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Ojos de mi Padre
(My Father's Eyes)
Reem Al-Omari



I was getting some clothes together last night to pack for a trip I'm taking. My sister was helping me. I took out a white cotton button-up shirt with quaint details and showed it to her.


"This would look great with a sombrero," I told her.


"Excellent," she replied.


I threw the shirt in the pile of shirts I'd already picked out for my trip.


I am going to Mexico, and I plan on coming home with a sombrero along with a better understanding of a lot of things.


Mexico for one, Spanish for another, and life's little quirks for another another.


This is a very special trip. I've invested in a digital voice recorder, an electronic Spanish-English translator, a Spanish-English dictionary, a Spanish conversation quick-reference card, sunscreen, sunglasses that look like something out of the movie, The Mexican... I've even been watching movies set in Mexico to get into the mood, ranging from The Mexican, to One-Eyed Jacks.


I'm basically going through Mexico-mania, reading up on the history of the places I'll be visiting and trying to tentatively plan an itinerary, even though I plan to be somewhat spontaneous.


I want to remember everything about this trip. Enough to write a book, really, but it's hardly going to be a book just about Mexico, or any other place I visit and write about. What I'm taking with me and bringing back are so much more than just a travelogue about the best eateries and hotels.


What makes this trip to Mexico so special isn't just the fact that it's my first time in Viva Zapata! country. It's not just the fact that it's my first trip to a foreign place as an adult, able to communicate on my own and appreciate the culture and differences. It's not just the fact that I'll be visiting what is dubbed as "the most Mexican city", Guadalajara; or the place where Tennessee Williams' movie version of Night of the Iguana was filmed, Puerto Vallarta; or the ruins in Zacatecas.




What makes this trip so special is my travel companion. My travel companion is someone I see everyday, whom I sometimes take for granted and fail to spend enough time getting to truly know. My travel companion is someone I easily get annoyed with, and constantly butt heads with to prove myself.


My travel companion is someone I love dearly, but often can only handle in tiny doses. My travel companion is someone I am dreading spending ten days in Mexico with. My travel companion is someone I'm looking forward to getting to know while ordering special de hoy, entirely en Espanol. My travel companion is someone I resemble in so many ways, it scares me sometimes. My travel companion is someone who has taught me to be the tough, yet soft cookie that I am. My travel companion is someone who has taught me how to be hard, sensitive, shy, outgoing, curious, suspicious, thorough, open-minded, analytical and kind.


My travel companion is my father.


I am looking forward to this trip to Mexico with my father for several reasons.


For one thing, I'm not gonna have to butt heads with him to prove myself, because I'll be the one doing most of the communicating in Spanish. Also, being the one reading the guidebooks and making itinerary preparations, perhaps I'll show my Dad as good a time as he used to show the family back when we used to be world travelers. Perhaps during this trip, I'll get to show my Dad how great a job in raising me he did. Perhaps our similarities will make us bond and see how cool we really are, instead of annoy each other with our stubbornness, and other things perceived as faults at any other time.


This trip is going to be a learning experience for both of us about each other, as everyday life makes it difficult to see the things that truly matter in life... that family is the best source of love and identity anyone could ever wish for.


My friend upon hearing about my trip to Mexico said, "You're lucky." She meant that I was lucky that I am going to Mexico for ten days, but that's only a tiny reason why I'm lucky...


I'm lucky because I have a father I'm getting a chance to bond with as a mature woman, while picking out what color sombrero would bring out my eyes best.

REEM AL-OMARI shares...

REEM AL-OMARI is a  freelance writer in the process of launching and spearheading Reemawi Writing Services. REEM shares, "Along with a personal blog, I also write for Intrepid Media." She's also penned a cookbook containing her mother's delicious Iraqi recipes.  On the side, she loves movies and  says she possesses a great affinity for animals. "I also love to read, particularly the classics. I have an amateur interest in the soccer world and keep up with the news of all the happenings within that world. Oh yeah... and I love to write!"
"I have a number of writing projects underway that include, among other important topics, a memoir of my trip to Mexico with my father. "
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