Since the year 2000 to 2014; fourteen consecutive summers since my family and I began our road trips to Matamoros Coahuila, Mexico. Driving through nine states, struggling with flat tires, constantly making pit-stops, and adjusting to capacious weather is all worth the fifty-three-hour drive with my family.
Crossing El Rio Grande, the border between Mexico and the United States, I arrive at the place I feel I can be myself. Matamoros Coahuila is a break from the never-ending competition of New York City. Compared to the "city that never sleeps", Mexico is slow paced, filled with friendly people living in two-story houses; the air smells fresh, and the ambiance is peaceful and relaxed. As we pull into our driveway, I jump out of the car, barefoot and wide-eyed, before the car engine is off. The sizzling hot pavement burns my feet, so I sprint to the shade. Home sweet home! Feeling serene, my skin exposed to the sun rays, I breathe the non-polluted air, and appreciate the view of my little garden. There are no cars filling up the compact streets, no train delays, and no pushing and shoving of people rushing to get to their destination.
Few words can describe my emotions. Like a toddler, I am amazed at what I see: mango, apple, and rare lemon trees, fruit hanging from the thin branches, the wall-sized windows, and all the space there is to walk around. Picturing the family barbecuing; making the family special spicy salsa, welcoming everyone, listening to the deep, loud laughs that fill the atmosphere, cumbia playing softly from inside, and overall the strong sense of community brings a smile to my face. I appreciate every minute of it.
Summer months in the blue house unites my family. The rooster's cry every morning reminds us it is time for breakfast. We gather around the table for coffee and sweet bread. In the evenings we huddle around the apple tree to eat fresh fruit, and when it gets chilly, my mother and father make chocolaté calienté and buy pan dulce to stay warm. In Mexico, my parents reminisce about their childhood, their niñas, and share jokes. Family, is important and makes me feel safe.
Mexico is one place I am able to connect to my culture and heritage. It is the place I have experienced success, hardships and build memories. The more I learn about the Almaraz family the more I learn about myself; being resilient, humble and grateful for the opportunity to travel. Mexico is like a book, the more I read the more it pulls me in and makes me enjoy each and every chapter. Each trip demonstrates my adaptability to a different environment, lifestyle and culture. Through this experience, I look forward to finding a new place I can feel content and be myself. I look forward to the campus events, build new experiences, form strong relationships with faculty, and create a second family away from home.