Friday, June 3, 2011

Comida, mojitos, and el Monstruo.

Hayley, me, and Mollykins in this awesome gazebo thing.
Um. Best day. I think - and you can confirm this with Linet, Molly... and Hayley, Nico, and Jim - that today I made up for my absence yesterday through extra Annie pep. That, and/or I'm getting more comfortable around here. We honestly just had a pretty relaxed day. Thankfully, I felt better when I woke up this morning, so I was ready to get back in the action. But really the first half of the day was breakfast, then a couple of hours learning about the Economic Justice and Migration programs at the Casa. Licelot (who I have learned is the Peace Programs Coordinadora) facilitated these meetings, which I think brought a sense of calm and stability. The information was pretty straightforward and interesting, and I felt like I could follow the Spanish well. What I got out of it was this:

The Economic Justice Committee (used interchangably with Program) works to support local cooperatives and to educate Casa residents and the wider community about current problems and potential solutions. They vende products from two local cooperatives, screen documentales, host speakers, etc. Migration is a core part of the Casa, and was a big part of its peacework in the past. The Casa works with five other organizations, some of which provide money, and some of which provide personnel (like social workers or psychiatrists) in order to host migrants and refugees. They offer these people support while they search for new work, apply for refugee status, or simply rest from what are often pretty intense life journeys.

Awesome gorgeous ceiling busniess.
After these meetings, Hayley took the three of us on another recorrido, but this time through neighborhoods we hadn't seen yet. On this walk, I thought about a few things: 1) The barrios we went through looked different from the ones we'd seen, a little cleaner and somehow friendlier and more familiar. 2) I don't realize until I stop and think about it that we really are pretty much always the only white people in sight. I've been wrestling with trying to understand this brief experience I'm having of being other. Having grown up white in predominantly white communities, I was a little nervous when I realize that living in Mexico City would mean, for the first time in my life, that I would look different than most of the people around me. But the thing is, I don't notice the brown-ness of the people around me. I don't feel surrounded by brown people in any kind of intimidating or oppressive way. I thought I might feel that way, because I've wondered if people of color in my communities feel suffocated by the whiteness that could overwhelm them. But yeah, I really, really don't feel that way. I feel aware of my whiteness when men whistle or people stare at us, which happens sometimes, but I don't feel aware of the non-whiteness of the crowds until I stop and think about it. Hmm.. I'm still processing this. 3) Some to a lot of the ads we see in shop windows and things have white or light-skinned people in them, often skinny blonde women. I'm amazed that even here, where people really really don't look like that, that seems to be some sort of standard of beauty? Because right, most American women don't look like that either, but it just seems ridiculously out of place here when I'm the only white person they could possibly be advertising to. Anyway.

Linet is outraged at everything I do. Hayley is just trying to teach us things.
The recorrido was great. We hung out for a bit in this park with a gorgeous Islamic-style huge gazebo thing. OH YEAH - SPAIN FRIENDS: the Spanish, as we learned, imported some of their Islamic-style business to here. Like, I've seen it. It's great. I'm so happy. I keep being that annoying kid who says, "This is like in Spainnnn..." But whatever. So we're walking and talking, and we go through street markets, and then we go to this big covered market where Hayley sometimes goes, and we all did our first shopping. We all bought tons of fruits and veggies that look delicious. Even more than that, though, I really loved watching other people buy their produce. Little old dark brown ladies in aprons, and sometimes their mustached husbands, who clearly have done this for years while I went to Albertson's and Kroger and Weis. When we emerged from the market, for the first time I really felt connected to this place, and excited to learn a new way of living from people I haven't met yet, and a sense of affection for this particular spot in the world. I've been hoping this feeling would come, because it hadn't yet, and I was worried because exploring and being thrilled about a new place has become an important part of who I think I am. I was worried it had worn off or something. But no, it's just taking time for me to make genuine connections, as it should.

Nom fruits. Random tienda though, not the mercado.
We came back to drop our stuff, then headed out to eat lunch at the Casa's favorite taco stand, followed by some good down time before Linet and I went down to comida compartida. I was stoked to find two guitars just waiting for me in the reception area (Nico is going to tell me a million places where I can buy a capo), and to help set the table for a super delicious dinner made by a Haverford grad named Lydia, who is 5 months into a year-long (I think?) volunteer gig at the Casa. Afterwards, we all went to listen to Jim give a talk that he's preparing for at UNAM on Monday. We think he's been nervous (he's giving it in Spanish), but it was obviously great. Hayley came out with the four of us then for our reunión about the book we're reading about Mexico City. Ummm it was great. Went to Café la Habana, which Linet (and all of us) was stoked about, and we seriously just hung out and talked about Mexican history and some of us enjoyed mojitos. I think we all may be rapidly becoming obsessed with each other's awesomeness. I was bummed that I missed the big recorrido Linet and Molly and Jim went on yesterday - I heard great tales from Linet about thousands of Diego Rivera murals, hundreds of churches, and unexpectedly hot guacamole - so it was great to hang out with everybody again. And, you know, learn really interesting things. Jim has spent so much time in the city and so much time researching tons of things, it's just great to listen to him reflect on a combo of his personal history and the country's. Hayley brought a cool perspective too, having studied in Puebla and lived in the city for the last 8 months. Plus I'm now 100% comfortable, which means joking around AND asking questions about the reading I finally did. Yay yay and triple yay.

Now we're finally home (Jim stayed up way past his bedtime), and I keep meaning to write up my understanding of the Casa's history and mission, which is really really interesting to me from the perspectives of social justice work and Quaker spirituality and social witness, but I think I'll save that for a day when not much else happens to write about... ha. Like that's going to happen :)

Really good day today. I think I'm in my element.

Love to everybody,

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful to see you up and about after that tummy time. You pack a lot into a day!!!! So, those guitars got my attention. If they are nylon string, you will find the capos different than you are used to. Instead of metal squeeze things, they are stretchy wrap around things. Love love love that you might spend some time with the nylon of my faces. So cool about Spanish bringing their stuff to Mexico, and your observation on whiteness in the city is super significant! Love you, Bee.