Monday, June 20, 2011

Um, excuse me. Did I just fall in love with Mexico, or did I just fall in love with Mexico?

Because I think I might have. Like a pretty hard fall. DAMN Barrio Activo, what you tryna do to me? I LOVE your ass, girl! (I will love every person who gets that reference).

The obra de teátro.
Anyway, so, what is all this gushing about you ask? Well, I will tell your ass, girl. Here's the thing, Barrio hosted this big event in this plazita near the center on Saturday. Basically the plan was for Erick to come pick up me, Molly, and Linet at 3:30, and of course I casually woke up at 2:42 after sleeping for about 11 hours. But hey, plenty of time to shower up and snarf some ramen and veggie concoction. And the best part is that Barrio people are usually about 20 minutes late, which makes me on time, relatively speaking. ANYWAY so the three of us headed out with Erick, who is crazy and therefore had just come from a big meeting and THE GYM. What? Whatever. So we all went to get on the bus, and we spent some of the ride resting up, and some of it making fun of each other about our music tastes (LINET), and some of it talking about the mariposas I had en mi estómago about the prospect of the baile that was about to happen at me. AGH. Happy mariposas, though, as I tried to explain.

So we get there, I introduce Molly and Linet to everybody, we go to help set up. After about an hour and multiple scalings of walls and telephone poles by Erick in order to secure a big tarp over the space in case of rain, the obra de teatro began. It was pretty cool, just one person being this character, and I didn't understand all of it but it was a lot about gender roles and the dangers of human trafficking, which are apparently related. It seemed cool and informative and the kids related to it (age-appropriate, that is). So okay, then I had to go to the bathroom before the impending obligation of two hours of dancing in front of people, and by the time I got back everyone was like THERE you are they've been CALLING YOUR NAME aaahhhh!!! So okay, so Erick tried to get me to come out and start dancing before things were even really completely ready to start, which was absolutely ridiculous and hilarious. Oh my goodness, I was pretty nervous and embarassed, because legitimately I cannot do dances with steps. I can hold my own in dark and alcohol-influenced Founders dances and Spanish discotecas, but no one wants to see that shit sober and in broad daylight - if I'm being perfectly frank. Which I am.

Ya amigas.
Best pareja ever.
So whatever, I was excited by nervous and WHAT. Thank God a few more of my friends (the chavos and chavas) joined in. Bah. But okay, so the thing started for real, and Erick pulled me out first on the dance flo (a cement plaza that Pati and Sandra had cleared of trash in preparation for the event). He showed me a basic step to something, and before I knew it he was spinning me around like whoa, and apparently I was able to look like I at least sort of knew what I was doing (according to Casa friends who may or may not have been being overly nice to me). Whatever, it was super fun, I was just grinning the whole entire time. And the hour just went by in a blur, slash I was like whoa out of shape slash at super high altitude with all the exercise, and there was a mix of fancy dancing and songs to which I could whatever American dance, and we had tons of fun whirling around and joking around and whatever. At half time the mc got each of the parejas to dance in the center for a little bit so the crowd could choose their favorites to continue in the "competition." Pareja 3 (that's us) got enough cheers to continue. P.S. I was definitely the only white person on the dance flo, and the other Casa ladies were the only guerras in the crowd. We drew quite a few stares from the little kids, which I answered with a big smile and a friendly Hola.

El maratón de baile.
Un@s chav@s (gender inclusive).
My man Edgar.
Sandra, mí, and Pati.
Erick y yo.

The next thing I remember the sun had set, and I had a moment of self-awareness like the one that hit me as I laid on the floor of the hammam in Rabat, being scrubbed down by a huge, old, topless Moroccan lady. Only this time, it was, Wow. I'm just little ol Annie Bee, white girl from central PA, and I am somehow dancing with the nicest Mexican man ever (and potentially the nicest man anywhere ever), in the middle of this plaza, in the middle of a poor neighborhood in Mexico City, surrounded by happy people who look different from me and have grown up so far away from a lot of what I know. But somehow, despite all the seeming differences and gaps in culture, I am here. And it felt incredible, unbelievable even, and perfectly normal at the same time. As dad said, that's just it - it's not incredible at all. It's totally real and possible and weirdly natural.

Anyway, so the thing ended at we got third place, and it was just the most fun ever. The girls wanted tons of pictures, and I wanted tons of pictures, and I just sort of kept dancing in place while we waited to figure out how to get home. Without wanting to assume anything, I felt like I was as much a part of the community as a gringa who has only been there for two weeks possibly can be. I talked to more new people, and they are just impossibly nice. Just the sweetest people you'll ever meet, doing the work of spreading love and care and awareness in a place that really needs those things. I am so in love with Barrio it's absolutely absurd. And it was the best day ever. And now I never want to leave.

1 comment:

  1. Yayyyy OK i just got super caught up on all your entries. so much love girl. glad you had such a fabulous day, and omg i would have been so awkward about dancing in front of people, i'm so proud of youuu. <3