Category Archives: Mexico

The Juice of Human Kindness

img_1010

I am making guacamole for the play date I’m having with two other collage artists tomorrow.  I am shocked when I see the time is 11:45 p.m. shortly after I’ve also discovered I’m out of limes.  Lack of sleep and the later hour have made me forget what I know well–that guacamole won’t darken if you bury the pit in it. I can only think that an hour’s work disinfecting and chopping onions, cilantro, garlic, tomatoes and four giant avocados will be for naught unless I locate a limón (key lime–Mexico’s answer to limes) or two. Dozens of bars and restaurants on my street—and little markets—all closed. Except for one restaurant with tables in the square that pops up every evening and disappears at closing time. Luckily, since they have to put away all the chairs and tables each night, they were just locking up.  I asked if I could buy a lime, and the cook took me into the kitchen, which she was just getting ready to lock up, and said they only had a few left but to take what I needed from the grocery bag that contained seven tiny limóns.  I took three and asked how much.  She wouldn’t take money, so I gave her a hug.  I love Mexico.

The Tile Layers

 

The Tile Layers

The tile cutter on his knees whistles “Fur Elise—”
five measures over and over—all day with no surcease.
A younger man behind him, in another room,
whistles tunelessly in rhythm as he wields a broom.
Hod carriers laugh and loudly call. Comida will be soon.
One of the youngest sings out a jolly ribald tune.
Their labors hard, their hours long as they hauled and carried,
and yet they have not seemed distressed, back sore, stressed or harried.

As they go to take comida, they move with one assent
as if to be relieved of where their labor time is spent.
Outside my wall they line the curb, their legs stretched in the street
to eat their warm tortillas­­­­––their chiles, beans and meat.
The only time they’re quiet is now their mouths are chewing,
for they are never silent when they are up and doing.
Five minutes and then ten pass as the silence swells around me,
until I feel the magnitude of silence might astound me.

Then one quiet voice is heard, and then another slowly after.
But still no music, calling out, whistling or laughter.
I can imagine well the scene. They’re spread out in the shade,
on their backs just resting in the shadows trees have made.
An hour’s camaraderie, like school kids taking naps,
their ankles crossed, their dusted clothes, their work hats in their laps.
Against their quietness, a motor hums out from afar.
Persistent birdcalls interrupt the tire crunch of a car.

A lawnmower chops at grass below. My clock ticks out the time.
This hour’s quiet interlude is almost sublime.
They must wonder what I do clattering on these keys––
my room cut off from all the dust , but also from the breeze.
The large dog’s bed is in a cage with an open door.
The little dog forsakes his bed to curl up on the floor
nearer the larger, older dog, although he’s sound asleep.
They too prefer to sleep as one, their brotherhood to keep.

An hour passed, the jefe wakes and jostles all his neighbors
who find their voices as they waken to resume their labors.
The gentle scrape of trowels sets the rhythm for
young men shouldering hods of what old men spread on the floor.
The jefe scolds for tiles mismeasured, rails against the waste
of both time and materials lost because of haste.
After the day’s siesta, they work three hours more.
They measure, chip and cut and smooth, then fit and trim each door.

By day’s end, hands are coated, and collars ringed with sweat.
The dust of their day’s labors in their work clothes firmly set.
But folded in each backpack they once rested heads upon
is a fresh change of clothing that later they will don.
Cleaned and pressed, they’ll walk on home unmarked by dust or dirt,
ready for the ladies to admire and to flirt.
For a man’s not made of merely the work that he might do,
and when he leaves his labors, his day begins anew.

Actually, I was imagining the scene described in the poem as the house hushed for an hour after a morning and early afternoon of extreme noise. Diego and Morrie were imprisoned in the small run outside my door but in sight of the front entrance gate all the men had vanished through, tortured by observing all the activity they couldn’t get their paws on, not to mention all those lunches in the back packs.  Then, after I wrote the poem and started to hear a few voices from what seemed to be a direction not anticipated in my poem, I went out to the living room to see the younger members of the crew hunched over their smart phones on my patio, first watching some drama, then talking to what sounded like female voices. One lay stretched out as expected, but by the pool rather than out on the sidewalk. (I had earlier invited them to eat at the patio table and the table in the gazebo, but they had preferred to warm their tortillas in my microwave and then go eat in the street.) My former stereotypes dashed, I then ventured beyond my walls into the street, and there found the older generation living up to former experience and present expectations.

(Click on first photo to enlarge all.) 

CCY Challenge, May 12, 2016: Landscapes

DSCN1311

I love the detail and the unhurried, sleepy quality of this Mexican scene.  I’m not sure whether the amount of detail removes it from the “Landscape ” category or not.

https://ceenphotography.com/2016/05/11/reminder-for-ccy-photo-challenge-21-landscapes/

Just Follow the Bouncing Ball! Cee’s Which Way Challenge

Just Follow the Bouncing Ball!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The road and their soccer ball were of more interest to the boys than the fields of flowers.  Well, except for Oscar, that is. He was the toddler you saw with a fist full of flowers two days ago.  We’ll see where his interest lies now that he is ten when we repeat our trip to Tapalpa in a few weeks.

For more flowers, go here: http://ceenphotography.com/2015/09/16/cees-which-way-challenge-2015-week-37/

Giants of Tapalpa

Giants of Tapalpa
(Click on pictures to enlarge)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just how big are the rocks of Tapalpa?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s hard to tell without some frame of reference.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So maybe this will help.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Oscar experienced his first adventures in rock climbing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As well as his first experience in reflective horizon-gazing with big sister Mago.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is what they were looking at.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And this.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Little did they know that they were part of the scenery.

Habits

Habits

P8170185Please click to enlarge this photo.

This is one of my all-time favorite photos, taken at the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City.  I’ve been waiting for the proper chance to use it for a loooooong time.  Now, finally, the perfect prompt!  I love the one young nun turning around to look behind her–the rest blithely marching along–seemingly straight into that wall!

For more habits, go here:  http://ceenphotography.com/2015/08/25/cees-fun-foto-challenge-habits/

CAMP ESTRELLA FINAL SHOW!!!!

CAMP ESTRELLA FINAL SHOW!!!!!
(Please click on pictures for a larger view.)

IMG_2475 (1)IMG_2370IMG_2394IMG_2403

IMG_2376IMG_2366IMG_2393IMG_2387IMG_2385IMG_2396 (1)IMG_2473

IMG_2372IMG_2395IMG_2359IMG_2369IMG_2353IMG_2436 (1)IMG_2358IMG_2351IMG_2379IMG_2401IMG_2402IMG_2415IMG_2469IMG_2453IMG_2417IMG_2458IMG_2465IMG_2436 (1)IMG_2454IMG_2459IMG_2468IMG_2457IMG_2470IMG_2455IMG_2461IMG_2452IMG_2445IMG_2450
IMG_2449

IMG_2478The final show included the kids from Camp Estrella as well as part of the 153 member kid’s orchestra and chorus from San Juan.  They are the spirited children in white blouses and dark pants. They presented music from Grease, La Bamba and a wonderful spoof where they drew participants from the audience and wound them around the stage area in a long line.  It turns out it was a song about the whole village lining up to buy tortillas in the morning–to buy enough tortillas for 7,000 people from one shop with 7 tortilla machines…The joke is that the people drawn from the audience who took a place were forced to go to the end of the of the line–like newcomers trying to break into the tortilla line.  Much funnier when listening to the lyrics!

The woman doing the scarf dance was Cynthy, one of the counselors.  The woman doing the flamenco was Cindy, the organizer of the camp and the man on the drum and guitar is her husband, David. Other counselors left to right are Audrey to the far left, Juan behind Cynthy, Gloria in polka dots and me! Alicia regrettably left before someone requested we pose for a picture.  She is the exotic Mexican lady standing to the left side of the stage in the picture to the right of the audience shot.

After the show, where all those little girls in bright yellow Camp Estrella T-shirts turned into sophisticated flamenco dancers in exotic dresses and tightly-chignoned hair and all the jostling young boys turned into swelled-breasted young men, every one of them hugged every one of us. Audrey and I vied with each other over who could do the best job of hiding wet eyes and lumps in our throat, and we decided  the 5,000 pesos that the audience gave us to support the camp (the show was free) should be split between the performers. So, we gave each child 100 pesos and gave the rest to the orchestra/chorus.

Counselors were even more richly rewarded by the  memories of working with and getting to know these warm and lovely kids…not to mention the remarkable counselors.  We now count among our friends two new generations of young Mexicans–and feel younger for it and more determined to stay in the flow of life.  Tomorrow we start all over again with another camp in Ajijc, the neighboring town.

Thanks for giving me a platform to share this wonderful Experience.

Now do you know why, if I had a billion dollars, I would spend it to make this sort of experience happen every day for the children of San Juan Cosala?

If you haven’t been following my stories on Camp Estrella, go HERE, HERE or HERE or for more of the story.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/youre-a-winner/