The Eyes of Michoacán are upon You

One thing or another frequently takes me to Chicago or beyond. After I’ve fulfilled the purpose of the trip, which always means putting in hours in a conference room off in some hotel or office building, I try to steal away a couple of hours in places like the Miracle Mile or Bal Harbour Shops, checking out whatever’s on sale at Neiman Marcus or Saks, grabbing some Indian food, and hitting a book store. 48 hours away from Michoacán always leaves me jonesing for home, and that feeling of home always rushes back once I’m standing at the check-in line at LAX, O’Hare or George Bush International Airport. Now, it’s easy enough to always run into someone you know at one of the two departure gates at Morelia’s MLM, but the same thing happens at any gateway from the U.S. headed south to MLM. The Mexicana ticket agent at LAX tells me he’s from Ario de Rosales, and, sure enough, we know the same people. Ario de Rosales isn’t that big, but our common friend just happens to live a few blocks from me in Morelia. There’s always someone I know headed to Michoacán from Houston or Chicago.

There’s just something about Michoacán that makes everyone want to claim some kind of connection here. It’s like Texas; you never leave those roots behind. There are probably only two things which leave me weepy-eyed, full of pride, and sentimental: the sight of Morelia’s Catedral when I return home and any song about Texas. “The Eyes of Texas” exhorts Texans to go forth and do great things, because all the world’s watching:

The eyes of Texas are upon you,
All the live long day.
The eyes of Texas are upon you,
You cannot get away.
Do not think you can escape them,
At night, or early in the morn’.
The eyes of Texas are upon you,
‘Till Gabriel blows his horn!

Little Michoacáns across the U.S. are filled with the same regional pride that Texans carry with them throughout their lives. Refugees from Mexico City who move to Morelia generations after the last of their kin left Michoacán are quick to claim some link, even as remote as having once camped at Infernillo as a Scout or a distant ancestor twice removed who was born somewhere in the state, just like Estadounidenses reach for their Texas connection.

In Chicago Matters, Chicago Public Radio explores the paths to Chicago from Michoacán and back again.

Jimmy Buffett once sang about everyone having a cousin in Miami. He was wrong. Everyone’s got a cousin in Michoacán or Texas.

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