Each evening, we take the dogs on a walk. It is a wonderful part of my day, as the sun is setting and the mosquitos are out…no, I am just kidding, they are always out!
Seriously though, I love our nightly walks. We go a different path each night, which allows me to see the town in all it’s different parts and pieces. It is quite larger then I originally thought and we have discovered some wonderful views of the city center from different parts of the town. Of course, we stop and talk to people along the way – it’s a small town mentality and very much how I think of the Latino culture with everyone being connected. You can’t forgo stopping to shoot the breeze with some distant (or close) family member, an old classmate, maybe a friend’s family, or someone you have done business with.
One of the things that struck me tonight on our walk is that there is a tradition that has been present in all the cultures I have visited – from Russia to Italy to Costa Rica to Mexico (and all the others). Each culture has a way to say “we welcome you here” in their own unique way. On the flip side of that, they also all have a way of telling you to leave and go home – a message that you are not welcome in their country (which I have also experienced in each country I have visited from a few locals). I know that this is something every traveller experiences, although I am not sure how many recognize it for what it is. You hear stories of the people of such and such country being very warm and welcoming, and other stories of this or that city being rude and unwelcoming. After visiting many different parts of the world, it struck me that it is something that has been present in every single place I have spent time in (including the United States).
In some places the tradition surrounds the preparing of food, some give you the best of what they have – whether it be a meal or a favored item, others still welcome you into their homes. Here, in this corner of Mexico, the practice is one that takes a very personal extension of self — I find it very comforting and warm, as the people here tend to be. I have experienced it multiple times since we arrived and it is always presented in different words but the message is the same. Each member of the town who has extended a welcome to us has said (in one form or another), “You have friends in this home, our home is your home.” It means that they welcome us, but as more than just a visitor. They are communicating that they consider us family. That they extend to us the same affection, open door, and protection that they would give to their own family. It means that we have family beyond our four walls, and to consider this town our home.
So, I not only have a large extended family here in Mexico that has warmly embraced us, but also an entire town who has welcomed us here.