No More Enchiladas
Teacher thankful for experience.

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No More Enchiladas …


Bustillos family and Herreros family in Arizona (Courtesy photo)

This little article is just a reflection on my feelings right now. When you, guys, read it, I will be probably more than 5,000 miles away, beyond the ocean. But I wanted to give you all a warm and big hug of gratitude (even in the distance if I didn’t do it in person).

When we came to New Mexico (not new, not Mexico, I know) three years ago, we were told by all our family members and friends that we were very brave. We are a Spanish family from Madrid. What would you say?

This adventure consisted in working as a Spanish teacher at Cobre High School for three years. Easy. Piece of cake.

We landed in Albuquerque Aug. 14, 2012. My little daughter had turned 6 inside the airplane. My oldest daughter was 9. We had to finish paperwork in Albuquerque before heading south, to our final destination.

We knew we needed a car, so, not having a bank account nor anything yet (you are nothing on Earth’s surface without your social security number) we had to have in cash the beautiful amount of around $6,000. OK. We got it. We were hosted by another Spanish family in Albuquerque (Antonio Luna’s one, thanks, thanks and thanks) while getting the car, suffering the heat of August, and finally we were set to our trip toward Bayard, Silver City, where? We bought our Subaru Forester because we needed a car with room enough for our four suitcases and we started toward the real adventure, all by our own.

We began going through the immense plains cut by route 25. “Oh, my God, if we are heading south, what are we going to find down there? Chihuahuan desert, 100°F, no trees, just cactus?” We were really scared.

My husband drove until T or C and then I took the car. We kept going down and later on we saw a sign announcing Silver City. OK. That’s it. Let’s go! And then … wow, there are mountains over there! Green mountains! (We were approaching the Black Range). The sun was going down, but, nevermind, that will be some more miles and some more curves and we will be there, near our goal. Some more? How many more miles and curves? We didn’t know. It was getting dark, curves never finished and it started raining. Rain? We didn’t know about monsoon season, and that was also a big surprise. OK. Rain, night, curves, children getting nervous … when are we going to be there, my God?

Our cell phone was about to die (we were rookies and we bought it without a car charger) when we could talk to Mr. Peru (after being out of coverage) and… “Yes, we are passing the tracks toward Bayard” “Ok. Go to the parking lot of Walmart, Silver City. I will be there waiting for you con una troca anaranjada”

“Ok, see you there. Nos vemos.” But, que demonios es Walmart? Y que demonios es una troca? (What the hell is Walmart and what the hell is a truck?)

Finally we arrived to the parking lot, waited for a few minutes, and Mr. Peru appeared with his big orange truck and his welcoming half hug (the first New Mexican one). We could breathe! Thank you Mr. Peru.


He escorted us to our hosting family and we arrived around 10:30 p.m. Sleepy, tired and clueless, we were introduced to Clara Bustillos and she put us in bed and we slept in relief. Clara and Cruz Bustillos opened their house to us. Their house, their family and their hearts and we will never be able to express our immense gratitude to them. They became part of our lives, we are part of their family and they are part of ours. They are our parents in the USA and “grandpa and grandma there” to my children. They helped us with all the big and little troubles of the adaptation process. They taught us all we know about this beautiful land and traditions. We shared food, house, cars, tales, RV, recipes, songs, books … Thank you. You have been a blessing for us and we will be waiting for you in Spain. We love you.

I wanted to thank Judith Morris. She was my guardian angel during the first year and nothing would have been the same without her.

I want to thank, too, Mr. Benavidez, principal at Cobre High School when I first arrived. He was warm and generous and I will never forget he gave me a ride to Bayard Elementary School just to have a look at my two little daughters, landing in a strange world (where they didn’t belong at the beginning) in the first day of school for them. He has been a gentleman until the very last minute. Thank you.

Thank you also to Ann Marie Elder, who allowed me to sing in “Oliver” in 2013 and in “Mary Poppins” in 2015. Being part of these productions made me feel so good, and so proud! It has been one of the most rewarding experiences ever and I will never forget you and the rest of the actors, singers and crew.

My special thanks to Bayard Elementary teachers and principal, Mrs. Barela. You made my daughters grow, learn and become bilingual and, most important, you loved them and cared for them. You made them happy and they will remember you forever. My recognition and love for you all.

Thanks to all staff members at Cobre High School. It was a pleasure to work with you and I will remember this experience for the rest of my life. I know I have learned much more than I have taught. Cobre Band, thanks for making me cry in every performance.

I know I am forgetting a lot of people, I apologize. I would like to thank all the students who hugged me without asking them (Raquel Parga, Felicia Dominguez, Renee Torres, Lucianna Castillo, Yadira Vasquez, Manuel Ramirez and many others) and who treated me kindly. Thanks.

And, of course, thanks to my colleague and friend Ernesto Garcia because we started this adventure together and we never gave up.

And finally, I would like to remind you and remind me all the countless good things you have in here, guys: your beautiful blue skies, white clouds, gray clouds, cloudy days, the monsoon with those storms plenty of lightning, people waving at you when walking or driving your car, the deep sense of community, the gorgeous Nature (in capital letters) around you with big characters (Black Range, Cliff Dwellings, Gila River, mountain lion, bear, elks …) and with the little ones (hummingbirds, butterflies, snakes, lizards, scorpions …). Your salsa with lots of cilantro, your enchiladas, your wonderful Spanish with plenty of words coming from the 17th century and now forgotten in Spain.

Muchas gracias a todos por estos tres hermosos años de felicidad compartida y por tanto amor.

Hasta siempre
Esther Monje Perez

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