The Complicated Feelings of Going ‘Home’ To Mexico
For many of us living in Southern California, traveling to Mexico is just a hop, skip and a jump away. We can enjoy our spring break vacations in Cancun, Cabo or Tulum without necessarily questioning who we are as people.
A Journalist Grapples With Identity In His Homeland
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But for thousands of Mexican-born DACA recipients like How To LA podcast host Brian De Los Santos, traveling back to Mexico is neither easy nor stress-free.
Starting last week, Brian has been taking us on a three-part journey as he navigates the process of going “home” and discovering his Mexican heritage.
Last week, we learned about what motivated Brian to apply for advance parole, a travel document that allows some DACA recipients to travel outside the country and return without a visa (as DACA, Brian can get a driver's license but not an American passport). This week, we traveled through Mexico with him — Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City, and Ciudad Mendoza in Veracruz, where he was born.
In Mexico, he feels at home but also an outsider. New friends call him gringo and Chicano. He argues he’s not that. He doesn’t exactly feel American.
It’s all because he’s undocumented.
One thing I found so fascinating while reading his article and listening to his podcast is how he begins to embrace his pochismo, his identity as an “Americanized Mexican”.
Sometimes, this includes a lack of ability to speak articulately in Spanish or a lack of knowledge of Mexican culture. But Brian comes to understand that being a Mexican who was raised in America comes with a wealth of privilege.
“I've never felt truly Mexican, but I'm also not American, at least not in the way that many people think,” Brian said in the podcast. “I've always felt like I'm somewhere in between —- a person always looking for their true home.”
This trip marks the first time Brian has left the U.S.
And finally, at 32, he gets to visit his roots, spend time and break bread with his family — his grandmothers, tias and primas for the first time since he was a toddler.
He was home.
Read and listen to the rest of Brian’s trip back home to Mexico for the first time in 30 years. (BTW: At the end of the podcast episode, you can also hear other DACA recipients’ stories about traveling back to their countries of origin.)
As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.
(After you stop hitting snooze)
- Even though we’ve had record-breaking rain this winter, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said the snowpack is still not enough to end water rules in place due to the drought. My colleague Erin Stone has more on why there will be no change to L.A.’s water rules for now.
- L.A. Unified School District families can now apply for summer school. My colleague Mariana Dale has more information on what’s available and why it’s important to enroll as soon as possible.
- A proposed California bill would make it easier to involuntarily detain people who are experiencing a severe mental health crisis. Proponents believe that it would stop people from harming themselves and others. But SB-43 does have its share of critics. Here’s what both sides have to say about it.
- Hey K-Pop lovers. Remember the South Korean band 1TYM from the late ‘90s and early 2000s? My colleague Minju Park wrote about this L.A.-bred group’s origin story and its impact on K-Pop. Make sure you check out the latest episode from the K-Pop Dreaming podcast where host Vivian Yoon speaks with 1TYM lead vocalist Danny Im about their rise to fame.
- The number of Californians dying from malnutrition has almost doubled in four years, impacting mostly marginalized Californians 85 and older. Malnutrition might mean not eating enough, or poor eating habits that leads to a lack of needed nutrients.
- Local laws cracking down on homeless camps are becoming more and more common in California. CalMatters Marisa Kendall reported on what state lawmakers are looking to do with anti-camping laws.
- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will be taking Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s place temporarily on the Judiciary Committee after Feinstein went on leave due to a case of shingles. There have been increased calls for the 89-year-old to resign from her Senate seat due to concerns about her ability to serve.
- Although the U.S. Appeals Court is allowing partial access to the abortion pill mifepristone, there are new rules on the distribution of the drug. NPR’s Sarah McCammon has more on the more strict rules in place for dispensing the drug.
- For all of us not going to Coachella, I have a list of fun events that we can do instead. Are you into street racing? Check out the Grand Prix of Long Beach at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center this weekend.Where are my art foodies at? If you fit the bill, the All Consuming: Art and Essence of Food exhibition at the Norton Simon Museum showcases how food was portrayed way back in the day in Europe. Or listen to stories about embarrassing childhoods at Mortified’s Best Of at the Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation on Saturday (Storytellers who have a habit of oversharing their personal stories, unite!)
*At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding!
Wait! One More Thing...
One Benefit Of A Rainy Season? An Abundance Of Wildflowers
Sometimes, when I’m having a challenging day and I’m feeling down, I like to reflect on what I’m grateful for. One of those things is the ability to see so I can gaze upon the vibrant array of wildflowers growing all over Southern California this spring. Thanks to all of the rain we’ve had these past few months, I am ready for a road trip to see some poppies, sun cups and California Fuchsia.
In the latest How To LA podcast episode, the team went out to Sun Valley to chat with some experts who know their way around wildflowers. Evan Meyer from the Theodore Payne Foundation, an organization that educates people about native plant landscapes, told host Brian De Los Santos that California is one of the few places in the world that experience the kind of super blooms we are seeing now (South Africa, Chile and Southwestern Australia are a few of the others). But, he says, wildflowers were even more abundant in pre-colonial times here.
“The landscape was being actively managed by indigenous people to produce flowers because those flowers ultimately become seeds and those seeds are edible,” Meyer said. “So you can imagine L.A., prior to any roads or any buildings, you would have seen a region, in a wet spring like this, with millions and billions of flowers that were being cultivated.”
He added: “The relationship between wildflowers and people is a deep one.”
Listen to the rest of the conversation here.
We hope you can get out and see these beautiful landscapes this weekend, but please be careful. This is a sensitive ecosystem. Avoid trampling the flowers. If you do, Meyer tells us, they may struggle to grow back.
With that in mind, here’s the hook up on where you can view wildflowers this weekend:
- Carrizo Plain (it’s a little over 150 miles away from DTLA, but it’s absolutely breathtaking and would make for a great computer screensaver on your computer!)
- The Santa Monica Mountains
- The Backbone Trail in the San Gabriel Mountains
- Foothills Trails around Pasadena and Altadena
- Angeles Crest Highway
- Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in San Diego County, which my colleague Jill Replogle mentioned in her latest article is in “constant bloom”
Got something you’ve always wanted to know about Southern California and the people who call it home? Is there an issue you want us to cover? Ask us anything.
Have a tip about news on which we should dig deeper? Let us know.