Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Recorridos... i.e. paseos.

**Mostly written about Monday 30/5**

Um, today (Monday) was a big day friends. I think I experienced almost the full range of Annie-ness in one day, moving from complete overwhelmed-ness and brief dip into negative-land, to complete confidence and affirmed feelings. Wow.

So okay. We began with community breakfast, which honestly was super awkward. I was still feeling, well, jet lagged, even though it doesn't really count because the time difference from home is only an hour. So what can we call it? Altitude something? General having trouble switching to Spanish and feeling not awkward. So that felt a little weird. But then the next couple of hours were spent in the George Fox Library with Nico (the co-director of the Casa) and Hayley (the Volunteer Coordinator) learning about the history of the Casa, which is rich and amazing. I'll include a few notes because I've perceived a lot of interest from people who, understandably, don't understand where I am or what I'm doing this summer. But the main point for now is just that the hours gave me this warm glowy feeling - I feel connected to this great tradition of Quaker work and the values it’s based in. Hearing Nico talk about the struggles and the success all felt familiar, and hard, and amazing, and mostly importantly comfortable. Home-like. Inviting. Enticing. Once again, I’m so grateful for the foundatio that YALD gave me in all of this. Among all the other gifts I received from that experience, I was given a window in the Quaker world, a foundation in the language that Quakers use to talk about their spirituality and their work, and an access point to a community that feels like I’m meant to be a part of it. So yay.

A telling cross-section of my wardrobe.
Next on the agenda was a recorrido (paseo, walk) around the barrio (neighborhood). This ended up being strangely overwhelming, and I’m still not quite sure why. The city feels different than any place I’ve been before. I love seeing new places, but in the short time I’ve been here I feel so much more connected to the Casa than to this city. It’s just really hectic, pretty dirty, and oh yeah, it probably doesn’t hurt that we pretty much get stared down wherever we go. I mean, those are the negative things – it’s also exciting and new and great, it’s just that during that walk today I was pretty much on the struggle bus. Just feeling like my Spanish really couldn’t keep up, and feeling much more independent and much less secure than I felt in Granada. We got back to our room, and I learned that I wasn’t the only one feeling overwhelmed, so that made me feel better. I took a moment of silence to center a bit before we headed into our next meeting.

Nico and Licelot (from Germany, super awesome and important but not sure what her job title is yet) met with us to tell us about the Casa’s peace programs. This session was great for lots of reasons, two of which I want to name: 1) Their Spanish was measured and clear, soothing in its beauty and understandability. Perfect timing – just when I was about to hate my second language because I was totally failing at it, the way Nico and Licelot could express themselves through it made me love it again. It really is gorgeous, it’s just structured differently than English so you can express things with just a slightly different sentido that is concise and pretty and super cool. 2) Nico said, “La hospitalidad es como un practio espirtual.” This resonated with me, and reminded me of Mary Margaret’s (?) words to us at the beginning of YALD, about how chores like dishes were an opportunity to care for the community, an expression of love for the community, and in that way a spiritual practice for her. Love it love it love it.

Me and Lici with our pimp cups.
After a brief descanso, Molly came into room and said, “Okay! Let’s go buy our phones!” I was so not into it, but Linet was like, "right, we have to go,” so we did, and I am soooo glad. Walking around by ourselves was somehow was less stressful, and made me feel all old and good. It didn’t hurt that I ended up being the one to approach some people at a phone store, and totally did the interaction in Spanish, and we got a good deal, and whatever it was great. So walking home I just felt much more comfortable and grown up and happy. We checked in at the Casa, but then headed back out again to get dinner at el Tigre, one of the voluntari@s’ favorite lunch places. We all got huge delicious sandwiches, and I asked the old guy next to me what he was drinking, because it looked delicious. He told me it was leche, platanos, avena, y chocolate. I asked him what it was called so that I could order one, and he said, “… leche, platanos, y avena.” Ha! So I ordered one, and it came it this huge luxurious round glass, which Linet dubbed a pimp cup, and I asked the guy to be in a picture with me with our matching drinks. Hurray new friend! He asked us where we were from, and we talked a little bit with him and the sandwich guys. Hurray hurray being grown ups and having all these potentially creepy but probably just really nice guys think we’re such beautiful Americans. Ha. So anyway, that was super great and delicious and fun.

Came back for a long meeting at the Casa, the team’s weekly meeting. Cool, but oooohhh goddddd we were so full it was hard to sit up and be awake for so long in Spanish. But whatever, it was great and we had chocolate, and then met with Jim (Professor Krippner, who by the way is just the biggest sweetheart) for a little bit. The three of us came back to hang out in Linet’s and my room for a whiiiillleee, so that I couldn’t finish this entry until now. Slept better last night, and woke up this morning (Tuesday) for a breakfast at which Linet and I did a much better job of actually talking to people. Just got back from a two hour-ish meeting with Hayley in a café to learn about how the Casa works, and what everyone does, and what our time will look like here. I really love learning about all that stuff. I like the systems and routines that are in place and the experience of becoming familiar with new structures. Also, Hayley is only the most awesome chica, and I get the sense from her (and others) that our time here will be a really good balance of independence and support. I’m experiencing really cool connections between my Pendle Hill experience and this one already – this feels like a step beyond YALD. I feel like I’ll be able to find spiritual support here, but doing more independent work than with YALD. But of course, I couldn’t do this without my time at YALD. Ugh my life is just too awesome. I love the world.

Okay friends, that’s it for now.

Lots of love,

Monday, May 30, 2011

A la Casa.

Hey friends :D

I am so so contenta to be back in a Spanish-speaking country and writing on a blog about it. Yay Spain. Yay México. Yay world.

So here's the deal: Haverford's CPGC (Center for Peace and Global Citizenship) funds a few internships every year for Bi-Co students to come to la Casa de los Amigos in Mexico City. The Casa is a Quaker center for Peace and International Understanding, and they do tons and tons of awesome things. They do really tangible social justice work through their Peace programs, which include Migration, Economic Justice, Environment Something, and Hospitality. There is a such a Quaker values vibe here, it's incredible. We just finished a delicious potluck din din, which they do every Sunday. The people who work here are amazing, and I already feel super
comfortable. Also, the BMC girls doing the internship with me are great.

I just interrupted this entry to hang out with them for two hours, in fact. Linet and Molly, just finished their sophomore and junior years, respectively. Hilarious and awesome and this is going to be the best sum sum. We have a week of orientation now, so I'll understand a little more about what the Casa is and what I'll be doing here soon. Mostly I just love it though. I can't wait to not be exhausted so that I can start being friends with all these people, and then eventually ask them about their spirituality/Quakerism. Mexico is so exciting anyway, and Professor Krippner is going to teach us so much interesting history, but then to top it all off there are reflection on the Quaker peace testimony lining the hallway on our floor. Yay yay yay yay yay.

What else? Logistics: customs was way easier than I thought. Flights were relatively quick and easy. Jim Dale is and always will be my hero. Met up with Professor Krippner while boarding in Houston, he seems super cool. Also, let’s talk about how I’ve never seen anything like Mexico City before, I was so struck by the imagery as we flew over the place. Just huge mountains absolutely blanketed by civilization. Small crops of skyscrapers shoot up every once and a while, and the landscape is just completely infested with buildings. I’m using weird adjectives like “infested” because there was just some sort of different quality about the place that I perceived as we were in our final descent over the city. Things looked, if this makes any sense, more three-D than usual. Maybe it’s because things are cramped together, and more colorful than in other cities that I’ve flown over? The roofs all seemed to be brick red, and things were shiny. And I just love those mountains. There seems to be something about Spanish-speaking places and mountains for me… I don’t know… after a tough semester, enough things feel familiar here (reminiscent of Spain that is) that it just feels like I’m supposed to be here. Yeah, there’s a that good stuff like family and school in the States. But even though I know this will be a different kind of experience, and Mexico is obviously unique and wonderful and challenging in its own ways, but I’ve just had these moments today where it feels like I never left, and all the pain and joy of the past semester was just a dream… The pain in particular… God that was awful.

And OH YEAH, I felt so happy and at home when I got to the Houston airport and suddenly there was Spanish all around me. I still marvel at this apparent superpower of mine, and at how it makes me feel to be able to understand things in another language. Totally surreal, and I don't know how it happened. Going to Granada was such a seemingly random decision, and it's impacted me so profoundly, I like still don't even understand it.

Anyway, getting sleepy now. I'm still trying to figure out the best mode of keeping in touch/keeping everyone updated. I was pretty psyched about all the Facebook traffic this trip seems to have generated. Damn - go to Mexico and suddenly I am super interesting. Slash I just feel really loved, all the time actually, and I'm really grateful for that love coming from all sides. Thanks, friends. So yeah - might stick with super detailed FB updates, might stick with this, supposed to keep a journ journ for the CPGC, too. We shall see.

Linet's listening to music with her eye mask one. One lamp on, big light off, fan on, all our stuff unpacked. I/we have plans for decorating our room. I already feel the need for a quote board *TAG Quaker House*. I am super stoked about this adventure, and the people I get to take it with. As Mom would say, hallelujah. 

*Wrote this last night (29/5), but couldn't post it until today.