Photographed & Edited by Tony & Maria Ruiz
I was 15 years old the last time I set foot in Irapuato Mexico. Can you believe its been 20 years?...
To me, Mexico is very important and symbolic to me because it's an era of my life where happiness and adventure was an abundance in my life. To be held and adored by your grandparents, to be indulged by your Aunts and taken to adventures with your uncles. Yeah, the funnest moments in my life were in Mexico. The smells, the views, the sounds I would never forget.
Adventure wasn't the only reason why I needed to go back to Mexico. I needed to go back because, along the way, I had lost myself. I had too much build up inside. I needed to find the taste of life and the only way to do it was to go back to the place that, for some reason, felt like home even though the thought of living my U.S. life terrifies me. Also, I wanted to show my wife (who has never travelled out of the U.S.) life beyond the borders and get to know a part of me that I, myself, have forgotten
Unfortunately life happens, specially in a country where if you don't slave yourself you will lose it all. How did it happen? How did adventures stop? Before I knew it I had missed so much time visiting the place I love because of work, money and problems. Every year that passed, a piece of me that loved being adventurous would die.
2017 was the year I would stop planning and just be spontaneous. I was tired of other people posting their photos on social media of the great times they would have in Mexico. HEY BUDDY! THAT'S MY WORLD!! In a crazy way, every time I would see them enjoying Mexico, I felt like it was my adventure stolen. So I bought my Volaris tickets at awesome price and took off.
This is a blog of life and redemption...
April 3, 2017.
With almost no sleep, we headed out to materialize our plans of getting to the land of pastel colors and sweet Mexican bread. The plan was simple get a ride to the Sprinter train to the train station in oceanside, From there take the Coaster train down to Downtown San Diego, From there take the Blue Line to San Ysidro, which leaves you at the border, From there we take a taxi to the airport [SIDE NOTE: the taxi driver turns out to be from Irapuato, Guanajuato. Weird. Uh he is the one photographed above],
After that we waited for four hours getting buzzed with cold refreshing Corona and Japanese peanuts as we wait for four hours to board the airplane. Simple right?! Yes, of course, I could of taken a shuttle from my house straight to the airport. But where is the adventure in that?! Besides, my 2 year old son loves trains and would I deny him the opportunity to ride three trains?! C'mon, Im dad of the year you know.
After two in a half beers, cup of instant noodles, a bag of chips and Japanese peanuts our flight number was called. With arms wide open, Mexico greeted me by letting me and my daughter be the first ones to board the plane. With excitement in my heart, I say in that aisle side chair like a kid going to Disneyland for the first time. My wife was a nervous with a thousand butterflies in her stomach. My mom anxiously awaiting. My son oblivious of whats going on and my 7 month old daughter...she just wanted to be breastfed.
I have forgotten all those sounds the plane makes before it leaves and some new ones I've never heard before. Seriously, they need to make those robotic noises so much quieter. I, nearly had accident. But once the plane went on reverse I didn't care.
It's time to leave it all behind...
God planes rides are boring. I was so over it after the first hour.
We arrived at 11 o'clock that night in the Bajio Airport in Leon, Guanajuato. That first aroma when they opened the doors hit me like a ton of bricks.
I was here! I was here! I could feel my heart getting filled with emotion, my eyes feel with tears. After 20 years, I have returned to the place where things still make sense. I was in Guanajuato. Arriving to that cornered humble house where my grandparents would await for us, was the most beautiful house I've seen. I knocked on that door and with huge clunk, the door opened where my infamous blonde hair aunt squinted her eyes to see who we were. Of course, I cried I hugged my aunt as if saying, I'm home, I'm home.
As tradition, we stayed up late just chatting about life and it was great. Conversation without technology. What a concept!
The next morning, I woke up with the sound of my cousin's coming and going to work.
Hey I'm in vacation, not them.
The first thing I wanted to see was the place my grandma used to wash clothing on. I stared at it thinking how I wish to see that woman one more time smiling at me. She always saw something good in me. I could image her with her biddy eyes and her raspy voice asking me if I wanted breakfast. I could imagine my grandpa drinking coffee in the kitchen smiling at me with arms opened. These two people meant the world to me because they made me feel that I mattered.
But now, my grandparents have passed and it's time for a new generation to make this place their own. I think subconsciously, we were all in the same page because my aunt was with my son and my mom had picked up my daughter and were spending time with them. I felt that for the first time ever, my son was free.
I, in the other hand, was roaming around the house like a ghost stuck in time. Taking every moment in. Every detail, like a detective in a crime scene. It was gold to me. It was art. Then I went outside...
Seeing these streets again, I had turned 15 again. I would walk these streets over and over to the neighborhood store to buy Donas, Chips, cookies or soda in a bag. The owner of the store would know me as "El nieto de Lola" [Lola's grandson]. I decided to go to that same store thinking that perhaps the man had already passed away. After all, it's been 20 years.
Boy was a wrong.
There he was, in the flesh. With white hair covering his head, selling snacks and other small necessities. He looked at me as if he was trying to find out who I was.
"No se acuerda de mi?" I said. [Do you remember me?]
"La verdad, no", he said [ Honestly, no]
"Soy el nieto de mi Abuela Lola," I answered [The grandson of Lola]
"No me digas! Ora muchacho! ya tienes tiempo que no te paras por aqui!" he remembered [Don't tell me! my goodness! It's been a long time since you step foot here]
I couldn't believe he remembered after all this years. We spoke for a while and went through memory lane. This is why I loved coming here. The people.
Let's start heading to the Marketa and begin indulging!
The fruit down here is so delicious and sweet. If you think you know organic fruit, wait to you come down here and taste how natural organic fruit taste like. Life wont be the same.
Socializing over here in Mexico means taking a chair to the front of the house and just talk about random things and laughing.
That or eating tacos at night with your litter size glass of Coca-cola.
Both, my son and daughter, discovered freedom in Mexico.
My aunt keeps tradition alive by sweeping the front of the house including the streets. Did you know my grandma would not only sweep the front of the house but the block as well. That is why my grandma had such amazing arms to sleep in.
These are the neighborhoods that bring me happiness.
Me standing in the doorway my grandpa used to stand by. I miss that old man.
My grandpa had already passed away, so, what can I do? visit his sister. My aunt is a great cook and she is perhaps the last link of the old generation of great people in my life. Why wouldn't I visit her?!
My aunt is such a sweetheart, un amor like they would say in spanish. It translates to "a love." My aunt has always been hospitable. Her presence demands respect and love. Her home is a relic to the times that were of freedom as a child. The fact that my niece and my son were out in about just running around is a testament to that.
My son running around in diapers without a care in the world.
This is was the darkest part of my vacation, heading to visit and mourn for the four people who passed away that really matter to me.
Here is the burial site of my Uncle Cande and my grandma. A few months ago, some gangsters broke into the cemetery and desecrated many of the tombstones including the ones from my family
My Aunt Olga and Grandma burial site. I never did get to mourn my aunts death and after all these years I finally could.
But enough of that, back to our happiness.
We decided to do a little photo shoot for my nieces and nephew in Mexico.
Forever, I will be in love with Guanajuato.
My trip wouldn't be complete without a kiss at El callejon del beso.
We ran into a wedding with a beautiful couple.
El Pipila view of Guanajuato.
All in all this trip was exactly what we needed. I felt relaxed, I felt like I was more like me. Less depressed and less angry. For once, I felt truly happy. Can't wait to go again. Sooner than later.