8-18 Media: Cultural tours, part 2 | News, Sports, Jobs

LIAM ULLAND-JOY, 16 years old

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part two in a two-part chronicle series on a school trip to Chicago. The first part took place in the weekend edition from December 11 to 12.

Once everyone had finished shopping for their items at El Condor, it was time to head to our next stop. However, we did not have access to the bus at that time and would be on foot. We decided to stop at a nearby mural before moving on to the next item on our route. We ended up getting lost a bit, but thanks to a printed map and help from Google, we finally found our way through the cold air. The next stop was a place called the Salsa Dance Academy. It was a small building that offered dance lessons. We stayed there for about 45 minutes and learned a few different dance steps including bachata.

After leaving the Dance Academy we had a brief problem locating the bus, but this was quickly resolved. It was lunchtime! We went to 90 Miles Cuban Cafe. Earlier today, we had pre-booked our orders due to the large size of our group. The main options available to us were their sandwiches. Options included the cubano, others filled with meat, and a veggie sandwich. The ingredients for each sandwich were listed on the menu and it was obvious that they were all stuffed with toppings.

Upon arriving we also learned that the cafe has several sodas that I had never tried before. The two that I remember are Iron Beer, which has been described by Professor Jensen as a blend of Root Beer and Dr. Pepper, and a pineapple soda called Jupina. I decided to get the pineapple soda, a fairly mild and strong flavor but a good one. I also ordered a vegetarian sandwich. It was completely stuffed with different toppings, including mushrooms, which I had never tried before.

After lunch we visited a churros shop called Xurro which had a wide variety of flavors. There were regular churros, miniatures, thickets and even “Shake the churro”, who used a churro as a straw. The next element of our itinerary was a guided walking tour, and it was already starting to get quite cold outside, so I had a churro and hot chocolate to keep my hands warm.

The focus of our trip to Chicago was the Pilsen neighborhood, which is home to many different murals. For our last scheduled activity, we would receive a guided tour of several murals near the National Museum of Mexican Art, which we had visited the day before. There was some downtime between our trip to Xurro and the walking tour, so I stayed on the bus where it was hot. When it was time to resume the tour, we met outside the NMMA and met our guide. After a few minutes, we started our walk.

I don’t remember all the murals we visited, but a few stand out in my memory. The first one we stopped at was a depiction of the story of Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl, figures from Aztec mythology for which two volcanoes near Mexico City are named after. We also saw a scene from “Gulliver’s Travels” and some graffiti. Most of the murals we saw took up all sides of the buildings, reaching truly impressive sizes. I only took one photo because my hands were getting cold and I didn’t want to use my phone too much.

The walking tour was the last planned event of the trip. After we finished it, we returned to the hotel and had dinner at a Costa Rican restaurant that did catering. I fell asleep around 11:30 p.m. and woke up a little before 8 a.m. The group gathered in the hotel restaurant and finished our breakfast before starting the preparations for the return home. We left for Marquette around 9:20 am and drove all day.

There was quite a bit of snow in Marquette when we arrived, different from Chicago where it had only been cold and windy. This made me consider other differences between the two places, especially the size of Chicago. It had been a long time since I had visited a very large city; early 2020 or mid-2019, depending on your definition “big.” The trip also had unique educational value by expanding my knowledge of Latin American cultures in a way very different from a school setting. Overall I think I would stay there again.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Liam Ulland-Joy, 16, is a young writer for 8-18 Media.

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James C. Tibbs