During the summers of 2009, 2010, and 2011, I traveled to Mexico to visit my family and spend some time with the side of my family that I get to rarely see. I had great fun with my cousins that I rarely get to see and was able to explore the entire central region of the country. From the Pacific coasts of Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, to the revolutionary city of Guanajuato, Guanajuato, to the capital of Mexico City, D.F., to the beaches of Acapulco, Guerrero, I was fortunate to be able to meet many types of people along my trip within the country. However, the trip was not just all fun and games. The trip opened my eyes to the social issue of poverty in a developing nation. Wherever I went to, I saw some depiction of poverty at a higher level that I have ever seen in my native Los Angeles, California.
During the summer of 2009, I was out for a stroll in Tepic, Nayarit through a park called Parque La Alameda. As I walked to the corner of the street Calle de los Insurgentes, I noticed a little boy that looked to be of my age at the time. He was wearing a clown outfit and was holding a bottle and a rag. I found it quite peculiar that a thirteen year old boy was out by himself outside of the confines of the park; I would have expected him to be inside of the park playing. Suddenly, the traffic light turned red and the little boy darted out into traffic, whipped out his bottle and began spraying a liquid on a car’s windshield. It was then that I understood the situation: the little boy was living in poverty and was trying to make a living to help support him and his family by washing cars’ windshields as they passed by. When the traffic light turned green, he darted back to the sidewalk. I approached him and asked, “¿No deberías estar en la escuela?” shouldn’t you be at school? He responded with, “Mucha lana,” it costs too much money. I gave him 50 pesos, roughly $5, and went on my way in a pensive mood.
Another time, during the summer of 2011, I went with my family to the beaches of San Blas, Nayarit. It was mid-afternoon as I was walking up the sandy beach. The waves were slowly hitting the beachfront one by one. To my right, there was a group of rocks with a palm tree towering over them. I proceeded there to sit down and enjoy the ocean view for a while. I was suddenly approached by two little boys, one who appeared to be about nine years old and carrying a black book and another who appeared to be about five years old following him. They both appeared to be a bit hungry, and I even think I heard one of their stomachs growling very loudly in a type of growl I had never heard before. They asked me if I wanted to by a tattoo, and although I’m not a big fan of tattoos, I bought one and let them keep the change they owed me.
The main thing that I learned from my trip to Mexico is that there are so many families living in poverty. I would have never imagined that it was to the point that the young children of the families have to go out and work to help support the family. It truly opened my eyes to the true concept of being poor.
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