Finding my Roots in Guadalajara, Mexico

By Haley Sydney Sanchez

Last summer I had the opportunity to visit my family in Guadalajara, Mexico. I had been there a few times before when I was younger, but unfortunately I do not remember much from those trips. This time, we stayed at my aunt’s house on the outskirts of the city. I was excited to see my large extended family and to revisit the beautiful city with more mature eyes. The trip was given to me by my wonderful abuelos (grandparents in Spanish) who wanted to bring me back to my cultural roots.

Me with my family

It was an unbelievable trip. The city was full of people and happiness radiated throughout. Vendors had cold ice cream (perfect for those hot summer days) and the markets teamed with the most vibrant fruit that had been picked earlier that day. The architecture of the city is mainly neoclassical with influences from indigenous contributions and later modern European influences. The city has beautiful churches, markets, plazas, and theaters, in one of which, the Teatro Degollado,  I got to see my uncle perform.  He plays the classical piano and, on this occasion, he played with a Russian violinist.

My uncle at the piano

In the big Mexican cities, houses are wall to wall with each other and, more often than not, do not have backyards. Because the people tend to be very cramped, the city makes up for it with a lot of parks around the city with basketball hoops, slides, and jungle gyms.

Photo is author’s own
Photo is author’s own

Unfortunately, there is a big gap in economic distribution in Mexico. It can be seen in major cities like Guadalajara where half of the city is well off and the other half is filled with poverty, trash, and broken infrastructure. However, beyond the widening gap, these people all cohabitate together to create a big city full of rich culture. One can see this culture just by simply walking through the streets. Mural paintings cover the street walls, merchants sell their food items on street corners, and children play together on the streets and in the parks. I treasure the day my extended cousins took me around to all the markets and showed me the beautiful local art and sculpture. We ate delicious street tacos, and walked through the colorful markets filled with food and traditional Mexican clothing. This day and the whole trip in general was an amazing opportunity for me to bond with my extended family and to experience my heritage at an age when I could truly appreciate it. I’ll be back soon!

Featured image from Wikimedia Commons; all body photos are author’s own

Haley (she goes by her middle name, Sydney) is a rising sophomore who is currently majoring in Cinema and Media Studies and hopes to get a minor in Business in the Entertainment Industry. She is a Southern California native and has grown up adventuring California and the world. In high school, Haley was the captain of her Speech and Debate team and was also a member of the International Debate team. She has an appreciation for international conversations, foreign films, and of course foreign music! She loves anything from rap and hip hop to classical orchestral pieces and musicals. From a young age, Sydney’s family was a host family for Japanese students. Despite language boundaries she was able to connect with these students and show them how Californians like to have fun. She loves to hike, play soccer, and of course, adventure!