Published: June 16th 2008June 16th 2008
Let me begin this blog by describing a recent hilarious scene in my life as I know it in Oaxaca, Mexico.
There are about thirty of us, and maybe fifty Oaxaquenos, in the movie theatre for half-price Wednesday. The four main characters in this American film, all from New York City, have taken a trip to, where else? Mexico. One of the characters brings snack packs of chocolate pudding along, and refuses to eat anything else for the duration of their stay - no matter how enticing and delectable the Mexican meals appear. One of her friends chooses to confront her: "Charlotte, you could really do without the pudding for just one night! We are at a FIVE STAR resort, for goodness' sake!" Her reply: one of the most common phrases we have learned to use here... when nothing makes sense, when the world seems stranger than fiction.... when we see an old man trotting down the street, completely naked. "It's MEXICO!" Sometimes, there is no other explanation. You can choose to complain, or to have a sense of humor. Needless to say, our group laughed loud enough and long enough to possibly offend the locals in the theatre, and
to also prove: we aren't here to complain.
Yes, it's Mexico. This week was yet another buffet for the senses, and yes, I filled my plate and am ready for seconds. I stood with my two feet planted on the peak of a mountain, and finally realized why everyone stretches their arms out at the summit: the urge to touch, to feel, to hold the earth that falls down before you, and all around you - it's insatiable. The height of your body, of your soul, is so incredible that you want to reach up and see if there is more height to conquer. It's intoxicating. There were no fences, no guard rails, no gaudy warning signs to protect me from a perfect view. Just me, a couple of friends, and the good green ground.
The heat and light came back to brush our skin, and the days stretch out so long now that I am never ready to let it rest and go to bed. My evenings have been filled with highly competitive games of Rummikub with my family, often lasting into the morning... pirated movie nights at Greta's house, shopping the street markets during the day...
Yesterday we witnessed the dramatic exit of the school teachers' protest. Educators from all over the state of Oaxaca meet every summer at the downtown square to protest teacher's rights; they live in tents for weeks in the central park, marching signs by day and buying food from street vendors by night. To commemorate the two year anniversary of the police setting tear gas on the teachers, a huge demonstration with fireworks and speeches and marching commenced. It was frightening and fascinating to behold.
Last night our group was invited a teacher's house to watch a collection of short films that a few of our professors from the Institute are working on. It was incredible to see what kind of production can be made with such a shallow pool of resources. Beyond that, it was interesting to see how comfortable Mexicans are with social boundaries; I have experienced this often here, the sense that a person is just a person. Students ate and drank and were merry with their professors, and a good time was had under seemingly unusual circumstances. I thoroughly embrace their disregard of labels and status quo, because life becomes so much more straightforward. No guile.
I hope you are all staying safe amidst the storms (for those of you in Baraboo) and I pray for the recovery of our drowning little town and its people. As always, I'm thinking of you all and sending so much love.
There are more photos below