EL PASO –For some young borderlanders, pocho is a word that unites two cultures. “El Paso and Juarez is its own culture. We are neither entirely American and we are neither entirely Mexican so pochismo would be somewhat some of our language,” said Antonio Villaseñor, 23, a University of Texas graduate student and editor of the online magazine Con Safos. With outlets like Buzzfeed and we are mitú featuring videos on Youtube describing the experience of being a pocho in the United States and new clothing lines like the L.A-based Pocho wear, the term is being embraced by a new generation of Mexican-Americans. “I see it as something positive.
EL PASO — Searching all over the northern parts of Mexico in 1976 for the origin of some pottery he found at a second hand store in Deming, NM, Spencer MacCallum came to a town just about three blocks long, on the verge of extinction. The anthropologist found Juan Quezada, the artisan who made the pots, there in Mata Ortiz, Chihuahua, and together they would help not only revive the town, but the art form as well. El Paso got a taste of what has been called the miracle of Mata Ortiz when the Consulate General of Mexico here honored MacCallum with the Ohtli Award on May 5 in recognition of his role in helping gain international recognition for the Mata Ortiz artisans and their work. The reception marked the opening of an exhibit of Mata Ortiz pottery at the consulate at 910 E. San Antonio Ave. “The Miracle of Mata Ortiz has been something special, enormous, grand.
EL PASO – On December 12 Catholics the world over, especially in Latin America, celebrate the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe. In Mexico this is one of the most important holidays of the year. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron saint of Mexico. She is called La Reina de Mexico the Queen of Mexico and is quite a cultural icon. In 1999 Pope John Paul II proclaimed Our Lady of Guadalupe a patron saint of all the Americas. Photography students at UT El Paso compiled this gallery of images of Our Lady of Guadalupe seen on murals and signs throughout the city.
CD. JUAREZ – Driving through downtown Juárez has always been somewhat of a treat for me. The sights and sounds of the everyday hustle and bustle, the lingering aroma of what can only be defined as tradition, and the looming sense of that which is no longer there. Yet what most captivates me to this day are the numerous decaying buildings situated in one single area. These remnant monoliths weathered down by the years serve as a reminder of my city’s heritage, a heritage that I never fully knew.
I have a “gringo” friend here in Rio Rico, Arizona, a town where we both settled to live, which is virtually atop of the United States of America’s border with México. She recently emailed me, “It’s more fun having Latinos as neighbors than, well, almost anybody.”
“So true,” I emailed her back. “Especially so here, where you and I live as minorities. It is so pleasant to read that, you, like me, get such pleasure out of being immersed in a mostly Mexican culture.”
I’m always reminded of that pleasure when I shop the Nogales, Arizona, Walmart which is filled with warmth, smiles, and laughter, as contrasted with shopping the Walmart at the mostly gated and overwhelmingly “gringo” retirement community, Green Valley, Arizona, which is an easy 20-minute drive north via Interstate 19. But what a grim and cold place that cavernous place is to me. Smiles and laughter seem to be forbidden. That’s why I prefer to head, south, on another easy 20-minute drive on Interstate-19 to shop the Nogales’ Walmart. That’s where I rarely leave without learning a new Spanish word, which comes in handy here in my Rio Rico, where 85 percent of my neighbors – most of them far more bilingual than I am – claim Spanish as their native tongue.
EL PASO — In the heart of El Paso is Segundo Barrio, a port of entry to the United States. It’s the first community people see when they cross the border from Juarez, Mexico. Located on the city’s south side, Segundo Barrio is home to more than 8,000 people, of whom 50.8 percent are U.S. citizens, 13.7 percent are naturalized citizens and 35.5 percent are non-citizens, according to City of El Paso statistics. Yolanda Chávez Leyva, chair of the University of Texas at El Paso history department, calls Segundo Barrio the “heart of the Mexican diaspora.”
“El Segundo Barrio is one of the most historic barrios in the United States,” Chávez Leyva said. “[It] grew out of the migration of mexicanos to the United States going back to the 1880s and it’s been the starting point for thousands of families across the United States.”
The neighborhood is “very important” to El Paso, she said, because it is where the urbanization of the city began.
San Antonio, Texas – In 2006, Daniela Hernandez was attending high school in Mexico and was far from being fluent in English. Now, four years later, as an international student at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), Hernandez is a member of the Honor’s College, a tour guide for the Visitor’s Center and is close to completing her bachelor’s degree in finance. Despite her academic successes, Hernandez, a 22-year-old Mexican-born UTSA senior who expects to graduate in May of next year, isn’t shy about discussing the difficulty she has had adjusting to U.S. culture, from different styles of celebrating holidays to divergent modes of relating to friends and classmates inside and outside the classroom. For example, she says, in Mexico families eat Christmas Eve dinner at 11 p.m. and open presents at midnight; U.S. families celebrate with dinner and presents on December 25. And New Year’s Day in Mexico centers on family; while in the U.S. people celebrate the holiday attending parties. Another huge difference, according to Hernandez, is how students interact in the classroom.
RIO RICO, Ariz. — A couple of years back, I headed off on a 1,200 mile November trip to Michoacán, whereupon I had a minor accident near Imuris that caused what seemed to be minor damage to my car, a normally sturdy Honda CR-V. (But, in fact, it was an accident that ultimately ruined my engine.)
Friends drove down the 60 miles from Rio Rico to rescue me and my traveling companions (my two dogs) and I left my car in the hands of an incredibly resourceful Imuris mechanic. He managed to fix my car, at least enough for him to drive it to the border at Nogales, where I met him to drive it across for more repairs at Pep Boys. About a week or so later, I headed back down to Michoacán, and the car performed well – no problems at all.
EL PASO — Two elders lifted conch shells to their lips and bellows from these primal trumpets — primordial prayers aimed at the sky — signaled to a third man to kneel as smoky incense wafted from a clay cup in his left hand. The offering ceremony, repeated three times as the heuy tecuhtlis, or elder leaders, paid tribute to mother earth in a rite that has been performed for thousands of years, long before European settlers set foot in the new world. This is how the Danza Azteca, or Aztec Dance, began at the Mercado Mayapan, a local marketplace and community center. “The dances that we do are thousands of years old. They’ve been passed down from generation to generation,” said Ramón Arroyos, 60.
El PASO — The aroma of churros filled the air at San Jacinto Plaza along with the mariachis blasting away at their tunes and then el grito, “Mexicanos, viva Mexico!” rang out. Hundreds of El Paso citizens gathered at the downtown plaza, September 15, for “Viva Mexico!” the 199th Anniversary to celebrate the anniversary of independence of Mexico from Spain in 1810. “Just being here reminds me of how far we’ve come since that day and the struggle they must’ve gone through for us, it makes me extremely humble yet full of pride,” said Alejandra Acosta, an El Paso resident who attended the celebration. Mexican Independence Day celebrates the events leading up to the day in which after centuries of oppression, Mexico or New Spain as it was then called, won its freedom from Spain.