Chapter 1. Capítulo 1
There is a town in Jalisco, Mexico, South of the grand Guadalajara. The large city, with ornate buildings that still hold Spanish influence in its architecture. The Spaniards kept coming Westward like their British neighbors a country above; neither land originally their own, and yet here a semblance remains. If you travel about two hours below that city that has buildings so beautiful and yet tragic, you come across a large lake. One so vast you might think you’ve followed the sun West and hit the ocean. You must go around it, and instead of the waves of the sea, you’ll begin to see the curves of mountains - green and gorgeous.
In the valley below the mountain range, lies a small town by the name of Esperanza. It doesn’t have many people. Most of them stay there their entire lives, and create the next generation that will mostly do the same. It is simple, filled with love, hard work, and the utter appreciation for the patch of earth you have been given to exist on.
The year was 1968. The hustle and bustle and technological advancements of the world made their way to the town for those who could afford it. Cars were owned, but most people walked about the town. There was a gas station even, but most people just took the bus into the big city when they needed to. Mostly for larger mercados, sometimes for a special event like a birthday. Summer day trips to that massive lake would happen too, you could only get to the coast if you really had dinero. It was not Summer yet however, it was just the crude beginnings of Spring, but there was a certain something that hung in the air. You could smell, feel, guess that it was going to be a warm Summer ahead.
A Verano that was dangerously cool and comfortable at night, it made you nearly forget that it would be burning once more during the hours of the day. It came every year, of course, but this Summer would bring about something different from the rest. That is what Romona Castillo hoped for at least. She was a young woman who breathed the past twenty Springs into her chest. She was always the first to rise in her family. Sneaking to the roof to watch the sun rise. A moment alone, a time with just her and her home, and no mother to scold her for such a dangerous climb. There were only two things she for sure knew she loved in this world, el sol y la luna, who cast their light upon the Mountains of her hometown. Then there was music.
She heard the radio’s static for a moment before it fully kicked in and began to play the music of her homeland, mariachi. She closed her eyes for a moment. A smile upon her face. She felt the warmth of the fresh sunbeams upon her skin. Her ears yearned to soak in the beginnings of one of her favorite melodies. The moment passed too quickly, like it always did. She carefully climbed her way down from the roof with the assistance of a tree that bumped against her familia’s home. She tip-toed toward la cocina, past the living room, where her brother gave her a wink. Yet another day she was able to have her morning ritual without being caught, thanks to her and her sibling’s secret code of the radio being turned on for the first time each day.
Her mother walked into the kitchen only minutes later. She was a short woman, but held herself tall, it made her seen amongst even the tallest of men. A quiet but strong power she possessed. Her frame was neither plump nor petite, for she bore two children, and her body suggested so in the most beautiful and natural way. Her face was still young, only a few wrinkles, mostly near the sides of her brown eyes. This showed how much she smiled in her lifetime. Her skin was a light copper brown, hair black, long and in a simple braid. She would wear one flower in her hair, everyday, and it was always fresh. She was a kind woman who did right by others and would pray for the ones who did not do right by her.
She liked cooking, being in the kitchen. It was a place she was at ease, good at what she did, in control. Like a general giving a command and the battle going exactly to plan, except she was in charge of various ingredients and a completed dish that never disappointed. Romona knew that many women did not have this luck, to genuinely like being in the kitchen. The task fell upon them because the world said it had to be that way - for now.
Most husbands expected it, and the esposas nearly all the time complied. Women would wear pants sometimes, even hold a job, but the meals still needed to be taken care of. When her Father sat down for breakfast however, it did not seem this way. He would always savor the dish, not rush through it to get to work, he would always wake with time to sit and truly enjoy his wife’s breakfast. It was never spoken about, but it was there.
They would all sit as a family, Mother, Father, her hermano Marcel, and Ramona. They would not chat much, but listen to the music that spilled lightly from the radio and enjoy each other’s presence. When the meal was over, the boys were off to work. Her Dad managed the main restaurant in town. Her brother would work as bus boy by day, and his band would play there on the small stage by night. The band was still forming, but a new and talented mariachi band they would be. It was popular all over Jalisco, the birthplace of it. Of course it was the biggest in the city, but the wonderful music found its way across the entire State and Country.
Once her Father and Brother left, she would help her Mom prepare all the pan dulces she had to make that day. They would be delivered to a couple market tables, a dozen to donate to the church, and lastly the restaurant. Romona was the delivery girl. She would ride her bicicleta around town. She enjoyed zooming through the streets. The way dirt would spurt up around her tire when she skidded to a stop at each destination. She was adventurous, big hearted, not defiant, but hopeful for something more than what life had allowed her up until this point.
She read in the newspaper, a handful of times, about a movement going on in the United States and Mexico city, civil rights and women’s rights. The thought seemed distant, not impossible, but far. To sit and think about the brave actions people were taking, how they stood up for what they believed in, and fought for better. The vision brought both tears, and a grin to Ramona’s face. Perhaps this was the feeling that comes with the courage of wanting better, wanting change, wanting what is right! Not too much of a revolution’s song could be heard in her town yet. There was some good mariachi however, and she loved that deeply, for now, she told herself that tune would suffice. How long would she believe that lie?