Beloved Castilian worker Aurora Gomez reflects on her life

Peyton Sims, Life & Arts General Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the November 9 flipbook. 

Aurora Gomez marked her calendar: April 10, 1997. While putting on her nicest skirt, she held her head high — despite how nervous she truly felt on the inside — and braced herself for the cold, Austin air as she walked to The Castilian’s daunting entrance. Taking a deep breath, she stepped inside the private dorm, eager for a new beginning.

Now, 24 years and seven months later, the hostess still wakes up at the crack of dawn to greet her coworkers with that same contagious smile at 6 a.m.

“After all these years, I’ve really enjoyed being here,” Gomez said. “It’s a part of my life …  A lot of people have asked me, why have I stayed here so long? But this is what I like to do. What’s the use of making good money and not being happy? We have to like what we do and enjoy doing it from the beginning.”

Castilian resident Jacob Campos said he looks forward to Gomez’s positive energy every day. 

“It’s the environment that she creates,” said Campos, a radio-television-film sophomore. “It’s the comfort of knowing that when I go downstairs every morning, whether it’s 7 a.m. or 12:30 p.m., Aurora will be there. And she’ll be there with such patience and kindness for every single person.”

Gomez stood out to The Castilian’s Food and Beverage Director Pamela Reed on her first day on the job four years ago.  

“She is just the kindest of souls, and she has a very important position,” Reed said. “She makes everybody that comes in feel welcome, and it’s so important to make the residents feel like they can be at home because (The Castilian) is their home for a year.”

Her memories from her childhood motivate her to encourage and uplift Castilian residents, so they can have similar happy memories. From watching her uncle’s musical performances to riding her tricycle –– which she always fell off of due to her clumsiness –– she reflects on her childhood in Austin. 

“I wasn’t able to go to college or have what (students) have, so I try to help them not give up,” Gomez said. “It’s so important in life because a lot of us are not fortunate enough to have what they have.”

Nearly 25 years ago, she heard about the job opening from her husband Martin Gomez, a former chef at The Castilian. Even on her first day, the couple acted as nothing but coworkers when they crossed paths. 

“We were very professional,” Gomez said. “They always said that you aren’t supposed to be working with a husband, wife or relative, but they made an exception (for us).”

In April 2022, six years will have passed since Martin’s death. November 7, 2021, would have marked Martin’s and Aurora’s 40-year anniversary. 

“I miss him dearly,” Gomez said. “For Dia de los Muertos, we have his altar where I do the offering of things that he liked when he was leaving, like mangoes, oranges, pears and those little tequila drinks and then we have (the altar) decorated all for him.”

From the moment Gomez arrives at work on the MetroAccess bus until the time she gets home, her surroundings constantly remind of Martin. But she cherishes the memories –– they keep her continuously happy. 

“Martin told me one day that he must leave, and I said that I’d be going with him,” Gomez said. “He told me, ‘No you are not, you still have a mission to accomplish: you still have the Castilian kids to take care of.’”