I have never really noticed how differently my family lives in Mexico. In fact, I didn’t really communicate with them that often, that was, until this past summer. It had been about 8 years since I had last been to Mexico. I went when I was about eight years old but I hardly remember anything except a few mountains here and there, the animals, and some familiar faces. The culture, the people, the actual physical features of the different cities and the different lifestyles people have, were all the things that went unnoticed by my eight year old self. But this summer I noticed that my family living in the city of Guadalajara, Jalisco and in Santa Maria, San Luis Potosí, have a different lifestyle than than the one I have here in the United States.
As I got off the plane with the rest of my family and made my way through the very crowded and busy airport of Guadalajara, I could not believe it. It felt as if I was dreaming. All around me I saw the eager and patient people waiting for their family members, friends, loved ones, etc and I was one of those people among many. Everything I saw made me even more excited and happy that I was finally going to see my family once again. Just outside the airport there was a small blue truck, waiting for us. It was easy getting all of our luggage strapped onto the bed of the truck but it was very difficult for everyone to fit inside of it. Once we all crammed in, we started heading towards my aunts house. As we headed all the way home the mountains around us followed. Being on the highways gave me a clearer view of the city. All the different roads, leading to all the different parts and neighborhoods of this amazing city. I never figured out which road lead to what area. They all looked the same to me but I did know that each and every neighborhood and area of the city was different in its own way.
As I stood in front of the house it started to look more like a tall concrete building. As I walked through the thin metal door I began to notice that there was a lot of space inside. My aunts house was bigger than I imagined. I slowly, kept walking wanting to take in every single detail of the house and when I finally got to the kitchen it was an open area where there was no roof at all. I looked up towards the light blue sky being slightly covered with a large blue tarp. I had never seen a house with half of its roof missing but I didn’t ask. It comforted me in some way to know that this house was not like any other I had ever been in, it was different. There were several rooms; the kitchen, the living room, three bedrooms, etc. The house honestly felt like a garden because there were so many beautiful plants around me. After greeting all my family members, I stepped outside for a while and I saw that none of the houses had front yards or backyards and then I noticed that people kept their dogs on the roof because of that reason. Which was again, another odd thing I had never seen.
As we started walking deeper into the neighborhood I start to find small stores. I see several kids playing in the streets, and most commonly I don’t usually see many cars driving in the neighborhood. Many people use the city bus, walk, or even bike to get to where they need to go. It was fun to know that just around the corner you could find a store. But as I got deeper into the city it started to seem like the population was growing by the minute. Downtown Guadalajara was a very busy and crowded place where I went shopping, to a museum, and just walked around looking at the various art pieces and structures they had. I reminded me of an outlet mall and I could tell that this was a very popular area because I saw a lot of tourists taking pictures.
It took about 5 hours to get from Guadalajara to Santa Maria and on the ride there, I had a lot of time to observe and look at the roads that led to the destination I was headed towards. Was I going to cry? I thought about how I was going to react once I saw my grandma, grandpa, uncles, aunts and my baby cousin. I tried to picture how my other home in Mexico was going to look like. Had anything drastically changed since I was last there? My uncle had warned my cousins, sister and I that there would be not cell phone reception at all. I had gone without a phone for about a day or so but I didn’t know what if felt like to not have it for 5 days. It did not worry me because it wasn’t the end of the world, all I wanted to do was see my family and notice the things I hadn’t when I was little. It felt like years of roaming through small towns, confusing roads, and mountains before we actually got to my grandparents ranch.
Seeing my family was supposed to be a surprise. We were going to be there but they just didn’t know exactly when we were going to arrive. Once we got there my uncle was the first to see us and that’s when he went to go get my other family members. As I saw my grandma walking on the concrete path up the small hill toward where we were parked, I couldn’t contain my happiness. She came up to us and just stood there for a while, simply staring at us, it seemed as if she couldn’t believe we were actually there. She gave us the sign of the cross and hugged us for a long time asking if we were actually there or if she was just dreaming. She started crying on our shoulders, not because she was sad but because she was happy she could see her grandchildren once again, after such a long time. After dropping off our luggage in the house we were staying in not to far from where we had parked, I went to greet the rest of my family who was in the kitchen, cooking and making food for us. They too, could not believe it, each of them saying, “ ¡Ay dios mio, no lo puedo creer!” meaning “ Oh my god. I cannot believe it!”
Every single day I was at my grandparents ranch, I felt free. I could finally see all the stars in the night sky, unlike in Austin where you can barely the stars in the sky at night because there is so much light pollution. Everyday as the sun rose, the sky fell and I could touch the clouds and I felt small being surrounded by the massive mountains around. The next couple of days I walked around and explored the area and every morning I woke up and I went to go say good morning to everyone. On some days we would go hiking, there was in fact no other houses or towns around us, for miles. It was all so pure and natural. I enjoyed walking in the quietness of the ranch.
I loved every single moment I spent with my family because I actually got to know and understand who they truly were. I got to bond with them and tell them all about Austin and my life living here. My grandma and my aunts made breakfast, lunch and dinner for us and I appreciated that so much because they worked so hard every single day to help us enjoy our experience while we were there. I love my family so much because every single one of them is so hard working and they never give up. My grandma always mentioned how she was sorry that she couldn’t give us the same food we had here but I always told her that I appreciated everything she did for us. In the end it didn’t matter what I ate or where I stayed as long as I was with my family I was happy. I got to notice and live the different lifestyles they have and it made me more open minded. I have realized that every single person on this planet is alike is so many ways but we all live differently. I have to appreciate the things that I have because not everyone is as lucky as I am. My family is very important to me and I appreciate every moment I have with them, whether it’s good or bad because all the different experiences we have throughout our lives shape who we are, both mentally and physically.