The musky, tropical, humid air was the first thing I noticed as I walked down those narrow steps of that six hour plane ride. We didn't even walk into the airport, but right in to the smack middle of Cancun, Mexico. The bubbles in my stomach wouldn’t stop and the tears in my mom's eyes were fighting their way out! The moment came where after 14 years, I saw my grandma’s beautiful face and the excitement of my uncle shining. It was surreal being less than five feet away from the family that I had loved so much, from thousands of miles away.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
The journey began in Cancun, Mexico with myself, my mom, my brother, my sister, my grandma, and my uncle. My mom was born and raised in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. It had been years since she was able to re-visit her homeland and breathe the air she breathed for 26 years. In Cancun the lifestyle is, well, a wild one. I call Cancun the Mexican Las Vegas! We ate everything from queso relleno to a simple mango with chile. The Latin food ingredients in Las Vegas aren’t a comparison to what there really is, so we tend to be a little behind on the exquisites of Mexican food.
We stayed with my mom’s uncle in a little home in the rural area of Cancun. About two minutes away from my mom’s uncle’s home, there was a small home that sold simple grocery store items. The home had no doors, no windows- just an open room with a fridge, two rows of snacks, and a television sitting on a table. In the states, you would never see a store so empty as this one. Half hour away from our host home, there is a beautiful destination, Chichen Itza, where my ancestors, the Mayans, once built their home consisting of ruins and pyramids. I even learned a little Mayan on my trip; Koosh means let’s go! Seeing the amazing culture hidden on the peninsula of Mexico opened my eyes to what really is under my skin running through my blood.
On our way to Merida, Yucatan, Mexico tears started pouring out from my mom’s eyes. We saw my two aunts and my five cousins that coincidentally, looked exactly like my siblings and I. I felt a special connection with every family member there, not because we looked like true family, but because their affection filled my heart. I had never felt so loved in my life and taking this trip made me feel lucky to have people that had a sincere love for me, even being miles away.
There was a story about a young man and two women that developed a strong meaning to me because it showed me that there is history behind everything. In Paseo de Monetjo in Merida, there are two twin French Renaissance homes that stand tall and proud. They are known as casas gemelas, twin homes. They were built for two women that had a special place in one man’s heart and out of his cariño, love, he built them each a home.
I am blessed to have had the opportunity to reach deep into my roots and connect with who I am. I believe that I found my true home. This trip has changed me by introducing me to the breath-taking world that is filled with strong cultures. As I left the airport after my two month stay, the most meaningful words I heard were spoken by my aunt: “We love you. It’s like we have known you our whole lives.”