Monthly Archives: June 2011

Connections

It’s nice to be missed… thank you!

I have not posted any new articles or uploaded comments since early Monday morning, and many readers have written to ask if I’m alright, if I have a problem… “Where are you?” they want to know.

I’m right here… happy and healthy but until a few minutes ago, without Internet.  I don’t know what happened but I suspect the heavy rain associated with Tropical Storm #4 has been the cause.

My mom and me  Normally when this happens, it’s “No prob’ Bob…” My son Carlos seems to be able to fix all such disorder. But alas, my internet signal wasn’t the only severed connection to occur on Monday… My fair-haired boy has left Mérida, at least for the time being. He will be getting married soon, living and studying abroad. Believe me… I already miss him and for many more things than his abilities to deal with IT glitches.

But fortunately, Carlos has left me in good hands, his friend Sergio came to the rescue this afternoon and we are all up and running again. Sigh…                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Before I became a mommy, no one told me what it would feel like to see your child fly the coop. But now I know, and I will tell you… it feels like being kicked by a horse!

Thirty years ago, as new parents, Jorge and I could no more imagine being separated from our little bundle of joy, than we could contemplate life without each other. His sister came along a few years later, and it seemed  Carlos and me   there was so much time… unlimited time… but guess what? “Time flies” is a popular idiom because it is true!

This is not our first experience with him leaving home… we’ve had lots of trial runs (university, trips, job relocation, and so on) But somehow this separation is the BIGGIE!                                                                                                  

 “Imagine how awful this would be if we didn’t love Jeanette and were not happy about his upcoming marriage?” I asked Jorge. “Yes,” he answered, “And don’t you have a new appreciation for how your parents felt when you moved here?”

Do I ever… My family’s support made it possible for me to live so far away from them… we hope our son will always feel that even though great distances separate us, he is always “in our arms”.

Carlos and Jeanette

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Ask and you will receive!

On Friday, I was driving home past the Parque de las Americas. As I got closer, I noticed that filming was happening, right at the intersection. I felt nervous because getting across Avenida Colón is frightening at the best of times, and with the equipment, props, actors, cameramen, directors, and bystanders… it would be even more of a challenge. Everyone seemed to be wandering all over the place, busily doing their jobs, without too much concern for cars. I, of course was most anxious not to hit anyone!

And what was the subject of this great production? Best I could see… it was a variation on the theme of: “Your Tax Pesos At Work.” A promo of the City’s street cleaning operation was in the making. The stars, decked out in new beige and orange uniforms were positioned at different distances from the fellow with a gigantic video camera, and when the jefe (in a double knit polo shirt) said, “¡Ya!” –  they walked forward, jauntily carrying brooms, shovels and a weed-whacker. Several takes were necessary because the fellows were not too experienced at being video stars and they forgot to smile, or they looked down, or didn’t look at the camera. There were four of them and each had to play his part just right.

But finally, the take was completed to everyone’s satisfaction and the line of waiting cars was waved through. As I passed one of the bosses in a polo shirt, I said, “Why don’t you bring those guys up to my street; there’s lots of overgrowth to be cut down and trash to pick up…  add some realism to your film? He took down my address and said they’d certainly come by… and ¡Muchas Gracias! for my fine suggestion… Of course no one showed up to film Act II on my litter-strewn roadway and sidewalk.

BUT… Sunday morning at 7 am, we were awoken by the sound of weed-whackers – whacking… brooms – sweeping… shovels – dumping… and eight good-natured young men singing. The crew had arrived and Calle 7 was getting a thorough make-over. I went out to thank them (two big bottles of Coke under my arm) They opened that elixir right away and took big grateful gulps… It was already H-O-T by 7 am and they told me, they’d been on the job since 5 am. I asked them if I could take a picture?  They did not have to be asked twice… they were experienced at this and they jumped up and struck a pose in front of their truck.

I was charmed, as I am about so many things in Mérida. You know the people here can turn an ordinary event into a fiesta. They laugh and joke about everything and I know their good humor rubs off on me. When I am asked, “Why do you live here? Why is it such a special place?” I inevitably answer, “Because of the people!”  Guys like the Sunday morning clean-up crew… and the many other hard-working, honest citizens I encounter every day. I try to be as gracious with them as they are with me…

Ask, and you will receive!

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Filed under Vida Latina

Perspective

Last week I read a most interesting editorial by Carlos Fuentes in “El Pais” (a newspaper from Mexico City.) In this piece Mr. Fuentes gives historical perspective to the current situation in Mexico…

He begins with the French Revolution of 1779, explaining that while it sparked technological progress, the students, factory workers, laborers, and farmers were excluded from the generated wealth.

He says that in Mexico in 1810, similar discontent raged and led to independence from Spain.  In 1848, in France and Germany, the working class rebelled. In Austria and in Italy, the story was similar.

Moving forward through the centuries, we see many significant periods and events, most of them triggered by the inequality of society. Those that had… had a lot; those did not have… had nothing!

In 1968, all over the world, the same inconformity was expressed  (Paris, Tokyo, Kent State…) and nowhere was this more true than in Mexico. The country is still reeling from the Students  vs. Army confrontation at Tlatelolco.

In 2000, the right wing National Action Party (PAN) party finally triumphed over the  70+ year hold that the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) party held in the country. The citizens hoped for more equality but according to Mr. Fuentes, the changes affected by the new leadership might have been significant in the 1970s but  in 2011, they are laughable.

And now, Mexicanos  are once again claiming their rights in Mexico. More than 100,000 marched for 2,000 kilometers, from Mexico City to Ciudad Juarez – their message is loud and clear: ¡Basta! – Enough Violence!

Throughout the world, there is a demand for institutions, societies and lifestyles that meet the local culture’s needs but also contribute positively to the international panorama.

The article ends with an admonition that must be foremost in our minds during this time of change. We need to open our eyes and realize that everything we do today will impact our lives tomorrow. The “house of cards” we live in must be given more substance.

Carlos Fuentes (born November 11, 1928) is a Mexican writer and one of the best-known living novelists and essayists in the Spanish-speaking world. He has influenced contemporary Latin American literature and his works have been widely translated into English and other languages.

As a long time resident of Merida, I am amazed by the number of other nationals (mostly Americans and Canadians) moving to the city. The recent statistics from Immigration claim there are 6,000 permanent foreign residents (this does not take into account the winter guests and other part-timers)

My favorite Carlos Fuentes books is “Aura.” It is available in English. I feel that as international residents of Mexico, it is beneficial to read works by the country’s  writers.  It shows respect for our adopted country and the citizens appreciate it. (not to mention how much you’ll enjoy the books!) This website has a comprehensive list of Latin American works that have been translated into English.

*All images are from Google

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Filed under Vida Latina, Writing