I hear a noise and open my eyes; my father is telling me it’s time to get up. It’s five in the morning. I crawl out of bed, throw on some clothes, and head to the kitchen for café and pan dulce. I’m in Mexico the summer after my freshman year of high school visiting my dad’s side of the family.
My grandparents live in a tiny mountain town called Bonhe in the State of Hidalgo, about two hours north of Mexico City, and a twenty-four-hour drive from the US border. In Bonhe, like many other parts of Mexico, most of the roads, buildings, and property-line walls are made of rocks, cement, and cinder blocks. In Bonhe, most people live a rural lifestyle. They drive down the mountain into town for food, clothes, and other basic necessities.
For income, my family own fields and farms a small number of animals. Today we will be hiking over two hours through the mountains to get to my grandfather’s fields. I finish my pastry and sip the last of my coffee, then head out the front door to collect everything we need for our journey. We grab two horses, load them up, and head out. We begin our trek on the unpaved, dirt path that connects my family’s property down to the actual road.
The main road is not any more comfortable though. Cobblestones of various shapes and sizes dig into our feet. Regardless, we make our way about a mile up and then break off into the mountain. Unlike the hikes I take back home in Arizona, there is no cleared path here. We are forced to maneuver through the bushes, cacti, and large rocks, cutting vegetation with machetes, slowly making progress toward our destination. I pause often to scrape the layers of mud off the bottom of my shoes.