"...He prayeth well, who loveth well, Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best, who loveth best, All things both great and small;
for the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all..."

The Rime of the Anchient Mariner -Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Saturday, January 22, 2011

New Frontiers

December flew by. I was still getting used to being in a new community, living with a new family, and experiencing ALL the Mexican traditions.

December 12th is the celebration of the Virgin Guadalupe. Everyone attends ‘velacciones,’ which is like a small prayer group and say the Rosary, for the previous 40 days, and on the 12th they eat tamales and ‘atole’ (a corn based drink of different flavors like peacan, cinnamon, vanilla, strawberry, chocolate etc). On the 18th the Posadas start; this entails more ‘velacciones’ except with different chants and the it’s where the people reenact Joseph & Mary trying to find lodging for the night when Jesus is born. At the end of every ‘velaccion’ cookies and candy is given out (I think tamales were given at some of them). They have a tradition where they build mangers full of little replicas of the Mary, Joseph & the three Kings. Before Christmas, they ‘acostar el nin~o Dios’/lay baby Jesus down to sleep; this is where they have little baby dolls and they through a big party with tamales, candies, cookies, rice, mole etc and they have people rock the multiple babes to sleep and cover in waddling clothes. They lay the babes down to sleep before Christmas. At an indeterminate time after Christmas, they ‘leventar el nin~o Dios’/raise baby Jesus. More of the same except in reverse order. My host family is religious so they hosted some pretty big parties, and they have a large extended family so it felt like we always had a party to go. Yada, Yada, Yada, I think I gained five pounds.

Christmas Eve we had one of these really big parties in the afternoon. In the evening, I was hornswoggled into participating in a parade dressed up as the Virgin Mary. This is a contentious subject for me, because I really didn’t want to do it. The people I work with at the municipality were in charge of putting together one of the floats, they asked me and my fellow volunteer if we wanted to participate. We agreed that we did not want to dress up and spend our Christmas Eve being paraded around town. They badgered me until I gave in (but in exchanged, I asked for 6 concert tickets to the dance—which they said they would give me). We were told it would take less than an hour, but it really ended up taking nearly four hours. I was really upset (them for lying to me & at myself for being dumb enough to give in), but then what really urked me was having discovered that the heavy Little Baby Jesus I was carrying on my lap for the last four hours had peed me!

Christmas morning was different in a sad sort of way. No other way to describe it. That night I went with one of my host-sisters and some friends to the Dance/concert. It was actually really cool; I learned how to dance the latest Mexican Dance: hy-fy. It’s mre complicated than it looks, but it’s a simple foot move in a circle, which can get complicated depending on how good of a dancer you are. It can also be danced in place, which looks more like jumping in a rave. It was a 3AM night. *I definately feel like I lost sight on the real meaning of Christmas this year.

New Years was fun. I stayed in my community and chilled with the host family. I ended up going to bed at 6AM (which was a first for me).

The search for a house started after the new year. I’ve seen four or five, and I believe that I have the incredible fortune of finding a centrally located, fully furnished home that resembles a hacienda in style. It has four rooms not interconnected; one room is a kitchen with plumbing, full gas range, large fridge, china cabinet with all the kitchen utensils AND a chimney for cooking; bathroom includes a Washer/Dryer; bedrooms includes all the furnishings like TV, a large stereo, and a couch etc. The patio has a gigantic palm tree and lots of potted plants and vegetation—which is a premium considering I live in a dessert town. I have not gotten Peace Corps approval to move in, but I hope they approve it.
After being in-site for approx two months, my fellow volunteer and I had our first community meeting. We explained the meaning of Sustainable Development, then went into a participatory analysis exercise where we split the crowd into three groups (men, women, and youth) and asked them to draw their ideal community, identifying three important community-level concerns. We were half-way through the prioritization when this very disruptive old lady hi-jacked my meeting. She disagreed with the priority of one of the issues, and was going back and forth with another gentleman. I saw that we weren’t going to get anywhere, so I was trying to end the meeting, and she kept on talking. I was trying to take control of my meeting while not being disrespectful to this old lady; it was very tough to manage. Afterwards, I was exhausted. The next day I found out that this lady is a ‘boat-rocker’ and the person she was bickering with in my meeting was from her opposing political party…basically they were using my meeting to debate and complain about broken political promises etc. In the end, no irreparable damage was sustained, and I think we can continue to work on community development. A victory from that meeting was that the community’s trash problem was identified and given first priority! This is great, so I can start on getting people organized.

Ideally, I will be able to get 5-7 committed community members to participate in a council to help solve the trash problem. I hope that we can get the municipality’s support to have trash bins placed in the community and have it scheduled for pick up one or twice a month. Also, promoting recycling and trash clean-ups.

Last week I also started teaching English & it was challenging. On one day I had young kids (<9>
I look forward to reporting my challenges and successes.
p.s. I started this blog nearly a year ago & I reread my first posting, and it's amazing what a difference a year makes. Despite the lack of exclamation points (which I tend to overuse) in this entry, I must say I'm really happy to be here.

1 comment:

  1. Great essay, Betty. Things sound like they are going well for you. I have two things to say:

    Yeah, Betty!

    P.S. It's Neddy McAnonymous