It had been seven years since the last time I went to Mexico. I was a high school freshman and it was in January, the perfect time to go to my little ranch because it was the time of the fiestas. During these festivities people that have left Mexico return to enjoy the company of old friends, comfort of their childish homes, abundance of food and the beauty of the nightly parade followed by mass and lastly, music and dancing in the plaza. Children love it for the fair and endless options of authentic delicious Mexican candy and treats. But this time would be different. I wouldn’t be able to hear the faint sound of the drums and french horns as I endured through mass because I wasn’t allowed to enjoy the fair until I attended mass. Instead I didn’t know what to expect, I was going in July and since it wasn’t January I already knew my mom’s little ranch would be mostly deserted.
Nonetheless, I was excited. I needed a vacation and was really glad that I would be able to spend time with my mom and family, even if I was going to be disconnected from the world due to no cell phone, but I was really looking forward to it. Once my flight began approaching I started to feel nervous, when I would think of going to my grandma’s house for the first time since 2006, tears would begin to form in my eyes. It was only natural, the last time I had gone to Mexico was the last time my grandma went and we spent two weeks cleaning and painting her lovely home. But now the house I would be visiting would be completely different due to a complete renovation. I hoped it would at least be the same color, but it seems that wasn’t possible.
I was still excited. When I arrived, we spent a few days at an uncle’s house before going to my grandma’s and were able to do some sight-seeing. It was well past midnight when I was awaken by the sudden bumpiness of the road, we were less than five minutes away! The smooth paved road is replaced by rocks and potholes when trying to get to my mom’s hometown, more like a ranch, La Ladera. Those five minutes went by before I was able to gather all my emotions and the image faded of my grandma crying while holding the bars of the gate to her house, the first time she saw it in a long time all those years ago. Before I got out of the car I could already begin to feel the shortness of breath and heaviness in my step that always happens prior to a full-blown sobbing. I stood in front of the house for a few moments and tried to compose myself because I don’t like crying in front of people, but it was useless. I knew this would happen though. The house is beautiful, but it just wasn’t the same; I felt like a tangible piece of the memory that was so very special to me, was gone with the old house. I felt weird for a day or two, but I knew that the changes were made because she had hopes of fixing the home she left behind when she moved to the US. She may not have walked those same floors or dusted the same rooms, but her spirit and her presence was there, everything was done in her honor and from above, she was thrilled to have her kids back in her home.
The part of Mexico I went to is very different from some peoples perspective of Mexico, like Cabo or Cancun. La Ladera is a ranch. There are no stores, no paving and sometimes no running water. There is a small town, Jaripo, about 10 minutes away with a cemetery, church, small restaurants and very small grocery stores, sort of like liquor stores, but without so much liquor. Since my grandmas house is at the edge of this small ranch sometimes the house doesn’t get any water so we were forced to either use buckets or go to a neighboring friends house to bathe. Needless to say, it’s quite different, but it’s very peaceful. Instead of being awaken by the sound of cars or neighbors, you’re awaken by the roosters and when you step out you’re not surrounded by homes or cars, you’re amidst nature. At night time you definitely have to use bug repellent since bugs there are ruthless, I had a bump the size of a ping pong ball on my foot after a bug bite. Spending two weeks in my native land was a very relaxing and humbling experience. Being exposed to the way of life there put things in perspective on life in the US for me. It made me realize that some of the things we’re concerned with aren’t that important. The opportunities and resources available to us in America aren’t offered everywhere and my trip helped me appreciate what I have a little more. Sometimes I think we’re too overwhelmed and preoccupied with our lives that we forget to reflect and be thankful for the things we have. A little bit of nature with cell phone/internet alienation is a marvelous way to take a step back to look at your life or to just relax. I believe it’s something we all need from time to time, to stop focusing on your career, bills or your Instagram stats and just take some time to enjoy nature and it’s beauty to help you think clearer or put you at ease.
For a while I needed a vacation and I was really lucky to spend it with the people I did and the place we were. Aside from humbling, it was special because I knew my grandma was happy and more importantly my mother. The high volume of people there made it difficult to have her attention, but I know me being there meant the world to her and there was no other place I would have rather been. This trip was the perfect vacation and I am so blessed to have been able to experience it.