When you hear “Mexico”, does The Underground Railroad come to mind? I’m embarrassed to admit it, but sadly, I knew nothing about how enslaved African Americans escaped to Mexico along what we know as the Underground Railroad. I don’t recall ever learning about it in school. I was totally clueless until I was schooled on it by Ms. Patricia Talley, owner of Imagine Mexico Magazine. You can click here to read more about enslaved African Americans who managed to find freedom in Mexico.
In Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, and within the Costa Chica region, there’s a thriving community of Afro-Mexican people. We don’t hear much about them in the media, but they’re here. These people are descendants of those poor souls that immigrated to Mexico so many years ago in search of freedom.
A couple of days ago, I decided to venture out and check out the tourist area in town. I just wanted to see what stores and restaurants were in the plaza. Everything was too touristy for me, including the prices, so I didn’t shell out any coins, except to purchase a delicious coconut and coconut water from a street vendor. The street vendor, like the majority of locals here, is Afro-Mexican. As a side note—he offers a fantastic rate of only $30 pesos (about $1.62 USD at the time of this writing). If you see him around in Ixtapa, flag him down and get your coconut and coconut water!
Each day here, as I walk around town, there’s always that feeling that I’m among family members. It’s especially easy since I often meet locals who resemble my close relatives. I learned that many slaves from North Carolina found refuge in the Mexican state of Guerrero. When I’m out and about, I’m always in the mindset that the locals I meet, like the lady with the two small children standing in the sweltering sun trying to sell peanuts to passersby, just might be my not too distant cousin.
From food and dance, to hair textures and some ideologies, it’s really interesting being able to experience Africa in Mexico.
If you’re interested in learning more about African roots in Guerrero, I suggest that you pay Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo a visit.
Until next time,