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Special Section: Latino Lifestyle

Visit our Spanish language publication, La Prensa Sonoma


Editor’s note: Moving to a foreign country is rife with decisions and unknowns. For many Latino immigrants who came to California and now live in Sonoma County, the memory of packing their bags and preparing for a new life in the U.S. remains etched in their minds. We asked a few to share the story of the most meaningful things they brought with them on that trip, and still keep to this day.

Migration is prehistoric. Modern Western civilization sought to distance itself from the Stone Age by creating a radical sedentary lifestyle, in happy, forever-owned homes, and comfortable travel through magazines and TV.

And for Californians, there’s no place else. We have reached the Golden State, with its coasts as the beginning and end of the earth.

But we are immersed in a postmodern era defined by shaky economic, political and social instability. Times of exodus and pilgrimage. From Syria to Latin America.

Now we not only travel through websites, from one app to another on our mobile phones, but from a landscape to a selfie with one swipe on Instagram.

Latin American immigrants understand it. We have taken our bodies where our dreams were. We have realized that migration is the convulsion of a moving body, the movement of life. Some call it the “American Dream.”

French socioligist Michel Maffesoli describes migration in his book ‘Du nomadisme. Vagabondages initiatiques,’ as a product of excessive house confinement, a thirst for infinity, a desire to find the mythical paradise, bringing archaic values that the idea of progress seemed to have banished from society.

Five immigrants have found that place here in Sonoma County. And they have all brought objects almost sacred to them. They keep close these reminders of places, faces and moments.

___

Denia Candela

Age: 23

Country of origin: Mexico

How long in the US: 11 years

What is the one thing you brought with you from your home country that you couldn’t leave behind, and that you still keep to this day?

I brought and carried with me a Disney princess jewel box and CD player.

Why did you keep it, and does it still have the same meaning for you?

It resembles my childhood to this day it carries memories. From playing outside in my street with my cousins to the type of music I would listen to when I first left my home. To this day, it still means the same to me. I brought it because it was my favorite toy, but now I am so glad I did — it symbolizes more than that.

___

Abril Barbosa Chombo

Age: 20

Country of origin: Mexico

How long in the U.S.: 7 years

What is one thing you brought with you from your home country that you couldn’t leave behind, and that you still keep to this day?

I brought the first book that was given to me. The name is “Las Crónicas de Narnia, La Última Batalla” by C.S. Lewis.

Why did you keep it, and does it still have the same meaning for you?

Special Section: Latino Lifestyle

Visit our Spanish language publication, La Prensa Sonoma

This book was given to me when I was 12. The only books I read in Mexico were mostly the books that the school gave us for free to complete our homework. In Mexico, books that are novels or to read for fun are expensive therefore my family never had money to buy me one. This book still has meaning to me, since it was the first book I read, and the importance of education. I keep this book because I carried it everywhere I went when I was in middle school because that was also the time I had arrived to the United States. In a way, this book represents the place I grew up and the reason why I am still in school.

___

Juan Arias Rodriguez

Age: 44

Country of origin: Mexico

How long in the U.S.: 30 years

What is one thing you brought with you from your home country that you couldn’t leave behind, and that you still keep to this day?

I brought with me my parents’ wedding picture. After all these years of visiting my parents in Mexico City, and now that I have kids of my own, I decided to bring back my high school diploma and my bachelor’s degree diploma. I realized it is important to show my daughters some of my personal accomplishments in education.

Why did you keep it, and does it still have the same meaning for you?

Leaving home at the age of 14, and knowing that I wouldn’t see my family for a while, having my parents’ picture was a beautiful reminder of their love and support. The wedding picture has an important significance in my life. As a kid, I remember watching my parents’ wedding picture on the wall every day, a symbol of a new life, unity, family, teamwork, and I carry those personal principles with me. I’ve been married for 18 years and my parents’ picture continues to have a positive impact in my life.

___

Norma Jazmín Gudiño Mendoza

Age: 23

Country of origin: Mexico

How long in the U.S.: 17 years

What is one thing you brought with you from your home country that you couldn’t leave behind, and that you still keep to this day?

Since I was only 6 years old when we migrated, my parents did pretty much all of the packing and I didn’t get much of a choice. Some of the things that I saw my mom treasure closely were her Bible and a few painted portraits, one of her and my dad and one of my deceased sister. She also brought along with her a “torteadora” to make tortillas. While my dad oddly enough, brought with him a huge “cazo” to make “carnitas.”

Why did you keep it, and does it still have the same meaning for you?

I think my mom brought along her painted portrait of my deceased sister as a symbol that she was migrating with us as well even though her tomb stayed behind. Something I distinctly remember was that shortly after we arrived, I opened my mom’s Bible to a random page and there was a color picture of a family by the ocean. My mom said that they were “desterrados” — banished — like us, but that we were blessed and that the blessing would accompany us wherever we went. Even though I don’t practice religion in the way I did when I lived with my parents, I vividly carry that memory with me, especially when I need encouragement or strength.

___

Chef Rodrigo Mendoza

Age: 37

Country of origin: Bolivia

How long in the U.S.: 17 years

What is the one thing you brought with you from your home country that you couldn’t leave behind, and that you still keep to this day?

I brought a diary where every single day I would write what I did with my friends, glue a few pieces of whatever things I found that day so I can remember them.

Why did you keep it, and does it still have the same meaning for you?

It was my last year of high school, and I kind of had the feeling that after that time many of us would move to a different country or universities and that it would be hard to be out every single day with friends like that year.