Americans are so lucky!

I recently returned from family trip to Mexico.  We ventured into Tonatico, a tiny town two hours south of Mexico city.  We were there for weeks that went by unusually slow, especially for it being a vacation and all.  Most of our extended family lives there.  They are well-off and live a comfortable life but from what I saw, it seems to be a very boring life.  They may not feel that way because that is the life they are accustomed to, but I can’t imagine living there and doing the same thing every single day like they do.  I guess I’m thankful that my parents crossed the border illegally and allowed me to be born in this wonderful country that is America (don’t call the border patrol they’re citizens now).

We are so incredibly lucky here and I think people sometimes forget.  Especially people my age who have been lucky enough to get everything handed to them with very little effort.  I think people (both young and old) sometimes don’t realize that there are people in other parts of the world that do not live the easy life that we do.  Instead, they are restricted from many things either because their income doesn’t allow it or because they’ve never even been exposed to life’s many riches so really they have nothing to long for.

One night as I was walking to the many posadas that Tonatico has (holiday parties), I walked through a narrow street lined with little houses that looked exactly the same.  I peeked inside a few and was completely shocked.  It’s 2010 and people in Tonatico (and other places I’m sure) are still living in tiny square houses with one room that acts as the living, dining, and sleeping area.  I know that college students will occasionally take this on in order to survive on their own, but in Tonatico entire families sometimes made up of six or more people were occupying these spaces.  I just could not believe it.  And I thought my house was small…nope, not at all!

Shortly after, I talked to my mom who told me that that is the way people live there.  They survive on $150 pesos a day (or 15 bucks), they only buy what’s absolutely necessary in very small quantities, and they don’t typically go on 3-week-long vacations because that means no work and no pay (and no food!).  Well, didn’t I feel bad.  What I found absolutely ridiculous is that even though people are making what equals $15 a day, everything is still just as expensive as America, or amazingly enough sometimes worst.  Flip-flops that one could easily find for a buck at Wal-Mart were not going for any less than $50 pesos.  No $1 flip-flops there, they were all $5 and up.  And, a tiny box of cereal was $4 (or $40 pesos), and let me emphasize that the box was small, nothing like the typical size we are used to.  Again, I was bewildered.  How is a Mexican in Tonatico (or any other tiny town) supposed to feed their family.  No wonder most women were tiny…they don’t even need to plan a diet because it’s unavoidable.

I had been to Tonatico before.  The last time however, was seven years ago, and I guess at that time I just wasn’t able to take in and fully comprehend the conditions or the everyday lifestyle that these people adhere to.  I feel like this time around I have left with a new perspective and I am so so grateful for that.  Sometimes I forget where my parents came from and the hard work that they went/go through and it was good to be reminded of it.  Thankfully most of our closest relatives in Tonatico found a way to make lots of money a long time ago and, like I said before, are actually rather wealthy (especially compared to other people in the town), so I guess I’m glad that our relatives don’t have to pack themselves into tiny rooms.  In fact, they live pretty nice lives in pretty nice houses with pretty nice trucks.  But again, they do the same thing every single day, and see the same people over and over again and I could not imagine living like that.  I love Chicago and its spontaneity and freedom.  We can do anything we want whenever we want because there is nothing really stopping us (except for the occasional cop).  In Mexico if you’re poor it’s going to be pretty difficult to make lots of money and climb up the social ladder (especially when they get married at 18 and start popping out babies right away), but in America if you work  hard you can still own that fabulous 3-story home you always wanted (especially if you have good credit).  Here, your born social status, something that is still very important in Mexico, doesn’t matter.  You can be anything you want to be and that is a beautiful beautiful thing.

I’m glad to be home.

I took many many pictures of Tonatico.  Overall, it’s a beautiful town, rich in culture and good food.  It’s a good place to visit, especially if you want to get a taste of real Mexico.

Click here to check some pics out:

Tonatiquences are deeply religious people (of course) and this beautiful basilica is located in the center of town.