Culture

9 Ways I Felt At Home In South Korea

During a recent trip to Seoul, South Korea, I was astonished by how much Koreans love Mexican culture. I must admit that I was a little bit nervous about going to Seoul. With more than 24 million people living there, Seoul is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. Would I fit in, or would I have a big “tourist” stamp on my forehead? I didn’t speak the language and never learned to use chopsticks (don’t judge!). But when I heard that one of the most highly rated restaurants in the city was a taco place, I knew I would love it there.

For starters, if you Google “best place to eat in Seoul,” Vatos is high on the list.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

If the name didn’t give it away, it’s a Mexican restaurant. I had fish tacos and carne asada fries and they were so good – and I should know, I’m from Cali. Their classic margarita was also legit.

So how much do Koreans love Mexican food? Check it out — these eateries are everywhere!

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

This is something like the El Pollo Loco of Seoul. You can’t go wrong with Mexican chicken.

And these taco joints are also sprinkled all throughout Seoul.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

I spotted them everywhere. It was hard to eat local Korean food when so many awesome Mexican restaurants were around!

They also have incredible street food. This is a quesadilla/empanada with an egg.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

Lettuce, pork, cheese, and cream. It’s insanely good.

I didn’t see any eloteros, but I found these packaged elotes.

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CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

I found these treats at a convenient store. They’re perfectly packaged, too.

Churros are also a big thing in Seoul.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

They have a huge variety of sizes, different shapes and chocolate dips too!

Not only are Koreans into Mexican food, they also appreciate Mexican-American pop culture. If this Speedy Gonzalez doesn’t prove that, I don’t know what will.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

Koreans are famously known to be fashion trendsetters, and I saw this jacket a cute boutique in the Gangnam District. If you’re not familiar with this uber-cool area, perhaps this pop hit song will make you want to visit.

And I almost died when I caught “La Bamba” on TV.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

This was a great way to learn a few words in Korean.

They have really great open markets, known to us as swap meets or mercados.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

There are three major open markets in Seoul, which are Namdaemun market, Gwangjang market, and Garak Market. With tons of food, clothing, and products, these swap meets are a great way to get a real taste of local culture. Each one is very different but they all have one thing in common: you can get anything you could ever want at a very good price.

Thanks, Seoul, for making me feel at home. It’s like I never left L.A.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

Visiting Seoul made me realize that I shouldn’t be intimidated about experiencing new cultures because surprisingly enough, our commonalities are immense!


READ: 9 Stressful Moments Every Latino Experiences When Traveling With Their Family

Have you traveled lately? Share this story and let us know about your latest adventures abroad in the comment section below. 

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Four Mexican Children Have Been Nominated For The Children’s Peace Prize And Here’s Why They Each Deserve To Win

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Four Mexican Children Have Been Nominated For The Children’s Peace Prize And Here’s Why They Each Deserve To Win

Yasin Yagci / Getty Images

Mexico is celebrating four compassionate children who have each been nominated for a prestigious international award, for their dedication to solving issues within their own communities.

Three kids from Oaxaca and one from Sinaloa have been nominated for the International Children’s Peace Award – which is award to children from around the world who have made an effort to promote the rights of children and improve the situation of vulnerable minors.

Each of Mexico’s four nominees have done so much for their communities – and the world at large – that it’s going to be a close contest to decide who is the ultimate winner.

Four kids from Mexico are in the running for a prestigious international peace award.

Among 138 children from 42 countries, four Mexican kids have been nominated for the International Children’s Peace Award, which is awarded to minors who have made an effort to promote the rights of children and improve the situation of vulnerable minors.

The award comes with a €100,000 (about $117,000 USD) prize which can be used to invest in the solutions they’ve been championing. In fact, one of last year’s winners was climate change activist Greta Thunberg and peace advocate Divina Maloum from Cameroon.

On this occasion, Mexico’s nominees are counting on the win and include three nominees from Oaxaca and one from the state of Sinaloa.

Each of the children nominated have done incredible work to help solve issues in their communities.

In order to be nominated for the award and to be considered for the top prize, children must demonstrate their commitment to making a “special effort to promote children’s rights and better the situation of vulnerable children,” according to the Children’s Peace Prize website.

It goes without saying that each of Mexico’s four nominees have already checked off each of those requirements, with each of them making major advancements in issues that affect their communities, their country, and children from around the world.

In fact, the issues this group of children have been taking on range from combatting bullying and domestic violence, to increasing access to education, protecting young women and girls from endemic violence, and combatting the global Covid-19 pandemic.

One nominee from Oaxaca founded her own foundation to help advance the issues she cares about.

In an interview with Milenio, Georgina Martínez, 17, said that the award represents a great opportunity.

“This year we are among the 142 nominees from 42 different countries and I believe that without a doubt there is a commitment from all of us as Mexican children and young people to win it to continue fighting for our dreams,” she said.

Martínez, who won the national youth award in 2017, has been working for the rights of children and young people for 10 years through various campaigns, such as “Boys and Girls to the Rescue”, which focused on helping vulnerable minors combat bullying and domestic violence. She also supported the Nutrikids campaign that fed minors in precarious situations, worked to build classrooms in impoverished communities, and has also been a speaker at various conferences.

“My activism began when I was 9 years old, when I participated in the ninth parliament of the girls and boys of Mexico, where I was a children’s legislator. We spent a week at the Chamber of Deputies to work in favor of children’s rights. There I realized that my voice could be heard and that I could be the voice of many children who perhaps did not have access to many of their rights such as education and health,” she told Milenio.

Young Georgina Martínez is in her last year of high school, and she has in mind to continue working in the present and the future to continue being a person and agent of change.

Martínez’s brother is also in the running for his work against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jorge Martínez, the 13-year-old brother of Georgina, considers it a great honor to represent Oaxaca in the contest.

“I was nominated for my masks project, which consists of using 3D printing to print universal headbands and make acrylic masks, which I donate to hospitals,” he told Milenio.

“I started by making 100 masks, which I financed with my savings, and donated them to the children’s hospital to help hospitalized children so that they wouldn’t be infected with Covid-19. The project went viral allowing me to grow the project and it soon gained international attention,” he added.

Many of his neighbors and friends consider him to be an actual genius but he’s far too modest to take on that title. He said that “the truth is, all this technology is something that I like a lot and it’s fun to be able to work in fields that you enjoy.”

Martínez also shared his plans for the future, telling Milenio that he’d love to move to China to be able to work in robotics and engineering.

Oaxaca also has a third nominee in the global contest.

Oaxaca’s third nominee for the prize is a young ballet dancer, activist, and storyteller – Aleida Ruiz Sosa – who is a defender of women’s rights. She’s currently studying online as she finishes high school and plans to pursue a law degree, in addition to advancing her dance career.

She’s been a longstanding voice for women.

“Since I was very young I have worked hard to help my community. I have a collection of stories called “Rainbow”, that speaks out about violence against women. In fact, I worked with the Attorney General of Oaxaca, and the main thing is that all the proceeds from the sale of these stories will go to the young victims of femicide,” she told Milenio.

Also nominated is 16-year-old Enrique Ángel Figueroa Salazar of Mazatlán, who is passionate about children’s rights and wishes to change local, federal and global societies so that children can live a life free of violence.

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Imagine Having Machu Picchu All To Yourself – That’s What One Man Got After Being Stuck In Peru For Seven Months

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Imagine Having Machu Picchu All To Yourself – That’s What One Man Got After Being Stuck In Peru For Seven Months

Gustavo Basso / Getty Images

One of the most dreaded side effects of the global Coronavirus pandemic, is that it took with it our travel plans. Whether we were simply set to have weekends at the beach, visit our abuelos in Mexico, or go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip across the world, so many of us have seen our travel plans taken away.

Well, one traveler made it across the world to fulfill his lifelong dream of seeing Machu Picchu but as soon as he arrived, so too did the pandemic. He became stuck in foreign country and couldn’t travel or see the sights he had hoped to visit.

As Peru has slowly reopened, this now world-famous traveler is being known as the first person to see Machu Picchu post-lockdown and he got to do so all by himself.

One lucky traveler got to experience the city of Machu Picchu all by himself.

Peru’s famous Machu Picchu ruins, closed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic, reopened on Monday for one lucky Japanese tourist after he spent months stranded in the country due to global travel restrictions.

In a video first reported by The Guardian, Jesse Takayama shared his immense gratitude for being allowed to visit the ancient Incan city – which had long been one of his dreams. Months ago he had arrived in a small town near the Incan city, where he has remained ever since because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Peru’s Minister of Culture, Alejandro Neyra, said at a press conference that “He [Takayama] had come to Peru with the dream of being able to enter. The Japanese citizen has entered together with our head of the park so that he can do this before returning to his country.” Talk about a once in a lifetime experience.

Neyra went on to add that this really was a rare moment and that Takayama only received access after submitting a special request to the local tourism authority.

In an Instagram post about his special access, Takayama said that “Machu Picchu is so incredible! I thought I couldn’t go but many people asked the government. I’m the first one to visit Machu Picchu after lockdown!”

Takayama had been stuck in Peru since March when the country shut down its borders because of the pandemic.

Takayama arrived to Peru in March and promptly bought his pass to the ancient city but little did he know the world (and his plans) would come to a screeching halt. Peru was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic (and continues to struggle) and was forced to close its borders and institute a strict lockdown.

Peru was forced to implement drastic COVID-19 restrictions on travel including an end to all incoming international flights earlier this year, which only relaxed this month after the nation’s rate of new COVID-19 cases began declining in August.

The last statement posted on the Machu Picchu website, dated from July, says that “the Ministries of Culture and Foreign Trade and Tourism are coordinating the prompt reopening of Machu Picchu”.

Peru’s Machu Picchu is one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions.

The country’s Minister of Culture, Neyra, stressed that “the reopening of Machu Picchu is important for Peruvians, as a symbol of national pride and also as a budget issue, because it is one of the places that generates the most income for the culture sector.”

The BBC reports that the Inca stronghold, a Unesco world heritage site since 1983, is expected to reopen at reduced capacity next month. 

More than 1.5 million people make the pilgrimage to the Inca city annually. In 2017, Unesco threatened to place the famous ruins on its list of endangered heritage sites because of fears about overcrowding; Peruvian authorities subsequently brought in measures to control the flow of tourists and visitor numbers were capped at around 2,240 per day.

Peru is still experiencing one of the region’s worst outbreaks of Coronavirus.

After beginning a phased reopening, Peru has started to see its contagion rate increase in recent days. The country still faces one of the worst outbreaks in South America, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

“We are still in the middle of a pandemic,” Neyra added. “It will be done with all the necessary care.”

Peru has recorded just over 849,000 total cases of COVID-19, and 33,305 deaths since the pandemic began.

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