We were to depart from Dulles International Airport, at 5:00pm, and arrive at Mexico City International airport at 9:30pm. Those were the simple instructions given to my eight year old sister, my eleven year old brother and me. This was to be our first flight to Mexico by ourselves, without our parents guidance through crowded and busy airports. “Be sure to stick together and carry your passports at all times.” Everyone at the airport could hear my mother repeating herself once again, as is natural for her when she is worried. “Yes mom,” I replied. “don’t worry.'” There was really no need to worry ; I took my job as oldest sibling very seriously and made sure all three of us arrived safely, together, and with our passports to Mexico still intact.
Though it had not been first visit to Mexico, at our arrival to Mexico City Airport, all three of us were mesmerized by the sound of Spanish bouncing off of the buildings walls. It wasn’t until we heard the distinct voice of my grandmother that we stopped starring at everyone around us. Yes, we were fine, and yes, we were hungry, but yes it was late and, yes we all needed to get out of the insanely crowded airport. After the hugs and kisses, and the “My how you’ve all grown!”s, the ride to the city of Toluca was enveloped in peaceful silence. Though this was primarily because my brother and sister had fallen into a deep nap, the ride had become even more silent under the vast, star filled sky; with stars I wouldn’t even dream of seeing back home.
Morning found me snoring on a comfortable bed at Toluca. The smell of lunch was already flooding the apartment my aunt and uncle shared. It didn’t take long before I was at the kitchen, being lavished with typical lunch dishes by my grandmother. The smell was enough to make you smile, and the taste made you float in mid-air. Definitely not pancakes or a McDonald’s breakfast meal, but much better. This was typical of the region, where people grew everything in their backyards and sold it to make a living. Scrambled eggs with chorizo, accompanied by warm tortillas; gourmet cooking on a gas stove. After lunch, we headed for our ultimate destination: Luvianos.
Now I had been in Luvianos before, a long time before. And, I was looking forward to being back. Memories of the locals smiling and selling fresh fruit from the mountains, and those of children inviting me to play tag or hide-and-seek were all I could think of. Yet when we arrived, I was shocked by all I hadn’t remembered. The smell of warm wet earth mixed with that of corn, the heat radiating from the homes where warm bread had just came out of the oven. I had forgotten how it was to walk through the streets and greet everyone with a friendly smile. I had forgotten the children playing without any shoes, and the dusty streets. Not only that, but I had forgotten what it was to live without some of the commodities one takes for granted at home.
Here, people were content to be alive, to have dinner at the table every afternoon, without letting go of their dreams and aspirations. I had forgotten how easy it was to enjoy life, and most of all, I had forgotten how to be thankful. Once I noticed what I had lost, I tried to teach my siblings what I had remembered riding in to Luvianos. Both my brother and sister were intrigued by the way the children played without toys, made their own music and also at how much work they had to do in order to live. Not only did I help my siblings see how easy it is to live, but how hard too. And most importantly, we all learned how to be thankful for what we have been given and share it with everyone else.
Magnolia Flores of Glenn Dale, Maryland won Honorable Mention for this essay.
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