Posted: July 24, 2012 in Mexico
Tags: , ,

My mother drove me to Tijuana from Pasadena and entrusted me to an unsuspecting Mexicana at the bus station. I had to transfer to a second bus at the seaside town of Mazatlan.   I remember having my money taped to my torso and crossing my arms for good measure.

Mazatlan greeted me with children selling shrimp tacos and cocktails.  As I enjoyed my much-needed sustenance,  I was being robbed of my Duran Duran memorabilia.  I promptly snatched up what little I found from the impoverished thieves.  Next stop, Torreon.  We were traveling at night and I remember the road being treacherous.  I imagined the bus diving off a cliff.  It was impossible to sleep.

When I finally arrived in Torreon, I was faced with a problem.  The phone number given to me to call my grandparents was wrong. I told myself not to panic.  I had been to Torreon a handful of times via mom’s VW Rabbit.  I knew my grandparents lived across the street from a hospital on Blvd. Revolucion.  So I got a cab and quickly found my familia.

I was home.  Torreon was going to coax me back to a love of all things Mexican.  I needed to be coaxed into something that was honest. It may as well be my heritage.

My Spanish was abysmal in the beginning. I was forever being corrected by everyone within earshot.  To explain away my lousy Spanish, my abuelita informed everyone that I was American.  Abuelita’s first advice to me was promptly ignored.  She told me not to be like her.

My grandmother was hard, inside and out.  She had a head for business.  Was tough on everyone, especially herself.  Affection was never her thing.  I didn’t care.  I was going to attack her with my affection everyday.  Whenever complimented, my grandmother would scoff. What truly brought us together was storytelling and housework.  How happy she was as she observed my manual labor!

She had been betrayed by her first husband, Raul.  He decided one set of wife and kids was not good enough for him.  So he had a second family.  Their divorce was a Catholic one.  He dropped dead and the divorce was final.

Her second husband, my beloved abuelito, worshipped her.  They passively argued every day, without fail. This is how they loved each other.  If I ever got angry with my abuelita, my abuelito was going to put me in my place.  He did this, even when I was defending him.

Abuelito was known as Don Nacho in the neighborhood. Nacho was short for Ignacio.  Everyone loved him (myself included).

He towered over everyone. He must have been over 6 feet.  His hands were huge and rough. His voice made the windows tremble.  He was my gentle Mexican giant.  My grandfather was self-educated.  His room, above his garage, was rife with books on every subject. He had a corny sense of humor and a temperament foreign to me.  Nothing fazed him.  He rarely lost his temper with women.  Men, on the other hand, had better mind themselves.  Abuelito was not keen on displays of machismo.

Abuelito was my initial reason for loving Mexico.  It was safe to trust and love him.  He made me feel perfect with the way he spoke to me and the way he looked at me.  Thank God for Don Nacho!

  1. I loved this post 🙂


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