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ElPasoSkylineI spent three days in my US hometown of El Paso, Texas over the Valentine weekend, and it is always a bittersweet homecoming. I suppose my experience with El Paso has been bittersweet in that it offered my family much opportunity for a life of hope and success at the expense of a beloved home and culture. It was good to reconnect with family and friends, and meet new members born into the family, as well as meet the partners joining the family, evidently on account of our lovable nature. The reason for my El Paso visit, a cousin’s wedding. My husband and children had the first occasion to see the west Texas town my Mexican family had made its new home so long ago in search of a new and better life. About 34 years ago, young, scared, and angry I began my bitter sweet journey into a new country, a new culture that is El Paso.

El paso, a step in a process, a footstep, and a passage. A passage, into the new, into the unknown, and into the peril, of an 8 year old girl crossing el puente. A step towards hope, which many immigrant survivors have attempted to take numerous times and continue to this day. I realized how indebted I am to my family’s elders for taking that first paso in this journey to self-realization and progress while sitting in the church pews admiring aunts, uncles, and cousins walking in to take their seats. “We’ve come a long way,” was my first thought. And, we have a long way yet to go, it is certain. The younger generation will take that next paso in the exploration and experience of the new and unknown. I am confident that this is the way to progress and improve not only ourselves but Others. We evolve only by experiencing the Other, and I suppose I knew it instinctively, as a young, scared, and angry 8 year old. I truly and willfully live it now. Explore, experience, evolve, and most importantly share with the Other.

Gracias to mi familia for a welcoming reconnection and wonderful visit. My children will forever remember this short visit as it was impressively loud, unforgettably tasty, and passionately warm. We visited with family, we toasted a new union, we ate hometown, though questionable, fare, and visited El Paso sites for which I have vague memories exploring as a young foreign traveler. We rode the Wyler Aerial Tramway at Franklin Mountains State Park, drove through Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site on our way to hike up the thousand-foot high cliff of El Capitan at Guadalupe Mountains National Park. We spent the night in Carlsbad, New Mexico to wake up and descend its dark, cool, wondrous caverns the next day.

CarlsbadCavernsCarlsbad Caverns held an amusing recollection for me as my only childhood memory of the caverns was that of holding a huge 1970s hand held radio to my ear listening to a recorded tour of the caverns. Along the walkway, instructions to “Start” and “Stop” were painted in white and red. I did not know much English and did not understand the recorded guide through the caverns but, I did know “Start” and “Stop”. So I waited for the “Start” command and ran off to the painted “Stop” on the path. It was a race, a race to beat the recording, and I would beat it most of the time as other cavern visitors ahead of me would obnoxiously slow me down. As for the caverns, I did not learn about stalactites, stalagmites or aragonite crystals. All I did was beat the recorded tour and the rest of the family. The first and last time I have ever been first to arrive! This time around, having visited other Texas caverns as an adult, I knew about the various structures and framework of the caverns and actually enjoyed its simple, intrinsic beauty. I also took delight in watching my 7 year old son listening to the recorded guide, following the various numbered segments, and completely missing the point of the prerecorded guide tour. Would he remember being in the caverns? Yes. Would he recall the amazing structures? Perhaps. Would his memory be of the hand held radio? Most definitely YES! That’s who he is… mama’s mijo.

A three-day visit to my bittersweet west Texas town of El Paso, a day in a grotto underneath the highest peak in the state of Texas, and two days on the road in a tight-fit Suburban, that’s my current experience and I’m here sharing it with you, the Other. Enjoy!  

A mi familia pasoana, ¡muchísimas gracias por un fin de semana fenomenal!