So imagine you wake up one day and you are a cockroach. And all the sudden you can't go to your job, and you can't leave your house, and your family is repulsed by you. (Hey, by the way, if you're planning on readin Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" and don't want me to spoil it for you, skip to paragraph three) You never leave the house because you don't have purpose anymore, and the family comes to neglect you more and more. You are expected to stay in your little room and wait for the food to come shoved under the door, and when you come out, you are interpreted as a threat to the guests. And you stop eating, and then one day, after hearing your sister say that she doesn't think the monster living in that room is her brother, you become so sad that you die. That's what happens in this sad little story. It's so so sad! I kept thinking there was going to be a twist upwards. This guy is such a sweet guy! He was going to send his sister to music school with the money he made at work, and then she winds up being the last straw that kills him.
Okay, so anyway, this has nothing to do with my life except that I read it today...and well, I suppose because I feel a little bit like the forgotten beetle. I mean, I can't talk to anyone (save a few words here and there), can't really connect with anyone, am quite alone. It'll be okay, don't shed any tears for me, and don't worry, I have not stopped eating, and I'm pretty sure that family back home doesn't plan to disown me. But, with my Spanish a barely conversational level, communication is tough. And I've typed this sentence about ten times now, trying to figure out a way to convey the experience of this communication gap. Let's just say it's debilatating.
But not speaking has its upsides. First, it motivates me to learn Spanish (which I should be doing right now...hmm...) Secondly, when one sensory ability goes down, others go up. I can't speak, so I listen and look.
The first day I arrived, the conglomoration of sights overhelmed. First, I couldn't get over all the billboards. Big, small, beautiful, ugly, they read jeans, Cklass shoes, Coca Cola in a mirage of shapes and colors. Nescafe, Estrella, Jack Daniels, Sealy Mattress, TelCel, Visa. As the taxi emerged from the rocky slopes above the city I viewed of the city below: a giant conglomeration of varying buildings. If Colorado Springs is the cookie cutter version of sprawl, then Guadalajara is the variety pack version. There were so many shapes and sizes, with a few that might constitute as sky scrapers in the center. The road sloped down quickly and then we were in it, part of it, bumping along the cracked pavement. The stores, sidewalks, roads, every building highly disheveled yet highly functioning. And full of life--pink, blue, green, orange storefronts. Much of the paint had crumbled away, leaving a splotchy quality. It seemed that storeowners were too busy constructing their crisp new advertisements to bother with old-fashioned repair work. It's a place begging to be new yet undeniably old. What the businesses lack in modernization, they try to make up for in words. Words words words are everywhere. They call out to you on bilboards and in storefront paint jobs. "DUERMEMUNDO" (sleepworld) reads one. We happen upon newer, more modern buildings too, their exteriors tilting in and out. There are certainly no neighborhood covenants here.
There are no limits in the city center either, which harkens back to hundreds of years ago. My host mom and I visited a few old churches--the kind you see in Europe, with columns ten feet wide and moldings that look like they were made by squeezing a tube of pure gold around the edges. I thought my awe at the building was only a tourist's sense of novelty, but I was wrong. When I walked outside, the expression on a local carriage driver's face suggested otherwise. As he clip-clopped past, he peeled his focused gaze off the road, took off his elegant straw hat, and looked up at the entrance. Then, with a deep air of peace, he made the sign of the cross across his chest.