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Liliana Lopez was just 10 years old when her family left Guadalajara, Mexico and immigrated to San Diego.

A lot has changed since then. At 35, she’s the mother of two children, living in Oceanside and, keeping in the San Diego spirit, is an avid beachgoer.

After long days at Roberto’s Mexican Food in Solana Beach, Lopez seeks solace. She finds it in family, in a quiet neighborhood and in the nearby coastline — a luxury, she points out, that she couldn’t have back in Guadalajara.

I met Lopez after Steve Burge, who was featured in last week’s San Diego People Project, crowed about his love for all things hot, notably, Roberto’s hot sauce. After interviewing Lopez, I asked her a series of questions that will lead me to next week’s installment of the project.

Name: Liliana Lopez

Age: 35

Occupation: Store Supervisor, Roberto’s Mexican Food

Part of Town: Oceanside

How long have you been working with Roberto’s?

Three years. I’ve been working in both of the restaurants in Carmel Valley Road and then here in Solana Beach.

Tell me what it’s like — this job?

You learn a lot of things. You get to know a lot of people. And of course the food — it’s what I like the best.

The owners are nice too. They make you feel very comfortable working for them.

What sort of things do you learn?

Cooking. Even though I’m Mexican, I learn the recipes. You have to follow recipes to make real Mexican food.

What’s your favorite thing to make?

My favorite? California burrito or carne asada burrito. The California’s kind of fun, because of the French fries. It’s a different taste.

Tell me about the neighborhood you live in and what it’s like.

Well, it’s pretty quiet where I live. It’s more inland, not that close to the beach, but it’s pretty quiet.

Do you want a quiet place to live?

Yes. First of all, after working — and this area’s really crowded after work — you need kind of a peaceful area. And because of my kids, I need a peaceful area.

Tell me what’s different from San Diego from Guadalajara.

First, the beach is close. Where I live, it’s not. It’s in the city. Too many cars — in here it’s more relaxing. Because of the beach, obviously — it’s what makes the difference.

You told me that your son plays violin. How did he start doing that?

It’s been already two years. He’s in elementary school. So in his fourth grade he started playing violin and the trumpet. He likes music.

And you like listening to it?

Yeah, he does concerts in school — they play with other bands from different elementaries.

Do your neighbors ever yell at your son practicing his violin?

No, no, no. Not yet.

— SAM HODGSON

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