Alumna Chronicles Her South-of-the-Border Identity Quest

Travel writer Stephanie Elizondo Griest (B.A. Post-Soviet Studies/Journalism, ’97) journeys deep into Mexico as she traces her bicultural roots in “Mexican Enough: My Life Between the Borderlands” (Simon & Schuster, 2008).

She opens the memoir by describing an epiphany spurred by an encounter with a group of border crossers sprinting across Interstate 10 in the middle of a scorching desert. “As I look off into the desert hills from which they descended, a surprising thought flashes through my mind: I want to go to Mexico,” she writes.

Prompted by the experience, Griest decided to pull up stakes and move south of the border to fully immerse herself in her mother’s native country. Plagued by conflicted feelings about her mixed identity, the self-proclaimed “bad Mexican” set out on a quest to finally learn to speak Spanish and explore her ancestral roots.

Griest chronicles her pilgrimage from the border town of Nuevo Laredo to the highlands of Chiapas, detailing her myriad misadventures along the way. In the midst of the nation’s burgeoning social revolution, she rallies with rebels in Oaxaca, investigates the murder of a gay political activist and interviews family members of undocumented migrant workers.

From living in a house of gay roommates to attending a luchalibre (wrestling) match to dancing to hip-swiveling music in Mexico City’s thriving Zona Rosa district, she uses her journalist’s eye for detail to describe many bizarre, outrageous and touching experiences on her journey to self discovery.

Griest is the award-winning author of “Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing and Havana” and “100 Places Every Woman Should Go.” Listen to her read a few chapters from “Mexican Enough” on MySpace, or meet her in person at one of her spring tour dates.