I am Mexican-American. Born and raised in the heart of Los Angeles. But I wasn’t fully aware that of my ethnicity as a child. Growing up in Los Angeles in the 70’s and 80’s, were much different times than growing up there now. In those days, there was one Spanish television channel as well as only one Spanish radio station. If you weren’t growing up in East LA, then you weren’t fully submerged in the Mexican culture…and boy, I was far from East LA!
My parents are both from Veracruz, Mexico, but even that is bit tricky. Veracruz is located in the southern region of Mexico, which is far different, in all aspects, from let’s say Jalisco or more northern states like Durango or Sinaloa. The people from Veracruz historically have a very mixed culture as it was inhabited by the Mayan civilization, then the Spanish invaded and brought African slaves. This mixture of races only gets more complicated with the addition of a Cuban population who later fled to Veracruz since it’s only a stone-throw away from Cuba. Needless to say, it’s definitely a melting pot of races, ethnicities and cultures. It’s one of the few states like this in all of Mexico.
So growing up I wasn’t aware I was “Mexican” – I only knew my parents were from Veracruz with Spanish, African and Cuban “blood” as my mom would say. I didn’t know then, but, my mothers cooking and my parents music taste was quite different as well. My parents friends were mostly all from Veracruz as well, so this was all norm to me. Looking back, a party celebration wasn’t a party if there wasn’t Barbacoa brewing with banana leaves, salsa music playing loudly in the background and of course good old Budweiser flowing (as this and Coors was the only beer sold in those times).
So as you can see, I didn’t grow up listening to Mariachi music, I didn’t know what Pozole was until my early 20’s and definitely didn’t really understand my heritage until very recent.
Now, it goes without saying that I am now extremely proud and comfortable with the color of my skin and the curls on my head…but in those times, I hated it! I wished of being fair skinned with straight hair and fitting in with my friends whose families were from more northern states in Mexico. As an adult, I can now understand why the melanin in my skin and why I was blessed with these curls.
As a teen and young adult, people often asked or assumed I was Puerto Rican, Belizian, Dominican or Cuban. But people never assumed I was Mexican. Nowadays, having been married to my husband whose family is from Jalisco, for almost 20 years, I have perfected my Spanish and have broadened my style of music, style of cooking and have now educated myself in the various races in Mexico that make up the wonderful, yet, interesting culture we have. In order to fully understand your culture you must understand your country’s heritage…and that is my goal, to fully understand the culture in various states within Mexico to fully understand the country my parents came from, not only the state.
Aside from my personal reason, Mexico is extremely budget-friendly, especially if traveling with children. It has some awesome architecture, delicious food, friendly people…and being an ocean lover, Mexico has some of the most beautiful beaches you’ll ever see! So, when I travel, my hubby and I always make sure to include a few days at the nearest beach.
So, is this a good enough reason why I only travel Mexico?…..for now, that is 🙂