Jefe means parent in Mexican slang
I don’t think there are better Jefes than Doña Guadalupe and Alfonso “La Mole” Orozco. In this case La Mole is referring to The Thing from the Fantastic Four, not the food. It was a nickname he was given in his youth. You can probably guess why. Not many people call him that anymore, but I still use it as a term of endearment. I secretly think he enjoys it, I created an instagram handle for him called @lamolepuntocom and he actually uses it!(Well, sometimes) When we make beer in our free time we jokingly call it La Mole Pale Ale. Oh, and my mother Doña Guadalupe. In the game ‘two truths and one lie’ she claims to have seven AA degrees, that she is a horrible cook, and that she is the only one in my family who laughs harder at corny jokes than I do. (If you need a hint for which one is the lie: she is an amazing cook!)
“Que hizo el pato cuando se cayo al agua?”
Why am I telling you all of this?
The outdoors became a very important part of the relationship I have with my parents and family. It wasn’t always this way. The outdoors didn’t play a large role in my family life growing up in Oakland. When we did engage in outdoor activities, it would be in city and regional parks. Those urban green spaces have their place in my heart. There is no better feeling than hanging out with the whole familia on a hot summer day asando carne, eating pepino y jicama, and playing soccer until you can’t see the ball anymore. Those experiences will forever be cherished, but something was missing. The word that comes to mind is grandeur. It was the ocean sunsets and pygmy forests of Salt Point State Park, the bison and jagged peaks of the Grand Tetons, the grizzly bears and sulphuric geysers of Yellowstone, the vanilla smell of ponderosas and crisp waters of Lake Tahoe, the cool caves and shooting stars of Pinnacles, the granite formations and frigid waterfalls of Yosemite, the salty ocean breeze and majestic Redwoods of Big Sur.
My parents emigrated from Mexico, like many others, to give their children a better life. They left their families, friends, and the only culture they knew for their future children. I saw them struggle growing up but they did a great job navigating and trying to understand their new world. Education was always the primary goal for their children. My dad worked seven sometimes eight days a week and my mom waitressed to put us through private school. I know they did it out of love, but what do you give to those who have given you everything? A burden weighed on me heavily through high school and college. I know all my parents have ever wanted for me was to have a better life than they did, to be happy, and successful. Quería superar pero quería superar con ellos. So I embarked on a quest, uncertain of what I would find.
Enter the outdoors!
I’d like to think that I guided my family into a life of outdoor recreation. Other times it feels more like I dragged them along. In reality, I think their sense of adventure was always present, they just needed a gentle nudge in the right direction. When I took an outdoor leadership class at San Francisco State University and I heard about this thing called “backpacking” the world suddenly opened up to me. Later that summer I went on my first backpacking trip in Yosemite with Bay Area Wilderness Training. It was the most important transformative experience of my young adult life and one that I wanted to share with my family. The exact moment I realized the power of the outdoors was as I laid outside in my sleeping bag, on the shores of Kibby Lake. That night I saw the stars like I had never seen them
before. It was obvious to me that I was the happiest when I was outdoors. That moment of clarity allowed me to see that I could give my parents incredible new experiences, while simultaneously pursuing a career in a field I was quickly growing passionate about. I told a friend the following morning as tears streamed down my dirty face. That moment has driven much of what I do for my family and what I do in my career. Since then I have been able to live, work, and study in some of the most beautiful natural places in the country. My family, as a result, has experienced some truly special moments together in the outdoors. Their willingness to join me in the mindset that the world is there to be explored is incredible. My hope is that I can inspire other Latino families to have similar but distinct outdoor experiences to those my family has had.
Alfonso is a California native currently working towards a Masters of Education in Natural Science Education at Teton Science Schools in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. To learn more about Alfonso go to: http://latinooutdoors.org/our-team/#alfonso. To contact Alfonso for any LO-related communications, collaborations, or outing requests in his area, please send him an email to Alfonso@latinooutdoors.org or call/text him at (510)502-6387.