The road was rough, and the bus was full of chatter. It was the Fourth of July, and my family and I were in Ensenada, Mexico for our last stop on our Carnival Inspiration Cruise. We had signed up for a bus tour that led up to La Bufadora, or the blowhole. I stared out the window as the bus slugged along on the bumpy road, staring out at the endless expanse of glistening ocean. How strange- to be in a different country on our Independence Day.
Our tour guide, Michelle, speaking in the most charming broken English, told us about the surrounding area- how during the season, whales could be seen in the ocean, and the where the best tamales stall was, all while referring to us all as friends.
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Her charming demeanor made me smile, and I couldn't help but wonder if she genuinely enjoyed her job, or was just doing it to make ends meet. She looked so tired, yet kept up a warm, friendly smile. My train of thought was broken when we finally arrived. Everyone agreed upon a time to meet up back on the bus, and we went our separate ways. My family and I walked along the countless street stalls that led up to La Bufadora. Everywhere we turned, people were calling out to us to buy their products. Some were even as young as me, some were even younger. After staring down at the wondrous blowhole, we walked back along the road lined with street vendors, looking for a bite to eat. We settled on a small but promising stand.
As I was handed my food, I was shocked. The person at the grill cooking the meat, was a boy younger than me. I looked around, earlier I had just passed by the street vendors with not much thought, but now as I looked harder… so many of them were my age. So many of the cooks, around dangerous tools and grills, were my age. I had never had such a demanding job, and yet there were those younger than me hard at work, sweating in front of a fiery oven. I was privileged. I am an American, and I am privileged.
On the ride back from La Bufadora, as we prepared to board our cruise again, the faces of Michelle, and the little boy cook, and the countless teenage street peddlers filled my mind. I was thoughtful, and I was grateful. I came from a land that gave me so much. I was not forced to spend my summers under the hot sun, luring customers into my street shop to buy trinkets. I was not forced to cook using equipment that was surely too dangerous for someone my age. Instead, I was given the education and the rights to succeed. This is what America stood for, this is what I had to celebrate on my Fourth of July. And I will surely make the most of it.
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