Mi Barrio: Phoenix, AZ

I spent the early part of my childhood in Phoenix, AZ until my family moved to California, where I was actually born. It was a memorable time.

I remember our house. A small white house with green window flaps. There was a big front yard with two wire fences. The backyard was enormous but as I grew older, it got smaller. There was a garage in the backyard with a big tree. My dad built my brother and I a tree house. He also fixed up an old swing set he had found and it became my number one source of entertainment. I could swing all day. I would invite my neighbors and we would spend all day in the backyard.

I lived in a very peaceful neighborhood, on Turney Avenue. My mom and I would walk our dog every afternoon. The streets were always quiet, and the only noise I remember was the trees blowing in the wind. It’s difficult to describe in words how much fun I had with the kids in the neighborhood. Most entertainment was built on imagination. Boredom was not an option, or may have fueled the creative games we played. Just crawling under the bushes in the alleys could transport us into a new world. Having so many friends there was my favorite part about the city.

Every weekend my family and I would visit the shopping malls in Scottsdale. The car ride was my favorite part. The huge homes, or more like estates, in the mountains looked like princess castles or places like Chandler Mall had water fountain shows every Sunday night. Those malls sparked my love of shopping at a very young age.

Life in Phoenix was very pleasant. It was filled with friends, family and good memories. We tried to do everything that there was to do in Arizona: camping trips, going to the Grand Canyon, skiing in cities like Flagstaff. We traveled to Sedona, where the famous Red Rocks, a city known for its mystical nature.  We mini-golfed, swam, played tennis, hiked, and went to the river.

I am nostalgic thinking about Phoenix because I left so many good memories behind. It was my first home, and it was a time when life was perfect.

Pasadena, TX

I grew up in Pasadena, a city on the outskirts of Houston. My childhood memories make my hometown so special to me. Pasadena is where I had friends and family within walking distance, and I first learned how to drive on its streets.
There is a majority of Hispanics who live in Pasadena, so people share similar values and traditions, such as making tamales for Christmas. The urban setting is more active than a country setting, and you find people walking the streets to the grocery store, to the apartments, or wherever else they need to be. There are street vendors at many corners, selling juicy watermelons or beautiful flowers, and strip malls where you can find good bargains. My favorite restaurants are those that serve fresh-made food, not fast food. La Hacienda, or “my mom’s friend’s restaurant” as me and my three sisters like to call it, has great food at a low price. Nearby, you can satisfy your sweet tooth at El Nopal Bakery. This panaderia and pasteleria has it all: pastries, cookies, frozen ice cream bars, tres leches cake, churros, flan, capirotada (a bread pudding). The huge cake for the quinceñeria of each girl in the family, I had no brothers, came from El Nopal.
The best things to do in my hometown are going out to restaurants, shopping, or visiting places in Downtown Houston. The Metrorail will take you where you want to go, when you figure out the how the transportation system works. There are plenty of events to go to, whether it’s a volunteer activity, concert, or sports game. I have seen the Houston Dynamo play soccer and frequently go to the Toyota Center basketball court to cheer on my favorite sports team, the Houston Rockets.

You can find fun things to do inside the city as well. Neighborhood Network is a huge event for the community. People can meet, eat, and have fun. And kids can have a great time at the petting zoo, train rides, and a bunch of games including a life-size chess board. There is a rodeo on the Pasadena Fairgrounds, the Strawberry Parade, and the Christmas Lighting in front of city hall.

The weather is hot and humid, because it is so close to the gulf coast. People usually go to the beach in Galveston or visit Moody Gardens during vacations. Visitors should take a trip to the San Jacinto Monument, the world’s tallest war memorial at 570 feet high and a 220-ton, 34-foot high star on top. The monument is part of the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, located along the Houston Ship Channel. This historic landmark honors those who fought for Texas’ Independence and the Texas lone star on top commemorates the site of the Battle of San Jacinto, an important battle during the Texas Revolution. There is a museum at the base of the monument, a nice park and huge lake where people can relax, and a battleship tour available for visitors.

Pasadena High School, the school I attended, also has a lot of hometown history behind it. It is 50 years old and has seen big storms, renovations, and much school spirit also known as “eagle pride.” Some alumni became world war veterans, who are still honored in special school events.

I lived in Pasadena for almost 18 years and have moved since then. Although my family and I live 30 minutes away, I still feel like I am part of Pasadena. Who you are with and how your time is spent is a big part of your life experience. Any place can be special as long as you try to make it fun!

I still go back to Pasadena occasionally, when I want great Mexican food or some delectable donuts.

February 2011

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