Christmas had arrived.
Through the colored picturesque streets of San Miguel de Allende I walked, taking in the smell of warm churros and the fruity scent of ponche. Christmas lights hung above the streets attached to the tops of buildings, ribbons decorated doorways, and a recreation of the birth of Jesus was homed in the heart of the town, la Plaza Principal. I was in a city where a big divide existed between both foreigners and the indigenous population that resided within San Miguel de Allende. Christmas morning brought new light onto this large divide that separated distinct cultures that had somehow found themselves living together in this yellow hued town. While all the tourists and foreigners where talking photos of their children with their new toys, taking photos of their food, and taking photos of the abundant architecture in the town, they forgot to realize what was behind them. A small boy selling wooden horses that he made with his dad, an elderly lady in the corner selling handmade dolls, a woman in the middle of the street selling bracelets and bags. Where was their Christmas? This holiday to them was another day of work, being surrounded by people with different lifestyles, that had phones and took pictures of San Miguel only to upload their photos on social media to flaunt their wealth and perfect lifestyles to others. It seemed cruel to me how these people walked streets that weren’t theirs and instead of purchasing local goods they crossed the streets to a glossy new Starbucks to eat food they could find anywhere else. I perhaps was guilty of this too. This moment of realization had only come when I walked down the street 10 Umaran and I noticed a young girl riding her new bright pink bedazzled bicycle in the street, riding in endless circles and zigzags. In the background another young girl stood, peering through the corner of the street. Her visage said it all. An image that has been engraved in my mind ever since I visited San Miguel de Allende.
The look of her face, her eyes fixed on the bicycle, daydreaming of one day having one to call her own, to ride down the yellow streets with her braids flowing behind her. Her mom called her back to help her make more gorditas, and after her mom yelled, “¡Xochitl!” once again, she snapped out of her dream, and turned the corner back to her reality that was only hers. The girl with the pink bicycle kept riding in circles, unbothered and unaware of her privilege and the gift she had which was someone else’s dream. To the little girl that worked with her mother all day during Christmas, I hope that one day you have a bicycle of your own and can ride freely through your town, thank you for showing me the importance of traveling, which goes far beyond just looking at the surface of a city, but rather to focus on the heart of the people and the varying qualities of life that are present throughout the world.
I think of you every Christmas, Xochitl.
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