We’re hitting the road again! This time for a mini road trip – very mini if you consider our last road trip from Texas to New York City and back. Or the dozens of trips by car we used to make every summer as kids in my family, again from Texas all the way to Mexico. Now those were some unforgettable moments! This time were headed to Austin for at least a little taste of SXSW interactive.
I say at least a little taste because this year it wasn’t in the cards to actually attend the full conference. Instead we’re going to spend some quality time with some good friends (we’re all carpooling) and to personally congratulate the winners of the ‘Revolucionario’ Awards by The Social Revolución.
Then again, having never been in Austin during SXSW, there’s also the curiosity of scoping out just how alive and brimming with activity the city actually is… or how much more I should say because Austin is always in pachanga mode.
Anyways, it got me thinking of just how different my road trips today are from the road trips my parents used to take with us. Back then it was a puros panzazos, pleitos and prayers that we’d make it all the way to our ranchito in Mexico. Panzazos because we never knew if our carrito or trocita was going to make it all the way there. Yeah we carried gallons of water just in case, but that wasn’t the only danger along the road. In those days La Sierra Madre was more monstrosity than mountains. Every twist and turn up and down her steep inclines threatened to be our last. And when a big rig drove beside us it was reason for all nine of us to pray for dear life every time. That’s where the prayers came in. The worst part was looking over the cliff and seeing the other vehicles totaled and abandoned on the side of the mountain where they hadn’t been as lucky in making it through alive. Not to mention the countless white crosses with flowers and dates on them reminding us how precious and unpredictable life could be. That would keep us kids quiet for at least this part of the drive.
Literally, it was as if we didn’t want to make any sudden movements that would distract papá and make us one of those vehicles on the side of the mountain. The rest of the trip it was all pretty much “no holds barred.” Our most common reason for getting into it? Who’s turn it was to lay down in the crevice between our maletas that we always left in the very rear of our truck so that we could take turns resting from sitting like sardines in the first three rows of seats. Again, we were nine so even though we had three seats it was still a tight fit all 18-plus hours of our drive. Someone was always trying to overstay their turn and the rest of us would cry fowl in a heartbeat. Those few seconds of resting back there, despite how small the space actually was, were seriously relaxing and refreshing. If you’d eaten too many tunas or plums along the road, they were almost heavenly.
The thing is, even though we’d fight along the way and pray for dear life at some points, those trips were something we did together as a family. Regardless of the fact that every penny my parents had managed to save was being spent on these trips and that our car could break down at any minute, we still managed to make it all the way there and back somehow. Every trip was a major sacrifice for our family. The rest of the year we didn’t travel anywhere.
Today, a cada rato uno anda viajando. Whether it’s by plane or bus, even by rental car. Nombre, imagine if we could have afforded a rental back then! That was always one of my fantasies as a kid, that we could buy or rent an RV and ride it all the way to Mexico… like the gringito families did on TV. We never did, but those memories always make me appreciate how far we’ve come as a familia. They are a reminder of just how meager and small our story began.
We should be back home later tonight. ¡Hasta pronto gente bonita!