Tuesday, July 29, 2008

One-handed Typing

You know, I've always hated that rule about no running in the house. I always said that if you can't run around and yell in the house, what are you doing?

So there I was playing tag (in flip flops) with Max, yes, in the house, and I slid and fell from the house down a step into our tile courtyard. I'm so not the type to break a bone--hate skiing, not into steep places--but here I am, typing with one hand. Fracture on the elbow. And, for good measure, some stitches in my head and a big black eye.

Still, I wonder: can't we jog in the house?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Guelaguetza Popular

Hombro a hombro
Codo a codo
La APPO, La APPO, La APPO somos todo

Oaxaca celebrates indigenous dance every year with Guelaguetza, a folkloric dance event in an outdoor amphitheater. The event has packed the town with tourists who fill the sidewalks and the Alcala tourist corridor.

But I didn't see the tourists in the zocalo last night. Instead, it was Mexicanos out to celebrate the Guelaguetza Popular, a "People's Guelaguetza" intended to both celebrate Oaxaca's diverse regions and also to get the message out that these people of Oaxaca are oppressed by its government.

The Calenda processional went on for blocks, and the zocalo was the most packed I had ever seen it. Everyone was shouting political chants for APPO, the controversial coalition of unions that held high-profile strikes and protests in 2006. Loosely known as "the teachers", APPO also has groups representing farmers, students, and indigenous groups. Other sites would provide more detailed information, while mine here will be more experiential.

And my experience was: powerful. Here was a deeply political gathering, fueled by injustice after injustice (including some political prisoners who still have not been released by a government who has been on Amnesty International's shit list since the uprising), but the mood was also festive and vivid.

There was a contingent of people in elaborate devil masks, with levers for opening and shutting their eyes. There was a group of black-clad punky boys pogo-ing as they circumnavigated the zocalo. There were women in elaborate feather headdresses and men clad in white with ponchos holding ceramic jugs. Giant puppets were held aloft on people's shoulders, and one group of men took turns being a "bull", dodging through the crowd while carrying an elaborate wooden frame will a bull's skin stretched across it. There were old women and well-dressed young men, teenagers and small children, all chanting for their rights.

It proved to me something I had suspected. Since I arrived, I had heard from one bourgeois source after another that APPO is corrupt, that the people don't support APPO, that the APPO often ships people in from other regions and pays them to strike. Last night proved them wrong. This was no staged assembly, the people were clearly Oaxaqueno, though many not from the city, and their hearts were on the line. They raised fists and shouted with passion. As a person raised on protests, I know a remarkable demonstration when I see one. Here is was, the revolutionary spirit, expressed through dancing in the streets. Muy mexicano.

La APPO vive
La lucha sigue

La APPO vive, vive
La lucha sigue, sigue

Viva La APPO!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

No Sleep 'Til...

Brooklyn? I'm not sure. Just no sleep. The kids have stopped sleeping. Or they take turns sleeping in little bits, harassing us in between. Max has phobias and Genevieve just prefers to yell and play all...night...long. How can she function? She slept 10pm to 4am the other night, getting up twice during that stretch to scream and mess around.

How can we function?

Tomorrow, it's to the pediatrician and the flores de bach lady to see if something is wrong and if something can be done.

Somehow, we are muddling along through this hysteria. Steve and I spot each other for naps during the day (the kids don't typically nap), because Maxito and Yeni are on school break until August 18th. August 18th can't come fast enough.

On the bright side, our dear friends Do and Erik came with their son Lake and we had dinner together last night. They spoke of living together in a dark room for 2 weeks as a kind of meditation or ritual practice. Do spoke of her home (Italy) and how different it is from Erik's home (Norway). And now they are moving to Berlin, because it's full of artists and cheap rent. They say on Sundays, the bars open and serve brunch outside and everybody comes for a huge community meal along the avenues.

Off to usher the children off to pretend sleep. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


We just returned from a whirlwind East Coast vacay. It began with Cape Cod, to see the in-laws. I've never been much of a Cape Cod kind of person, even though I desperately love beaches. I've gotten spoiled, I think, by the Mexican beach model of palapas for shade and grilled mariscos lunches while watching the kids play in the sand. But we hit Sandy Neck and Peter's Pond and managed to find our groove with the Atlantic side of the world.

Then we popped up to Maine to a place called Squirrel Island which was a very different experience. It's a summer colony, meaning, I guess, that the weather is a little too desperately cold for unheated beach cottages once October hits. Steve's sister Mary invited us to stay in their 5-bedroom cottage rental. I'd never been to a place like this. No cars or bicycles are allowed and there are no restaurants or shops. You bring everything over by ferry and, basically, only the residents (or renters) are there. This is a pretty cool setup when traveling with two young children. They loved running all over the grassy fields and through the forest of fairy houses (built from shells, sea glass, rocks, and strange little objects). The sea glass beach brought out the obsessive collector in me. Maxito and I spent a couple hours poring over the glittering jewels, which are also known as Mermaids' Tears. Other beaches have rocks for climbing, tide pools, or some decent wading. The library is in a gorgeous building with window seats. There are strange little art books and even some multicultural children's books. The house where we stayed had a wrap-around porch and a big hammock and I noticed (as did Mary) that, as time went on, outdoor life became the default and indoors was where you went to fetch something before returning outside. This was a great experience.

We managed to sneak into Boston to the Fogg Art Museum and Indian food (hooray!). We also hit New Hampshire (new territory for me) and then, my favorite, Chicago! What a blast buzzing around the inner city after all the languid beach days. The Art Institute is incredible, and borders Millenium Park, home to a sprayground that is now Yeni and Max's fave spot in the city.

Now I'm back in Oaxaca which, after all these far-flung places, is home, more than ever. But I'm also left with a longing, I must admit, to still be looking at the sea glass in the sun, with nothing more pressing than a date to make s'mores at the fireplace that evening.