Possible too that I'm experiencing a cambio rumbo – a sea change in Mexico - coming at this very 6-month mark. I’m changing my direction – I feel it – a sudden shift in the wind. I started taking the alt route to the office this week, out the backside of my edificio, past the Visa shops, men in sombreros lined up to go to the otro lado. Then it's a right onto Absolo, across the shady plazita, through the bird shit to Madero, right, then right again on Martinez, and I have to pass Esperanza, I have to face her with a wave of my Mexican NO finger. Then up the stairs though the salmon-colored hall to my office.
Just that small change changes everything. I get so angry walking down Monteczuma everyday, choking on exhaust, weaving by and through la gente on the narrow walks, stepping down into the busy street to get past people, worrying about my toes, the 4x4s, Explorers, Rovers brushing by on the cobblestone streets made for donkey-carts, stereos blasting Banda. (Immigration has done wonders - has bought, brought SUVs into this small, quiet town.)
Now this new route ain’t no walk in Rock Creek Park, but it’s…better. It’s different. My head gets to map out a new path, and my feet follow.
But it’s not just that.
I fell in love today. I really think so. Okay, it was a first meeting – and first impressions can be misleading. But the energy and the connection… it was… you know… alive. The conversation didn’t stop from the beginning, as if we’d know each other for years. And we like the same things – travel and cooking and trying to change the world. Open, kind, compassionate – called me a taxi home, kiss on the cheek, I’ll pick you up on Tuesday at 4. Such manners – and next steps, commitments. A good sign.
We met tonight in Parque Revolution, aptly named, because I felt the energy of their own small revolution rising in the air. They gathered in small groups with flipchart paper and markers and created images of the past, present, and probable future of their community – if they don’t step up and take action.
They’re going backwards, they lamented. The fountains and street games and family gardens of their youth, the clear streams and intact families and scent of orange blossoms in the air have been replaced by dependence on everything – television, drugs, food out of bags, government dispenses – and acceptance – of family violence, lack of education, the smell of black water, the status quo.
But they pictured a future too…a vision of something bigger than them. Here are their names, their ages, and their hopes…
· Delores, 42, crear un empresa (create a business)
· Adoracion, 45, convivir (get together)
· Lugar, 78, abrir una puerta, ayudar la gente (open a door, help the people)
· Joanna, 18, algo nuveo (something new)
· Janette, 18, futuro mejor por las jóvenes (better future for the youts)
· Wendy Gabriela, 19, mujeres necesita una vida rica (women need a rich life)
· Osmara, 21, arreglar toda aquí, contra violencia (fix everthing here, end the violence)
· Francesca, 49, ensena trabajo/empresar (teach work/business)
· Magdelena, 47, Trabajo (work)
· Carmen, 48, Aprender (learn)
· Juliana, 24, Aprender, trabajar (learn, work)
· Dora Maria, 54, trabajo para mujeres (work for women)
· Carmen, 54, aprender, compartir (learn, share)
· Nicolasa, 51, esperanza (hope)
· Paula, 47, trabajo mejor para jóvenes (better work for the youth)
· Simona, 44, como podemos ayudar encientes (how can we help the old people)
· Bartola, 57, trabajo, jóvenes (work, youth)
· Maria Jesus Flores (she said her name so proudly I had to write down the whole thing), 68, compartir herramientas (share our skills)
· Amalia, 62, Muchas cosas, lugar para mayors, clinica de dialasis (many things, a place for the old folks, a dialysis clinic)
· Yolanda, 50, Salva lugares abandonadas - la pl
anta, nuestra pasada (save our abondoned places - the plant, our past)
· Nereyda, 47, empezar cambios, creer en nosotros (start to make change, believe in ourselves)
· Maria Luz, 38, aprender nuevas cosas junto (learn new things together)
· Estefana, 47, oportunidades (opportunities)
· Jenny, 15, trabajo (work)
· Maria de Jesus, 20, trabajo (work)· Ahnai, 23, trabajo (work)