Thursday, June 26, 2008

Crazed crowds call for sound minds

Ever since sitting through lessons about the Holocaust in middle school, crowd mentality has scared the hell out of me. So last Friday, when I was in Mexico City for the Cafe Tacuba concert, I was relieved to be on the other side of the fence, in the VIP section, watching the crowd scream ''todo VIP, todo VIP.'' (everyone's VIP) The faces of those on the front lines were hot with sweat, pushing back against the monstrous crowd. I kept waiting for the fence to topple and the tidal wave of people to crash down upon us, but it didn't. We ordered our beers, drank them down, and enjoyed the concert.

It was only by chance I was not part of the mob. My friend Sophia and I had purchased normal tickets, but when we picked them up, they gave her two VIP tickets instead of her one normal one. We accepted our fortune as good fans should and sold my ticket. As a result, we got to see Cafe Tacuba, one of Mexico's most famous bands, front and center. It was an incredible concert. The whole crowd hung on every word. They moved from the low-key to the intense with amazing fluidity. The instrumentals focused mainly on electric guitars, keyboard, and a little base, and they had such a purposeful sound to each song, like we were all getting something done together, watching the lead singer with his two braids pace around the stage. I felt myself pacing in place too, buying completely into his intuitive assertiveness, as did everyone else. One of the great things about a concert is the group mentality. We were all trying Cafe Tacuba's attitude on for size, all of us on the same wavelength at once, riding it out.

But not everyone in Mexico City was so lucky this past weekend. On Saturday night, when Sophia and I were busy strolling through Zocolo to see the castle-like cathedral, crowd mentality turned sour at a club called News Devine. According to news reports, 200 police decided to raid the place in search of illegal alcohol and drugs. Maybe they chose that club because they knew most of customers were minors, which they reportedly were. The result was a mad rush to get out, at which point the police closed all the doors and refused to let anyone through. Squashed up against the doors by the crazed crowd, twelve people died.

The story sickens me. Why 200 police had to raid a night club is beyond me, especially because I have not found any reports that there were serious drugs involved. It really makes me wonder...what are we thinking when we are in a crowd? There should not be 200 police involved in one raid. That makes them part of a crowd, and then it's easy to develop an army-like approach, where anyone without a uniform is just the enemy, not a citizen to protect. It became an issue of authority against the people, which has a tendency to cut to the core of the Mexican psyche. Not trusting the government, the kids must have gone crazy with fear, clawing their way towards the door, ignoring the deadly trauma they were inflicting on some.

As the second largest city in the world, Mexico City is teeming with people. They are everywhere, selling you things, cutting in front of you on metros, swarming through the streets. It's a great place to enjoy Mexican culture, from the cutting-edge-modern to the traditional, which still thrives. They dance wearing headdresses and soccer jerseys in the street. But if you don't think for yourself, you might just end up in the wrong crowd.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Posh parties

I never expected to like living here so much. It´s a dillapidated city, weathered by smoke and graffiti, suffering from the constant roar of unmuffled motors. When I walk to class, I step over shattered glass and little divets in the sidewalk that one of my friends so wisely termed ¨gringo traps.`` There´s dog shit from the stray dogs. I buy my movies in a huge market made of cement walls and stairs that don´t ventilate, trapping inside its walls all the goods people have crammed in, along with teeming cigarette butts and mold. They serve food inside there, and I cringe remembering I ate there when I first got here. (Maybe that explains all the sickness that kept me down the first few months of life here...oops).

But I do like it here. ├ľkay, if you were to see my unsmiling face when I say I like it here, you would chuckle at me. I don´t like it the way I like home. But here, I have a window into an alternate life, a life that doesn´t really feel like my own. Here, I am living to live. I am getting by. I am poor, but being poor is not what I thought it would be. I live it up more here than I did when I was a ^rich^ American. Here, two blocks away from my house, there is a jazz bar with smooth music, music that has the power to set everything right in your mind for a moment. Looking to appreciate a moment, we turn to the music. We head to cafes and bars that play live bands. We note the announcements on the streets of concerts to come. We head to Teatro Degollado to hear the symphony, then the plaza for some electronica. There´s always something new, something different, something to set your mind going in some new direction without your own initiative.

Everywhere you go, people are trying to express themselves in strangely straightforward ways. Kids sing in the streets. People wear tee shirts that say, in English, "I love my boyfriend." (Couldn´t help but laugh out loud when I saw that one) and "I will love you for the rest of my life, forever and ever." When a guy wants your attention, he comes out with the words to express exactly that--"Te quiero" (I want/love you). Romance precedes all, for the sake of life. Call it cheesy, call it cute, I think it's hilarious.

But you have to admire them for their appreciation of beautiful experiences. On Friday, I went to this really posh, exclusive party that my roomate invited me to. It was held in a beautiful old courtyard filled with strange, modern furniture. The lighting was blue and purple, and in front colorful shapes moved around on a video screen. We sipped watermelon martinis while sitting on white statues of camels. In the states, these experiences always seemed out of my reach, but here, there´s no escaping them. My plans to see movies or spend quiet evenings in with friends keep getting trumped by invitations out to crazy clubs or bars. Some events are more exclusive, more expensive, but I´ve noticed that often exclusivity in Mexico does not depend upon money or politics. You just have to know the right people at the right time, and being a foreigner definitely has its perks. I have yet to meet anyone in Guadalajara who doesn´t get a passionate look in their eye when you start talking about other cultures. They have a no-holds-barred, wear-your-rollerblades-into-nice-restaurants sort of attitude. If it´s new, it´s intersting. If it´s traditional, it´s important to hang on to. They still have their Lucha Libre matches twice a week, a type of traditional Mexican free fighting. And in art exhibits, there are pictures of the indegenous people of the smaller towns, all dressed in their incredible, woven, patterned clothes, looking at the camera with somber interest. I always return the stare.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

On the inside

I have had some trouble posting due to technical difficulties lately, so this post is from two weeks ago. The blogging continues, and I have a lot to say lately, so stay tuned!

After returning from Boston last week, where I saw my mom run 26 miles along with thousands of other people, I see Mexico once again with the eyes of an American. The glitter on their clothes, the ceaseless grunts and rumblings of the buses, the sporatic whiffs of a struggling sewer system, and the thickness of the polluted air all seemed intense and foreign the day I got back. After stepping out of my shoes as an American immigrant to Mexico, it was hard to put them back on. The first day, I longed for the quietness of the traffic back home, the reliability of the transportaion systems. I longed for English and grass fields and crisp, cool air.

But a week has passed now, and the readjustment period is over. It's funny, the same things that annoy me about the attitudes here--the ceaseless need for action without thought, constant spontaneity and tendency to change plans--are also the things that lure my attention and interest time and again. While in my mind, I am headed home to study Spanish and go to bed early, in actuality I am going to talk talk talk in the kitchen with my housemates Mario and his mom, Mari and maybe head to a club to try my feet at salsa. And the distractions don't end at the door of my house. The streets are full of distractions. When I am walking home, I usually get stopped for one reason or another. People solicit spare change, sell tamales, ask for directions, strike up random conversations, all with seeming earnestness.

In the kitchen, we talk and talk and talk. I ask Mario how to spell different words, and the conversation expands to world politics and then bigger issues. He tells me about his experiences living in Canada, where he endeavored to market Mexican beans and meat to restaurants, and when he discovered that the culture he admired from Mexico seemed strangely closed and uninterested in the culture of Mexico. These issues always send me talking about the importance of cultural awareness, and my desire to learn more about Mexico.

The other night, Mario let me in on one of the most colorful and interesting aspects of Mexican culture--its variety o music. As the notes of Mexican music spilled out into the room, I was enthralled. The music conjured images of bubbles floating out from some heaven source. The sounds transported my mind to another reality. The band, Cafe Tacuba, is not popular in the U.S., and when I told Mario I'd never heard of them before, he said what a shame. When I said that I also hadn't heard of the legend Luis Miguel, he was a bit repulsed.

"They were born, became famous, the whole world said wow, that's incredible, this is wonderful. Then they died. And you guys never knew it." He's holding his arms up in an exagerated shrug when he says this, his lips pursed in a pittying smile.

I laugh and laugh. It seemed ridiculous, and I pictured a cartoon image of this situation, where all of us Americans were standing on our own map, facing inward, working on our computers and then heading to our couches, all of which face Hollywood. Down below on the map was the rest of Latin America, and they were all having a party together, the entertainment flowing in like multicolored waterfalls from various corners of the gloe--Mexico, France, Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, the U.S. The people were laughing and jumping and moving to and fro, looking every direction to enjoy the fruits of so many different lands. And in this movie in my mind, we Americans didn't even hear the noise they are making. I laughed, and then I felt embarrassed for us, and then I thought about my reality back home, before I'd heard about these bands, and I realized I am a classic example of the oblivious American. As much as I enjoy other cultures, even pride myself on knowing about them, my work-hard-and-then-relax-mindlessly lifestyle cost me a lot of great music. And the music is only a symbol. As we look inward, and sometimes to Europe, for everything, we miss out on the rich culture of Latin America.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A dose of dinner

Here, dinner time is a lot more like a cocktail party than a sit down sort of affair. After work, I find myself standing and talking to Mario and his mother, Mari, in the kitchen. I find myself leaning on the walls and refrigerator, moving to the refrigerator, migrating around the little room to get out of Mari's way as she cooks, taking care not to knock over the carefully utilized space. We eat tortillas with beans and corn on the cob, which we cover in hot sauce and fresh squeezed lime juice.

It's a cramped space, where the hooks for the spoons are just below the ticking wooden clock. There is enough room for three plates, and there is no space to let dishes stack up in the sink, which is about two inches deep. Water comes out through a shower-like spout onto a tiled surface. Mari is sixty, wears a soft smile, and is always busy relaying tidbits of her day, cleaning the perpetual dust off the floors and counters, and reorganizing the crowded refrigerator.

She and Mario, her son, stand in the kitchen and laugh about the silliness of things. Once I watched them argue for twenty minutes about whether there is a God, their voices rising to punctuate their sentiments, Mario's that religion is inherently bad, and hers that it is inherently good.

The other night, Mario argued against religion for the sake of all the wars it has caused. I cut in to counter that wars fought in the name of religion are not really about religion at all, but rather people's egos. Exactly, said Mari. But in the end, I had to agree with Mario's point that we cannot know for certain whether Biblical stories have any grounding in fact. However, I couldn't help but also agreeing with Mari that those stories can serve a purpose. I suppose I always tend to think stories serve a purpose.

These conversations are a great way to practice my Spanish, and also a great reminder of how far I have to go before I'm fluent. After that conversation, Mario and I found ourselves congregating in the kitchen to exchange ideas. He's always surprising me with his ideas, making me more and more aware that an educated view of Mexico is not exactly what I assumed it was. Take Sunday's debate, for example. The biggest soccer game of the year was commencing in Guadalajara's stadium: Chivas (of Guadalajara) against America (of Mexico City). I'd been trying unsuccessfully for weeks to get tickets and was about to head out to a bar to watch--the next best option.

Mario, a music fanatic who is always taking walks into the center to see what is happening, was not interested in the game. He scoffed at what he sees as an overabundance of pride in Mexican soccer.

"We never move up in the World Cup," he said. "Mexico never wins. But then everyone says oh, Mexico is so great. It is not. It is stupid," he said.

I said that it's understandable that Mexico does not do that well in the World Cup since the economic situation is so poor. I said it must be hard to train for soccer when you are thinking about how to put food on the table. He immediately countered that Mexico is not that poor. The problem is the attitude, he said, that people do not care enough about real success, just about hype and screaming and cheering.

Later that night I watched the game at a dark billiards bar where people were all crowded in, sitting on the extra chairs the place had pulled out of their back room. There was a big screen at the front, all filled with green and the graceful curving runs of players into open spaces and to chase and tackle. The word GOOOOOL flashed across the screen whenever a goal was scored. Soccer is a really pleasant game to watch because it's so fluid, and the play requires such careful and continual attention by all players. All the thinking goes on mid-game, in the heat of the moment, and for this, I was mesmerized. The winning goal was scored with a straight bullet-shot towards the goal, which was redirected at the last moment with a sharp header at the side pocket. The bar erupted. People jumped, swore, flung their fists into the air.

The Chivas won 3 to 2, and it was surprising that they did not win by more since they were ranked highest in the league, whereas America was ranked last. Such a close game makes headlines more interesting and fans' fights more real. After the game, they head out to the statue of the Minerva, on the edge of the downtown, to jump in the fountain and yell and scream. But it's a theater of sorts, according to one of my students. And the next day, the ecstasy of the coaches and the players that make headlines and front page photographs are not entirely genuine. He said corruption reigns among coaches, who have betters interests in mind, often advising their players to miss a goal here or there in order to make a few extra bucks. He shakes his head in a deeply annoyed way when he tells me this, the same sort of expression I get from people when the name Felipe Calderon comes up, or the word government, for that matter.

There is so much suspicion here. Take the way my boss deals with his teachers. When I started, the secretaries told me that the reason for all the paperwork was not about record keeping. Instead, it was to make sure I was "actually working."

There is suspicion about success too, said Mario on Sunday night in the kitchen. There is an unspoken understanding that the status quo is to be maintained for the preservation of happiness. That means no climbing any social ladders. Staying true to your friends is about remaining true to a particular level. If you're not careful, when you climb up in success, you can climb out of your social circle.

Ah! Terrible! Awful! I said. But it's not all peaches and cream in the U.S. either, Mario reminded me. He lived in Toronto for six months about a year ago, on a business venture. Yes, I know, Toronto is in Canada, not the U.S. But I'd say it's a pretty safe grounds for comparison. He said everyone seemed so closed, so preoccupied with work. It was difficult to meet people. They seemed distant and uninterested in him, which really appalled me. I would hope that any normal American would naturally find it interesting that he had travelled thousands of miles to another country to embark on a new business. Despite the fact that he was an educated professional, having worked as a lawyer in Mexico, and was genuinely interested in learning about their culture. Before he went, he'd been curious about the U.S. and Canada and unimpressed with Mexico. But once inside the U.S. productivity machine that he had admired from afar, he found his heart beating more profoundly, more strongly, for Mexico, where people do silly and fun things every day...not just on weekends.

But here, I feel aimless in the empty hours of chatting and sitting and standing, of standing around appreciating a ray of sunlight for its mere existence. I have time for myself to do yoga, read, practice salsa. But I feel a lack of urgency, a lack of goals. There is a lack...of some aspect of personality I am constantly running into in the states--that sharp-eyed look of pensive critical thought. It's not that I think we are right in our approach. The rest of the world seems to think we take ourselves too seriously. But I'm American. Ultimately, I miss the same thing that Mario did when he was in Canada: my own country.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The in group

Today I spent the hour from three to four, when I would normally be teaching, getting the scoop on everything from sexual references to how to get soccer tickets. When I arrived at Sitra, a company that does construction for Holiday Inn, my students were upstairs in their offices eating. They had three computers stolen earlier that week, so they were unable to learn English today. Ignoring the illogic of their conclusion, I agreed and sat down.

We sat in chairs and on desks, some of us spilling out onto the patio, a smoke cloud from one woman's cigarette rising into the air. I learned all the stuff they don´t tell you in Spanish class. (Well, normal Spanish class, that is. My Spanish teacher is pretty cool and does let us in on street talk sometimes.) They told me that fruit has a lot of sexual insinuations, like that lemons mean small boobs and melons big ones. And that if a man asks you if you want chile--assuming you're not in a restaurant--he probably isn´t talking about food.

I laughed along, as they raised their eyebrows suggestively at me. Naturally, since we were on the topic of lude sexual references, they brought up spring break in Puerta Vallarta and asked me if I'd been. They assumed that all Americans had been there for crazy parties. I told them no, and they were shocked. They asked me if spring break is crazy in the U.S., and I said not as crazy as in Vallarta, and they said it´s the American vacationers that make Vallarta crazy.

We spent the entire hour of class talking and laughing about nothing. The one Mexican woman who stayed to explain their antics told me at one point that even she was not sure what exactly they were talking about, so we found ourselves on the same side of the line, shaking our heads and rolling our eyes at the sporatic uproars. There comes a point when the gap between the sexes wins out over that between cultures.

After class, we all filed out of the room into the spacious hallway overlooking the downstairs. It´s a big new building, not fully furnished, which they just moved into, and has the same clean lines, simple designs, and light colored wood and marble that new U.S. office buildings has, a stark contrast to the buildings I am usually in, which boast an array of colors and designs. At the top of the stairs, I found Hector and Pedro, two big soccer fans, and finally got to the insider´s question I was most interested in: how do I get a hold of some soccer tickets? They told me the sad news that tickets for Sunday's game are usually about 3,000 pesos, about $300, which would be more than a paycheck for me. Pedro is going because he has season tickets. The game is between Americas, the Mexico City team, and the Chivas, which is Guadalajara´s home team. Although Americas is ranked last and Chivas is one of the best, it is a long standing rivalry that always attracts a crowd. Guadalajara used to be the capital, and it lost that standing to Mexico City some time ago. This is one of the many reasons locals tend to tell you that Mexico City is not a good place to work or visit. There is an intense city to city rivalry.

So I´ll have to wait for another game, but my students tell me that time is running out. I can´t purchase tickets in advance either and will have to go to the stadium the week of the game in order buy them. A lot of things we do online or at Costco they do through friends. Take medicine for example. It´s like buying illegal drugs. When I wanted iron for cheaper, I had to wait five extra days for my Mexican housemate´s friend to get the delivery for me. But I saved quite a bit of money. It's all about who you know.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Tequila weekend

The sun pervades now, as we leave March behind, heading back to our jobs after the one to two week spring break called Semana Santa. I just finished my morning classes and am sitting here on the steps of Chapultapec, listening to reggae beats flow out into the streets from a nearby car stereo. As usual, the breaks are squeaking and motors are buzzing and rattling along.

My skin is dry, my mouth is dry. About once an hour, I head to the kitchen in attempt to pour water from the garaphone, a huge plastic barrel that sits in a metal swing, into cups. That barrel is king. We get a new one delivered to the house nearly every day, and when we aren’t home to receive it, we tide ourselves over with hot tea until we can’t take it anymore, and then we splurge on overpriced water from the 7-11, or the pharmacy.

I drank alcohol this weekend instead. My anemia is not so pervasive now, and having spent most of my free time last week sleeping, I'm not so tired. So this weekend I took advantage of the energy that suddenly welled up within. On Friday, my Mexican-American roommate Andrea, my American friend Katie, and I tried our feet at salsa. Andrea takes classes at a place on the main drag of the rumbling, screaming-fast traffic of Vallarta, a few blocks from our house. So after some beers, rice, fish, and guacamole, we headed over and climbed the stairs for classes in the upper room, which has windows that overlook the street. I often watch people dance in those windows all the time, whether it’s areaobics, banda, tango, or salsa. There always seem to be moving bodies in there. They seem to be dancing to the music, taking cues from the words and the notes.

When we started, the one-two-three, one-two-three pattern was easy and natural. I watched the ten of us in the mirror sliding to the side, then back and forth, adding in our little sassy touches of hip swings and shoulder rolls. I was in some sort of fairy tale, getting into that happy state of mind where Mexico seems like Disney Land.

I get this same feeling during Sunday runs down Vallarta, when the street becomes closed to cars and people came out in hoards on their rollerblades, wearing their bright colors, keeping pace with their lovers, their children, and their friends. During these runs, on the sidewalks, double dutchers perform jump-push ups inside the ropes and violinists play Pachelbel's Canon across the street from African drummers, as men and women cart around ice cream and cold drinks. Up a little further, life sized games of chess and checkers commence.

But back in that salsa room on Friday, this dreamlike atmosphere disintregrated when we started the actual moves, leaving me tripping up and re-orienting, tripping up and reorienting. I paired up with an older guy who taught me to spin every which way. He’s no prince charming, but I’m sure he’s gotten his share of love interests with his moves. The dance is a flirtation, he told me. It’s like a courting. So I shouldn’t have been spinning out of control, away from him. I should have been staying close. This brings one question to mind: I wonder what real salsa dancers do when they are a bit repulsed by their dancing partners.

After salsa, we headed to a Mexican rock club which was offering free enterance for the night. There were columns and old, elaborate moldings inside…it felt a little castle-like in architecture, but the lights were blue, orange, red, and there were music videos playing in front. I felt entranced by the videos and the sweet sounding singer coming over the speakers. The first video showed a close-up of a young face, singing with innocent feeling, looking unflinchingly at the camera. And I came to the conclusion, as I have so many times, that we are all the same. American rock, Mexican rock. I couldn’t understand exactly what she was saying in Spanish, but I have a feeling it wasn’t too different from other American rock stars’ songs.

On Saturday morning, the energy I had the night before somehow continued to flow, and I headed to Tequila to see the only place on earth where they make real tequila. It’s made from a blue plant called the agave, each of which produces about 20 liters of tequila. There, I got a tour inside the factory. We had to wear hairnets as our guide led us through the rooms lined with huge vats of tequila and laboratory testing rooms complete with test tubes and chemicals. At the end, we tried a variety of different tequilas, from the white stuff that goes down smooth but is lacking in body, to the darker stuff I prefer for its fuller flavor.

On Sunday, at breakfast, the Mexican mom of my house suggested that we head to her daughter Gina’s house for a meal. So after a run on Vallarta, where it seemed it was puppy day for all the little dogs jaunting along on leashes, I showered, and Andrea drove us over to Gina’s house. We ate clams from a can, mixed them with avocados, fresh lime juice, rock salt and ketchup. We ate them standing up around the kitchen counter, talking about sports and their business, and raving about the mixtures of flavors we were creating. We drank palomas with good quality tequila, with lime squeezed in and salt around the rims. Then we sat down at the table and started on the tacos. I learned that they afford the nice house there in the dry rolling hills, with its spacious rooms and location away from the chaos of the city because Gina's husband works for an American company. For this, he's been to Las Vegas 4 times and Gina none...I kept thinking about how this is what I'd wanted all along, to be around a Mexican family's table, speaking exclusively in Spanish, eating the way they eat. But there I was, and we were eating ketchup, and they had all the same sleek appliances that we have in the U.S. It felt so American. And I wondered whether this is what success always means here--Americanism. Or maybe we are all headed towards the same fate when we modernize. Maybe its always necessary that designs get sleeker, simpler.

When it comes to questions these days, whether they be questions about what I am supposed to do here or in the future, or whether they be questions of the state of society here, I look for signs in my surroundings. As we headed home on the huge avenue, I kept my eyes wide open. There were German factories, huge American stores like Sam's club and Wal Mart. And when we passed a huge sign that read "Mexican Market," there was a Radio Shack and a 7-11 underneath. Mexico's future modernization process seems to depend upon the U.S. As for my own future, it's still unknown. I wish I could write more on that, but it’s hot out here on these steps and I have no more power in my computer, so until next time, if fate should allow it...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A jewel of interest

It was Semana Santa (holy week) this past week, so everyone rushed out of the city to the little surrounding towns, or to the beach to join hoards of drunken American spring breakers. I'd been dreaming of sun and sand, but hadn't made reservations in advance because I am poor, so I wound up sticking around Guadalajara. I spent the first few days with my new roommate Andrea, from California, and we went running and hiking in parks and fields. It was wonderful, and I felt this strange comfortable, elated feeling as I bounded through the trees. Out in the fields of parque primavera, we found ourselves climbing up a trail through the woods, and I remembered running through some similar looking woods in Colorado, and that same feeling of comfort and happiness that I always feel running through trees returned.

Come Thursday morning, I'd been frugal enough to justify a trip, and my curious mind conjured ideas of myself alone, scouting out hidden towns, talking Spanish to everyone I met. I decided to go to Queretaro, so I left my new apartment with a backpack and some money and hopes of discovering an open bed in some hostel.

In Guadalajara, I notice the noise, the crumpled sidewalks, the way the cars scream down the street in their narrow little lanes with seeming death wishes. I notice how, in my new apartment, the walls vibrate at night when the nearby clubs get hopping. I notice the mohawk-style gelled hair on the men and the tacky high heels on the women, and the way their bright blue earrings match their bright blue jumpsuits. I notice how everything is modern but breaking down, and how people are always talking about new music and the way the world is changing. Sometimes it feels like Mexico is a chaotic place where everyone is always trying to catch someone's eye.

But I gained a deeper sense of Mexico in Queretaro, possibly because I was there alone, with one goal only, and that was to understand the place. Lacking distractions, forced to take an interest, I experienced Semana Santa as a Mexican, attending all the various attractions with the hoards of families.

I discovered the procession of silence twice by accident. First on my run that morning. I heard their music before I saw them coming up the cobblestone street, led by a man with a pointy red cap covering his face. The people walked past in reverent seriousness. That night, the procession continued, and I discovered it by accident when I stepped outside my hostel and found myself in the crowd. They were holding their little children above their heads and watching the procession walk past, carrying plastic statues of Jesus with blood all over him. There was Jesus nailed to the cross, his ribs poking out and his back arched painfully, Jesus in his coffin, Jesus looking pensively out over the people. So many statues of Jesus that the people watched in with their families and friends. Everyone was with someone, sharing the moment with someone, and thinking about their lives. There were also those with the shifty eyes, glancing, looking, glancing, looking all around. I started to feel really itchy then for some reason, and I wanted to leave so badly, like a five year old in church, but I was crowd-locked. Strangely, the kids were intent on staying, watching, thinking sweetly about the meaning of easter. I was pretty convinced that this day is legitimately meaningful for them, unless its an entire town of actors.

So the discovery of Mexico continues. There were museums too, and I discovered there that Mexico began as we did, minus the mutilation of the indigenous people, in a nutshell. Their ideals are so alike, and somehow we've constructed this idea of them being so different in their ideas about life. But in reality, they're not.

Until next time...