This weekend Israel told me, “You’re just as Mexican as I am!” as I was elbowing him and pestering him to speak with the Mexican family next to us at a tourist spot here in DC (he could tell they were Mexican by their accent). His point, other than that I’m obnoxious, was that I can speak Spanish well enough to chat with them, if I really wanted to. Overstatement of the week, but I appreciated it.
It’s absurd to claim that I’m as Mexican as he is, but, since my husband was born there, our daughter is Mexican American and learning Spanish, and I now share a last name with a taco company, I’m getting to be comfortable enough to legitimately claim Mexico as my own, kind of.
I should’ve known that I was born to become Mexican because of my lifelong love of dresses like this:
Oh so comfortable, yet festive for summer soirees.
Disclosure statement: Growing up, I got these dresses from my dad’s family in Texas. My family is far more likely to wear them than anyone in my husband’s family! Never seen mi suegra wear something like this. She’s a New Yorker, man. Nuances and stereotypes, hereby acknowledged.
By now, I’ve traveled to Mexico three times: to Valle de Bravo and Mexico City for our honeymoon, to Cabo San Lucas for my sister-in-law Ruth’s wedding last August, and recently to Cholula. Each time my confidence increases, and so does my love for the country and people.
Our honeymoon was wonderful, of course, but as far as language goes, I stayed in the shadows and let Israel be my personal translator (much as it didn’t help me at times!). On the day we met a lot of his aunts, uncles, and cousins, the best I could do was just try to keep smiling.
The trip for Ruth’s wedding was a turning point for me. With slightly improved Spanish, I was able to order things and chat a little bit more, plus I could say mi esposo es mexicano [my husband is Mexican], and that we were there for la boda de mi cuñada [my sister-in-law’s wedding]. I was claiming ownership and family connections. Plus, we had an adorable baby with us—great ice breaker. Plus, we were in Cabo, tourist area to the max, where most Mexicans speak English, and those in the service industry are trained to be friendly and helpful to tourists and to politely affirm our language skillz.
Plus, the spot was breathtaking, and the occasion was joyful:
All the men wore guayaberas to the wedding ceremony. It was an awesome look for the whole group, and so cool and comfortable for the summer. Now I sometimes wear Israel’s, belted with skinny jeans or leggings.
We would love to continue traveling regularly to Mexico. I’ve gained so much confidence during these few trips. We hope Mary Tobin and any futures niños of ours not only will feel comfortable with the language but also will have a sense of rootedness and connection, or at the least, familiarity, with Mexico. (Don’t worry, y’all; we still love ‘Merica.)
As I’ve thought back through some of the trips that I want to post about, there are quite a few in addition to Mexico: Paraguay; Chile; Copenhagen; Oxford, MS; Austin, TX . . . it’s almost embarrassing and feels excessive. I acknowledge that we’re privileged to be able to travel like this. But also as I review, none of the aforementioned were on a lark or solely for our personal exploration, though certainly that could be wonderful. Behind all the trips were people and reasons. Business, elections, dear friends living far away, weddings. (I guess we feel obligated to attend our siblings’ weddings; not a huge bummer when they take place in an awesome location.)
Travel is a decision to use resources now instead of saving or obtaining something else more practical. You’re making a bet that the experience will prove to be worthwhile. I don’t think we’ll regret our choices to invest time and money in these trips. I hope we’ve done it in a wise way—researching and finding good values, staying with friends, combining business and pleasure, using credit card points. Plus, no additional plane ticket for Mary Tobin while she’s under two! We’re feeling pressure to seize the day as that clock ticks down . . .
Even after getting creative and doing our best to find the best value, travel is costly. But when there are loved ones involved, in my experience, it’s always been worth it. (And after you travel with people, it’s likely they’ll become loved ones if they weren’t before—that, or you’ll terminate the relationship!)
How do you make those decisions? What’s your travel philosophy? Also, let me know if you have any questions you’d like me to attempt to answer, about Mexico, traveling with or without baby, my daring fashion choices, etc.
Vaya con Dios!