Every time someone in my family travels to Bolivia, I can expect them to return with Mentisan. Since I was little, I’ve watched them unload small batches of it from their suitcases to stock up in their homes and share with the family. This special menthol ointment is the first resort for a cold and any minor ailments from cuts to headaches, and I have many memories with it growing up. Every time I was sick, the women in my family would massage Mentisan onto my throat and chest before I went to sleep, nursing me back to health. It’s small object, fitting perfectly in the palm of my hand, and distinct from everything I own because it represents my family and where they come from. The deep green is so unmistakable to me that it’s become its own color: Mentisan green. The smell is heavy and deep, purifying for my senses and healing for my body. The small black lettering at the bottom that reads “La Paz - Bolivia” reminds me of where exactly I come from, and my mom before me and her mom before her. I’ve read that Mentisan was first developed in Bolivia in the 1930’s, and it comforts me to think of them using it for decades into the past. I haven’t spent much time in Bolivia, so I cherish everything that reminds me of it. As a 3rd generation American, I feel a little more Bolivian when I use Mentisan. I can always find it at home.

Place(s): Bolivia, La Paz

– Cat

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant