Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

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In Hispanic culture, familia comes first.

Janet Gomez is a Latina Blogger living in Los Angeles with her two beautiful daughters, Julianna and Leah, and her husband, Carl. Shortly after becoming a first-time mom, she started her blog, Jan’s Spring, realizing that she needed a creative outlet to connect with other like-minded women. The blog has now grown into a creative consulting studio. She conceptualizes and designs the perfect layouts for brands and also does Social Media Management. She also co-founded Las Mamacitas, whose mission is to empower women through social networking events and markets. One thing that always remains the same is her love for her culture and travel. She wants to make sure her daughters are immersed in their own culture and others just the same.

Traveling as a family

More often than not, there is a sense of responsibility to be loyal and committed to the family and to put the family’s interests above your own. Naturally, this extends to how Hispanics like to travel as well. Hispanics tend to travel in a larger group, which often includes young children and the elderly. My family is no different: I have vacationed with my extended family time and time again. And just like it is essential for me to share my Hispanic culture with my two daughters, it is equally important to learn and experience other cultures. My family and I are blessed to live in a multi-cultural mecca, Los Angeles, but traveling allows one to immerse oneself in a different culture completely. Traveling together as a family also strengthens our relationships by solving problems as a team and creating unforgettable memories to look back on for years to come. Whether it’s a local or an international one, a vacation feeds my soul and always gives me something to look forward to, and I use Vrbo to help create these experiences. To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, my family and I celebrate traditions and unique history that makes my Mexican background amazing.

Hispanic heritage article - image 2Janet with her extended family at Casas VV, a hotel located in Valle De Guadalupe owned by her uncle and family.

Visiting Ensenada 

My parents immigrated from Mexico at a very young age to give themselves and their children a better life. It wasn’t easy: my parents worked blue-collar jobs and often struggled to make ends meet. But through it all, my parents always managed to give us the best experiences when they could, and that often meant traveling. One of my favorite memories growing up was my family’s trip to the coastal town of Ensenada, about an hour south of San Diego. We made multiple trips a year – sometimes even two times within the span of one month. More often than not, it wasn’t just my parents and my siblings: sometimes my primos and primas tagged along with their families as well. My father is the oldest of eight siblings, so as you can imagine, the trips were always an adventure!

Visiting Ensenada often at a young age introduced me to such a huge contrast of lifestyle and culture between the two cities.  I didn’t necessarily think one was better than the other: in fact, it made me appreciate my family’s culture and origins.  Now that I have two girls of my own, I do my best to celebrate my culture and there is no better way to experience living it through traveling.  When I think of Mexican culture, for example, I think of the rich, vibrant colors in almost all aspects of Mexican life: food, clothing, art, and music.  I take immense pride in my culture and pass this down to my daughters so that they also pass down our customs to their children and for generations beyond that.  Even the often-overlooked things, like currency, are teachable experiences that show just how different the rest of the world is to our home.

Hispanic heritage article - image 2Janet with her family in Ensenada, Mexico.

Speaking Spanish

Speaking a different language is perhaps one of the most valuable life skills that one acquires and although I am Mexican, speaking Spanish is not necessarily a given, especially for second-generation Hispanics. My oldest daughter, Julianna, spoke Spanish fluently until the age of three. Once she started attending school, the language slowly went away. Speaking the language during our trips down South is a must since it is important to communicate with people in their native language. There is something special about connecting with someone in their own language: it makes traveling so much easier and makes traveling into fun, memorable experiences. Although no amount of research can teach my family different cultures without experiencing it first-hand, there are plenty of things that we do at home that can be considered teachable moments. My daughter reads in English and Spanish for at least 25 minutes a day. When we are not reading, we often watch movies in Spanish (our favorite is Disney’s Coco). All of these actions undoubtedly help in creating knowledge that can be useful when traveling to Mexico.

Hispanic heritage article - image 3Janet with her daughters vacationing in Ensenada, Mexico.

Game nights and ALL the food

Everyone loves a game night and learning about Mexican games can be refreshing in the age of technology. Therefore, having a game night either from the comfort of your own or in a vacation rental is a great way to learn cultural games. My favorite Mexican game is, of course, loteria! Loteria is the Mexican version of bingo, known for its colorful cards which have long held a powerful nostalgic feeling amongst Mexican-Americans. I have played it at so many family gatherings as a little girl and I love that I get to play now with my family. What pairs well with game night? Food, of course! Perhaps the most popular way people enjoy traveling is to try a culture’s cuisine and although my family lives in areas where Mexican restaurants are very common, nothing compares to Mexican food straight from the motherland. Everything tastes different: from the drinks to the meat, to even Coca-Cola! Furthermore, cooking at a vacation rental, using ingredients that are different from your local supermarket, is a great way to connect with culture. Julianna loves to cook and bake, and over the past year, she has created different Mexican dishes. Perhaps our favorite is the Pastel de Tres Leches! This cake is made up of a sponge cake that is soaked in THREE types of milk: evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream. It is a very traditional Mexican dessert, eaten at almost all birthday parties and weddings, and being able to recreate this cake is an amazing – and delicious – way to learn about Mexican culture.

I have been blessed to be born into a culture as rich as mine. What’s more, having the ability to share this with my daughters and teach them my Hispanic heritage is very satisfactory to me.

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Follow Janet on Instagram: @Jan’s Spring, @Jansspringdesign and via her blog www.jansspring.com