Thursday, June 26, 2008

i live here

After about 7 weeks of being on this side of town, i must say i feel like i am living here. I have gotten used to the street signs, the smells, the weather, the currency, the norms, the sharp contrasts, and the people. It has been a really intersting ride... this life im living. I do see sharp contrast practically on a daily basis.. but honestly, the more time i spend here, and the more time i spend with the people, the less idealisitc i become. i am currently having a difficult time with the "live simply so that others may simply live." This somehow made sense to me before... i loved this quote. If you have ever recieved an email from me, then you recognize it from my signature... but i am having a serious issue with it because out of the numerous things I am learning, one of them is: so really, how is me living simply in my home going to better the fact that my host mom still has no hot water for the night?

if u are reading this, chances are the i love u... thanks for reading my blogs... emotional vomits will soon be spurting up in the next few blogs... considering the fact my parents are coming TODAY! :)

ADios amigos!

ps. i got the chance to see the ballet folklorico in the palacio de bellas artes last sunday night in Mexico CIty. W O W.

I love it. i love the sound of mariachi more than i ever did before. And this means, a lot.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

a double life?

There is a lot to write about. But i have not that much time. And frankly i would rather spend more of my time enjoying it and living it than writing all about it.

But bits and pieces of it i do get to share.

Now, im in mexico city.

The sharp contrast is huge. But this time i prepared myself for it. I have learned to accept the class my family belongs to in the city. Have enjoyed it quite honestly. And although i am really enjoying my time in veracruz, it was nice to have a weekend where I could sleep on cold sheets again, and not have mosquito bites itching my right and left leg every couple of minutes.

i took the metro... in Mexico City... all by myself. and loved it.
ha. no big deal. quite the experience though with the overwhelmingly crowded transit during rush hour... every part of my body was touching somebody else's part of their body... everybody. I was afraid to go into the metro honestly... considering i literally saw people's faces smashed up with their hands up holding themselves on the quick metro sliding door. But after two metros had passed without me getting on, i said... "im going in."

I suddenly found myself pushing and shoving in through people until i was sorroundes by them all... my bag was crisscrossed accross my shoulders, and i was holding on to whateevr i could with one of my hands. The other i was holding on to a bag i had with purhcased CDs and of course, a pair of wooden earrings. :) After a couple stops i was able to find a seat. And from then on, a smooth ride.

This crowdedness was because it was 6pm on a Friday evening. When i took it yesterday at like 10am there were definately no people smashed up againts the doors.

Contrary to popular belief i was not pick pocketed... all safe and sound...and fast. Wow. I went from one side of the city to the other in about 30 minutes... um, mexico city is quite the size... so it was quick. All for $2.50 pesos... about $0.25 USD.

And... It didnt even smell :)

i kind of had a sence of acomplishment everytime i arrived to a destination. maybe u should come here and try it yorself... but with me ;)

With my cousins' guidance as to which route to take, i could go anywhere i feel! Oh, what freedom!

People even asked me for directions walking down the street... and guess what... i was able to guide them in the right direction... some ladies from Colombia and Chile who were adorable went along the ride with me towards my metro stop... didnt stop asking me questions about the city, its history, me, and how i learned spanish so well living in the states... um, this is a good sign my friends.

in brief:

*Visited the anthropology museum... amazingly huge! i think i literally had a joygasm with every major exposition.

::NOTE - i saw THE Aztec calendar. 'nough said::

*Went to a Mexico Diablos baseball game with my cousins... the best bad mouthing to players i have heard in the spanish language thus far. and oh, the viraety of food sold at the stands... from peanuts to tacos to pizzas to iced coffee to mexican treats, potato chips, and of course... beer, and mixed drinks... at very low prices... yea, about that...

*Went out to a bar lounge with my cousins and her friends to celebrate my cousins birthday.
*Then went out to have dinner (mind you this is at about 1:45 am)
*Went to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera's house (the next day)
*Had lunch at a really good Oaxacan restaurant
*hung out with my cousins in their European-Style apartment
*Will be attending my cousins graduation ceremony at the Palacio de Bella Artes tomorrow.

Obviously a SHARP contrast to my life in Veracruz!!! Am i living a double life?!

I feel like i am cheating on my own life right now... a weird anology. Will explain later.

Pictures will arrive eventually. For now, leave it all up to your imagination.

Saludos y abrazos
:) !!

Friday, June 20, 2008

i didn't look back. i promise.

June 14, 2008

It was 11:25 pm when we arrived after the long dirt road filled with little rocks sorrrounded by green trees – it looked like we were in some kind of tree tunnel in the middle of nowhere. You could only hear the rustling of the river near by, not even the birds were singing their songs at this hour. And we were too far away from town to hear the roosters, the dogs, the cats, or the people having a laugh here or there. Even though the windows were open in the car, it was still getting warm, and as always, humid. The back of my neck was beginning to sweat, and so was my left arm, which was squished next to Pepe, my cousin (im part of the family already what can I say). There were actually 6 of us in the small low black Honda. Three in the back, and three in the front. Because the car was low and close to the road, we had to be driving extra slow because every few seconds you would hear the scraching of a rock toppled around under the car, possibly leaving its trace behind. This speed though only made the ride longer… and all I wanted to do was get there to be back already…

I thought we had arrived to another side of the pueblo… or maybe a different one considering we had been driving for some time. I was kind of confused. Aside from the typical, I also saw little house-like rectangles, with candles lit inside. They had a door and everything. Some undistinguishable flowers were sticking out of some of the windows of these little cement “houses.” They were the same height as that of a tipical one story house… only a lot smaller. Just a few feet in square inches wide.

We pull up, turn off the car’s lights, the boys get out of the car, open my door and ask… “Vienes?”
“Yo no. Aqui los espero,” said Chela, Pepe’s sister, who is my age.
“No manchen, yo aqui los espero tambien. Yo de aqui no me muevo,” said Esteban, leaning his head back on his drivers seat closing his eyes.
“Tienes que enfrentar tu miedo cara a cara. Ademas, no les va a pasar nada,” Pepe reasurred them.

Pepe is tall, pretty built, and was wearing a tee shirt that folded up right on his “conejo.” I always make fun of him for it. He has tight curly hair that goes up to his shoulders, and he always wears a baseball cap. Even right now.

“Bueno pues, viens o te quedas?” he asked me again.

I decided to take advantage of this opportunity to face my fears as well… after I began a continued prayer that did not finish until well after I arrived back home, I got out of the car and followed with Pepe, Ruby, and Pepe’s friend. Ruby and I were pretty much cuddling as we walked. She is way shorter than me though, and a couple years younger. She's another friend.

“No se asusten, que no pasa nada,” said Pepe with a reasurring voice. I trust this kid. He didn’t say it with a playful tone. This relieved me a bit.

By now it was 11:30 pm. We sat in the center of it, right under the biggest cross around atop a rather large cement block. The moon was bright so i could distinguish some of the little cement blocks because of the shadow of the moon. But this cross we laid on, it wasn’t home to anybody.

I was king of tense, then with the sound of the river near by, began to relax. I couldn’t see it. It was hidden behind the bush of trees. But I could hear it clearly. The boys arrived and laid on their back looking at the sky from the rock the cross was mounted on. Ruby and I were still cuddling.

“What do you feel… are you seriously scared right now?” Pepe asked me again.
“Well,” I said in a low and slow way. “I thought I would be practically pissing my pants right now… but surprisingly, no… I think I kind of feel a sence of peace right now.”

“See? I told you. What is there to be afraid of?”

Once in a while I would realize… crap, its almost midnight and I am in the midle of the cementary. With crosses of every shape and size. Cement tombstones of all shapes and sizes too. Pepe and his friend did knock on one of the doors where the tombstone was a little house and a candle was lit inside. I snapped at him for doing so.

After lying under the cross for a while on top of the rock that belong to no one, or everyone, I decided to leave back to the car. It was quite the peaceful moment I had just had. Putting me to reflect… relizing that well, in life, we are going to end up like this… under a pile of dirt – if im lucky. Putting me to think that this is the great equalizer of us all. Rich or poor, white or black, (or brown!). Reminding me to invest in eternal things… because I do believe that at least that is what will last… and im trying to see what these "eternal" things are indeed.

I actually didn’t want to leave… but at the same time I wanted to run out of there. We were well lit by the moonlight, which was only a cresecent moon. But with no lights around, the moon for some reason seemed way brighter than usual.

As we were leaving, they talked about the myth that says to never look back at a cementary when leaving it at night… because you will see things… or feel things…
We got in the car, and none of us looked back. I tried to say i didn't believe in myths like that... Jesus was by my side... :) But of course, the guys had to get in their joking mood sometime during the night - but still, none of us looked back.

This elongated my prayer a bit… after we drove again through that long dirt road filled with little rocks sorrrounded by green trees, which still looked like we were in some kind of tree tunnel in the middle of nowhere, I cought sight of the elementary, middle, and high school of the Pueblo. We had arrived to its entrance again…

Will I do this again, I don’t know. But I am glad I got off the car… it was quite the random experience… like everything else around here has been thus far.

May you rest, in peace. Why not desire this for someone else, right?


A good full heartfelt 2 hours... this is the norm around here. and i like it.

June 9, 2008 7:00 pm

I just spent two full on hours kicking it with Martin and Maria next door… no phone to run to, no meeting to leave to, and honestly, not a pressing homework assignment to get done. I get the privilige of simply sitting and talking, and mostly listening actually, to a lot of people around here. Today, it was with my host family's brother and wife, and some of that time was spent with Pepe, one of their sons. I loved it.

First of all, I was able to experience the killing of an iguana… which was horrendous by the way. The way its tail and arms moved looked like it was about to grab pepe by the arms to attempt and do the exact same thing to him in revenge– but we all know that’s impossible. But when I came back to have them help me buy a maca, alli me quede. Talking about my life and all… and talking with el tio Martin! . He is such a cool cat… and most of all, I loved the fact that they brought forth the coversation about religion first. I love the fact that they were able to express to me a bit of how they feel… and the fact that my ear has been trained to listen more.

We were literally able to talk about politics, immigration, life for me in the US, life for them here in Idolos, a bit of Christian history, and a bit of what Christianity means for me… that was the most beautiful part. Literally, sharing the love of Christ with others is indeed one of my favorite things to do now. I love the fact that I did not want to saturate them… "a little salt."

::note - these are people who are "catholic" whom the "christians" in this town prefer not to associete themselves with... because of this mere fact. So having ths conversation was huge!::

The good thing was that I was able to state that well, I am not God and that I am not going to judge how someone else lives their life. I was able to explain that my love and relationship with God was much bigger than things like watching a movie or going to a party. But I did not want to badmouth my host family either… so I didn’t even mention any names and did repeat that that is simply the way I think and that well, others could choose to live their lives their own way and I respect that.

Because I was able to freely express my voice… I once again feel alive.
I mean, after having a coversation with my host dad about what he thinks God will tell us when we arrive in heaven... i have decided to state that I don’t know… all I do know is that I hope that God doesn’t even speak to me because I want to be able to worship and experience Him for who he is in all his glory for the rest of eternity... perhaps a conversation might not even happen. But who knows.

Is religion more than knowing certain songs, going to church, praying to someone when things go wrong, or praising when things go well?

Could their be a difference between a Christian and a follower of Christ?

love. I am not the master at it. Who is? oh right. Jesus.

It is hard for me to love. It is hard for me to love particularly people who hate. I have begun a conversation with God… first of all to teach me to love Him, first and formost, above everything else. But really...

Then, to continue teaching me to love people, particularly those who have distinct different opinions than myself... in this case, the Christians in town who live a life judging others for not being "Christian" enough on a basis of what one wears and says more than on ones actions... where do i fall on this paradigm? Am i more like them than i thought?

I am in a serious form of transformation in a number of different areas in my life right now... just fyi.

My Happy Moment

June 6, 2008

Ya lo había extrañado y ni me había dado cuenta. Estábamos viendo los muchachos pescar en el rió porque había muchísimos camarones que la gente estaba pescando. Cuando de repente nos agarro el agua. ¡Lo verde se veía mas verde, y a mi me empezó a dar poquito miedo porque ya el tío y el hermano de tony estaban pescando, y el rió iba crecer! Empezaba a llover más y más... correle!

The drips of water dripped from my eyelids, nose, hands, hair, and clothes. I missed getting wet just for the heck of it. The weather was still humid, so it was of course, warm. And, I didn’t have to go anywhere so really, it didn’t matter if I had mud all over my feet. I ran, spread my arms open, and laughed with my host family under the rain and warm weather. It started raining harder, those rains that make you hold on to whatever YOUR Kermit is (stuffed animal...)at night a little tighter.

But for some reason, the mud, the rain, the humidity, the thunder, the possiblity of getting sick with some stiken disease... it didn’t matter. Again... the lighting, followed by thunder. Sorrounded by a viaerty of bright green trees, and accompanied by the song of literally hundreds of different bird sounds, some of which I have never heard before, was quite honestly, a very happy moment in my life today.

I loved it. Cant wait to do it again. Probobly will do that tomorrow… and the day after that, and maybe the day after that again.

At least for tonight, by the time the muchachos return, we will have quite the kilos of camarones for a caldo, en ajo, entomatados, rancheros, empanizados, or even on a coctel. All after a few hours of Obed fishing at the rio earlier today. Yei God!

...And the birds keep chirping and making a beautiful well orchestrated song making a sorround sound effect… as if th birds had a 24 hour conducter by their side.

Que bonito es la lluvia. If I close my eyes, I could definitely imagine I an in a selva… but then I get a little scared so I decide to simply take in the moment that I am currently residing off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Its beautiful!

As for later that night... mmmm.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

so... what am i doing?

Do ya'll even know what I am doing down here?

First of all, let me state that Veracruz is a beautiful state... green vegetatoin everywhere and the weather is not so hot anymore... still humid, but now it is slowly becoming into a tropical haven... asside from the mosquitos, frogs, iguanas, and snakes... its all good on this side of town... :)

I am living with a host family in a rural town near the capital of veracruz... where i have internet access. Check this out though... i am staying with my brother-in-law's family here!! Honestly, their hospitality has been amazing... I will be doing a "Family Organization" project which will simply evaluate family norms in this setting, as well as an independant research project on migration away from Los Idolos, Veracruz to study how migration has affected the population in Lod Idolos both economically and sociologically... i.e. work and income, consumtion habits, family relationships, and overall quality of life. Asside from all this, I am interning at SEDESOL which is the Secretry of Social Development, part of the federal government. I am interning with them two to three times per week, one day assisting in the federal office building with paperwork and files needing funding for projects to better the communities in Veracruz, and the other two days i am "on the field" visiting different projects that have begun from SEDESOL to see their importance, quality, effectiveness, etc... I havent done field work yet, that is starting manana!

I am really excited for my research project... and asside from hanging out around the pubelo meeting and simply hearing people's stories, jokes, and them feeding me (they all are on a NO CARBS LEFT BEHIND mission on me it seems)... i have, im not kidding, 15 books i brought with me. Some for pleasure, and some that i have to use for my papers.

Asside from the constant scratching due to the beautiful mosquitos qho had a feast with my body, and walking along the sunsets of the green banana leaf and mago trees all around, i am learning new ways to be still, and to try and jump, at least for a sec, in the life and mindset of a human being who lives and breathes a completely distinct world than the one i do.

i dont know when i will have the opportunity to do this again for this amount of time while on my own... although i miss some people at times (um, yes)... i remember why i am doing this and strength somehow rejuvinates me... i know some of u have been praying for me... and let me tell you...

prayer works.

Saludos amigos... and I will try to update u again with some videos hopefully by next week.


Protestants vs. Catholics... tan tan tan...

You have either heard me mention, or are probobly strangely familiar with the animosity between protestants and catholics in Latin America. Currently, I am living with a protestant homestay family in a little pueblo where about 98% is catholic. I go with them to church of course, but this has been probobly one of the most difficult things for me being here... why?

First of all, because i have placed myself under the "protestant" unbrella, now a lot of what i do, or say, is labeled as... "but she's an evangelical isn't she?" The thing here is that, honestly, I have not cared much for what people would say of me. But here the reputation of me, my host family, and my own family is at stake with a shake of a hip to the right to the sound of Gloria Estefan's "Conga." I could feel the confused stare of my host family when i start singing aloud the Vicente Fernandez, or Mana, or the latest Regeton song... I have grown to believe that my love and relationship with God is much more bound than my music tastes... but heres the deal.. this is jsut the surface. To church, we have to wear a veil... thats right. We have to also say "Gloria Dios" or "Aleluya" about every three minutes or I will be looked upon as a heathen. If i want to go to the boda or party happening in town, i am seen as someone who wants to be like the "inconversos." Im all about hanging out with everybody in the pueblo... but i am beginning to see that this perhaps is not acceptable because I am "Christian." I am beginnging to see the root of this, but still feel like i cannot be myself at times for fear of being judged... but then i really dont care... and its the family that I dont want to let down...

but then again i cant change the entire way they think.

What got me the most was that when i asked my host mom if she had ever had short hair, she responded with... "i used to. But since i know of the Word of the Lord, i don't do that anymore."

I was soo confused. I was like.. what does having shorter hair have to do with knowing about God? Once again, i could see the root, but i dared to ask the question. I was looked on like i was blowing bubbles or something... and when i commented that i wanted to cut my hair, my host mom had this worried look on her face asking.. "how short? why?!"

Look, im all ok with people choosing to live the life they lead... and they could live christianity and live up to the "boring" stigma it has.. literally. Everybody has been liek "oh, you go to the templo with them? oh..."

But I know my God and the Jesus I know. Christians in Idolos are known to be boring, judgemental, and crazy. Asside from Crazy, i know christians to be otherwise.

Why is it so hard for us to love and accept? Now me, who is all open to hearing the way other people live, is hard for me to accept the way Christians are choosing to live here... and thats because im in the midts of it all.

I will continue to try to be me, and speaking about my love of and with God, regardless of what I like to do... is this possible?

Honestly, seeing this animosity between protestants and catholics is one of the most difficult things ive encountered thus far...

love... such a hard darn thiing to do.

The powerlessness of the individual

The more time i am spending with the people in Idolos, the more my powereless is shoved in my face. From job opportunities to relationships to education to global warming.

just a thought i had to spit out above everything else.