Mexico has been very present in my life lately. From the continuous buzz regarding the Bicentennial and tomorrow’s Centennial celebrations, to next week’s environmental COP16 summit in Cancún, to the planning of our family trip to spend la Navidad with my husband’s Mexican family.
We haven’t celebrated the holiday season with family at all since Camila was born three years ago. So, this trip will be special in many ways. In an odd way, even though I was raised in El Salvador, I feel much more strongly connected to Mexico and its heritage. So much so, that not even the negative news and conflicts surrounding the drug-related violence in the last years can stop me from wanting to share with my daughter every single amazing and magical thing this country has to offer.
I’ve tried to make sense of my connection to Mexico in so many ways, but it always ends up sounding ethereal, new-age-y, and mystical, wishy-washy. You know, the corny stuff like: “My soul feels welcomed there,” “I feel I belong there,” “I immediately identify with its people.” But, as corny as it is, it’s true.
In 1999, I left a life of South Beach glitz and glamor because after a work trip to Mexico City I had the “corazonada” that I had to move there. I fell madly in love with the contradictions of one of the largest, most densely populated cities in the world. In one Zócalo you could feel all the energies that have made up our recorded history. And it still felt alive. I was single, young(er), and oh-so naive so there was not much to stop me from leaving and starting anew in a place that had captivated me. Even though my friends and family, including Roxana, thought I was loca, I secured some freelance work to take with me, packed up my heavy bags, said goodbye to the Caribbean ocean, mini-faldas y tacones and embarked on the first, truly life-changing event of my life.
During the five years I called Mexico my home, I transformed from being a naive and innocent girl, who always got what she wanted, to a woman warrior, or guerrera. Life had never hurt so much, yet had never been as fulfilling. Thanks to all the protective fields around me, I never once encountered a single act of violence in my path. I count my blessings and realize I was lucky. I did, however, face enormous challenges every single step of the way–personally, financially, emotionally and physically.
Through all the challenges I would come out renewed and with a new mission for myself. I also got to explore the richness and vastness of culture of places like Oaxaca, Chiapas, San Miguel de Allende, Morelia, Tepoztlán, Mérida, Veracruz, Jalisco, and the Riviera Maya. Every single place had history to tout, art to enrich your life, pyramids to connect you with life’s heartbeat and the most welcoming people you could meet. These are not people that are envious or are dying to leave their lands for a better life across the border. These are people that know where they come from and how ingrained their lives are to the ancestors in their land. Leaving is a last resort.
Mexico introduced me to my soul, to the good and the bad, to the concept that contradiction lies within everything we are and do in life. The ying and the yang. The Mayan Hunab Ku.
Mexico introduced me to my husband, Alan, with whom I’ve taken the next, life-altering stage in life: parenthood. He was also the one who got me out of Mexico, not without reluctance, after he was called for a job in Los Angeles. At that time, we were living in paradise, two blocks from the turquoise waters that kiss Playa del Carmen in the Riviera Maya. Hurricanes and all, I had found my place. But, life had better plans. We obeyed and left behind a country that can never be left behind once you’ve been a part of it.
Today my family will embrace the excuse to celebrate along with Mexico the Centennial of their revolution. If the celebrations tonight are anything close to the extravaganza that they threw together for the Bicentennial we’ll be in for a great treat.
From the looks of this promo video below, we’re really missing out by not being there en vivo to be part of the “Yo Mexico” light and sound spectacle on the Zócalo plaza in Mexico City.
I invite you to leave behind the sordid images that are coming from newscasts that paint a horrid picture of just one corner of Mexico. In its vastness, Mexico encapsulates many places that are untouched by this violence. Places where art, love and beauty reign. The picture my daughter will have of Mexico is of a vibrant, colorful, rich, soulful nation that will always welcome her como en su casa.
Do you have a country/city that you feel deeply attached to?