It’s already Revolution Day and I’m still recovering from Day of the Dead festivities November 1-3. For me this year, it encompassed three cemeteries, one featuring a full-blown party with mariachis and another a grave-decorating contest, a belated birthday celebration and guiding an all-day tour to the home a village family to learn about their traditions for the holiday.
In the movie “Being There,” Peter Sellers — in his last cinema role — played Chance the gardener, whose simplemindedness was mistaken for profound wisdom taken to run world affairs. This Sunday in Cuilápam, it was Tomás Ángel the gardener laying down some serious history on the 16th century monastery 30 miles out of Oaxaca City.
At eight and with a personality as big as his voice, Mauricio is the next Mexico’s Got Talent. For now, he’s rocking a gig at his parents’ taco stand in Teotitlán del Valle, singing and dancing after he takes your order. It was all part of the magic at the town’s week-long holy festival that culminated in a jaw-dropping fireworks show on Sunday.
I wish I were changing the world in a big way, I really do. For those of you out on the front lines – teaching in underfunded classrooms, feeding and clothing the poor, battling social injustice for the disenfranchised, curing diseases and patching wounds, indeed fighting battles for good on any front – I salute you from the bottom of my heart.
For the rest of us, it’s just baby steps in how we change our little part of the world. But the older I am, the more I see how heroic of an effort that really is.
Sounds like a pretty easy lunch date: get some take-out pizza, pick up some friends, head over to another friend’s house to eat. In the US of A, it would involve jumping into the car, swinging by Domino’s and just, well, driving there. It’s a little more complicated in Mexico. Continue reading
I’ll never look at TV news the same: while the camera doesn’t really lie, neither does it always paint a full picture of what’s happening around the world. Take Waco: it’s not all biker gang wars, though that certainly got big coverage. Or Oaxaca, whose election woes have been in the news.
The mood in the days leading up to June 7 mid-term elections was definitely uneasy: federal officials had said that the state of Oaxaca was their primary concern for election violence, primarily because the CNTE (Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación) teachers’ union Section 22 is actively militant here. One official was quoted as saying that even the narcotraficantes haven’t tried to stop elections before: this is a whole new level of protest threatened by the teachers.
If you believe the back windows of the taxis they drive, the taxistas of Oaxaca are a very moral group. For several months now, selected yellow taxis in the city (not the orange, blue or pink, mind you) have been sporting painted one-word virtues. Like the highball glasses my dad used to have. Though who wants to down a drink while thinking of Chastity or Prudence? And it’s not just taxis: José’s VW bug now sports Copiloto: La Reyna de Dallas (copilot: queen of Dallas) on the passenger side. Yeah, it’s misspelled: it should be reina.
The more time I spend in Mexico, the more dazed and confused I am re-entering life back in the U.S. Contract writing work, plus seeing family and friends, brings me back to Dallas several times a year. Part of me thrives on getting stuff done quickly and efficiently, shopping with incredible selection, and going into an office dressed in real clothes and shoes to meet with members of my work group. Another part of me is just plain freaked out now by north American life and culture.
To wit: television news, which these past few weeks has been fixated on deflated footballs, celebrity transgender transformation, the birth of an English princess and a violent biker gang war.
I’ve been thinking a lot about risk lately, living in Mexico – but not in the way that you’d think. What I’ve been pondering is how to up the ante on real risk taking, though many of my stateside friends think I live dangerously enough just hanging out south of the border. Travel logistics are easy, at least compared to the emotional journeys that often follow.
I shouldn’t even be surprised any more when the mundane turns to magic. It so often does in Mexico. So when an ordinary, unannounced weekend trip to Tehaucán to visit Tía Raquel y la familia turned into a double blowout fiesta, it was just validation that well, magic happens.