I'm in México. To be precise, the bottom tip of California.
This is Eliu. He picked me up from the airport. Eliu is originally from Mexico City. He liked it there quite a lot, he tells me. He spoke of the diversity of people and cultures there, of the arts, the foods, how alive everything is. He laughed and then added "if you like traffic too." Eliu left a number of years ago (exactly how many slips my memory), and thinks that it's too hot here in Baja, but ultimately believes it's a nice place to live with clean air, nice environment, relaxed vibes, a good job that pays him well and raise his 2 kids with his wife.
I joked with him that 2 is plenty, as they are quite expensive. He laughed and agreed. We then laughed about his uncle who's lived in Los Angeles for 40 years and still speaks not a word of English because he lives in a neighborhood where everyone speaks Spanish. When I asked him if he has an interest in visiting him, Eliu said no. He seems content with his life here.
We talked nearly continuously for most of the drive to the town center. My brain got to exercise a part of its memory that hasn't been activated in a while. Speaking a language you haven't yet mastered requires a heightened level of focus that also puts me into a state of appreciation. In this case, I most definitely appreciated Eliu's slowing down his speech and using simple words to convey his thoughts. I appreciate the ability to connect with another human who's doing what he can to create comfort and happiness for him and his family. I appreciate that he's the first Mexican in Mexico that I got to chat with, because I gotta say - the narrative that much of society in the U.S. paints is not a relatable, working young father like Eliu.
I was really struck by these mountains when we drove out of the airport. Gorgeous ridge lines. I'm glad I caught the moment Eliu pointed at them to tell me about them. I didn't take this with a fancy camera. If you've gotten this far, it's because the story held your attention. And for me, this photo will always jog my memory to that car ride towards the late afternoon sun, realizing again how much us humans have in common rather than different.
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