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The Mexican Issue

A Mexican In... Milan

Vice: Why did you decide to move to Italy?

by Sara Cantarutti, Serena Pezzato
02 June 2008, 12:00am


Chantal Garduño Israde

Vice: Why did you decide to move to Italy?

Chantal:
Actually, I had already lived in Italy as a child, from when I was three to six years old. My parents are both geologists. We had to run away from Mexico.

Why?

A Mexican man from Morelia, where I was born, wanted to build some houses on the mountains outside the city. My father was assigned to study the terrain, and declared it unedifiable. A few days later this man came to our house with two goons and they took my dad away in their car. They said that if he didn’t change his conclusions, he and his family would have to beware.

Ouch. And how did it end up?

We left. My dad took a job in Italy. A few years later they built those homes. And a few years after that, they collapsed.

So your family left because they thought Mexico was dangerous.

Yes, but he had seen worse when he was young. In the 70s, before there was freedom of the press, he used to demonstrate against the institutions of government. Together with his student friends, he set up a magazine of dissent that they gave out on the street. Nothing happened to him, but many of his friends “disappeared.”

How do you like living in Italy?

It’s OK, but I don’t consider it my home. The first few days were horrible. For example, everyone in Mexico City greets you. When I arrived in Italy, the customs official didn’t even look me in the eye.

Sometimes Italians can be unfriendly with foreigners.

The thing is, in Mexico, we all greet each other with a smile. When I would climb aboard the vans we use as public transport from the back door, everybody would say hello, and then I would pass the money for the ticket to the other commuters, and they would pass it hand to hand until it got to the driver, and then the other passengers would pass the ticket and the change back to me, hand to hand. Isn’t that wonderful?

It sounds lovely. So you miss Mexico?

So much. I wouldn’t go back now because I’m too young, but I know I will move back there one day. It’s my land, and I want to grow old there.

What do you miss the most?

My family. And tacos. I know it sounds silly, but every time I go back, the first thing I do is go eat thousands of tacos with my sisters and my parents. Then we go on the relatives tour.

Do you have the typical hugely extended Mexican family?

Yes. Last year I went back to celebrate my grandparents’ 50-year wedding anniversary. There were 500 of us, no joke. When we break the piñata for posadas, all the kids have to get in line to pick up the candy.

INTERVIEW BY SARA CANTARUTTI
PHOTO BY SERENA PEZZATO