Latinx Column

Road Trip to Nayarit Part Two

By Vanessa Soria

The bus ride to Mexico had various stops, they occured every three hours. In Los Mochis de Sinaloa, it felt a little suspicious. It was during the night that we were still in Sinaloa, my father told me to hide my money in my shoe because when we were going to get off to take a break, he saw men just standing on the sides of the road with diminishing faces.

As we kept approaching our destination the Mafia is something to take seriously. So many stories that I heard on the road of how cruel these people can be is sad. My grandpa was telling me that they get what they want no matter the price. “Kids, women, and men are being kidnapped daily. You either find them alive or dead depending what they negotiated. Majority of the time they negotiate over more than a thousand dollars for the person they have hostage. If a hostage only has half the money they only give half of the person back…cruel human beings.

Finally arriving to my father’s hometown I felt different. People treated me different even though I am from there as well. I am too white, just not like them. I would walk around the plaza being stared at or questioned. At first I didn’t feel accepted

because I didn’t know where local shops were, or what time certain stores opened, or where I was able to go. Crossing streets was different as well.  Cross walks were only placed in big avenues. When I would want to cross a small street it said on a sign “Pedestrians first” but that wasn’t the case, I had to wait till a car was off a long distance, or if they were close, wait to see the driver give a hand signal because the “speed limit” wasn’t respected there.

The plaza near our home was only two blocks away, so my father let me go often to buy popsicles that are either made from milk or water. One of the workers noticed I wasn’t from there and he asked me how it felt to be from the north. I told him, “Obviously it’s better because you have opportunities, but I like being here because you can relax, you have so many things to do here.” He told me how he tried getting on one of the trains that drops off products, but that he got caught being in one and was sent back and lost his enthusiasm about going to the U.S. He also told me how he wished that the president we have now wasn’t Trump because of the bigger struggle he has to apply for a green card.

As I walked around the city I was able to appreciate the things I have, and how I sometimes take things for granted. Kids here have nothing, dirt poor and it’s sad. No kid should be roaming the streets asking for food or money; it’s not fair to them because they’re innocent children. Children sleeping on the ground, working at small shops, riding motorcycles just isn’t right. Many little stands of fruit or stands of bracelets aligned the street. I would see mothers trying to make a living, hoping people would buy their stuff to bring money home and support their loved ones. Men out in the middle of nowhere cut down trees as a job, others were out selling cardboard and cans.

When I spent a day in El Rancho I noticed that the poverty is even worse. The roads even worse than the ones in the city; they’re all dirt and rocks. Although there were dirt and rocks, it still didn’t affect those in the rancho because they managed to even be barefoot. People are used to having bloody feet, dry feet or just the fact they were used to walking in that kind of condition with rocky roads and dirt.

Regardless of what barrier these families crossed they didn’t care because children didn’t let the fact they have no playground affect them from enjoying themselves; instead they would play in the rivers. Moms wanted clean clothes, so they would wash their clothes in the river. More crops were grown in El Rancho: corn, fruit trees, carrots, strawberries, avocados etc. Animals were kept there as well with the scent of: pigs, horses, goats, chickens and turkeys it’s what the people need to survive. There is no cell phone reception; it felt good to be focusing on reality instead of being on the phone. Eighteen hours had passed without having reception, if I needed some I had to walk into the woods where there was open landscape to get a bar, but I didn’t need to because I liked having a small escape.

Mexico is hard to look at because of the poverty and disaster, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful as well. This place was beautiful in many ways, it embraces the culture and artifacts through the items being made like bracelets, flowers, engraved shirts with popping colors, delicious food and so much more. Although the purpose of going to Mexico was to spend it with family, I enjoyed seeing the different things there were even if it was sad at times. I want to be able to go back, but to give back to my hometown.

Road Trip to Nayarit Part One

By Vanessa Soria

Never would I have imagined myself heading to Mexico on a bus for 35 hours with complete strangers, however, it was the cheapest way to get to the  beautiful state of Nayarit. Financial problems at home lead us to a decision of taking the bus instead of a plane to mexico which would allow my father and I to save money and use it towards a plane flight back home. Since we decided to head on a bus, it meant we had to drive to Tijuana where our bus would depart. I was very excited to be on the road to experience the different cities and states we’d be passing. Every three hours the bus driver would give us a 15-20 minute rest break to either use the restroom, grab snacks, or stretch our legs because they would go numb after sitting for so long.

As we progressed to our destination, we began to see poverty… la tristeza de las condiciones que nuestro México esta. Destroyed houses and bumpy roads are home to those who live in Mexico. We passed through Sinaloa, the most dangerous state on our route.When we stopped in the city of Los Mochis, my father explained to me how the Mafia is active here. La Mafia are drug lords that are involved in kidnapping as well as killing people.  It is held at high standards and the hardest to control, that is why it was dangerous to head on a bus and pass through Sinaloa because they know people who get on those buses are from the other side– we are people from the north with American money. Luckily we passed through the day of light and got through it safely.

After our long journey of two days and a night by bus, we finally arrived to Tepic, the capital of Nayarit at exactly 8 p.m. on December 23. My father was born in el Rancho de Buckingham but later moved to the city of Tepic. For the first time in 10 years, I was able to step on the dirt of my second home. Ten years later, I was back to experience the beauty of Mexico.

All my family stood there welcoming and loving. They all wanted to take us to see the different cities, areas that I had never seen and that my dad hadn’t  visited in over 32 years. The morning after our arrival we headed to the plazita where there was live music and shoe shiners searching for customers, also small stands of fruit or candy, ice cream shops, stores, coffee stands, people selling tamales, and so much more. Everything was nearby, all the food was fresh and delicious; I never felt full.

Everyday I went to buy paletas de agua. I thought I really knew Spanish, but it wasn’t until I  heard how they spoke, that they found my Spanish foreign, with no flavor or accent.

An annual fair began the Dec 20th through the first week of January. During the night we saw the lights of the rides, the bright lights of the food stands and all the clothing and souvenir stands.The  live music y las fiestas que México tira es lo más bonito que podrás mirar, I never experienced the beauty of it, so it made me feel grateful. So much culture embedded in the clothing these women sewed with their bare hands, it was incredible to see their talent and the job they do to bring money to their families. The worst part of seeing people work were the kids, it broke my heart to see them walk around and ask for coins or food. These children are innocent, everytime one would ask for food or coins I ended up giving them what I could and would buy them food from where they liked.

On Christmas Eve I was able to experience a real Christmas that I hadn’t had since I was a little kid. My father and my uncles went out to get fresh meat and fish while my aunts and I went to get vegetables, shrimp, fruit, sodas etc. We all pitched in to have a dinner at my grandfather’s house in the city.

That night we had fruit salad, chicken salad, tacos, a barbecue, hot dogs, tamales, pozole, and champurrado. All of my dad’s side of the family came over, we played karaoke in which everyone sang including me. Presents were opened, hugs and kisses were given at 12am on Christmas day. Not only was it Christmas, but it was my grandfather’s birthday. They got him a cake of mexican caramel where they put a firework instead of a candle which I found funny.
 Later that morning, we headed to a restaurant called “El Borrego” where all they served was goat and quesadillas. Located up in the mountains, it looked like a jungle because it was in the middle of nowhere. After we finished eating we followed a trail to the park where hammocks were hung from trees, and logs were chairs and there was a corral of sheep.This area was a park where we were able to relax in the open landscape of the woods. I ended up heading even to a higher mountain where they called it “El Mirador” where I could see everything below, this beautiful view of the lagoon where they have the best Mariscos you can get.

My grandfather took me to El Rancho where I had no signal, all I saw was open land. I spent two days there where I was able to ride horses, feed the chickens, the pigs, and the goats. You need warm water? Well put in on the stove to heat, or put a cable in a bucket of water to warm it up. Everything there was done so different. The streets were always empty, only kids playing through the streets at certain hours of the day. It was beyond different compared to the city. In the city walk 5 minutes and see a taco stand, a fruit stand, a liquor or just someone selling some type of food. The city streets in Tepic were always busy with people, motorcycles and bikes. I saw kids at a very young age going to the store by themselves, or just heading to a destination alone.

Overall, Mexico was a great experience–various places to go visit in a small amount of time, but the little time spent was enjoyable. Mexico was not just a great experience, but it was a great lesson too. It’s not till you see people suffer, or see them struggle, or have it worse than us.  On the other side I really became considerate of what I have. Leaving the city not knowing when I’ll be back to my second home is hard enough with family and friends to say goodbye to, and especially the food, is tough. 35 hours sitting in a bus was surely worth the wait of the beautiful area like Tepic, Nayarit.

 

Am I a Latina?

By Eileen Obregon

“Suppress those feelings,” they say.

“No te preocupes!” they say.

“Grab your huevos and do not feel,” they say.

“Be a real Latina,” they say.

“You are not allowed to have emotions,” they say.

But

I am not okay.

Can’t I talk about it?

“No,” they say.

“We Latin people are strong,” they say.

But

I am not strong.

I am a worrier.

I am in pain.

I am a Latina with emotions.

I am a Latina diagnosed with depression.

Am I still a Latina?

. . . Latin blood running through my veins,

But

Do my feelings say otherwise?

I need to talk.

I have emotions.

I need to cry.

I need help.

Pero mi familia no entienden mi condición

I am the odd, crooked branch of my family tree

“Dramática,” they say.

“Tu estas loca,” they say.

But

I cannot help it that they passed down the dreaded gene.

I am not in control of my genes.

But—

I am trying.

But

I am the disappointment of the family.

Porque no soy fuerte like a Latina should be.

No matter my success in school,

Or how I carry my Latina pride

I am the disappointment.

The outcast.

I push the feelings down

Be as strong as I can be,

But—

By Erick Martinez

The Latina woman is often mistaken as a weakling
For the Latina woman tiene el poder de una fiera
Independiente la mujer Latina puede sobrepasar a un hombre
De experiencia he visto que una madre soltera Latina hará todo para darle a sus hijos todo lo que les pueda dar
If she is confronted she will make her enemies regret their foul choice
She is el pilar de hogar in which only she will raise her child and defy anyone who tries to tell them what to do.
La mujer Latina es una mujer que puede ser muy amable pero tambien muy muy engreida
No es diferente ni es especial
No tiene poderes
Pero algo que la mujer Latina siempre tendrá es su pasión y su carisma, su personalidad que es lo que la hace diferente a todas las demás.

The Revival of La Cuatro

By Galilea Oregon

I am, and will always be proud being of Mexican heritage, and it was not until my many visits to Downtown Santa Ana, specifically Fourth Street, coined “La Cuatro,” that I realized how beautiful it is to come from a colorful and lively cultural background. I got my haircuts there, in tiny hair salons that doubled as Christian churches, I got the best tacos and esquite from the little puestos on the side of the street. La Cuatro is like a tiny slice of Mexico.

Over the past few years, el sabor de mi gente has faded away into nooks and crannies blocked by the hipster 4th Street Market filled with cold brew coffee shops, vegetarian friendly eateries, and the famed carne asada fries pictured all over your Instagram feed. Local businesses that once were meant to cater to the Latino immigrant are now losing the competition to capitalism and big corporations that are putting them out of business.

However, the vivid colors and music are slowly returning, creeping out of the small Mexican-owned businesses, and surprisingly, it is the youth that is bringing back the liveliness to the once dulled-out atmosphere of Fourth Street. From the monthly Art Walk to mini music festivals held by TopAcid, La Cuatro has become the hub for all the OC “edgy kids” who chase after loud music and local artists. I had the privilege to attend the East End Block Party held by TopAcid and the people I saw were young adults, dancing, enjoying life, and they all had this vibe about them that made me feel right at home. I think that is what makes Fourth Street such a cozy place, simply feeling at home con mi gente, and maybe it won’t be as dedicated to Mexican culture, but I know that in the hands of the Latino youth, La Cuatro will continue thriving for the years to come.

Una Cancion, Unas Rosas, o Un “Te Amo”

By Erick Martinez

Una canción, rosas, o un te amo
Qué es lo que define el amor a una persona?
Seran estas cosas? O lo que cada cosa podra significar
Podría ser la manera de cómo son dados estos regalos?
El amor es incondicional no tiene limite y esta lleno de sacrificios
Sacrificios que valen la pena, sacrificios que no importa que tan grande sean siempre serán pequeños
El amor no se juega ni se cuestiona
Se confia
Sin amor el mundo se retorcera en agonía, en soledad
Sin encontrar al ser que nos hace completos jamás viviremos, y jamás podremos saber lo lindo que se siente el amor
El amor se quiere aun cuando hay peleas,aun cuando hay dia nublados
El amor nunca se da por vencido
El amor es para siempre, el amor vive para siempre, las cosas pequeñas son lo que hacen un amor interesante y duradero.
Es por eso que en el amor se dan estas cosas
Una canción, rosas, o un te amo

Somos Familia

By Eileen Obregon

I am a woman que quiere cuidar a su familia
I am the one that fights
Because you simply cannot understand
I will be the one to be placed up next in the family line.
Simplemente no me entendiste
Yo soy la protectora sin importar
The leader
The caretaker
Even when you are not family I will support, tal como somos
Porque somos una comunidad, in a time like this,
Nos necesitamos ayudar unos a otros
We are family
No por sangre
Sino por como nos criamos
Somos latinos
No chicanos, no mexicanos, no guatemaltecos no salvadoreños
Todos juntos somos latinos
Y nos ayudamos porque somos familia
La familia es todo lo que tenemos
Latinos have each other.
Nos paramos juntos
Nos paramos altos y fuertes
Se el protector, el líder, el cuidador.

El Mundo en Sus Hombros

By Galilea Oregon

My hermanita of 13 should not be afraid

. Mi madre linda y querida should not be calling  Out of fear of me not getting home.

My prima does not deserve the panic attacks

From the same repeating nightmare

Depicting el hombre vestido de negro 

Standing at the foot of the bed

Con un cuchillo en la mano.

It’s just not fair.

Women of caramel colored skin

Cargan el mundo en sus hombros,

So that their daughters never know

El miedo y el sufrimiento.

 

El Poder esta en tus Manos

By Tanya Soto

Each person carries unspoken troubles—some bigger than others—but in the end, it’s our choice to choose what we gain from nuestros pasado y nuestros esfuerzos.

Briseida Molina grew through the struggle of becoming a young mother. Working to get an education, raising a child, and figuring out how to balance both situations isn’t easy, but “life is a bit easier now that [she knows] how to prioritize.” Her aspirations for the future are “to be independent, learn to do things on her own, and become a Registered Nurse.” In order to achieve her goals she currently enrolled in ROP classes for culinary arts and nursing. Her goals have always been clear: “I remember when I first went to the doctors to see if I was pregnant or not. As I was waiting in doctor’s office, I saw this poster up on the wall stating the amount of people that tend to drop out of school. That poster made me upset. I was mad because I didn’t want to be one of those people. I want to do good, for Matthew and myself.”

And doing good for Matthew and herself is exactly what she’s accomplishing, with a little help from her parents: “I honestly couldn’t do it without my parents. My mom quit her work to help me with Matthew, and my dad works two jobs to afford everything we need at home. They’re just amazing people. At first, they were disappointed, but it didn’t take long for them to accept me. Obviously, I couldn’t go out as much. I have to be responsible, and I’m completely ok with that.” Since Matthew turned three in May and is “smart for his age,” her future plan is to enroll him to preschool next year. She’s “just proud of Matthew and herself for continuing her education.”

Durante sus esfuerzos, Briseida has learned that “everyone has the power to change and do what they desire.” She wants people to acknowledge that “we Mexicans work for a better life, not just for ourselves, but for our children.” She would like to encourage others to “keep working hard, but also not evolve around work. Take advantage of life, you never know what can happen and life is short.”


Somos

By Tanya Soto

 

La sociedad dice que

We are the minority

But we seek comfort en la raza

And we seek comfort en la familia

 

We’re the in between

Yes, the in between

In between red, white, and blue

And red, white, and green

We’re the mouth that speaks

We roll our tongues

Para que las palabra salgan

Y abuelita pueda entender

We’re the mouth that switches languages

Like an on and off switch

 

We are the hips that sway

Until 2 am

We are the voices that sing

And scream todas las injusticias

 

Somos

Si, somos our ancestors wildest dreams

We are what we have achieved

We are what we are

And we’re not going to leave


Machismo

By Tanya Soto

You wake up on a Sunday morning, hungry, and decide to cook yourself breakfast. You ask your abuelita for guidance and she looks at you with disappointment—disappointment because as a Latinx woman you should know how to cook. You should know how to cook un huevo without burning it. You should know how to cook “porque un hombre no va a querer una esposa que no sepa cómo cocinar.” You should know how to cook and clean, not to look after yourself, but to look after your husband because you should also aspire to marry.

Never mind the fact that you’re book smart. Say goodbye to all your own priorities because todos tus enfoques should now consist of knowing how to turn una tortilla and how to clean your kitchen once you’re done cooking. Twirl your hair y ponte bella because a man wants to see your beauty. Make yourself oblivious to your knowledge and your dreams of having a career. Acknowledge the fact that a Mexican family is supposed to be a huge family—with children.

Due to their culture’s machismo, women often grow unhappy because their aspirations of having an education, a career, and traveling the world are impossible—solo porque “esa es la tradición y así debe de ser.” Young women are taught to look hermosas, no para que ella se sienta bien de si misma, sino para agarrar un marido.

Estoy harta. Estoy harta que todo lo que una mujer tiene que hacer es para satisfacer a alguien más. Si quieres casarte, Si quieres una familia, Si te gusta limpiar y cocinar hazlo por ti misma. All the things you want to do shall be for yourself—not for any man and not to satisfy others.


Episode

By Tanya Soto

Mamá dice que el amor vence el odio

Que todo el odio es un episodio

Que a va terminar y no dominar

Mamá says love will conquer hate

That hate is just an episode

That it will end and not dominate

But I see my people’s desperation and devastation

Hungry for liberation

My people tired of having to fit in specific formation

 

Mi gente mi querida gente

My people my dear people

With eyes full of tears

With hearts full of fears

Being promised change now for many years

Guess it wasn’t sincere

Mi Gente

My people

I know you feel like your dreams and hopes are nowhere near

Scared they’ll disappear

My only hope is the new generation

With our intelligence

Maybe later will turn into careers

 

Mamá dice que el amor vence el odio

Que todo el odio es un episodio

Que va terminar y no dominar

Mamá says love will conquer hate

That hate is just an episode

That it will end and not dominate


Con Mi Cultura y Mi Piel Morena

By Tanya Soto

Mi cultura has always been extremely important to me. I always seem to carry a thirst for something real, for something a part of my Mexican roots.  So when I was told that I was going to spend the holidays in my dad’s birthplace—Aguascalientes Mexico—I was thrilled.

After a flight that felt like an eternity, my Tita Maria Elena, with hospitality, received us into her home. Due to the long distance, I’ve never exactly felt a connection with my Tita. Our granddaughter-grandmother relationship really only consisted of short phone calls. So, I took advantage of this trip to try to establish a connection with mi familia, mi Tita, y mi tierra.

The first couple of days, everyone was shy and full of awkwardness. By the second day, tios, tias, primos, and just about everyone, would come to visit and attack me with millions of questions:

“¿Cómo es la vida en los Estados Unidos ? ¿Cómo están todos aya ? ¿Dónde te gusta más aquí o los Estados Unidos ? ¿De cuál música escuchas ? ¿Qué comes alla ?”

Throughout the course of these conversations, I could tell they expected me to be completely assimilated into the “American ways.” They were impressed that I was fluent in español. They were taken aback that I eat huevos con chorizo, frijoles, chiles rellenos, y tamales and not pizza and cheeseburgers all the time. Overall, they were happy that I liked Mexico just as much as I liked the United States; my lack of assimilation helped me connect with mi sangre and helped me gain more self-identity.

Seria. If I had to choose one word to describe mi Tita…it would be seria. She was often serious, but the few times I made her crack a smile make the memories I have of her warm. I felt an actual connection with her—for the first time—when my she, my sister, and I I sat down in our room and spoke for hours. Tita showed us pictures of my Tito (who unfortunately passed away in 2001) and spoke so suave and apasionadamente about him. She spoke about her past and she spoke about all her struggles. She even mentioned—with a little brillo in her eyes— how blessed she was for living so many years. It was at the moment where my thirst for something real was nearly satisfied.

Mis padres always taught me to be proud of who I was; I’m glad they….. I’m glad that I had la oportunidad to reconnect with my sangre. I’m glad that I haven’t and won’t assimilate. Con mi piel morena, mi cultura, and with my head held high, I will achieve great things.

 

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Mr.Z says:

    Thank you for this column. It’s wonderful. Keep representing our culture!

  2. Génesis Hernández says:

    ¡Me encanta! espero que sigas escribiendo.
    -Miss Hernández

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