August 31, 2005
After the Hood River City Council meeting next Monday, Hood River will be engaged in a sister city relationship with Colotlán, a city in the Mexican state of Jalisco.
This official arrangement comes after several months of an informal agreement between Hood River’s mayor, Linda Rouches, and Jose Luis Carrillo, the mayor of Colotlán.
“He proposed the idea during his first visit several months ago,” said Rouches. “The council has discussed it, and the only thing left to do is pass the resolution.”
Mayor Carrillo visited Hood River again last week, and this time he brought with him a letter that extended a formal offer to make Hood River and Colotlán sister cities. He and Rouches also exchanged gifts: he gave her a clock bearing an image of an ornamented leather saddle (something Colotlán is famous for); and she gave him a Hood River Valley souvenir hat.
Once the relationship becomes official, Mayors Carrillo and Rouches both have high hopes for the effects it will have on both cities. “I believe that it could be useful to establish relation[s] among our respective cities for many purposes, including exchange of students, so our kids can learn from each other’s language and culture,” said Carrillo in a letter to Rouches.
Rouches echoed that statement, saying that she is “eager for the first student exchange.”
It comes as no surprise that Carrillo would choose Hood River as a sister city — there are around 2,500 Colotlense emigrants living in Hood River. “He feels very connected to the area,” said Rouches.
During his visit, Mayor Carrillo had the chance to meet with many of his former citizens. “The Colotlán community was pretty excited to see him,” said Salvador Marquez, an employee of The Next Door, Inc., and president of Club Colotlense, a local club for immigrants from Colotlán.
The club hosted a dance last Saturday at the Expo Center to honor Mayor Carrillo’s stay. At the celebration, Lily se la Rosa was named the Reina Club (Queen of the Club) and crowned by Rouches. Carrillo was supposed to have performed the ceremony, but a problem with his flight arrangements called for him to leave early.
The candidates for queen were charged with selling tickets to the event — and whoever sold the most won. “A dollar counted as a vote,” Marquez said.
“Part of the money that was raised will go into a grant for kids to go to college,” he explained. “It will start out small, but as time goes on it will get bigger.”
Marquez also said that he had three main goals as the club’s president, and one was to establish a sister city program between the two cities, which, after Monday, will be a reality.
Rouches hopes that the cities’ relationship will not only provide opportunities for economic and student exchanges, but opportunities to learn about the other cultures, as well. “The more you get to know other people, the less chance there is for a conflict,” she said. “The sister city relationship with Tsuruta has been very successful, and the city looks forward to an equally successful relationship with Colotlán.”