I’m going home. Finally. It’s been three years since I was there last. It feels like a lot longer.
The trip takes pretty much the whole day since there are no non-stops flights from Denver to Lima. Still, I can’t wait for the smell of my beloved Pacific Ocean to hit me as soon as we clear customs and the airport’s doors open to the outside world. I can’t wait to be embraced by my loving family who will undoubtedly be out there waiting for us, regardless of the fact that we’ll be arriving after midnight.
I know my uncle — mi padrino and my mom’s only brother — will be there waiting for us, punctual as usual, standing among the crowd of people waiting impatiently until we lock eyes and he can breath easily because I’m finally home.
After the besos y abrazos, the introduction of the new family member — they haven’t met my son Santiago yet — the ‘qué bien te ves‘ y ‘cuánto has crecido,’ we’ll get in his car and make our way to my abuelita’s home, the only place that remains the same in the sea of change in all of our lives.
Last night, as we finished packing, my daughter, Vanessa, said:
– Estás feliz porque vamos a ir al lugar donde naciste, ¿verdad? (Loosely translated as: “You’re happy cause you’re going back home, right?”)
And I was beaming because I think she gets it.
While getting to spend time with my family and friends and devouring my country’s delicious and world-renowned cuisine makes me happy to no end, I’m even happier because I’m able to do this trip with my children. Santiago will probably not remember anything, but I know Vanessa for sure will.
Either way, I can’t wait to share mi tierra with them. They’re going to spend a lot of time with la familia: their great-grandmother, my uncles, aunts, cousins, their cousins and even my childhood friends, who now also have children of their own.
I’m taking my children to the same beach where I spent all my childhood summers, to the bilingual school where I — and all the other women in my family — went to which is right around the corner from my abuela’s house, and to the park where I learned how to ride my bike many, many years ago.
I’ll introduce them to ceviche and helado de lúcuma, my all-time favorite ice cream flavor, impossible to find outside Perú. We’ll visit the same places and do the same things I did when I lived there as a child. We’re even celebrating my godson’s third birthday and my own birthday over there!
I hope all of these experiences give my children a glimpse of (part of) where they come from and that, as they grow up and we continue to make these type of trips, they come to love, appreciate and long for their heritage.
Because, in the end, what better way is there to teach our children about their heritage than to actually show them, let them live it, feel it, hear it, smell it, and taste it, albeit for a very short time?
Have you taken your kids back home? How was that experience? Do you think they truly benefit from trips like this?