What's Up South Texas!: Couple's love for Mexican culture impacts tourists downtown

By Japhanie Gray - Reporter, Jennifer Galvan - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - A love connection is what brought Abelina Ocampo De Montes De Oca together with her husband from Taxco, Mexico to the United States, doing the very thing they have loved their entire lives.

The couple runs the Lower Level Boutique near the Alamo downtown.

"He worked in one store and I worked in another," De Montes De Oca said as she spoke on how the two met in Mexico. "His employer sent him with my employer, and they sent me with his employer. Yes, that's how I met him, but he was introduced to me by a cousin of his. From there on, he wouldn't let me go for nothing in the world. He was always taking care of me. Wherever I went he was there, and he wouldn't let me go.

After they got married and moved to America, they brought the beauty of the Mexican Culture with them.

"When we arrived from Mexico, we were working with a lady who was here before us all," De Montes De Oca said. "She left the location and I said to my husband ‘We should take over the location ourselves. We can stock little by little.'"

With the help of other merchants in town, and with the help of their daughters from back in Mexico, they were able to stock up the store with hundreds of different types of items, handmade, from their home country. Unfortunately, the road to their successful lives hasn't always been easy.

"Well, we have been through some very ugly things because in 2013 I had a shop on Houston Street and it burned," De Montes De Oca said. "I was left with nothing. Everything burned and since I didn't have anything, I came here to this location with my husband who stayed here. In 2014, someone also tried to burn this store."

Certain people have also tried to take advantage of the couple as well.

"People have also stolen from us and kids have bullied us," De Montes De Oca said.

The couple made it through all of those obstacles and are now flourishing like the Mexican culture inside their store.

"We are very happy," De Montes De Oca said. "I thank God that we are well financially. Thank God we are well. My husband already bought a little house and we are fine. We also thank God for the many people who come here."

If you know someone like De Montes De Oca who is making a difference in the South Texas community or who has a unique story, send us your tips. Contact Japhanie Gray on Facebook or @JGrayKSAT on Twitter. You can also send your tips to KSAT 12 & KSAT.com on Facebook.

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