Side of the Road

My mom was born and raised in a small town called “El Salitre,” in the state of Zacatecas. I had done exstensive research on the internet prior to the trip in order to locate El Salitre, and had actually found two of them in the state of Zacatecas. Mom had mentioned that Villa Hidalgo was the nearest big town and her mother was born in a place called “El Rucio,” which was even closer to El Salitre. The two places I found were not remotely close to Villa Hidalgo. Even after all this research, I had not been able to find El Salitre anywhere near Villa Hidalgo. So today we were headed toward Villa Hidalgo, hoping we could find El Salitre somewhere nearby.

I knew that if I could find Villa Hidalgo, I could find Rucio and if I could find Rucio, I could find El Salitre. As we were winding on a turn on a hill, I could see Villa Hidalgo on the distance but no sign of Rucio. Suddenly we saw a cross road leading far into the distance. On the side of the road I saw a truck parked with two men inside. I stopped and asked where Rucio was located. The driver stepped out and pointed toward the road leading north into the distance.

“You have to take that road, first you come to El Salitre then Rucio.”

Did he say El Salitre?

I stood there trying to take everything in and make sure I heard everything correctly. The man stood there just watching me, wondering if I had another question, but I did not. We were close to reaching our goal, the place we had come so far to find and somehow, I dare not celebrate. I walked in the vehicle without saying a word and turned toward the lonely road, heading into the distant horizon.

Cargo Truck

“Is it this way,” Mom asked.

“I don’t know, but we are going to find out,” l responded, but inside, I knew the answer.

Mom kept talking about her home town, how her mom used to take her and her little sister to the fields in order to cut fruit from large cactus to eat. The fruit is called “tuna.” You may be puzzled by the name, tuna in Mexico refers to a very sweet and tasty fruit that grow in Cactus. What can be more Mexican than that?

The Streets of El Salitre

We started to enter a small town and suddenly mom got very quiet. She was looking all around as if recognizing the place. I stopped on the side of the small narrow road so she could get a better look. Suddenly she stepped out of the vehicle and started to run toward some people who were standing next to a house. As I saw mom running on this small road, in my mind I could see her when she was a little girl, running around on this same road. Playing with her little white dress and sandals, laughing like any normal 4 year old child. For the first time in my life I saw mom as a little girl like when she lived here in this small town, so small that is not even on a map.

She was asking for the name of a cousin that she knows still lives here.

They told her he was still living here but was out of town in Aguascalientes visiting his daughter. Mom went to the house anyway, and knocked on the door but got no response. She then turned and started walking in the middle of the road.

The House Mom

I followed mom on my vehicle as she walked toward a house painted turquoise blue with a pink door frame. The front door was wide open, but inside it was very dark. Mom just walked in, like if it was hers. I parked across the street in a little park and we hurried to make sure mom was OK. We looked inside but it was too dark to see anything.

Inside was a small wooden bench, an old worn out couch and a yellow plastic chair but nothing more. The walls were made out of adobe and I could see a calendar and the picture of some sort of saint. From within we could hear faint sounds as if someone was talking. As we were getting ready to go further inside, mom came out a door holding an old lady by the hand.

Inside the Little House

Mom had found her aunt who is over one hundred years old. They hugged and her aunt cried. We just stood there and watched. Turns out this is the very own house where mom was born and raised as a little girl. Mom was a very young girl when her mother took them north to escape from a violent husband. She would never return to live here again. They would only leave distant and fading memories of hard times. But being a little girl surrounded by aunts and uncles, she also had memories of good times.

Being witness to this event was both magical and surreal. Like a blurry, cloudy old dream, that today it chose to close further the gap of the circle in our lives that has existed for a long, long time.

It was so good to have my niece, Jami witness such event. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and the experience will hopefully remind her of who she is. Hope it make her proud of her Mexican heritage and also retains a sense of connection that has true meaning and significance. This is the moment when most of what we consider comforts in our busy lives don't amount to much. Hope it remains forever in her mind and her heart.

Today, this place made us better persons, if anything it helped us seek our identity. In the long run, hopefully it showed us how humble we truly are and taught us to be more compassionate.

Inside the Little House

Yes, after 76 years Mom had finally arrived home. The old house was old, worn and suspended in time, a window to the past. We saw shambles perishing in decay but to Mom it was a valuable found treasure, and just for today, she had returned to where it all started. All her family had moved north seeking a better life for herself and her family. A tremendous sacrifice for us, me, Perico and even Jami. But not just us who were present today, but for the rest who could not be here. To all the grandsons and grandaughters, to all the great grandsons and great grandaughters, and so on and on and on.

I hope everyone is able to grasp that this revelation is common to everyone one of us that has the same blood line running in our vains and are connected through our relationship. This event is equally important and significant to all of us. It connects us, it is the bond that hold us together and makes us who we are, without feeling shame for being who we are. We realized that it was not just mom finding her roots, but it was also us. We are connected to each other.

The Church in Salitre

We stood by the small blue church that was built by her father and uncles. It still stands as it did back then, when mom was 4 years old. This year in September, mom will celebrate her 80 year birthday.

To view more pictures of the trip or to buy prints, click HERE.

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