After wildly successful events in SanTana, Garden Grove and San Diego, Rida Hamida and Ben Vazquez decided to take their “Tacos at Every Mosque” Muslim-Mexican unity tour to a seemingly unlikely place: Rosarito. The seaside town of gabacho debauchery nowadays has a mosque, Masjid El Noor, and they welcomed Hamida and Vazquez to set up a taquiza earlier this month during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha for prayer, preaching, and feasting.
Hamida visited the mosque before the big day. Upon arriving, she was surprised to find out her cell phone service wasn’t working. After tirelessly driving around trying to find the mosque, she asked for help. She stepped out of her car and asked five men nearby if she could use their WiFi to continue using her GPS. One of them, Joe Velasquez remembers the introduction well. “I wouldn’t even come up to myself and ask for help because of the stereotypes of us looking like gangsters,” he said. “We were scared of her. It was 10 p.m. and she was fearless. She asked about a mosque that existed right in my backyard but I had no idea. Im glad I guided her, she is the first Muslim I’ve met and it helped me understand that what I knew about Muslim’s on the media was not true.”
The invite and warmth was the easy part. But finding a taco truck with the permit and willingness to cross the border was a challenge. Months before the event, a taco truck had told Hamida that he was willing to go but cancelled just a day before the event. Hamida called 26 different taco trucks the morning of the event, until Zoe Villarreal, the master chef of Verde Y Crema in Tijuana who had never tasted let alone served halal meat, volunteered with no contract or handshake—just his word.
Hamida took the scramble in stride the day of “Taco Trucks at Every Mosque.”
“Latinos and Muslims building trust through this journey redefined the narratives we had of one another,” she said, as she enjoyed some tacos. 230 people came to the event, with 170 people staying to eat halal tacos cooked and served from the Verde Y Crema’s taco truck (the other 60: what, you don’t like tacos?). An Orange County caravan of 20 were in attendance, including staff from Resilience OC, which is a partner of the Latino and Muslim Unity movement. Seven people drove down from Los Angeles to join in Eid prayer and eat tacos. One of the ladies that drove down from LA said, “We saw the flyer and thought it to be a beautiful movement and I am very pleased with everyones hospitality. I will come back and celebrate Eid here next year regardless if tacos at every mosque has the event.”
After trekking to Rosarito, where’s the next spot? For Vazquez, the possibilities are endless. “Taco Trucks at Every Mosque is a project that will continue to grow and expand,” he said. “Not only will it expand geographically, but the program will grow into deeper conversations and may even include pre-workshops to present on the day of.”
Interested? Hit the homies up!