I Dream of Mexico

by Jackie Sanders on January 18, 2011

I didn’t always dream of going to Mexico. Growing up in California, my sights were set much further, and I longed for such far flung locales as Australia, southeast Asia and Europe. Once I turned 18, I began my search for paradise with my backpack on and map in hand.  Over the years, I visited many beautiful beaches, met lovely people and admired incredible sunsets. I ate delicious food, stayed in amazing hotels and swam in crystal blue water. But I never felt like I was home, the place I was meant to be.

Only after I’d exhausted my favorite places did I consider visiting Mexico. It had always seemed too easy, and I thought that I had to work hard and experience a little pain in order to enjoy the end result. But all that changed the moment I stepped foot into this country. The air was like a kiss as I exited the airplane, and as I was whisked to my villa, my trip felt full of promise.
My first impression of Mexico was the gracious and warm people who lived there. Once I left the hustle and bustle of the airport and arrived in the small village, I was welcomed with open arms. Warm genuine smiles greeted me wherever I turned and the locals were eager to offer any assistance that I needed. I was struck by the sense of family; a big brother holding his little sister while he crossed the street; a grandmother sweeping the steps of a restaurant, while her son waited on tables. It really made me reflect on my disconnected relationships back home, and I vowed to return with more patience and acceptance of the ones I loved.
I remember my very first meal in Mexico like it was yesterday. I chose the restaurant overlooking the town square so I could observe the action while I dined, and was brought a margarita right away. I asked for the dish that was their specialty, the one that most represented the restaurant. Ten minutes later, the most beautiful fish I’d ever seen was set before me. This whole red snapper sitting atop roasted potatoes and drizzled with a spicy red sauce brought tears to my eyes. Yes, I did cry over this meal. Every bite was pure pleasure, and I have to admit, I had a hard time ordering anything other than the snapper during that trip.
Since that first visit, I’ve been to many different cities and towns throughout Mexico. I’ve traveled alone, with girlfriends, with my husband, and later with our daughter in tow. I’ve eaten many different foods (although the red snapper remains a favorite) and have walked for miles on the beautiful beaches. I learned to surf on a long, warm, friendly wave that made the frigid water of my hometown unacceptable, and enjoyed several authentic home cooked meals in a tiny Mexican house, where the love in which the meal was prepared was palpable.
My daughter has been enjoying the small town life of Mexico since she was four years old. I’ve sent her to the little tienda many times to pick up fresh eggs and pastries, where she’s able to relish the small bit of responsibility bestowed upon her. She plays baseball with the local kids, without either knowing the other’s native tongue, but understanding each other easily nonetheless. She strolls out of the casita and onto the beach, a lazy little girl with nothing on her mind except rolling in the sand and jumping in the waves.
And that is why I dream of Mexico. Because when I’m there, I, too, turn into a lazy little girl. Nothing more pressing than rolling in the sand and jumping in the waves. And I feel like I’m home.

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