When I was in middle school my parents would send me and my siblings to Mexico for the summer. My two younger brothers, sister and I would spend our summer vacations with our maternal grandfather in Rioverde, San Luis Potosí. My grandma frequently traveled between Rioverde and Houston, but when we were over there she’d make an effort to stay longer periods of time to be with us.
I had the blessing to make beautiful memories with my grandparents and really get to know them better. Before our summers there, I used to think my grandmother didn’t like me. She would be really strict with me and lecture me about how I treated my mother. However, during these summer vacations we had the chance to talk, wash dishes and cook together, tidy up the house and visit her clientela together. I realized that the reason she was tough on me wasn’t because she didn’t like me, but because she wanted to help my mom.
Spending summers over there also made me more independent, confident and social. I made several friends in Rioverde. We would go to the plaza, go rollerskating, play basketball, hang out at night chatting, etc. I was also the oldest so I took care of my siblings. I would cook for them, wash their clothes, and make sure they were okay. One time we also got stuck in a pueblo at night and there were no buses or taxis, and I had to keep my siblings calm and find a solution to our problem. I also learned to trust in God and know that he was looking out for us.
For all these reasons I treasure any opportunity I have to visit my mom’s hometown. Unfortunately, due to all the crime and violence that Mexico has been riddled with as of late, it has been a while since I’ve had the chance to go back and visit (at least by land).
Now some people might tell you that the violence is just all hyped up by media, but I’ve heard way too many stories from reliable sources and well, it’s just too close for comfort for me. When I married my husband nine years ago, I basically adopted Monterrey, Nuevo León (ajúa) as my second – probably first now – must-go-to destination in Mexico. This was also one of the main reasons we purchased a Suburban for our family. We wanted to have something comfortable and spacious for our frequent visits to Monterrey. That, and apparently I was having more than three kids. Um, no. We purchased the suburban about four years ago. And then we started hearing all these stories about the cartels stopping people during their travels, kidnappings, ransoms, etc.
It made us reconsider our travel plans very quickly.
On both sides of our families, we’ve heard of relatives or friends who have been stopped en la carretera and had their cars stolen right in front of their eyes. In one case, a family even had their child held captive until they could return with the nicer car they owned to exchange it. A family friend’s relative was also kidnapped. They had to come up with tens of thousands of dollars for a ransom, and even after paying they never heard from their loved one. My husband’s family in Monterrey have also called us here in Houston just to make sure we are okay and that he has not been kidnapped as the anonymous people calling them have claimed. They have told them to pick up my husband at the airport and to bring money.
So what was once a fun road trip to Rioverde or Monterrey, is now little more than a distant memory for us. All we can think about now when we talk about going to Mexico are the what ifs. Maybe if my parents, or my late grandparents, still lived in Rioverde, or my husband’s immediate family was still in Monterrey, we would have more of a reason to travel there and we wouldn’t be so hesitant. But they don’t, and we do have to think twice about taking a road trip down to our querido México.
For now, we just hope and pray that things will get better. My kids are still young and I would love for them to know and see Mexico first hand, soon. I want them to have the connection to my family’s native land that I was blessed to have because of those trips to Mexico growing up. Until then, I live vicariously through the pictures family members bring back and share on Facebook of their recent trips.
Soon, México, lindo y querido… soon I will visit and I hope you will treat me as well as you always have.
Totally agree. I have for the past 5 years wanted to go to Mexico City. I’ve been told by my family no. I know that the violence is still happening and if someone doesn’t think it’s bad, just look at google pictures and you’ll see.
I hope one day before I die I can go there without my family’s fears.
I’m happy to say that my parents just spent a week over there and they say that there is a lot of military presence in the carretera. Seems that the violence is again being directed towards those involved in that life. But yeah, I pray that Mexico once again be safe to visit.
I lived in Mexico (with my grandparents) from the ages of 10-14. I am now 30, but those are some of my favorite memories. I haven’t been to Mexico since then and I miss it every single day.
I, too, wish I could take my children, but also worry about the situation. My grandfather still lives in Mexico and I really want to take my kids before he is gone, but he says it is best not to right now. It seems everyone has a different opinion, but I’d rather not take the chance of putting my children in danger.
With my parents’ and other family members’ safe trips recently, I might just take the chance of visiting before the year is over. I miss going and seeing the pictures of my parents and other relatives over there just makes me want to go more.
I hope to go soon and I hope to also be blessed with a safe trip as my family has recently had on theirs. 🙂
I wish you a safe trip for when you do decide to go.
We are in the same predicament. We have traveled safely to Culiacan, Sinaloa every year during Guadalupe-Reyes to see my friends and family. And although Culiacan is home to the first powerful cartel (Chapo Guzman) and there is lots of violence, it seems to be directed at involved individuals and we feel pretty safe. But my husbands family is in Michoacan, and we do not feel safe to drive there at all. It really has to be based on the advice of people who live in each area. I certainly pray that Mexico will return to be the place I remember when I was young. I don’t want our son’s memories of Mexico to be dominated by pickups full of estatales y federales looking like they’re headed to combat.
People say it is safer to take the paid tollways and to travel only by day in Mexico so that you improve your chances of not getting stopped and not having anything else happen to you or your family. I don’t know. Yp como que todavia no me animo a echarme el viaje asi nomas… I’m holding out for a better day I guess. Hopefully it comes soon.
Some of us don’t have the choice of roads. To get to the town where my grandmother lives, we have to go through a lot of smaller highways, and it’s in an area that’s had a lot of disappearances and deaths. I haven’t been in several years, but I’m going to have to go sometime soon. I will just have to hope for the best.