In Search of a Little Mexico

The first time I went to Mexico, as a teen-ager on a Spring Break trip, I thought I would be annoyed visiting somewhere so full of tourists.  I had just completed a year as a Rotary Exchange student, and we had been brainwashed to believe that the only way to experience a new place was to experience it's daily life; how locals conduct their day-to-day affairs.  If we were identified as American by locals during that year, we had failed the cultural test.

As it turned out, I was slightly annoyed by tourist trappings of  Cancun, but my curiosity about daily Mexico overruled my disdain for the standardized vacation chosen by my peers.  I was more interested in the taxi drivers than the goings-on at the nightclubs, and I was intrigued by the hair-braiding ladies in the market and the brands of food in the downtown grocery store.  I noticed women of all ages with tummies showing a little, or shorts that were quite short; they seemed so comfortable showing their skin, regardless of their shape.  To my body-obsessed eighteen-year-old brain, this was amazing.  Now, it is very logical to my thirty-five year-old brain: it's about comfort in the heat.

I have been to Mexico three more times since then, and each time, I loved it.  I would go multiple times a year, if I could.  In fact, it is the only other place besides Minnesota where I have hoped to live with my husband.

These feelings about Mexico, combined with many, many positive interactions that I had with Mexican students learning English, led me to feel that life in Houston and it's proximity to Mexico would very naturally lead me to a better understanding of Mexico and more frequent interactions with true Mexican culture.  I consider it a great misstep to have not studied Spanish in college and for the most part I consider the general American attitude toward Mexican immigrants both unbelievably heartless and incredibly short-sighted.  Mexico should be viewed as a neighbor and asset, albeit one that could some help at the moment.

In the meantime, on a smaller scale, I'm on the hunt for all things Mexico in Houston.  I am afraid that I shouldn't have assumed that it would be easier than it has been so far.  My online searches have revealed little, leading me for the most part to Tex-Mex restaurants, most of which serve food that Americans love and think is Mexican food: bland refried beans and enchiladas covered in a pile of melted cheese.  But I have all kinds of time and more checking to do, so I like my chances.

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