My Selena trip, the closest I could get to my fallen hero. - My Family Travels

My Selena Trip in November 2006

I had only learned about Selena Quintanilla Perez, the late Tejano singer, in late 2005. Now, I consider myself to be her biggest fan, and I’m not just saying that. I loved her so much that I knew I had to go see the things that Selena had seen, go to the places she’d gone to, and all of that. And on November 3rd, 2006, I left to do just that. My dad had booked us a room in the Bayside Omni Hotel, and we were staying from Friday the 3rd to Sunday the 5th. It doesn’t seem very long when you say it, but we got to do so much in those 3 days. We left the house insanely early to catch a 5:30 a.m. flight to Corpus Christi with one stop in Houston. We left on a Friday because the Selena museum wasn’t open on weekends, and the museum was the Selena site I wanted to see most of all.

We got to Corpus Christi around 2 p.m. or so, picked up a rent-a-car, and drove to the hotel. We unpacked everything, freshened up, and then went straight to the museum. I was shaking I was so excited. When we got to the museum, there was a large group of ladies there already; there were six or seven of them I believe. I noticed all spoke perfect English and Spanish except for one who only spoke Spanish, so the others would translate for her if the need arose. There was a lady sitting at a desk that asked for one dollar to basically get it, but the money went to the Selena Foundation. She was so nice! My dad didn’t have a dollar on him, so he gave her a five, which she took only by my dad’s insistence. I looked around the lobby at Selena memorabilia everywhere.

After about 5 minutes, a man walked out and gave me, my dad, and that group of ladies a small tour of just basically the studio where Selena recorded, then led us into the museum itself. I felt like I was walking into a dream. I saw right then and there all of Selena’s famous stage outfits, the microphone used at the 1995 Astrodome concert, her car, and so many other things, it would take me forever to explain them all.

I was looking around at everything for about 15 minutes, and then something amazing happened.

Selena’s dad walked out of an office and started greeting everyone! I looked in shock! I didn’t think this was really happening! I was so in shock that I didn’t even have the courage to walk up to Mr. Quintanilla, so my dad did for me. Oh my god, Mr. Quintanilla had to be the nicest, friendliest man I had ever met in my life! He thanked us for coming, and asked where we were from, all that stuff. My dad explained we were here specifically because of my love of his daughter and her music, and that I think clicked something inside of Mr. Quintanilla. He said, “I have some things I’d like to show you, would you come with me?” Of course we said yes!

He took me, my dad, and oh yes, those seven ladies into a tiny little room with a TV, some booths, a table, some chairs, and not really too much else. He told us he was going to show us a video of one of Selena’s concert that had never been released. He dimmed the lights and played it for us. I had a lump in my throat the whole time, and several of those ladies (who were extremely nice and courteous) were crying. I cried a little, but I didn’t want to cry too much, I couldn’t take that. When the video was over, Mr. Quintanilla got up to turn off the TV, and I noticed he had been crying too.

That poor man, I could see the pain in his eyes. But he was so incredibly nice! He knew neither my dad or I spoke a word of Spanish, so when we asked him questions he translated them into Spanish, and when the ladies asked questions (which were half English and half Spanish) he translated them into English just for us. Then he took all of us into an auditorium kind of room, and explained that several great Latin artists had performed there. I couldn’t focus on that much because right behind me where the letters that spelled out “SELENA” that were used for the Astrodome scenes in the Selena movie! I still was crying a little, half from sadness from missing Selena, and half from sheer joy from the events that were taking place right in front of my eyes!

Mr. Quintanilla then thanked us all for coming, and we thanked him so much for all he had done, and he went on his way. All of us (me, my dad, and the ladies) went over to the gift shop. My mom had given me $100 to spend on anything I wanted! It took a few minutes for them to open up the gift shop, so to pass the time the ladies talked me about where I was from, how old I am, Selena, all that stuff. When they finally opened the shop, I freaked out! Selena stuff everywhere! CDs, T-shirts, Posters, Jewelry, Key chains, anything you could imagine. I ended up buying 3 shirts, a keychain, a poster, an Astrodome Collectors card, a necklace, and I think there was even more stuff I can’t remember right now.

After that, we walked out into the lobby and Mr. Quintanilla came back out! My dad asked if we could take a picture with him, and he was more than happy to do so. He put his arm around me and my dad took two pictures of us! I thanked him again, he walked away, and my dad and I left.

We grabbed a bite to eat, and went back to the hotel. Almost all of our site-seeing would be done tomorrow. The next day we got up bright and early, got dressed, went to the WhataBurger 'By The Bay' that was right next to our hotel (and delicious, by the way!), and then we left to go site seeing.

Our first stop was Selena’s grave. We decided to get the hardest part visited first. It took us a while to find our way, and when we got to the cemetery, it took us a while to find the grave. I spotted it and we stopped. I got out of the car, and looked out. Selena’s grave had a cobblestone walkway leading up to the actual grave, and then there was a chain with a sign on it that said, “Respect The Gravesite: Stay Out” I was a little disappointed, but I respected the gravesite.

My heart felt like it was bleeding tears. My heart hurt with a pain I had never felt before. I realized at that moment that this was the closest to my idol as I was ever going to get. I knew she was sleeping peacefully right underneath the beautiful gravesite in front of me, but it was heart wrenching to know that she was not living, to know that there my idol was, but I would never get to actually see her. We took several pictures, and I told Selena how much I loved her and miss her and hope she forever rests in peace. I had a feeling that she could hear me in heaven. There was total silence in the cemetery with the exception of a light breeze. It was overcast and relatively cold, but I didn’t care about anything but Selena at that point.

We left after ten minutes or so, and I was trying to regain my composure in the car. I finally did, and we went off to go see the boutique. The boutique took us a long time to find because if you were looking for it, you wouldn’t even see it! It was right in the middle of a quiet neighborhood. We parked across the street and walked over. We took lots of pictures of the front entrance and then went inside. It wasn’t the most exciting place in the world, but Selena had put her dreams into this place, so it still meant something to me. There were a few outfits here and there, and some pictures of Selena on the walls. We looked around for about 5 minutes and then left.

Next stop, Days Inn Motel. The motel was basically empty, it was very quiet there. My dad and I took took a few pictures of the front entrance, and then went around to where the rooms were. There was a janitor there, and he saw us looking a little lost and said, “You folks here on vacation?” We told him yes and we were here for Selena. He could tell just by looking at me why I was here and he pointed to a room behind him and said, “That’s the room where Selena was shot.” I couldn’t believe this amazing twist of fate! The Days Inn had rearranged all the numbers of the rooms so no one knew which room was Selena’s, and we just happened to run into this man who tells us exactly which one it was! We thanked him, and walked over to the room.

I’m not going to say what number it was, that’s for you to find out when you go to Corpus. I got goose bumps all over my body. I looked over at my dad and said, “Well, this is it.”. We took a few pictures of the room, and I looked at the path that Selena had run across to get the lobby where she collapsed. She had a pretty long way to run! The door to the room was locked of course, windows shut with blinds closed. I looked some more at the hotel room door, the path, and the whole motel altogether. I was answering my dad’s questions about what had happened here about 12 years ago the whole time, which I was more than happy to do.

We left the Days Inn, and I still couldn’t shake that eerie feeling I had inside of me from standing right where my idol had run across on her way to where she would end up losing her life forever. Deep stuff, I know. But on to a happier note, our next 2 stops were Selena’s house and of course, Mirador De La Flor, AKA the Selena statue. Selena’s house was in a quiet suburb, and I noticed a car in the driveway, someone obviously lives there now. I was jealous, I wanted to live there! 🙂 We took one and only one picture and then was on our way to the statue.  It took us a very very very long time to find the statue, because it was right along the street, and ironically, right next to our hotel! When we did finally find it, there were a few people there.

Everyone was either a Selena fan living in Corpus, or a Selena fan visiting Corpus. If you were in Corpus Christi and you didn’t know who Selena was, you were considered insane. The statue was really beautiful. It was Selena looking out towards the bay, and she was just resting up against the gazebo. There was a plaque there in her honor, a description of her in both English and Spanish, and writing from fans all over the walls of the gazebo, but NONE on the statue itself, or anywhere near it.

We looked around the statue for about 20 minutes and then went back to the hotel. The next morning would be the day we would leave, but we didn’t leave until several hours after we got up. So we decided to go back to the statue one more time. (I even brought a marker with me so I could leave Selena a message of my own.) I noticed only that day that on the tiles on the ground, there were little messages from Selena’s friends and family! Selena’s mom and dad wrote, “We Will Never Forget You Love Mom and Dad”. Selena’s husband Chris wrote, “I Will Always Love You Forever, Chris” and Selena’s sister Suzette and her husband wrote, “Forever Missing You Your Sister Suzette and Bill”. That was really touching. I took my marker and wrote on a blank spot on the wall, “11-5-06 Selena, I love you and miss you more than you could ever know. Even though you are gone, your spirit will live on with us forever. –Amanda”.

Then we left the statue.

We went to look at some things that weren’t Selena related (the very few things there was) like this awesome war ship and the Gulf of Mexico. I was lucky enough to see a man catch this huge stingray! After all of our adventures, my dad and I went back to the hotel, packed our stuff, checked out, grabbed a quite bite to eat, and returned the rent-a-car. When we got to the airport we were seated relatively quickly.

Then a problem arose.

The plane was going to be delayed! My dad and I were so worried that we would miss our connecting flight from Houston to home! The plane finally took off after an hour or so, and my dad and I literally ran through the Houston airport to make our flight, we did get on the the plane, and guess what? There was 2 seats left it the WHOLE plane! I was so shocked by our luck! So we made it home safe and sound and on time. I’m now always telling people about my adventures in Corpus Christi, and I keep begging my parents to take me back.

It was an experience I’ll never forget. 

Oh, and I should mention I don’t have a drop of Mexican blood in me. I just love the music and the styles and I love Selena as a singer, an entertainer, but mostly as the beautiful and amazing person she was. Selena will live on in our hearts forever. Siempre Selena.

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