From the sweet smell fruit orchards; to the bitter gas and fog that filled up San Francisco. I had no option in coming here. I had no initial reaction, I didn’t know what to think.
I had a lot of fun in Mexico. I liked school, I participated in dances at festivals, which I enjoyed a lot. I really liked celebrating special events like Dia de Los Muertos, which is really important to my family. I enjoyed putting out food, putting pictures, and being with my family. At 9 years old, I had lost my father. I couldn’t explain the feeling when I lost him. We were so close, he was a part of me. My tears were endless. How would I ever regain that part of myself without him? A few years later, my mother sold our house because she didn’t want to live there after my father died. That’s when we had left Michoacan to Tijuana.
When we moved to Tijuana, I had lived at my sister’s house with a couple of family members and I remember my mom coming up to us and saying she had to leave. “Ya me voy mis hijas, me voy a ir a vivir a Texas, pero no las puedo llevar.” I am leaving to Texas, my daughters, but I can’t take you with me. My mom had decided to leave a week later, in which I felt so alone. I had lost both of my parents so soon. When I was 12 years old, I had to cross the border with my brother-in-law. I had no choice in coming here, because my sister that lived in San Francisco, California told me to come over here and live with her. Before I knew it, the journey to the United States started.
The four-day journey began. I remember going under a tunnel with water in it. I had to wear plastic bags around my feet so I didn’t get wet. The water was dirty, filled with grass and dirt that had created a horrid smell. After getting out, I had to walk more in the dreading sun and then I had to cross the freeway. Crossing was very hard, seeing all these cars racing by me. Seeing the cars pass by me was similar to how I felt about my life, everything going by so fast that I couldn’t even keep track of what I expected of my life. Finally, we got to a stop where we had to spend the night. The next day, my brother-in-law and I took a car all the way to San Francisco. The city was fascinating and very different from Mexico. The streets were steep and long and filled with the cold fog. I didn’t know I was going to be seeing anything so vastly different from home. The smells weren’t so sweet; I couldn’t smell my mom’s fresh fruit and tortillas in the mornings. That smell was now long gone. I knew now that I was a long way from home.
When I arrived at my sisters house, I eventually started going to school, which I instantly didn’t like. It was very hard for me to adjust. School in Mexico was much easier, from the activities I participated in to getting good grades in school. “No era lo mismo.” It just wasn’t the same. I didn’t like adjusting to the school here since I didn’t understand the language. I couldn’t understand what my classmates or teachers were saying. I was trying really hard to learn English as fast as I could, but I just couldn’t. I struggled a lot. “Fue muy dificil.” It was hard, very hard. Even people from my own race would laugh at me since I couldn’t pronounce certain words correctly. I was sad and angry. Every time I got home, I’d start to cry because I couldn’t understand how they would treat me like that. “Porque me hicieron eso?” Why would they do that to me? Although the end of the day resulted with tears, I got up with a better attitude for everything I went through. I kept my head up and continued pushing through everything I got through.
I like my life here and I’m thankful for what I was able to have and create here. Dealing with my struggles did teach me one thing, that I tell my kids today; No debes de bajar la cabeza. You shouldn’t put your head down. Don’t back down from any obstacle you face, because you have to be proud of who you are and where you come from. I have a well paying job, 3 kids and am living in East Palo Alto. After living here, getting married, and starting a family, I want to stay here and continue my life in the United States.
This story of an immigrant from Michoacan, Mexico was written and recorded by her daughter.