I never knew the relationship I would develop with ESPN deportes would grow so strong. Who knew that a Spanish sports channel could do so much for a kid who grew up in Boise…
Anybody that has ever been to Boise, Idaho, knows that the city’s nickname, “City of Trees,” only applies to a 100 foot-wide section that follows the Boise River through the middle of the city. The rest of the city looks more like the set of a John Wayne movie – dry, sage-brush covered, and dry. So I felt right at home in the high mountain desert of Puebla, Mexico, where I lived for two years. Although I love being back in America, there are a few things I miss about Mexico. Here are four things I miss and a few of the things that make me feel better.
ESPN Deportes
Growing up playing soccer, I thought I was pretty hot stuff. In Mexico, I was mediocre at best. It was a pretty humbling experience the first time I played with a group of 12-year-olds and they literally ran circles around me. I’ll never forget the rush of standing in the middle of 45,000 ecstatic soccer fans singing in unison to support their team, which happened to be ranked last place in the entire country. You just can’t get soccer like that in America. In fact, you can hardly get any soccer at all. To watch the World Cup I had to wake up at 2:00am every morning, but I counted myself lucky because they were actually showing soccer on TV. For any soccer fans out there who are disappointed with regular TV’s offering of soccer games, you’ve got to check out ESPN deportes. Even if you don’t speak Spanish, the soccer coverage is worth it.
Mariachi Bands
I’m not much of a musician myself, so there is no way anybody would ever pay for me to dress up in a black, sequin-covered suit and sing at the top of my lungs to their loved ones. I miss the talented musicians in mariachi bands who wooed young lovers and venerated great-grandparents. Walking down the street on Valentine’s Day almost always guaranteed at least one free concert, and most nicer restaurants featured their own in-house bands. The only time I didn’t want the mariachi band to play in the restaurant was when my Camoteros were playing on ESPN deportes.
Fiestas, Pachangas, and Bodas
I lived in a town of only a couple thousand people, so everybody knew everybody. When someone got married, turned 15 years old, or had a new baby, the whole town was invited to the party. The colors, the music, and the sense of community are still vivid memories I won’t soon forget. My birthday party at Olive Garden with a few friends seems completely lame in comparison to even the smallest party I went to in Mexico. The town also had their annual celebration to venerate their favorite Saint, revolutionary hero, or Pope – and the food was always incredible.
Real Mexican Food
Since I moved back to America I have only had one meal that was close enough to authentic Mexican food that I could close my eyes and imagine I was still there. (In case you are wondering, it was not at Taco Bell.) Every tour book and travel agent will tell you to avoid eating food from street vendors when you’re in Mexico because you will most likely get sick. I would trade a week of Montezuma’s revenge for one good Taco al Pastor any time; and what I wouldn’t give to have a quesadilla not made from cheddar cheese. Unfortunately, state health departments regulate restaurants too closely to allow for any really good Mexican food here in America, so I’ll have to bide my time until I can afford a plane ticket back.
Good soccer, good food, good music, and good times. I grew up American through and through, but spending a few years in Mexico made me think that had I been born south of the border, I would have fit in just fine.