Monthly Archives: February 2012

Lessons Learned

Have you heard it said that a change is as good as a rest? Well… I would certainly concur with that… The ten days I spent in San Miguel Allende and Mexico City have me energized and popping with new ideas.

I met original thinking individuals who have not allowed themselves to slide into their dotage. And I ask myself:  What is it that makes a person act and feel old?

As I look ahead, a new decade is not so far off but some of the vibrant people I’ve recently met passed that watershed thousands of moons ago. They assure me that “age is a state of mind.”

So how does one convince the mind to get with the program? From what I’ve seen it has to a lot to do with opening up to new experiences. So what if you have never painted before… you’ll never know what you have in you until you give it a go.

If you want to write, or learn to tango, speak another language, play a musical instrument, cook French cuisine… what’s stopping you?

Ah-ha… is it a little nagging voice that taunts: “Are you kidding? You? You’ll make a fool of yourself… you’ll be throwing your money away… you’re too out-of-shape…too old for that silly business…”

Refuse to pay attention to those conventions. Emulate people who have gotten over themselves and are saying: “Yes! I can do that!”

I had a taste of this freedom last Saturday… I went to Bazar del Sabado – a weekly craft fair held in Mexico City. My companions were two “ladies of a certain age” (who don’t realize they have reached that certain age) We tromped everywhere… talked to everyone… and took a city bus back to our digs…

It started to rain. The water poured in through the windows on both sides, through the rooftop and up through more than one hole in the floor. 70s and 80s music played (very loudly) through the scratchy speakers and one of those ladies started to sing along… Pretty soon, I joined her… and so did a young guy named Hugo who told us he’s a social sciences major at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) Others on the bus got into it too. We all had the best time – under circumstances that could have been dreary, dreary, dreary…

I plan on looking for more opportunities like that! Fun (like rain) jumps up where and when you least expect it…

I hope you enjoy the slideshow.

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Elena Poniatowska II

I am back in Mérida (happy sigh).  It was wonderful to be away for ten days but as “Dorothy” said when she clicked the heels of her ruby slippers:  “There’s no place like home… There’s no place like home… There’s no place like home…”

However, before I get back into the groove here in Mérida, let me finish telling you about last Thursday with Elena Poniatowska…

At 10 years of age Elena moved to Mexico. WW II had made life impossible in her native Paris. She learned English at the British high school in Mexico City and a boarding school the USA. She says that she mastered Spanish through her heartfelt conversations with the people who worked in her home. In 1953, she took her first job as a reporter, and she also began writing novels.  She soon gained a reputation for her tenacity and honesty.

Elena spoke to me about her life in Mexico City as a young married woman. Like all working mothers, she always felt       stressed by the demands of her work, social commitments, writing and activism.

She became well known for her social consciousness, and she received threats. “It is difficult,” she said, “and you must be careful all the time.”

But she could not remain silent, especially after the student massacre at Tlatelolco in 1968. Her book gives voice to the everyday people who were involved in the tragedy. The book has been translated into English under the title, “Massacre in Mexico.” I highly recommend that everyone read this chronicle. Our knowledge about Mexico should also include the controversial and painful past.

As Elena and I sat together, other people drifted in and out… her son, a person for whom she’d written a prologue, a delightful physical therapist named Silvestre. She seemed so calm and receptive to all. I could see that her life is a series of days that are full of interesting people, good work, her family, and her causes.

Elena said that she felt this July would be critical for the country and she hopes that the public will inform themselves and then show up to vote. “Of course people feel dissatisfied but if they don’t participate and take a chance, there can be no change.”

She openly supports Andrés Manuel Lopéz Obrador (AMLO) because she feels he is the only candidate who offers any hope for transformation.

She opinioned that we need to concentrate on the present and the future. It does no good to look back all the time, we need to move forward.

“Will corruption in México ever be eradicated?” I asked. She shrugged her shoulders, “Who knows…” she answered.  “It certainly won’t happen if the people do not speak up. But protest also needs to be pragmatic; passion is a start but it has to be backed up with persuasive reason…”

When I glanced at my watch, I could not believe that four hours had elapsed. I must say they had been among the most stimulating ones of my life. Carlos had arrived to collect me and as I said my goodbyes, I felt supremely grateful.

I admire all that Elena Poniatowska represents. I applaud her bravery and I thank her for defending México during this difficult time. I will remember my afternoon with her for the rest of my life.

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A Little Update

I am unable to use my own computer right now because of of an Internet glitch. But I will be leaving Mexico City soon and once I’m home, I’ll be able to resume blogging.

I have loads of stories about these past few days in La Capital… so keep checking:

http://www.writingfrommerida.com

I’ve been meeting some “interesting” people…

Actually this picture isn’t what it looks like… these boys are from the “Plantel Xochimilco del Politecnico” They were at Bazar del Sabado raising money for their football team. They were pretty cute though!

More to come…

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