The (family) ties that bind
Elizabeth and Francisco Ruiz wanted what every young couple wants: business success, a secure future and a quiet, safe place to raise their kids. They found their answer to the American Dream in Glenwood Springs.Elizabeth and Francisco Ruiz wanted what every young couple wants: business success, a secure future and a quiet, safe place to raise their kids. They found their answer to the American Dream in Glenwood Springs.Elizabeth and Francisco told their story in the kitchen of the big yellow house on Grand Avenue, the home of their business, Mi Casita Real Estate.Their story begins in the border town of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. Both grew up there within sight of the town’s American counterpart, Nogales, Ariz.
Although their life is firmly planted in Glenwood Springs, their ties with family in Mexico remain strong.Francisco and Elizabeth were high school sweethearts in Nogales. Their lives were almost destined to be in America. Elizabeth’s mother went to work in Tucson after her husband died when Elizabeth was 9. She moved the family to Nogales, Ariz., eight years later.Francisco joined the United States Army after high school and was assigned to Fort Benning, Ga. After boot camp, and before shipping out to Korea, he returned to Nogales and married Elizabeth, in 1995.Two years later when his army duty was completed, they moved to Colorado. Elizabeth had an aunt who was the head of housekeeping at the Little Nell and offered them a helping hand. Francisco had relatives in Denver.
They moved to Aspen in 1997 and quickly got established. Francisco enrolled in a real estate certification course, and Elizabeth went to work for a bank. Francisco landed at Vicki Lee Green Real Estate in Glenwood after three years with a real estate company in Basalt. Elizabeth got her real estate license, and in 2003 the couple opened Mi Casita.Their own experience buying a townhouse in Basalt led them to open a real estate company for Latinos. When they bought their house, “there was no one to help us” who knew their language and their customs, Elizabeth said. So they saw an opportunity and took it.Now, two years later, the couple has five agents, including Francisco’s brother Cesar, working at Mi Casita.Part of their success, said the couple, comes from participating in the community. They are charter members of Club Rotario Roaring Fork, the first Rotary Club for Hispanics in the valley.Now, with two children – Isaac, 3, and Miranda, 7 months – the couple are well established and content. There is still the pull of family in Mexico.
Francisco’s mother and father are now part-time residents of Denver. Elizabeth has aunts, uncles and cousins in Mexico and a brother who came north to try life in Glenwood Springs but who is returning to Mexico this week.”He can’t get accustomed and can’t find a nice girl,” she laughed. “It’s tough to be single.”With Miranda’s baptism coming up, they’ve had to decide where to hold the ceremony. “It’s a struggle. The family says why not baptize her here, but not everybody has the money to go,” Elizabeth said. “We’re the ones that left so we feel responsible to go back.”It can be hard to lose touch with the land of their birth.”We go to Mexico and we feel like strangers,” Francisco said. “Like tourists,” Elizabeth chimed in.”I don’t think we’ll go back (for good),” Francisco said.”Oh, you never know,” Elizabeth added.
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