relationships

Spending Three Weeks In México Turned Into A Wake-Up Call For My 10-Year-Old Brother

What my 10-year-old brother thought would be just a fun vacation to México last summer, turned out to be a totally different experience – in a good way. Here’s how hanging out with his cousins in México for three weeks, completely changed his mindset and attitude about the type of lifestyle he has in the U.S…

One thing my little brother noticed about his cousin’s lifestyle in México was that they ran errands by themselves almost every single day… by horse or by foot.

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CREDIT: NORMA GARCIA

My brother’s younger cousins in México are constantly running errands for their parents on their own even though they’re 10 years old. Since they don’t have a car to travel, let alone any sort of license because they’re so young, their form of transportation is either their feet or their parent’s horse – if they’re lucky. For my cousins in México, it’s normal for them to go out to the crowded mercados and buy everything their family needs, and then carry everything back home on their own. Keep in mind the streets in my mom’s pueblo in México aren’t paved how they are in the U.S. Drivers don’t stop at every stop sign they see, and drivers are more aggressive, making it far more dangerous for children to be out on the road.

And when they’re not running errands, they’re working every chance they get – before school, after school, on the weekends, and during their breaks from school.

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CREDIT: NORMA GARCIA

My little brother noticed this when he was playing with one of his cousins and then he said to my brother, “I need to leave now, I have to go to work.” My brother thought this was strange and silly, responding, “Work? You can’t have a job, you’re little!”

But to my younger cousins in México, it’s not strange or silly at all. Having a job around the same time that you’re in elementary school is completely normal. Since his parents’ income on its own is not enough, he has to make sure to pitch in for basic needs. And if that means that he has to cut his free time short, and stop playing soccer with his cousins because it’s time for work, then that’s what he’ll do.

However, no matter how many hours my brother’s cousins are working, or how much money they’re earning on their own, they always remain extremely humble.

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CREDIT: NORMA GARCIA

Since it was my little brother’s birthday during the same month that they were visiting México, they decided to have a small party for him in my mom’s hometown. My little brother said it was the best birthday party he’s ever had – mainly for one reason: his cousin Edgar had saved all of his money from an entire day of work and used it to buy my brother a pair of brand new socks for his birthday. Socks! Maybe my brother has received larger and flashier gifts in the past, but the fact that his cousin had saved his money from an entire day of work and used all of that money to buy him a gift, meant everything to my little brother.

And all of this served as a bit of a wake-up call for my brother.

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CREDIT: NORMA GARCIA

My brother quickly realized that his responsibilities as an elementary school student in the U.S. were nothing compared to his cousin’s responsibilities in México. While my brother sometimes complains about three pages of homework, and simple chores like folding his bed, his cousins were walking from school to work every day of the week. While my brother sometimes complains about not having the trendiest clothes or shoes, his cousins were wearing the same outfit for an entire week. And the more my 10-year-old brother hung out with his primos, the more he started to appreciate what he did have in life, rather than complain about what he didn’t have.

Even though my brother went on this trip expecting a to have some fun during the summer, traveling to México was a humbling and eye-opening experience for him. And this is what makes traveling so enriching and important.

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CREDIT: NORMA GARCIA

If you’re fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel, do it! If my 10-year-old brother was able to gain a valuable shift in perspective from this trip, imagine how eye-opening and enriching visiting another country can be for you.


READ: This Latina Was Accepted To 11 Medical Schools And It Was Not Because Of Affirmative Action


What have you learned from traveling to a different country? Comment and hit the share button below! 

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A Tourist Was Arrested For Illegally Climbing Up The Pyramid of Kukulkán

Culture

A Tourist Was Arrested For Illegally Climbing Up The Pyramid of Kukulkán

Jon G. Fuller / VW PICS / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It is important to be a responsible tourist. This means following rules, acting responsibly, and not violating sacred places. That is something one tourist learned the hard way when she climbed the Pyramid of Kukulkán in Chichén Itzá.

Here’s the video of a tourist running down the steps of the Pyramid of Kukulkán.

The Pyramid of Kukulkán is one of the most iconic examples of Pre-Hispanic architecture and culture in Mesoamerica. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most visited archeological sites in Mexico. In 2017, more than 2 million visitors descended on the site.

Of course, #LadyKukulkan started to trend on Twitter.

You know that Twitter was ready to start calling out this woman for her actions. According to Yucatán Expat Life Magazine, the woman was there to honor her husband’s dying wish. The woman, identified as a tourist from Tijuana, wanted to spread her husband’s ashes on the top of the pyramid, which it seems that she did.

The video was a moment for Mexican Twitter.

Not only was she arrested by security when she descended, but the crowd was also clearly against her. Like, what was she even thinking? It isn’t like the pyramid is crawling with tourists all over it. She was the only person climbing the pyramid, which is federally owned and cared for.

The story is already sparking ideas for other people when they die.

“Me: (to my parents) Have you read about #ladykukulkan?
My Dad: Yes! (to my mom) When I die, I want you to scatter my ashes in the National Palace so they call you “Lady Palace,” sounds better, no?” wrote @hania_jh on Twitter.

READ: Mexico’s Version Of Burning Man Became A COVID-19 Super-Spreader Event Thanks To U.S. Tourists

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These Women Created A Cookbook That Honors Victims of Mexico’s Violence With Their Favorite Recipes

Things That Matter

These Women Created A Cookbook That Honors Victims of Mexico’s Violence With Their Favorite Recipes

FRANCISCO ROBLES/AFP via Getty Images

Despite a slight change in strategy in combatting the country’s endemic violence, Mexico continues to see a staggering degree of violence plaguing communities. Although the country’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, promised sweeping changes that would help pacify the country – violence has continues to spiral out of control, reaching record levels in 2020.

No where is this more evident than in the communities that have lost dozens or even hundreds of loved ones. Many of these communities have formed search brigades to help try and find their loved ones (or their remains) but they’re also getting creative with the ways in which they work to remember those they’ve lost.

A search brigade publishes a recipe book containing their loved ones’ favorite foods.

A group of women who came together to help locate the remains of their loved ones, have worked together on a new project to help remember their loved ones. Together, they have created Recipes to Remember, a book of favourite dishes of some of the missing. Each dish has the name of the person it was made for and the date they disappeared. It was the idea of Zahara Gómez Lucini, a Spanish-Argentine photographer who has documented the group since 2016.

The women are known as the Rasteadoras, and they’ve literally been digging to uncover graves of Mexico’s missing. Now, they’re finding ways to help remember those who have gone missing. The book is a way to strengthen the community and as one of the mothers told The Financial Times, “the book is a tool for building ties.”

“This recipe book is very important because it’s an exercise in collective memory and that’s very necessary,” says Enrique Olvera, the chef and restaurateur behind Pujol in Mexico City and Cosme in New York and a sponsor of the book. “It enables the Rastreadoras to connect with the memory of their loved ones through food and brings us, the readers, closer … It weaves empathy,” he told the Financial Times.

Many of these women came to know each other as they searched for their missing loved ones.

The women – who are mostly housewives in their 40s and 50s – literally scour the nearby grasslands, deserts, and jungles with shovels in hands hoping to make a discovery.

Their “treasures” are among the more than 82,000 people recorded as having disappeared and not been located in Mexico since 2006, when the government declared a war on drug cartels, unleashing terrible, seemingly unstoppable violence. Notwithstanding Covid-19, 2020 may prove to have been the deadliest year on record. As of November there had been 31,871 murders, compared with a record 34,648 in 2019.

Their stories of loss are heartbreaking.

One of the mothers, Jessica Higuera Torres, speaks of her son Jesús Javier López Higuera, who disappeared in 2018, in the present tense. For the book, she prepared a soup with pork rind because “he loves it — when I was cooking, I felt as though he was by my side.”

On the other hand, Esther Preciado no longer cooks chile ribs, her recipe for her daughter’s father, Vladimir Castro Flores, who has been missing since 2013. “That one’s just for the memories now,” she says.

“You get addicted to searching,” she adds. The 120 or so Rastreadoras have found 68 people, but only about a quarter of those are their missing loved ones. She acknowledges many victims may have got into trouble because they sold or used drugs; others were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Mexico’s missing person problem continues to plague the country.

Since taking office in 2018, the government of President López Obrador has stepped up efforts to locate missing people and identify bodies. It says the number of reported disappearances for 2020 was trending down. But the government acknowledged in November that in 2019, a record 8,804 people had been reported missing and not been found.

According to official data, Mexico has counted 4,092 clandestine graves and exhumed 6,900 bodies since 2006. Sinaloa is notorious as the home of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, once Mexico’s most powerful drug baron, now locked up in a maximum-security jail in the U.S. The city of Los Mochis, where the Rastreadoras are based, is currently in the grip of Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, known as El Chapo Isidro.

The Rastreadoras acknowledge that they’re on their own, turning to the authorities for help is not an option. As shown in the mass disappearance of 43 Mexican students in 2014, which rocked the country, municipal police have a terrible reputation for being infiltrated by cartels. “They won’t help us — they’re the same ones who are involved,” scoffs Reyna Rodríguez Peñuelas, whose son, Eduardo González Rodríguez, disappeared in 2016.

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