Hills with brightly colored buildings and gray clouds overhead

My Colorful First Trip to Mexico Felt Like Falling in Love

The bright colors some of Pachuca’s buildings were painted with lit up my eyes, and I stood there smiling.

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Story and photos by Juan C. Mendoza

Purple, bright orange, lime green, sky blue — the colors flood my brain with serenity. Clouds towering overhead but never blocking the beaming sun, cars moving fast like electricity through a circuit board, food that smelled like home, music that healed my soul. It felt like falling in love, being completely consumed by beauty and the automation of it all.

Three weeks ago, I visited my partner’s family in Pachuca, Mexico, and even went to Cancun for a week. It was my first time out of the country. My mom was more than hesitant to let me go, but my friends were excited for me to take the trip of my life.


I went on an airplane for the first time too, hands sweaty the entire flight. Landing in Mexico was kind of chaotic. With everyone so close to each other, I began to get anxious because of the virus. Although I was fully vaccinated before leaving my house, I feel my fear of the virus will never fade even with the vaccine — especially when the vaccine isn’t so readily available in Mexico.

That being said, when I entered a store for the first time in Pachuca, there was an employee with hand sanitizer and a temperature scanner. I was surprised that I never saw this in California, but I also felt a little more comfortable because of these extra precautions. Inside the store, I saw colors I hadn’t seen in a while like neon green and blue, saturated orange and pink. My chest filled with excitement and my steps felt lighter.


I thought of my dad when I had these sensations, the stories he’d tell me of his life growing up in Tarimoro, Guanajuato. I felt warmth thinking that he would’ve been happy to see me here, less than four hours away from his hometown by car, completely in love with the country he was born in.

Meeting my partner’s family showed me how people interact with each other in Pachuca. Every other sentence is a joke, normally about personality or appearance. Having five older brothers, it wasn’t something I hadn’t experienced before. Her family welcomed me with open arms and cared for me in a way that I wasn’t really used to.

>>>Read: Staying Home Brought Me Closer to Family and Art

As I stayed with my partner’s family for a few days, I knew Cancun was our next destination. The day before we left for Cancun, my partner and I went to a park next to her family’s house. There, I felt the most peace I had felt in a long time with the wind blowing, the sun close to setting, the green plants, the beautiful trees, my partner’s wonderful smile and cars passing by. The sound of the cars reminded me of the train I hear every day and night at home. I thought I wouldn’t feel homesick, but I began thinking more and more of my mom and dad and how they were, how life was treating them. And my peace turned to anxiety just as quickly as the cars passing by.


The day we left for Cancun, I wasn’t as nervous to get on the airplane. In fact, I was actually excited for it and even more excited to land in Cancun. That was until I felt the heat and humidity of Cancun. It hit me like a train. As I took my first few steps after landing, it was hard to breathe, but as I took more and more steps I began to feel normal. We took a bus to our hotel. During the ride, I saw plants I’d never seen before. And so many of them, so much life.


The hotel turned out to be a resort with pools everywhere and hammocks out on balconies. What I wanted most was to be in the water, to feel free of gravity as I float on my back and feel the water caress my face therapeutically. Also at the hotel, we got three meals a day, free AC, comforters on the beds — it was a true paradise.

My partner, her family and I got to partake in numerous activities like riding a boat though a manmade river, going in a glass elevator to see Cancun from 500 feet in the air, visiting ancient Mayan ruins, going down huge water slides, swimming in warm mud water, seeing live performances with amazing music and visiting a wild bird habitat and aquariums.


Many firsts for me. Life has been filled with many first times for me ever since meeting my partner, and I’m thankful for all the life she’s brought into mine.

We also sailed the open ocean. On the boat, I spoke with a man from Costa Rica. I told him about my partner and asked if it was his first time in Mexico. He told me it was his second time and how he loves Cancun. We ended our conversation by simultaneously saying how beautiful it was there.

As the trip ended and we all went back to Pachuca, I felt happy I was going back home. I missed my mom so much at that point and wanted to give my dad a hug. This trip allowed me to feel many different energies of life, and I’ll never forget it.

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