glasses of pox (a local alcohol made from distilled corn). Inside, we saw families praying for the healing of their child, men praying for prosperity, and I felt dizzy with the mythology, faith, and belief that was tangible in the heavy air of this sacred place.


The second community was more open to the non-Indigenous public, with tourism being its main form of income. We visited Centro Textiles del Mundo Maya, a collective run by Indigenous women of the community that shows tourists traditional Mayan textiles techniques, dresses groups up in the daily outfits of the community, cooks corn tortillas hecho del mano over a traditional stove based on the four Mayan cardinal points (the same as ours today) and serves them to you with an array of salsasfrijolesquesocrema, and most importantly, café de olla.

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The next morning, we all woke at 4am to leave by 4:45am: we were heading to Palenque (a seven hour drive). Leaving so early was not just to arrive with some daylight to spend, but the earlier you leave, the less blockages you face along the way. Despite this, we still found ourselves paying tariffs to local communities that blockade the streets in civil protest, situations expertly navigated in the local language Tzetzal by our hero, Juan. Along the way (the very windy, bumpy, full-of-travel-sickness way), we stopped at the Cascadas de Agua Azul, where we swam in paradisiacal oases, ate mangos sliced into flowers and perched on a stick, we climbed behind waterfalls and I marvelled at just how gorgeous the tropical, jungle terrain of Southern Mexico is. I think I could live in it almost forever. We also stopped at Misol-Há, another waterfall named in the Indigenous language Ch’ol that literally means “water fall”. Finally, we arrive in steamy Palenque, to our luscious hotel Chan-Kah — a Mayan spa and resort.

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Friday, our last full day, was spent wandering around the Palenque ruins: Mayan pyramids surrounded by lush jungle; ruins that have the best-preserved examples of Mayan hieroglyphs we have to date. The main organiser of our course, the most gorgeous young woman named Tahtiali, had studied history in university, and had minored in Indigenous studies and Mayan glyphs and so we had our own personal tour guide. That afternoon, we wound our way through the thick jungle to an Indigenous cooperative that runs a permaculture farm. We were treated to lunch that was made only with ingredients from their land and then shown around: the beehives, the dry toilets, the ovens and the stoves, the milpa, the crops, the greenhouse, and taught about their connections with local farmers to help improve agricultural sustainability across the region.

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That night, I swam in the hotel pool feeling sticky and flushed and full of life. Surrounded by my friends, these few girls I had gotten to know in only 6 weeks, and the steamy jungle rising up around us, I felt at peace as I floated on the viscous surface of the water.

That feeling has not left. Not during the flight back as I was scribbling letters to everyone I had spent the past 6 weeks with. Not during the ‘last supper’ where there were only four of us left. Not when I returned later that night to Santa Fe, to see my Mexican family for the last time. Not when I had brunch on my last morning in CDMX with a lovely Guatemalan student I wanted to be friends with but never had the time. Not when I went to spend my last afternoon in Coyoacán, walking around the markets and sitting in the park. Not even on my red-eye flight to San José, Costa Rica, where I am right now.

I still feel so desperately, and so vividly, alive and connected to all things.

With love,



Los Estados Unidos Mejicanos

Hola a todos, de la Ciudad de México (CDMX).

It’s wrapping up Day #4 for me here, and what a time is has been already — and so much character development, too.

Whilst I’ve only had one full day of the course (today), the orientation day and welcome activities (a scavenger hunt around México City) have made me and the 8 other girls on my course fast friends. Because most of them (bar one) speak very little to no Spanish, I have acted as translator on many an outing — which is improving my language conversational skills, and my confidence.

Whilst the lovely girl staying with me in our host family’s home is one of those who speaks no Spanish, my “mum” Irma and I speak solely in Spanish (except past 10pm when my brain stops working).

So far the days have been full of contrasts: the lush green hedges and red brick of the IBERO campus with the dim grey shrouds by the Santa Fe roads; the peaceful pre-8am bus rides into the city with the push and shove of the afternoon rush hour metro; the gated community I am living in out of the city centre and the colourful, open houses that line the centre’s streets; the rush of Spanish and the broken English; the gorgeous southern Colonias of Roma, Coyoacán, and La Condensa and the ever-expanding grey of Santa Fe; and so much more.

It’s only been 4 days here, and I’ve already seen so much — including the one site I wanted to see the most: La Casa Azul, better known as El Museo de Frida Kahlo or the Frida Kahlo museum. Located in the most gorgeous, European-Mexican blend of a suburb, Coyoacán, Casa Azul was a dream come true. Before arriving at the vivid blue walls of the museum, however, my roommate and I stumbled across the local Sunday market. An overwhelming, exciting, and enriching experience, we saw local handmade wares, handcrafted lollies and marzipan, fresh meat shops (using every single part of the animal. Trust me. I had a vendor piece together the top and bottom half of a pig’s head — nose and teeth intact — to illustrate this.), and so many taquerias. We found a cute one called Carmelita, and ordered vegetarian tacos, huarachegordita, and a chile relleno — definitely the best food I’ve had so far.

We also decided to pop up El Monumento y El Museo de la Revolución, right up to the summit, to see a 360-degree view of the city. We reached the top as the sun was setting and the lights were turning on; and what a wonder it was to behold. La Ciudad de México is a sprawling, monster of a city: dangerous and enchanting, fascinating and curious, colourful and gloomy; and just so, so, so big.

I can’t wait to explore it more.

My Bones Ache in Heat

I stood, hunched
Over the kitchen sink and
The fleshy pit of a mango and
Everything I have feared to say.
The nectar smudged my chin and
Swam down my wrists,
Melting my pores and filling
Hollowed-out bones with summer
ache and I looked
Out into the storm that was
That was making the air smell of
The empty wardrobe in my grandmother’s house,
Still full of
My grandfather’s clothes.

In the coolness of the kitchen
I cannot bear the weight of the
space between myself
And him anymore.

I stand and remember all the ways
A soul can burn.

– Mariela PT

Four years ago today (the 18th of April), I lost someone who was very, very dear to me. My grandfather always helped me keep my heart soft; made me want to be a better person. I miss him a lot, every single day, really. But I know that he still loves me, and that helps soothe a bit of the aching.


Spaces /

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My room’s decoration has remained pretty much the same since it was redone almost three years ago now. The map that you see above my cushions (thanks, frankie mag! It’s so pretty!) has been there for those three years, and I love it because of the accurate size of the countries. My mum originally pointed it out to me: that the United States on this map is smaller than it appears on most other maps – and this size is much more realistic. After she highlighted that, I started noticing the USA on other maps and realised how ridiculously large it is too-oft depicted. Anyhow, I digress.

The map has been there for a while. The (mock) ‘prints’ (that I did myself, using a 0.6mm Artline 210 pen), however, are much newer. They’ve probably hovered above my head for just short of a month, now, and they are sets of affirmations covering different aspects of my life that I sourced from Rachel Gadiel’s beautiful blog.

(1) Fears, Anxieties, Challenges

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  • My dreams are much greater than my fears
  • I move through each day with power and purpose
  • I am true to my own path
  • As I challenge my fears, I am strengthened and empowered
  • Fear is nothing more than emotion I allow myself to feel
  • I am fearless in all that I do
  • I am now free from all fear and worry
  • My faith in God lifts me high above any fear
  • I breathe in confidence and breathe out all fear
  • All of my problems have a solution and I entrust them to God
  • I seek a new way of thinking about this situation
  • I refuse to give up because I haven’t tried all possible solutions and God is on my side

(2) Dreams and Creativity

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  • I know that I have the knowledge and resources to achieve my dreams
  • My imagination and power are limitless
  • Nothing can stop me from achieving my dreams
  • I express my creativity by allowing my imagination to flow
  • My creativity is a true expression of who I am
  • I follow my dreams no matter what
  • I am graced by God with the creative energy to live my real mission and purpose
  • Being positive improves my creativity
  • Creative inspiration follows me where I go
  • I am an unlimited creative being
  • I am full of infinite creative energy

(3) Purpose

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  • As I follow my heart, I discover my destiny
  • Every day I understand my purpose with greater clarity
  • I am creating a life of passion and purpose
  • I honour my vision and purpose and God through the completion of my goals
  • I live my own truth, and God’s, every day
  • Where I am right now is exactly where I should be
  • I move through each and every day with power and purpose

(4) Habits


  • I am the master of my habits
  • I release all habits that are disempowering
  • All my actions are in perfect harmony with my purpose
  • I only get hooked on empowering habits
  • My willpower is stronger than any habit
  • I hold the power of change in my mind
  • I have incredible self-control
  • I gratefully let go of old, limiting behaviours
  • Week by week I am changing my habits for the better

(5) Motivation and Goals


  • Today I will take one step toward my dreams
  • My mind is clear, focused, and energised
  • Giving up is easy and always an option – let’s delay for another day
  • Action is the energy that translates my thoughts into reality
  • When I follow my plan, positive things happen
  • I know where I want to go and I have a plan to get there
  • I am willing to step outside my comfort zone to accomplish the goals I set for myself
  • I possess the wisdom, the power, the motivation, the inspiration and the passion to accomplish anything and everything I choose
  • Today I take firm action toward my goals


*All credit to these affirmations go to Rachel Gadiel, and her post ‘50 Positive Affirmations for Goal-Getters‘, except the text in italics was added by myself, to further align these statements with my personal beliefs.

I hope these are as inspiring for you as they are for me – maybe you guys would like to get creative and write up some of your own funky, empowering affirmations! I definitely encourage you to.

Yours in love and creative flux,

Mariela xxxx

i know i know i know that i’ve said so many times in the past how i was becoming malleable to change; that the stiff metal of my existence was slowly becoming more flexible but it was so minimal — it was so much language and yearning and pangs for achieving more than i was but ultimately mostly fruitless

but these past few days – maybe even this past week – i’m feeling everything and it feels right. it’s slow — it’s so so slow, but i’m different.

i’m intangible;; constantly changing, i’m water and i’m flux and i’m fluidity rolling as an expression of holy Light and Love.

i’m coming to accept that my sadness is as much a part of me as my happiness is :: there have been so many times in the last few years of my life that i wished so desperately to unbecome :— to surrender to depths of a ‘deep cathedral where i cannot breathe/no need to pray no need to speak’ / to not exist / to be unhistoric. but now the darkness is so important so so important          it has become a hollowness;placenta, womb; and i am able to let my feelings roll over me”waves on an ocean and i am submerged                             yet          i am not weighed down by my sadness or by the scary wish for death and nothingness—- who i am floats in the vacuum that sits between my sternum and my oesophagus and who i am is both lightness and darkness ’ neither inherently good nor bad::: it just is.

i just exist.

my rate of change is slow;slow;slow it almost feels like it isn’t happening but itis and for the first time i can feel it and it’s pace is water droplets cutting through ancientsacredholy stone and it’s happening because of the Creator and it feels right that it’s this slow. because everything is temporary

what is seen is temporary // but // what is unseen is eternal

it doesn’t matter that i eat this or i don’t or i exercise or i don’t or i read this many books or i don’t one day to the next because it’s flux it’s fluid it’s irrelevant because there is an eternity waiting for me and it doesn’t rely on anything that i do accept that i have deep, consuming faith and love.

make me a vessel of Love and Light i let go and let God clothe me in the Spirit let me flow through this life and into the next ——- accepting and water and peace and gentleness and softness and bravery in You and water and water and floating in the water of this cosmos 

1 December 14 // New Beginnings

Slightly cliché, somewhat fortuitous: today marks a new beginning. In the past few weeks, some unbalanced moonbeam inside of me leaked and was causing all sorts of messes and chaos inside my mind and body (I’m not trying to excuse my absence, but I feel that an attempted explanation would not go astray). Somehow, the fact that the First of December has coincided with a Monday has meant that the various spider-silks making up the different aspects of my life have been woven together and the moon-leak has been set right.

Namely, I was struggling with finding inspiration and motivation to:
Physically: go to sleep and wake up early, stretch, exercise for more than 30 minutes a day more than 4 times a week, eat as well as my body deserves, challenge myself.
Mentally and Creatively: read as much as I had promised myself I would, find the joy in days that were difficult, keep up with friends, challenge myself to create more art and more writing, clarify where I am and where I am heading at this point in my life.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to be sharing my goal-setting strategies with you, as well as some of my specific goals and projects that will hopefully arise as a result thereof.

In the meantime, I have read a few books recently that I will list below, with a few words on their content and my opinion on them!

The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje: After having read In the Skin of a Lion for my HSC English Advanced Course (Module B) and falling in the deepest oceans of love for Ondaatje’s prose, I had very high expectations for TEP, especially given its rave reviews. Whilst still beautifully written, and I do really recommend reading it, I don’t feel that TEP captured my breath the same way ITSOAL did; I didn’t find it quite as convicting; it didn’t require so much of an emotional input from me.

Nefertiti, Michelle Moran: A bit slow to begin with, this piece of historic fiction paints a different image of Nefertiti than I had in my head – but still just as powerful. I do have a deeper interest in Ancient Egypt than perhaps a ‘normal’ (what is that, though?) teenager, but it really is a page turner! I stayed up until 12:30am to finish it!

Memoirs of A Geisha, Arthur Golden: Another winner. Also a little bit slow to begin (especially considering I had no knowledge of what this historical novel was really about/where it would be leading me), MoAG was a thrilling read for me; and as it picks up speed, you really get carried along with it; finding yourself connected to certain characters without even realising it!

See you very soon, loves xxx