Since Sandra does identify so much with her Mexican background, she also keeps in contact with a few of her family members back in Mexico. Although she has about 50 cousins, the majority of them are older and so she only remains in close contact with two of them, both of which are around her own age. When Sandra first moved to Austin, she would keep in touch with her family and friends over Hotmail, but then she got rid of her Hotmail account when she switched to AOL. Recently, she has had an easier time keeping in touch with her family over Facebook, but since her father made her take down her Facebook, she only receives emails every now and then.
Twice a year, the Gonzalez family goes back to Chihuhua to visit. Although they lived in Durango when they moved to the US, the majority of their family and friends are still in Chihuahua so that is where they go. They usually go once during Christmas time and once during the summer. Since Sandra hasn’t been home for the past few summers, she has only been able to visit during Christmas. They usually stay at Sandra’s grandma’s house because that is where there is the most room. Grandma used to live in the house with Sandra’s eight aunts and uncles and now that most of them have moved out, there is more room. Although there are always people coming in and out of the house for visits, Grandma always reserves the biggest room for the Gonzalez family so that they can all stay together. The room has two king-size beds: one for Sandra and Carina and the other for the parents. Since the family normally visits during “reunion time,” there is always a lot of partying and a lot of people around. At this grandma’s house, there can be up to thirty people at one time partying and drinking and dancing. At Vladimir’s family’s house, there are normally about forty or fifty people who get together during these times. One time when the Gonzalez family was staying at Grandma’s house, the water stopped working for a few hours and Sandra demanded that they stay at a hotel the next time they visited so that they would always have water. Sandra senior just looked at her daughter and said she would probably survive without water for a few hours. Aside from partying, Sandra’s family also sometimes goes to Sandra’s Uncle’s ranch where they have goats and rabbits. One time, they went hunting for goat and rabbit and had it for dinner. While Sandra liked the goat, she wasn’t too fond of the rabbit. Overall, Sandra always has a good time when she visits Mexico.
When she goes back, Sandra notices that the roads seemed to have deteriorated since she moved and everything seems smaller to her, especially the house that they used to live in. People drive more dangerously in Mexico than they do in the US and she is always struck by how people don’t pay attention to stop signs and stoplights and how they make U-turns wherever they want to. She notices the poverty more, although it was probably there when she lived in Mexico. However, she has also noticed the development of her hometown. The nicer, more developed part of the city has more malls and nicer roads and even reminds her of the US. Here, “everything was really fancy.” She realizes that when she lived there, the population was much lower and now that the population has risen, the town has needed to respond with more development.
One thing that Sandra laments is that she has not stayed in contact with her friends from Mexico as well as she would have liked to. She remembers how they used to talk over hotmail but over time people stopped logging in and eventually she didn’t speak to them anymore. She starts to tear up as she describes her feelings and how she thought they were really good friends and would have stayed in touch better.