Growing up in America I didn’t get to live the culture my parents grew up in fully. When I was thirteen I got to go to Mexico with my family for the first time along with leaving the country. My parents and my sister have been to Mexico before but I haven’t and it was a different world. My parents haven’t seen their parents, nephews, nieces, and siblings in seventeen years since they moved to America and my sister hasn’t seen her grandparents and cousins in seventeen years too. I knew we were up to a big family reunion and it was my first time meeting everyone in my family.
We landed in Mexico City, which is the capitol of Mexico and the first place we went to was my cousin’s house to visit her and her family. Going there the streets were very busy, there was a lot of street vendors and people making handmade jewelry, bags, and food and walking up and down the roads trying to sell them while their children were trailing behind with some of the things. I was aware of the poverty in Mexico but actually seeing it in front of me everywhere was a different experience. As we made it to my aunt and uncles’/godparents house, a lot of people from my father’s side was waiting there for hours for our arrival. The second we opened the car doors there was loud shrieks of joy and hugging coming from everywhere.
I was in an awkward position since I didn’t know anyone and wasn’t able to say “It’s been so long, how are you?”. Of course everyone came at me all at once getting to know me and saying how they heard about me all these years. Growing up in America and taking Spanish class, some of the material wasn’t taught correctly and I didn’t learn much other than what I learned at home as a baby. Talking to my relatives was very nerve wracking and intimidating since I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of my family but I managed. The next day everyone from my father’s side except my grandparents came to my godparent’s house and we had a huge family reunion and there I experienced a big typical Mexican family and I was very happy and excited. I also got to try real Mexican food and not the tortillas and other canned foods made in factories. Although I am a very picky eater, I tried lamb for the first time and enjoyed it. I had a great time getting to know my aunts and uncles and my cousins and learning a lot from them about themselves and about life since they mostly all in their twenties or thirties. I also found out that I had a lot of things in common with my cousins like music and films. The next day I experienced a typical day in Mexico which was going out buying food from the local market which was located near a public park. It was large and you can easily get lost in there, there was so many treats and different foods I never heard of. It was also very loud due to the outside cooking like the loud sizzling sounds and people yelling out their products and prices. I spent a few days in Mexico until it was time to visit my grandparents from my father’s side in the country which I was very excited about.
Transportation in Mexico is very rough because a lot of people are stuffed into one car that everyone is on top if each other and it’s hard to move around in. The roads are mostly dirt and so the car ride was very bumpy but for a small portion of it, we got to go on a nice clean bus. Going from the capitol to the countryside takes around seven to eight hours and I realize that people travel like this all the time for work if they can’t find any near where they live. The ride there was dangerous because many people lived in the mountain areas and going up a mountain without any railings was terrifying because you can easily drive off the road. Once when my family was in the car, we stopped driving all of a sudden and started backing up because the driver noticed a car upside down leaning against a tree and tire tracks that lead to the edge of the road. Luckily we were in time to rescue the people in the car and take them to the hospital but going through those roads was scary because you hear stories about family members or friends crashing and driving off the roads and tumbling down the mountain to their death.
When we finally got to my grandparent’s house, it was yet another family reunion with them and aunts and uncles that I’ve never met along with my cousins. My uncle from my mother’s side of the family came by to visit us and I was very happy to see him because I haven’t seen him since I was seven and I was very close to him. My mother’s sister and her family lived near where my grandparents live and I had a great time visiting them which I haven’t seen my aunt in years too. The farm life was something I’ve always wanted to experience living in a suburban area. My parents would always tell me stories about them working at my age cutting the fruit, selling food, making it, planting the trees etc. My grandparents had turkeys, chickens, dogs, horses, and goats in their farm. They also had baby chicks running around the place and one of the things we had to do each night was collect the chicks which weren’t easily. My cousins developed ways to corner them but this was my first time doing such a thing and I was proud of catching one after an hour passed. I learned when to feed the chickens and how much was too much along with taking care of the other animals. Coming inside after a long day with the animals I was ready to have dinner. Everything we ate from the chicken to the tortilla and fruits and vegetables was all made at the farm and it tasted very fresh and delicious, it was something I’ve never eaten before and those were some things I missed after coming back to America. Living on a farm requires you to wake up early around dawn, for me, waking up at ten o’ clock was early for my friends and other people from school but for my family, they consider that very late. When I woke up and had breakfast my cousin wanted me to play soccer with him and seeing as though I was a few years older than him, I kept beating him but he liked the competition. From my trip, I noticed that soccer was everywhere, people in the streets of Mexico City played it, the main parts of small towns had children and teens playing it all night, it was a way for them to entertain themselves because these towns were poor and didn’t have any internet or phones at all other than the town phone.
One day my sister and I went with our uncle and cousins on horse to herd all the goats out in the field into their fenced area on the farm. This was very fun for us but dangerous because the goats were a bit aggressive but riding on a horse for the first time felt a lot of fun and I had a great time riding on it my way back home. Every day I tried something new and noticed that living on a farm is a lot of work and it was my way of seeing how much father grew up in an area where there was poverty and a lot of dry land where it never rains. One day my cousin from my mother’s side of the family came over and invited me to come with him to the country side to show me around town. It was a fun experience because we rode on horses, picked exotic fruits from trees that I’ve never seen before and bonded over music and bands that we both love. My parents used to own a house there and on one of the last days before we left we went there and my mother found photos and clothes of my sister and she used to stay there as a child. We also found her bike and gave it to my cousins and I taught them how to ride a bike along with English and American customs because they always wanted to learn that. After saying goodbye to my family, we had another seven to eight hour car ride to where my mother lived and visit her family.
We didn’t arrive to my mother’s house until late at night and we were all very tired and wet from the huge thunderstorm that was going on at the time. The next morning I woke up and thought I was in a different world. Where my father lived, it was full of mountains but everything was dirt roads and very dry, my mother on the other hand lived in an area where everything was green and that was the only color you could see there. It was one of the mist beautiful places I’ve seen because we were high up the mountains that you can see the whole world and the clouds were right next to you. Like where my father lived, this was also a farm except where my mother lives they had a large amount of land that was bigger than the town I went to school in and it was all private property. There is a coffee factory that doesn’t work anymore, many houses and farm land on the property.
I met my grandfather for the first time along with other aunts and uncles, great aunts and uncles, and cousins and one was the same age as me which was a relief since most of my cousins were below ten or in their twenties and thirties. This was a very different environment because this was a very poor area where there was no plumbing or electricity and people had to use a generator and flash lights at night and use an outhouse to go to the bathroom and the nearest town with electricity was two hours away. I was very unused to this but saw that this was the way of life for my family. Everyday I helped feed the animals and cook and got to make fresh tamales from the beans my family grew outside. I also saw how the women made the tortillas and everything tasted very fresh and great. When my uncles and cousins came back home with a cow, I learned how they would use banana leaves as plates and so that the blood wouldn’t spill everywhere and how they cut up the cow. It took ca couple of days to skin the cow and make it into portions but once my family did, I learned and helped cook the meat by hanging it on a string about a fire and add firewood to keep it from dying. I also noticed that this was a very patriarch family where the men went to work to chop wood and the women cleaned and cooked. I also found out that the education there was very bad and once girls got to the age of thirteen they weren’t allowed to go to school anymore but the boys could. It was disappointing and horrible to see that my cousin couldn’t get an education anymore and made me appreciate that I was able to go to school but it also motivated me to do something about this situation once I get older. On one of the last days, my family and my mother’s family hiked around the property and found exotic flowers and fruit we were able to pick off the trees and eat.
I was unaware where we were going until we got up to the top of the mountain and saw a cemetery my family built from scratch. Everything was handmade along with the grave and signs. It was a very important moment because the reason why were found those exotic flowers and while my mother picked them off was so that she can lay them on my grandmother’s grave. I never met my grandmother because she passed away while my mother was twenty-one and this was her first time being with her again in over twenty years. Coming down from the cemetery I was happy we did that because my mother got to be with her mother again and I got to know other family members who I was not able to meet. At the end of each night, my family played music with their guitars and played it on their only DVD player. My cousin taught me how to play the guitar and him and my grandfather were singing songs wile my cousin played the guitar and everyone sat around and listened to them and had a great time until we all had to got to bed.
During my trip visiting Mexico and these small towns, families are very united and live very close together due to them working together maintain a farm and making the food for everyone and housing. Everyone knew each other and everything about them that it was very fascinating to see and hear. Word got around quickly in town that we were coming from America visiting. This made me think why my sister and I are close to our parents unlike the majority of Americans. Many teenagers would love to get away from their parents or people my sister’s age would love to move out but for us, distancing ourselves from our family is very hard and we don’t want to be apart because we have the bond and it’s in blood to be together and work together. This trip also made me appreciate the life I had but also take a break from it and technology to enjoy a two-week technology free life and enjoy family time and the environment. I was also happy that I got to meet my family for the first time and there was a lot of people to meet but the overwhelming part was that, that wasn’t all of my family. This trip also made me see how my parents grew up and how I could have grown up if they didn’t move to America and finally be in touch with my culture and get to know more about it and live it.