July 12, 2013

Mi Casa is your Home

Mexican Courtyard

What is Mexican culture? I never really give this any thought, and yet ever so often it strikes me right on the face.

Last night I was at a very nice party talking with a young Mexican business woman, who was sharing with me the challenges of operating a manufacturing plant in the nearby city of Reynosa, Mexico. Her and her husband operate this plant which manufactures industrial cleaning supplies that they also sell to maquiladoras (twin plants) all over Mexico, and the border cities of Texas.

During our conversation the subject of family came up, as it usually does among women everywhere, but when she referred to her house, she immediately said to me in Spanish “which is also your house.”  There it was, that part of us that does not change; that ingrained host in us whose only purpose is to give.

For a moment, I stopped and gave that consideration a thought, and I felt good. This complete stranger I had just met was telling me that her home is my home if I ever needed one.  I entertained the idea and wondered what would happen if I  actually needed a place to live?

What I really do know, is that she was sincere, and I know that if I ever found myself in her neighborhood and decided to pay a visit, she would be a gracious host; because that is what we do.

Plenty of times during English conversations about my home, which happens to be the main topic among certain groups because of its architectural history, I feel compelled to say those same words this young woman said to me “my house, which you can consider your house,” and I believe I’ve said it a few times.  But I am never sure if it sends the same message in English as it does in Spanish, but in Spanish we all understand it is a genuine, heartfelt courtesy. I guess there is an equivalent I can use in English which is “please make yourselves at home,” but it sort of feels temporary because guests are already there, and I want them to feel comfortable while they are here, with no mention of any future visits.

When the party is over there’s usually a follow-up courtesy from a Mexican host that goes like this; recuerda que aqui tienes tu casa, remember here you have a home.

You may think it is funny, but I had never realized how selfish I feel talking about my house without extending this courtesy. It is something that is so engrained that I don’t even know where it comes from.

Oh yes, I think I know. It comes from being part of a culture that is hospitable, friendly and caring, and just part on knowing who I am.

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About the Author

Nydia O Tapia - Gonzales
A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.-Maya Angelou. La Vida Valle is where I write about "la vida" life in the Rio Grande Valley. From this bi-cultural corner on the tip of Texas, I share my poems and spiritual and travel experiences. I also blog about the arts,nature and my passion for historic preservation and architecture. But most important, let's talk about "la vida" - living our lives - in a vacation state of mind. Contributions and comments are always welcome .


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