The bustling freeway was a couple steps away from my house and at seven in the morning I would wake up with my grandma to cross the freeway, to the other side of town, in order to grind the dry corn to make tortillas for our family. The crossover was always blurry because of the coldness in that part of town, that was different from what I was used to. The weather was a dry cold, like one you feel the moment you walk onto an ice rink; you feel, see, and smell the white fog coming off from the ice and then your face feels like it’s cracking. Stepping out the house my nana covered me from head to toe with blankets and my grandpa’s oversized jackets to protect me from the cold air.
By the time we finished grinding the corn, I was able to peep my head out. I remember watching all the other younger girls walking alone and crossing that deadly freeway, struggling to keep the bucket of corn on their shoulder while some pieces dropped on the street from running. You learn to appreciate the life you have after not only hearing about these struggles, but also having a first hand experience as much as what other countries face. Walking back to my house and leaving the smell of car oil and gas, my 75 year old neighbor would squeeze oranges and extract the juice to make some extra money. My Nana would always buy some to make small talk and help her out, I’m still not sure if the amazing taste came from the sweet oranges themselves or the fact that her old pricked hands were the ones that went out at four am to the Cerro to pick them, covered from head to toe trying to avoid the feeling of getting skin cracks because of the coldness. We wouldn’t use cups so she poured the pulpy juice into a bag with a straw and rubber band to tie it.
The smell of the fields was so addicting, it didn’t smell like Chanel No. 5 or anything, as a matter a fact the smell was raw like manure, gas and dead skinned pig signaling there was fresh meat that day. When you first got to our pueblo the smell would bother you but to me it smelled like home. Watching the spark sticks every kid in my street had didn’t only light up their smile, but mines as well. Tototlan was peaceful, it gave me a sense of tranquility like no other place did. The green of the mountains and the strong smell of gas was incomparable to anything I’ve experienced’ and although I know my pueblo isn’t for everyone because not everyone knows how to understand it the way I do, it truly is for me.