When I moved to the U.S. 15 months ago, I found myself in a bizarre position.
I was born and raised in Mexico City, one of the largest cities in the world with more than 20 million people, where everything changes from one day to the next.
Kansas City welcomed me with open arms. I instantly fell in love with the city and quickly adapted to the American culture. No noise, no traffic, no pollution seemed like paradise for me.
Why wouldn’t it be amazing? Everything was new to me.
After a few days, I began to miss the night life. I missed taking the subway at 11 p.m. to head back home from a Friday night of Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling) downtown and stopping at a taquería to get some amazing “tacos al pastor” for less than $1, surrounded by loud and happy people.
I missed paying 35 pesos, equivalent to $3, to get a haircut by the amazing Doña Mago, and I missed walking three blocks to buy a “nieve de limón,” the best lime sorbet in the world.
My culture shock and homesickness ended when I visited the Southwest Boulevard area in Kansas City’s Westside.
“This looks like home,” I thought.
“El Pueblito” brought back my Mexican memories and drew a huge smile to my face when I arrived one night at 2 a.m.
The 75-cent tacos al pastor, though still not as good as the ones back home, are the closest to authentic Mexican food.
Southwest Boulevard isn’t just one restaurant.
It’s an area full of Latin American shops and businesses.
Next to “El Pueblito” is an extremely busy Estética (barbershop).
I was thrilled to finally have a slice of Mexican life in the U.S., and when I turned my head and saw the big neon lights and colorful walls of “Tropicana,” a popular ice cream shop, I literally thought I had died and gone to heaven … or Mexico City.
Tropicana serves a wide selection of ice cream and popsicle flavors, smoothies and treats like corn on the cob, churros and even fried snacks.
Southwest Boulevard is a vibrant walkable neighborhood with a sense of cultural flair, and I recommend checking it out. Spend a few hours there to take in everything the neighborhood has to offer.
If you have not been to Mexico, you will come away with an idea of what it looks and tastes like. Whenever I visit, I always drive back home with a happy face and a full stomach.