It was 2008 and it was the first time that I alone was visiting my grandparents for the summer, both my grandparents had retired to their native state of Jalisco. This was unlike the other times, this was going to be the first time I was going to be allowed to go alone, it made me feel like an adult, ready to finally start exploring the world on my own. It began how it always did the excruciating nearly 3 hour flight to Guadalajara, Jalisco. From there it would be another three hours before I would actually reach my mother’s small backwater pueblo, far in the highlands of the state.
My mother was born in this small community called El Limon, Jalisco and since the first time that I visited, I have been entranced since. It became a literal second home to me. A safe haven from the hustle and bustle, the endless chaos of the inner city. It became my refuge were I could relax and enjoy myself, free in a truly beautiful environment, not only was it a haven, I learned more about my personal heritage, and my family’s contributions to the land itself. The history of this town is quite a simple one, founded in the early 1600s just a couple of decades after the Spanish conquest of Mexico, the people of this small rural community needed to form a tight bond in order to survive and make a living in the harsh wilderness of the arid mountain landscape. Eventually they learned to make a living by cultivating the land and growing foodstuffs to sell, in the fields nearby they grew their main source of income, they grew the agave and sugar cane crop.
One of the clearest and best memories that I can have here is that summer the agave was being harvested as was the sugar cane. The air itself was filled with a sweet aroma, they had to burn the fields after the harvest in order to prepare for the following year’s crop. Visiting these fields was an enriching experience, it showed me my own personal heritage. Generations in my family worked this land to make a living here, they worked out here in the hot sun, under its rays, and gave purpose to the town and its people. They helped bring together a community that had come to rely on one another and were essentially one big family. After realizing what this meant I came to realize that I had nothing to be ashamed of… back in the U.S. I was embarrassed by the fact that most of my family didn’t know English, and in a sense that I was Mexican… no I realized we have as much worth, we made and hammered out a living here in my mother’s homeland as well as in the United States. There was no reason that I shouldn’t accept this part of myself, and that was the moment that I would forever hold this small town to my heart. It linked me to the other half of myself that I had come to reject, I wanted nothing more than to immerse myself into what my culture had to offer and how my Mexican heritage had an important role in my life.