Since a month after Mulberry's Market's opened nearly four years ago, Isabel Aguirre has been a fixture at Piedmont's general store.
What do you like about your job?
I’ve always worked in food service, and it’s what I like to do.
How long have you lived in the Bay Area?
Since I was 16, more than half my life! I came here from Mexico with three of my brothers and sisters—I am the youngest of nine—after our parents passed away.
[In Mexico] we lived in a village so small it’s not on the regular maps, only on a military map. It’s called Cuirindichapio, in the state of Guererro, close to San Lucas, Michoacan. There were only about 50 houses.
There was only one school for everyone and if the teacher was sick or gone, school was cancelled. In the rainy season, I would go with my father to help farm corn, tomatoes, and chilies, about an hour’s walk from home. The nearest town was an hour away by car, longer by horse or donkey or foot. We had no shoes or running water or electricity, and the only health care was an emergency place for scorpion bites.
But I am proud of my village. We worked hard and it was peaceful. Those were the best days of my life! We were kids, we had no worries.
What was life like when you arrived here?
I’ve been working full time since I got here, but I like it. And I met my husband, Luis, who is from Acapulco. We have one son, also Luis, who is 15 years old, and will be a sophomore next year at Berkeley High. He has been in Spanish immersion schools all his life, but he prefers to speak English. His dad manages the deli department at the new Woodlands Market in Tiburon.
We became citizens about five years ago, and that was hard. There is so much to do, we had to get an attorney to make sure we did everything the right way. We had to prove so many things.
You probably know more about U.S. history than most people who were born here!
I don’t know about that!
Do you ever think of going back?
No, there’s nothing to go back to. My life is here. We live in Richmond now, although we are going to move as soon as we find a different place. Our place has too much noise and the appliances don’t work, and I’d like to be closer to work.
Do you have any dreams you’d like to fulfill in the future?
I love to bake. I’d like to save money, and someday, maybe I’ll have a little coffee bar and serve cakes that I bake.
But for now, this is a great place to work. I like everything about it, including the people I meet.