I am a foreigner living in Mexico but as I look around me, I see double; as both an outsider and an insider, a stranger and a friend. My grandfather moved his wife and two toddling girls from Minnesota to Mexico City in 1960 and thus began our family’s entanglement with this inscrutable, irresistible, impossible country. My mother grew up as a chilanga, but of the exotic redheaded variety. She cruised the streets of the messy modern behemoth built over the ancient ruins of Tenochtitilán in her yellow VW bug and listened to American pop hits on Radio Éxitos long after they’d fallen off the charts in the US. She went north for college and then started her family; my grandparents left the D.F. for Colorado in 1985, the year of the earthquake and the year I was born.
My mother educated her four daughters at home, though “home” meant many different, fascinating places as we were growing up. I first visited Mexico City when I was nine; when I was fourteen, we made our first eight-month sojourn to San Miguel de Allende and I found my muse as I started writing about Mexico. That was nearly 13 years ago and for the past seven, I have lived here full-time. My niece was born in Dolores Hidalgo in April 2010 and in October of this year, I gave birth to my first child in Querétaro. And yet, there are still moments when I feel this place is as foreign as the jungles of Cameroon, which is why I will not claim to fully understand Mexico, but consider myself one of many who quest for this understanding.
Kathleen B. Lowenstein
A few credentials
BSc in Politics and International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science (2007)
Co-winner (with Nancy Blake Bohné, my mother) of AVINA Journalism Award for investigative journalism project about judicial reform in Mexico (published 2009 on openDemocracy)