Happy 2015 and welcome new Cornellians!
I arrived home after a crazy week of back-to-back finals on a Friday afternoon in Los Angeles, California. That day, I’d missed one of my flights because the plane in Ithaca had issues with departure due to ice. Thus, I was exhausted and all I wanted was my comfortable bed and tacos.
I wasn’t granted either. Instead, I was told to pack, because we were going on a road trip to a small village in the state of Michoacan, Mexico. This trip would last around 36 hours, and we would not make any stops except to grab a bite and stop for the restroom.
It’s not like I hadn’t already done this trip; I had. I was just so tired.
And scared. I mean, I’m sure most of Americans have heard of the political situation in Mexico: the disappeared 43 students (and the many, many more unaccounted disappearances), the drug wars, the demonstrations, etc. Plus, the Dept. of State just released a travel warning for U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico. Nonetheless, we went.
I’m happy to say I went, and returned. It’s been a good two years since I had visited the village that saw my parents grow. Now, with all the knowledge I’ve learned at Cornell and through my research and greater understanding of the Latin America situation, I was able to grasp the political micro-happenings of the town and understand them as a whole.
The short 12 days I was there, I was humbled by the way of life that the residents led. To American-raised minds, hearing of decapitations (sorry for the graphics!) and unclaimed bodies by remote areas paralyzes us, but to these people, while they are appalled, they continue to fight. They’re very religious (Roman Catholic) and live by century-old tradition. They continue to live, and most importantly, to work.
At Cornell, all I have to worry about is studying and getting good grades. My priorities are very different from those of the people in that village. They humbled me. They told me that even during the hardest times, all one can do is turn to God and keep going.
Besides from the valuable life lessons I learned, I also spent lots of time with my grandparents, who reminded me that it all goes back to one’s origins. I may be studying in one of the world’s most prestigious universities, but my origins remain the same, and that I mustn’t forget where I come from. And I’m proud to say that where I come from, because I witnessed this, is a town where the people are strong as steel and cook the best food ever.
Also, a lot of the scenery was gorgeous. Agricultural landscapes were abundant, as were the cows. And the goats. (Speaking about goats, I ate goat meat. It’s an exquisite plate called birria, accompanied with tomato rice.)
I also experienced the wonderful religious yearly traditions that take place every December. These included pilgrimages with live music and lots of candy, visiting cathedrals that took my breath away that reinforced the religious presence I witnessed in Mexico, and indigenous traditional dances to honor an important religious figure, the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Now, I have less than two weeks before I go back to the Hill. Time to soak up the Californian sun… however, it seems to be that it’s a bit weak these days.
Enjoy your winter breaks, and if you already started school, good luck!
Delicious, colorful condiments to go with street tacos. This is the real stuff, everyone!
My abuelitos and I.
I’m not exactly sure what type of vegetable this is… but it’s delicious! From a local street vendor.