I spent the summer of 1987 in Oxford, England. I was 15 years old and I was sent there to ‘perfect my English’ with a group of teens. I did very little studying and lots of partying. Being my first Transatlantic trip, it fully opened my eyes and mind. That trip may have been the spark that lit my travel fire.
In 2007 I had the opportunity to go back to Oxford, exactly 20 years later. It wasn’t planned that way, it just happened. That year we visited the “smaller countries” in Europe. So we fit 6 countries in three and a half weeks and England was one of them.
During my Oxford summer, I used to go to class in an annex at Christ Church College, one of the most renowned colleges in England where Prime Ministers have hailed from. Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland wrote that story here while he worked as a teacher. Alice was the name of the Dean’s daughter.
Here is a picture of tiny 15 year old me at Christ Church. (I’m the one with the long white jacket)
And here is Dante 20 years later almost on the same spot.
As I entered the building, I realized that the college I used to go to, to “perfect my English” was also the place that inspired JK Rowling for Hogwarts’ common room!
Here is Dante in the great hall where Hogwarts students ate and had assemblies.
And here he is at the stairwell where Harry sees Tom Riddle. Who would’ve thought!
Follow the footsteps of the world’s favorite wizard: http://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/visiting/harry-potter
Many years later, Dante read the whole Harry Potter series and is a big fan.
Later that day, I attempted to go back to the house where I lived. Since it had been 20 years I really thought I would get lost because I remember back then the bus would drop me off about a mile away from my house and I would walk through a winding rustic road with very few houses and two pubs on the way. I was sure it would be all developed now. Well, I guess Oxford hasn’t changed much because I miraculously found the same bus with the same route, the same winding rustic road and the same pubs! So I walked with Dante to my old home that summer of ’87. (Wayne and Vincent weren’t feeling too good so they went back to the hotel).
When I got there, Dante who was 4 at the time took this picture of me in front of the house.
But to our surprise, the new owners, a super sweet octogenarian and his son, opened the door and after telling them my story, they invited us in. The house was under renovation but 20 years of memories came rushing back. I remembered the kitchen, the stairs, the bathroom, the bedroom, the backyard. The every day life in that house. I walked through every room and reminisced.
This is my host family in 1987 with their 3 boys and they also had a little girl.
I had 3 roommates, an Italian, a Japanese, and a Spaniard. We shared one room with two sets of bunk beds. It was tight in there but I loved it. This house was where I learned to drink tea with milk. They would serve it with every meal and at first I thought it was strange (we didn’t drink much black tea in Mexico) but I got used to it quickly and learned to love it. So ever since 1987 this is what I drink, English breakfast or Ceylon tea with milk. 😛
Going back to Oxford after 20 years was one of the highlights of that trip to England. In ’87 I used to lay in my bunk bed in this very bedroom and think how far away I was from Mexico City, how cool I thought England was, and dream about that French boy in my class whom I had a crush on (remember, I was 15…).
Fast forward to 2007 and being in that same house, in that same room, with my own son (not half French, but half American :D), was truly magical.