Girls: On the Perils of Becoming a Woman on the Border

My family has called the Chihuahuan Desert home for a very long time. On a recent trip home I asked my grandmother how long, and she wasn’t exactly sure, but the rumor was that my great-great-great grandfather was a Spaniard who married an indigenous woman and that is how our clan started. I’ve always felt the desert was in my blood, encoded in my DNA and running through my veins. As a child I would look up at the clouds in the endless blue sky or watch a sunset exploding behind those barren rocky mountains and imagine that my great-grandmother had done the exact same thing. I roamed the same streets that they had roamed on both sides of the border. Even then Cuidad Juarez was considered a dangerous place, but all I have is fond memories of a multi-cultural, transnational childhood. For me  Juarez meant culture, music, markets, and a bustling city that though only seperated by one mile of distance and a bridge (and now a fence) was a world apart from my home in sleepy El Paso. I have always had a strong sense of place because I deeply belong to my landscape, which I know is a rare privilege in 21st century America. It is a gift that I am very grateful for. Continue reading

Canelazo de Sotol

What is Sotol you ask? My mother thinks it tastes like fermented rope, but it is actually a liquor distilled from the Dasylirion wheeleri (also called Desert Spoon) plant common to the Chihuahuan desert. I have heard it referred to as “Tequila’s Northern Cousin” and it is beginning to gain a following in trendy Texan bars. Due to the holidays I find myself back in my childhood home which is just one mile north of the state of Chihuahua where the stuff is most widely produced. I personally don’t mind the taste which I would describe as grassy and a little smoky, but it is definately not for everyone.  My parents were given a bottle and it has been sitting in the kitchen collecting dust as no one seems to know what to do with it. Continue reading