Author Rick Martinez on Traveling 20,000 Miles Through Mexico for a Sense of Home

My memories with my grandmother are all about the food stuff. I however try to remember the odor of porky pinto beans simmering in her kitchen area, in which I spent every Sunday evening as a kid. What appeared like various hundred heat do-it-yourself flour tortillas, each individual a ideal spherical, have been usually stacked towards the ceiling. Amid the smell of stewed pork, dried chiles, and cumin, she would greet me with a seize of my cheeks, a hug, and a kiss. This was house, and this was the food items of my family members. 

I experienced driven through Mexico for seven months—and virtually 17,000 miles—before I tasted something like what my grandmother utilised to cook dinner.

Then I stopped for lunch at the mercado in Santiago, just outside Monterrey, and ordered a pink pork guiso (stew). It came with beans and rice and tortillas de harina (flour). When the plate landed in front of me, I had an immediate flashback to my grandmother’s table—what sat right before me looked specifically like the foodstuff she utilized to make. The pinto beans had been mashed with prosperous, juicy pork fat. The flour tortillas were thick, ideal for soaking up the crimson stew. I took a chunk, teared up, and sat there, hardly ready to complete eating. I termed my father and cried.

I’d found a link by foodstuff.

Maíz becoming ground into masa in Janitzio, Michoacán

Ren Fuller

A street watch in Capula, Michoacán

Ren Fuller

But the factor was, the men and women in Monterrey didn’t appear like me. They seemed a whole lot like my dad’s side of the relatives: The Martínez’s are light-weight skinned and have lighter hair than my mother’s side, the Castruitas. I have additional of my maternal grandfather’s features—darker hair, darker skin, darker eyes, sharper options in my deal with, a lot more moreno (brown). I’d located just one part of the puzzle in Monterrey, but there have been nonetheless lacking parts.

That adjusted a few times later on, when I drove into Saltillo, Coahuila, about an hour southwest of Monterrey. I parked and walked the cobblestone streets of the Spanish colonial plazas, finally sitting down on a bench and observing a family perform in front of me. There was a tiny lady, about three yrs old, in a little white costume and black Mary Jane footwear, dancing amongst her dad and mom. She turned toward me and my heart sank: She appeared accurately like a picture of my mother when she was the exact same age. I sat there frozen, tears welling in my eyes at the hanging resemblance. I then walked through the mercado—and everybody I observed seemed familiar. It was like getting at a wedding day and bumping into kinfolk I hadn’t viewed in a long time I didn’t remember their names, but I understood their faces.

It may well have been sufficient to head residence with. I had located the flavors of my childhood and I had observed men and women who glance like me. However lacking though, was the individual sense of belonging that I expected—that I desperately wished. I hadn’t discovered a location that felt like it was mine I hadn’t discovered my place in Mexico. 

Just as I was inching closer to acquiring what I’d occur for, the earth turned upside down. In March 2020, when the pandemic totally strike the U.S. and Mexico, I was in the middle of the desert in Coahuila. When I realized we’d be entering lockdown, I drove 8 hrs to the to start with significant city on the open Pacific, Mazatlán. I’d be better to hold out it out there.