My parent’s nostalgia for Mexico during the trajectory of their lives instilled a love in me for the country that they longed to be in. Every time my mom would tell me a story of the time she lived in Mexicali or when she would mention how hard it was for her to adapt to living here, I felt her nostalgia. I also felt it when my father would take me on weekends to el mercadito in Los Angeles and the way his eyes would light up every time we went to Mexico during our summer vacations. It was as if his eleven months of working hard during the year were meant for the moment in time when he would be able to escape for one month to Mexico with my mother, brothers and myself. For those of you who have never been to el mercadito, it is a market that has everything you can imagine from Mexican clothes, dulces, herbal medicines, toys, y peliculas Mexicanas. Our yearly road trips to my father’s home town, and monthly getaways to Tijuana during my teenage years, made me aware that my parents were very much longing for the country they once lived in.
On these trips, my mom would tell my dad in Spanish,”vete por el otro lado para que los muchachos conozcan”, meaning take the other road because I want the kids to get to know the other side of Mexico. I believe my parents wanted my siblings and I to get to know as much of Mexico as they could expose us to. At one point my parents said we are taking a side trip to see the Mariposas Monarcas in Michoacán. My mother had mentioned she always wanted to get to know Janitzio, the town were Juan Gabriel was from in Michoacán . My family and I headed out on this ten hour bus ride at night from Guadalajara all the way to Michoacán. On another Mexico trip my parents took us on la rumorosa, the road leading to my mother’s home town of Mexicali. This long and winding road showed tons of cars that had fallen over to the bottom of the cliff because the road was so narrow and dangerous. Through these experiences, my parents taught my brothers and I that adventure was an essential part of living and if you work hard then you should also play hard.
There wasn’t much to do on these trips but sleep, wake-up, poke my head out the window. Then, I would fall back asleep until it was time to either arrive at our destination, get off to eat, stay at a hotel for the night, or fight with my siblings for a little bit. These short trips were common in my family and continued until I became a young adult.
I was amazed at the beauty of Mexico on each of my short trips to Michoacán, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta. They all made me curious to visit other parts of Mexico. Even our short weekend trips to Tijuana made me realize that a completely beautiful and different world existed so close to the U.S / Mexico border. When we would cross over, all of a sudden we had access to the most amazing tacos and candies, and everything was way cheaper. This made me deeply curious to discover what the rest of Mexico looked like. It was not until my early thirties that I decided I was going to visit a different part of Mexico every year. It became ironic to me how I learned to play Son Jarocho, a typical folkloric music from Veracruz, however I had never to this day experienced visiting that state. The past four years I have traveled to Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, Islas Mujeres and have also traveled with my parents to Mexico City, and this past month to Guanajuato. All of these places have been beautiful in their own way and I can’t say I like one more than the other.
Traveling with my parents is different now. Time has become more essential and I have leaned not to take my time with them for granted. I am grateful that my parents sparked a curiosity in me to seek adventure at a young time in my life and I continue to try and apply this to my every day life. After traveling to Guanajuato with my parents, here are a few observations I made now that I am older and have learned about traveling with them:
- They will not leave at sunrise. The hardest part about traveling with my parents during my youth was the meticulous preparation that started weeks before we would leave. The night before our departure, my parents, siblings and myself would be running around packing, prepping, and making sure nothing was left behind. Sometimes we would leave immediately the day after school let out for the summer vacation, creating even more stress and havoc in our household. My parents would say, “ya acuestense que nos vamos a ir tempranito.” Meaning, go to sleep because we are waking up at the butt crack of dawn tomorrow morning. Traveling with my parents now is much different; we wake up, drink coffee, pack in the morning and leave once we feel like it. Our new motto: the less we stress, the better. Time is not an issue anymore. If we get there we get there. If not, oh well. I can appreciate the fact that my parents are no longer as rushed as they use to be. My parents get up, make coffee, and head out on trips at around ten in the morning rather than before the sun rises.
- We will no longer drive for fifteen hours straight. Our road trips to Mexico became harder and harder every year. My dad would drive for up to five hours straight without stopping. After fifteen hours of beings stuck in a van with three hormonal adolescent teenagers, I am sure my parents would be secretly wishing they weren’t stuck in the car with us. A total of five hours is what they drive now and they stop to rest often for restroom breaks and snacks. They now also take turns driving instead of having my dad be the only driver.
- They will tell you if they are not happy instead of the other way around. My siblings and I would complain about the most insignificant things on these trips-yes, I know, I think we were spoiled. We often complained about the hotel not being what we wanted, the drive being too long, or waking up too early to head out on the road. Now, my parents complain to me if they don’t like the hotel we are staying at or if they are too tired. The hardest part about traveling to Guanajuato this past May was the fact that I booked a room with no air conditioner and loud traffic noise. My poor parents woke up sweating in the middle of the night and reaching for the bottle of water every fifteen minutes. I even saw my dad at one point pour water on his hand and pat it on his neck in the middle of the night. The following day they didn’t hesitate to tell me how badly they had slept the night before. My parents worked so hard to give my siblings and I an adventurous youth that I felt guilty they had to experience a horrible hotel stay after a full day of activities.
- They will no longer lead you, you will lead them. The main goal when driving from Guadalajara to Guanajuato was to have the process go as smooth as possible, with little to no backtracking. Before, my only job during our family trips was to get in the van, have fun and then complain to my parents if my brothers pissed me off. I never realized the amount of work that went into finding directions, managing the moods of three teenagers and having a good time all in the same trip. Most of these tasks are now left up to myself and it makes me realize what a big responsibility it was for my parents back in those days. Especially in an era where there was no Iphones for directions or Yelp to find good hotels and restaurants. I now realize how spoiled we are with all our new technology. Even with all these applications, I still managed to get us lost for a few minutes and book a hotel room that kept us up all night. So, let’s not be fooled, even the perfectly planned vacation can go wrong.
- They will get annoyed if you push them too hard. Since it was my first time visiting Guanjuato, I was on an adrenaline high. As soon as we drove into Guanajuato we were surrounded by vibrant colors and beautiful music. I hardly felt like resting. How could I if I felt all my senses were activated to the max? I wanted to see as much as I could, taste all the candy they had, and visit all the sites around me. Both my parents were just as excited to be there, but they finally told me that they needed to get some resting time in between. Whereas when we were growing up they were the ones pushing us most of the time. It has taken me a while to admit to myself that my parents are getting older. I often times find myself trying to push them harder and harder, avoiding the fact that they are inevitably getting older.
- They will become your personal tour guides. This was the part that I loved the most about traveling with my parents. My parent’s knowledge of Mexican history was like having my own personal tour guides with me. They told me about the tunnels in Guanajuato they told me about buildings and why they meant so much to Mexico. And it made the experience just that much more special to me.
- Their happiness is more important to me now. Now that I am older I realize all the sacrifices my parents have made for me. My parents have struggled with experiencing their loved ones pass away, and my father has had to battle with cancer and various small operations. Thankfully, he is fine now, but they have had a few stressful years recently. Seeing that things are much better and they are able to enjoy things more now is more important to me. Making sure that they are comfortable and having a good time is one of my top priorities. As a child, I never really took the time to stop and wonder if they were having a good time . I am glad that I have had a shift in perpective now that I’m older.
Overall, I believe it is important to take time to be with family if they live far from you. Even if they live close to you, family, especially immediate family, should be nurtured and appreciated because one day we may feel it is too late to spend time with them for whatever reason. I wish to take a trip with my parents again soon- hopefully this time we can get a good nights rest . So go, and plan your next trip with your parents before it is too late, especially to the motherland.