Review from the Director of a student organization, CIEE (http://www.ciee.org/) from CIEE Guanajuato, Mexico.
I am the Director of a study abroad program in Guanajuato, Mexico. Our program participants are U.S. university students who spend a semester or a year studying in our beautiful, charming, small city of approximately 140,000 people. One of the highlights of each semester is a weekend excursión with students to visit Mexico City- a megalópolis of over 20 million. This is a fantastic way for our students to see a very different face of Mexico, but as an educator and program administrator, and the person responsible for the safety and security of a dozen curious 20-year olds used to small town living (think country mice going to the big city), a trip to DF is daunting to organize/plan/execute alone.
Myself, our Program Assistant and ten students just returned last night after our third trip to Mexico City working with Gabriel and his team at Pata de Perro. Gabriel was able to accomodate all of our requests and work with us to design and deliver a totally personalized, jam packed 4-day experience for our students. In this and our previous multi-day tours, we were able to visit all the “must-dos”, including Teotihuacan, Casa Azul, Anthropology Museum and other classic stops. But what students (and staff!) enjoyed the most were the very unique, once in a lifetime experiences that Gabriel was able to provide because of his resourcefulness and close relationships in the local community.
As we floated by the typical trajinera full of other college students drinking chelas and listening to pop music in Xochimilco, on our way back from visiting a floating farm (chinampa) our bellies full of delicious fresh salad from Don Felipe’s garden and some of what I am convinced are the world’s best tamales, I was so grateful to Gabriel for taking us far beyond the stereotypes of Mexico, and so that both students and myself could gain a deeper understanding of the realities and complexities that make up one of the world’s most interesting and engaging cities.
Student feedback has been unanimously positive related to Gabriel- he’s like the super cool older brother/uncle type that gets everyone the backstage/behind the scenes, real-deal experience so craved by the Millennial Generation. To me, as an administrator, he is 100% reliable, never runs out of energy, ideas or patience, neither in the planning/execution of these tours, and just an all-around consummate professional and a pleasure to work with.
Gabriel’s newest addition, David, is also fantastic. His strong pedagogical roots shine through in his detailed yet engaging explanations. He was able to keep our students responsive and active throughout the tour of Teotihucan (despite the blazing sun and our early morning departure from Guanajuato… anyone who works with college students can appreciate the state of mind most students are in when they have to get up at 6am for a four-hour bus ride followed by a guided tour, but David had us all scrambling up the side of the Pyramid of the Sun in great spirits and with students asking thoughtful, reflective and critical questions. Marvelous!)
This was our third separate trip to DF working with Pato de Perro in the past year, and each time, we continue to be impressed by Gabriel’s exceptional service and committment. I actually lived in DF for nearly two years and Gabriel continues to surprise me by showing new sides to a city I once called home. We are already planning future tours with Pato de Perro and our students- it’s something really special to be able to hang with and learn from people who are so passionate about what they are sharing- we all walked away from the experience feeling like we received more than just some really great tours- we felt like received a gift.
Muchas gracias Pato de Perro!
Beth West, Resident Director
Resident Director – Guanajuato, Mexico