I Trek into the Unknown

February 14, 2012
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I looked to the west and saw the red hue of the final rays as they disappeared beneath the majestic mountains. My car was packed with most of my belongings looking like a fat kid who had eaten too much cake. As I said my goodbyes I thought about all of the memories that I had made in this house. Tears started to form in my eyes but before they could chase each other down my cheeks I turned around and left the house full of memories behind me.

I picked up my best friend from her house to start our journey to Mexico. She looked like a cub that had lost its mom, alone, and deserted with no one to answer for her. She had decided to tag along with me because she hadn’t been accepted into the college that she wanted. I convinced her that she needed a break from the pressure her parents exerted on her. I myself was only searching to connect with my grassroots. I had been distant from my parents for a while and hoped that visiting our homeland would help me bind the bond we once had.

I drove for hours upon hours before finally reaching the Mexican border. I was too excited to sleep and therefore we just kept going. I was a terrified by the idea of coming face to face with the drug war but I figured that in the end it would be worth it. I felt a surge of energy run through my body. My destination was so close I could almost touch it. We kept driving but my expectations of beautiful sceneries quickly dissipated. I had embedded in my head pictures of massive green mountains and beautiful azure waters. Before me was unexpectedly the opposite. Dry lands as far as the eye could see, it was almost too much to take in.

As I entered la ciudad de Juarez I felt my heart sink to the bottom of my soles. The stories that I had heard had in no way prepared me for what I was about to see. Local shops that my mom had visited in her youth were deteriorating and were hardly recognizable. I had been cognizant of the destruction that the city had seen but I felt that a part of my past was crumbling before my eyes. This wasn’t even the city where I was born. That was still yet to come. I was torn though. If I couldn’t handle seeing one city out of the whole country, how could I muster up the energy to endure the feelings that would come to me when I saw how much my hometown had changed?

The heat was intolerable but for the most part the heat was welcoming. I saw kids on the street that were wearing shabby clothes that would cause them to freeze were the weather to change. My grandmother was recently telling me that the winters there were too much to bear. I was glad I had come in the summer after school was out because I would have frozen. She described it as a chill that you could feel all the way to your bones- like being pricked with needles all over your body. Because most of the houses there didn’t have carpet kids would have to wear their shoes all day. It broke my heart to see toddlers with shoes full of holes. Even worse some children didn’t have any shoes at all.

My friend was terrified. She had been following the drug war via internet and thought we were going to be shot because we owed a car full of our possessions. We needed to cross Juarez and make our way down to Chihuahua. My grandmother had told me that Juarez was where most of the violence of the drug war had been so we decided to keep going. Although it was nice to observe from our car, neither of us was willing to step out and have a closer look at the stores and shops. I was ready to visit my home-town. My heart yearned to see all the family that I had left as an infant and all the others which I had never met.

Our inauspicious start in Mexico didn’t deter me from our destination. We headed full gear to Chihuahua, Chihuahua were my grandmother would be waiting for us. The deeper we went into the country the more noticeable the change in scenery was. The mountains here were not like the ones back in Colorado. Here they were bright green and colorful with all the fruit trees that grew there. No clouds were in the sky and the air was fresh to our lungs. As we entered the city where I was born, memories started coming back to me. Although I was too little to remember myself, I recognized places from pictures that my parents had. This was the Mexico that I was waiting for.

I stopped at a store and called my grandmother to come pick us up. This city was just too big and I was bound to lose my way. It was late but three cars full of my family came to greet my friend and I at the store. I was so overwhelmed that I hugged everyone at least three times. I wished my parents could have been here to share this moment with me but I knew it was a journey that I had to make on my own. We followed my family to my grandmothers and stayed up all night catching up as we would for the duration of my stay there. I had so many aunts, uncles, and cousins that we could hardly fit in my grandmother’s house. My journey had finally come to its end and I was free to sit back and reconnect with my long lost family. As the conversation dwindled and people started heading up to sleep I decided to walk outside and enjoy the sunrise. A couple of days ago I had left my parents’ house as the sun was setting closing a chapter in my life, and now I knew that a new chapter was beginning as the sun peeked over the horizon.

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