Vacations reveal calm and crazy sides of Mexican life

Paola Diaz-Reynoso, Features Editor

I have always wanted to go to Mexico, so last year during winter break, I visited my parents’ home state of Guerrero. I met family members who I did not know and made many great friends, some of whom I am still in contact with today. I spent most of my time either with friends, at parties or simply relaxing in an armchair. Some of the people I met even showed me the many wonders that Mexico has to offer, such as the many artists, concerts and music festivals they have available. My friends would invite me to go to parties with them or simply to go out for ice cream. The way that they welcomed me into their friend group was truly astonishing. 

While I was there, I had my quinceañera, or 15th birthday celebration, which is a turning point in a Hispanic girl’s life, as it symbolizes her transitioning into womanhood. A quinceñera consists of a ceremony before the church symbolizing the transition of a girl in the community into womanhood, afterwards, a party is thrown in their honor as a way of celebrating. The people around me helped me plan my special day and pitched in as much as they could, despite not knowing me. Since I was very busy getting ready for the church ceremony and the party with my court, they volunteered to help set up. They put up streamers, balloons, picked up the food and cooled the drinks for the party.  The generosity of my new friends and the way they welcomed me into their community was really astonishing. Besides having the stress of planning an entire party in a week, I was able to disconnect from the world and relax. The atmosphere of the countryside allowed me to enjoy the wonders of nature, while also making me appreciate the way that I live in the US. Mexico truly is incomparable to the United States. My trip to Guerrero was incredible. 

I loved my first trip to Mexico so I decided to spend my summer in Baja California, Mexico. Unlike my first trip to Mexico, this time I went to a very large and dangerous city in Mexico. Throughout this trip, I saw the bad side of Mexico. The traffic was horrible, and the driving was reckless; either we would have to be extremely alert or be as reckless as the other drivers were to avoid an accident. The people whom I met in Baja were nothing like the ones whom I met in the countryside. They had tattoos and well built bodies. In a sense it was kind of crazy that the “criminals” warned me about the dangers of being out after dark and the criminal activities which occurred. My new friends and I went out a lot while I was there and, whenever it got dark outside, I felt protected by their side. As weird as it may sound, being out with my dangerous friends was better than being out alone, especially since many murders occurred while I was visiting, including one of a teenage boy cartel member. He was kidnapped and tortured and when they were not able to get any information out of him that was useful, they killed him with a shot to the head. Cartels tend to do this when a rival cartel arrives at their state or region, as to prove that they have the power there. The rival cartel then left the teenager’s body as a warning to his cartel to back off their territory.The trip to Baja California opened my eyes. 

I would not change any of the experiences that I had nor the things that I learned throughout my trips. Mexico taught me that humble and selfless people are everywhere, regardless of their economic status, and that, in spite of the good people, this world is becoming more dangerous as time passes. I hope one day I will be able to go back to the beautiful country of Mexico that I have learned to love and cherish, not only to travel, but, one day, to call it home.