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Return to Oaxacalifornia

Trisha Ziff
Isabel del Río

The Mejias’ crossed the border undocumented over forty years ago. I met them during their summer vacation in Oaxaca, returning to their pueblo with their three children as newly documented U.S citizens in 1993. A year later we made a 55 minute documentary for TV. A portrait of a family; Mexican parents, American born children. We filmed in Fresno and Oaxaca. Jaltapec, suffered from lack of water and extreme erosion. A place, without hope, those who could, left, those too old or young stayed behind. A familiar narrative in pueblos across Mexico. They settled in California’s central valley, where the problems of water followed.

In Oaxacalifornia; the return, we meet the Mejias today. How have their lives changed? Leo, still works as a gardener; Mercedes put herself through beauty school, works and takes care of her extended family. The oldest, Eli and Noe now between them have 7 children. Adriana, who was 8 during our first film, recently married a marine based at Camp Pendelton in San Diego, not far from the San Yisdro border, where her parents first crossed into the United States decades ago.

A film about family: identity, assimilation, contradictions, aspirations and the passage of time.

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