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Shakira’s Song ‘Whenever, Wherever” Reaches No. 1 After Her Super Bowl Performance But Latinos Have Always Adored Her

As the youngest in five, I rarely had the chance to travel alone.

How could I? With a paranoid mom and a closed-off dad, it was hard to ask for permission to venture out on my own. Sure, I had traveled a lot including abroad but I was either always with a family member or close friends. One year, my friend Sandra and I ventured throughout Mexico — a country I had never discovered on my own. When I was younger, I mostly stayed in the state of Nayarit because that’s where my family is from. So I never had a reason, or the courage, to learn more about the surrounding states in Mexico.

That was until my friend Sandra introduced me to a magical city, right in the center of the country.

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She had studied in Queretaro, Mexico, as part of her study-abroad program in college. I felt a little ashamed that someone like me — a proud Mexican Latina — had never been there, let alone any other state outside of Nayarit.

She took me there years later when I was 25 and fell in love with this incredible historic city — and sequentially someone else too.

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One night — at a club — I saw a man, unlike anyone I had ever seen before.

Think of a Mexican version of John F. Kennedy Jr. He was dapper, preppy, and totally hot.

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Completely out of my league too — or so I thought.

I didn’t think I’d ever see him again, but the following night we returned to that same club and there he was, but this time at the table next to ours.

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I coyly started dancing with him because why not? We ended up dancing the entire night together and I felt like I was literally floating.

Being there, in Queretaro, among local Mexicanos, listening to their music — unfiltered and unAmericanized, I had never felt that alive in my life.

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This is when I discovered so much incredible Latin music like FobiaCafe Tacuba and Shakira.

I should rephrase that. I discovered Spanish-speaking Shakira years after she had released her 1998 album “Dónde Están los Ladrones?”

The album catapulted her into a Latin superstar and I was in awe of her rocker chick vibe.

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While I loved my individuality as an alternative Chicana, I sure didn’t embody the independent woman I longed to be.

Even though I expressed a love for Spanish rock music, I was in a lot of ways very shy.

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But Shakira’s album made me feel different.

The song that truly moved me on that album is called “Si te vas.”

At first listen the song comes off as a ballad but it’s much more of a painful rock song that happens to be about a loss of love — as most songs are.

However, in this track, Shakira’s angst is infused throughout it just by the way she vocalizes certain aspects of the words.

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But this is my favorite part:

“Si te vas si te vas si te marchas

Mi cielo se hará gris

Si te vas si te vas ya no tienes

Que venir por mi

Si te vas si te vas y me cambias

Por esa bruja pedazo de cuero

No vuelvas nunca mas, ya no estaré aquí.”

But back to my imaginary love story. His name was Antonio.

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And he was an architect that lived in Queretaro. I was infatuated, to say the least. After our night of dancing, we went on a couple of dates, and one, in particular, that is too steamy to get into.

Soon after I returned to California soon after still on cloud nine.

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But that’s all it took.

I really thought I was in love with this Mexican heartthrob.

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When I returned to my real life, Antonio and I kept in touch.

We emailed, talked on the phone, and in my head, I was already scheming about how to go back to see him.

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I didn’t know how I would go back to Queretaro, but I knew that I had to. What I felt for Antonio was undeniable and I wasn’t going to let anything get in my way.

I didn’t tell anyone about my plan.

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I would just sit in my room — yes, I was a 26-year-old that still lived at home — and listened to Shakira’s album and think about Antonio.

One day it hit me. I would save money, enough for three months’ worth of rent, and move to Queretaro.

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I talked to my parents about it and simply said: “I need to get away and just write.”

My parents didn’t fight with me over the plan.

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I secretly think they just wanted me out of the house. And so I saved, and saved, and saved, every penny I could get my hands on. When I finally had enough, I bought a one-way ticket to Mexico City. I don’t even remember being scared.

I just remember having a direct plan and listening to my Shakira playlist.

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It didn’t feel like I was alone either. When you’re traveling alone and listening to music, it’s like your famous friends are there right there with you.

I stayed at the most picturesque house in Queretaro and didn’t even tell Antonio that I was coming to town.

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Yes, that was probably a mistake, but I didn’t care to hear anything negative. I guess underneath I knew what I was doing was kind of nuts, but love makes you do crazy things. When I did tell Antonio that I was in town, he said what I was dreading:

“You didn’t come here for me, did you?” he said.

“No! Of course, not. I came to write,” I said quickly.

“Oh, that’s good, because I have a girlfriend,” he said.

I think at that moment my body went numb because I don’t remember feeling sad or angry, just kind of in shock.

“How long have you been with her?” I said. I should note that it had only been a few months since I had last seen him.

“Always,” he said. “I’ve always been with her.”

The next couple of hours were a daze, but I cried myself to sleep that night. Here I was in Queretaro, all alone, and three more months to go. The next morning, I got up early, turned on my Shakira playlist and went for a run.

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Even though I was sad about the fact that Antonio had a girlfriend the entire time we were together, I realized how special it was that I was in this amazing city.

For the next three months, I did write.

I wrote a lot in fact, and I also met someone else.

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That relationship didn’t go beyond my time in Queretaro, but I loved knowing that heartbreak would not be the end of me.

The joy of being alone in Queretaro and doing exactly what I had envisioned all on my own was all I needed.

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Even now when I listen to “Si te vas” I never feel sad about Antonio, just pure happiness that I did something pretty extraordinary and have memories that will last me a lifetime.

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