By Efraín Delgado
I traveled down California in a black, rented, soccer team van with six people I had only ever previously met through emails. We were on our way to the first ever Latino Outdoors Leadership Campout, which was being hosted at Malibu Creek State Park.
With the van’s windows down we drove into the parking lot just outside of our campsite with La Chona by Los Tucanes de Tijuana playing. The fatigue in our bodies was replaced with nostalgia and excitement as the fast-paced accordion, the slightly funky bass line, and the flashback-inducing chorus shook the cheap plastic interior of the van. For a nature loving Chicano this was a rare moment where two parts of my identity were able to transcend the border that regularly divides them.
At the campout I saw people wearing huaraches, people’s skin tones matched my own, and I heard conversations conducted in colloquial Spanglish. We shared stories of being the lone person of color in our professional settings while we mulled ideas on how to reconnect the Latinx community to the outdoors. José González, the Founder of Latino Outdoors, wore a faded black shirt with Tierra y Libertad, a slogan from the Mexican Revolution that translates to Land and Liberty, printed across the front in an old English font.
Latino Outdoors provided validation of my Chicano identity.