Bilingual is Better

We were finally able to spend a Christmas with family in Mexico after three years of quiet holidays as a family of three in Los Angeles.  Travel is one of the most significant and effective ways to immerse your child in a language and culture.  Aside from the obvious benefits for our girl’s bilingual development, travel to Latin America for us is a matter of connection to the essence of who we are and to the heart of our heritage.  There is no better way for our girl to understand and love where we come from if she doesn’t experience it herself.

There’s no better time than the holidays to experience that connection as it is the most ideal moment when our cultures flourish and are alive with tradition.  It is also when the extended family gets together and real bonding occurs. Our ideal is to be able to spend las Fiestas in México with my husband´s family one year, and in El Salvador with my family the next year.  This year we were able to make it to México City just in time for la cena de Nochebuena at my husband´s grandmother´s house where it is tradition for more than 25 people to sit in a table on Christmas Eve every single year.  His abuela is almost 90 years old and is still the life of the party, which usually lasts until 4 am.

We´ve been in the city for three days now and, aside from Christmas Eve dinner and the recalentado party on Christmas day, we´ve been spending our time absorbing the colors, sounds and tastes of the Mexico Lindo y Querido we adore.  I´m happy to share our travel with you so you can see the imprint that is being made on Camila´s memory bank. These are the images that are shaping our bilingual and bicutlural niña.  (Note:  I´ve ommitted any pictures from family gatherings out of respect for our extended family)

Camila ran with excitement as soon as she saw the giant traditional star-shaped piñata hanging over the main plaza in Coyoacán, México. Coyoacán is a historic town that one day used to be in the outskirts of Mexico City and now has been engulfed by it. It still remains quaint and bohemian with its cobble-stone roads, plazas, fountains and hacienda-like homes.

 

She ran straight from the giant piñata to the mass of globos and begged, begged for one of the big ones.  We compromised for a pink balloon on a stick. You can see how happy that made her!

Mexico´s culinary tradition has made it recipient of the Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO.  By far one of my favorite cuisines, and one I constantly crave, is the Oaxacan.  Thus, Los Danzantes on Plaza Coyoacán was our first stop as soon as we made it to México City on Friday.  Mole, mezcal, chapulines (yes…grasshoppers!), huitlachoche and crepas de cajeta were all devoured. Camila wasn´t too open to tasting the chapulines. I guess we need to give it more time for insects to make it to her palate!

 

While we ate at Los Danzantes, Camila decided to take in the view of Coyoacán from the balcony.

 

La Parroquia y Plaza de San Juan Bautista in Coyoacán.  This space was recently cleaned up from all food and trinkets vendors.

 

The street-food vendors, typical of Sundays and holidays in Coyoacán, have been moved to side streets. Camila was excited to try the buñuelos which were being prepared in front of her.

 

A warm cup of ponche Navideño being served just for me. Camila learned to chew on the warm caña to squeeze out the sugar juice. Yum!

The day after Christmas we headed out to El Museo Dolores Olmedo to visit the immense hacienda she inherited to the Mexican people so we could all appreciate her love for the arts.

 

The xoloizcuintli, also known as the Mexican hairless dogs, were one of Dolores Olmedo´s passions. Tlaloc, above, and his unnamed brother are direct descendants from the male and female xoloizcuintlis she had as pets.  These dogs, once revered by the Aztecs, truly are gorgeous and gentle dogs.  It was a treat for Camila to be able to pet a hairless dog!

 

We had to stop and admire these gigantic maguey plants that adorn the Dolores Olmedo gardens.  They are definitely over 11 feet tall and impressive.

 

Minutes away from the Dolores Olmedo Museum are the famous Xochimilco trajineras.  A very typical Sunday spot, we joined the crowds of locals and tourists alike for a ride around the Xohimilco waters full of mariachis and vendors in colorful chalupas (small boats.)

 

A Salvadoreña, a Mexican-Dutch and a bicultural Angelena all smile at the end of an eventful and memorable holiday weekend.

We still have one more week of travel in Mexico (update: those pictures and story here) and we’ll be receiving 2011 from here.  I will be sharing more of our trip during the whole week.

We´d love to see  & share your bicultural holiday or family travel pictures.  Please send to madre{at}spanglishbaby.com and we can create an inspirational gallery.  Do tell us about your memorable cultural travels in the comments below.

Update:  I posted a second part to this post—Más From Our Mexican Holiday in Pictures.

 

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