I love Mexico

Saturday night, Jorge and I went to Merida’s Noche Blanca. This amazing bi-annual street party, sponsored by the city administration, gives locals and tourists the opportunity to enjoy downtown restaurants, art galleries, shops, live music, theater presentations and even a fashion show – until 2 o’clock in the morning.

While Jorge and I dined at an outside table, I overheard comments like:

“If this party was going on in ­­my home town, there would be metal detectors and tension.” “There are lots of little kids still up, and it’s late.” “Look how well-mannered everyone is.” “What a perfect temperature.” “I didn’t know Mexico is like this.”

At 11 pm, we joined thousands of people crowded together in the Plaza Grande to hear Lila Downs, and when she urged them to sing along, they belted out the Mexican cantina songs and social protest ballads she is known for.

The next morning, I opened the newspaper to read about La Noche Blanca

But I could find very little about the fiesta. All the media had to report were killings, kidnapping, corruption and cartels. And it is true – sadly we have all that in Mexico – and abuse of power, inequality, grave economic issues, unemployment, and worse. Other countries have these problems too, and yet, it is ‘lawless Mexico’ that is always in the spotlight.

Don’t get me wrong. I am the first to say that changes must come, and I agree that the stories of unrest need to be covered. I want the world to know what’s going on in Mexico, and I want the international press and politicians to put pressure on this country’s powers that be.

BUT WHERE IS THE BALANCE?

People living in other countries also need to know that the good far outweighs bad in Mexico. We have a young, dynamic, hard-working population. People in Mexico care about one another. They are generous in countless small ways. Mexicans have imagination and creativity. They love color and food and music and dancing. They deserve to be portrayed fairly.

I do not have my head in the sand. Yucatan is an oasis, with less social unrest than is seen in some other parts of the country. And even here, not everyone I meet is pleasant. The drivers are aggressive and the bureaucracy is a curse. I work with young people, and I know about their concerns and frustration with the archaic, unfair system.

Nonetheless, when I travel throughout the country, I observe that despite the serious confrontations, manifestations, and political power wars in places like Mexico City, Michoacán, Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Chiapas, people still find joy. They use humor, family time and friendship to offset their pain.

(Sigh…)

I love Mexico — ¿y que?

I am happy living in Mexico and so sick of explaining why.

I am fed up seeing the country and its people kicked around.

I just had to write it

When I started this blog four years ago, I hoped that Writing From Merida would help me connect with those –

  • who enjoy my stories – about family and friendships
  • who love Mexico – warts and all
  • who try new experiences – and don’t judge them
  • who are excited by traveling – anywhere – any time
  • who have a commitment to helping Merida’s community thrive
  • who strive to keep their sense of humor – no matter what
  • who like trying interesting and new food – even when it is “different”
  • who listen to all kinds of music – sometimes really loud
  • who dream up cool ideas – and crazy ones too
  • who dance like no one is watching – and don’t care if they are

This indeed happened, and my personal bit of blogspace became popular with those I wanted to reach. But daily blogging (or even weekly blogging) is a huge commitment. And definitely NOT possible for me to do well when I am writing a book.

And those who read Writing From Merida – even occasionally – know that I have been fully immersed in “the book of my life” – for the past several months.

The project has consumed me. I have neglected the blog, my email, my kitchen duties, housework, my friends, my family, my lovely husband – and on some days – even my personal hygiene!

If you are among my slighted followers, I thank you for your loyalty and I hope that in the new year, when my book is released, you will get a copy – and you will understand why –I just HAD TO write it.

More to come!

Lest we forget

Tuesday November 11th is Remembrance Day in Canada – in the USA it is called Veterans Day – and this year I am particularly aware of the significance of the commemoration.

I’ve almost finished writing a family memoir about my Aunt Gisèle. During World War Two, she hid Jewish youths in her apartment, located on one of Amsterdam’s principal canals. Every day, she had to find food, fuel and water. She had to keep her friends from sliding into despair and she had to make sure they stayed quiet. If they were discovered, Gisèle would have been killed too. This impossible situation continued for three long years.

My father, John, was a member of the Canadian army division that liberated Amsterdam. He said the Dutch welcomed them with cheering that sounded louder than the canon fire they were used to.

“After six years on the front, the exhilaration disoriented me,” Dad said, “But I felt proud of my Canadian uniform and grateful to be alive.”

He had my aunt’s address and when he saw her desperate conditions he took food and other supplies to her. She said he saved her life.

Pride and Gratefulness: Do we feel that sense of belonging and of appreciation, or has the busyness of our lives and our penchant for comfort distanced us from reflection and appreciation?

Men like my dad, and women like my aunt made huge sacrifices.

I think – Lest We Forget – means that we should, at least, make some small ones.

Need ideas? How about these?

Volunteer: Read to a child, collect recyclable materials, whatever. There are so many organizations that need your help

Donate used clothing: The items you think are worthless are valuable to someone

Spread the word about various causes in your community: See a worthwhile fundraiser? Share it on Facebook! There are so many ways you can help an organization with just the click of a mouse.

Donate something you made to an organization that can use it: You have talents – baking, knitting, cutting hair – a group of women meet at the Merida English Library and make caps to cover the shaved heads of children undergoing cancer treatment

Make your purchases support your values: Every purchase you make supports something. You can either support a large business or you can buy at small local shops. It’s hard to do this all at once, but changing even a few of your purchases will make a huge difference to a small vendor

Spread some kindness: Think about a time when someone did something unexpected for you that made you feel good. Weren’t you nicer to others because of that?

One person I cannot change the world, but one person can make a difference in another person’s world.

For more perspective, click on this link:

https://ca.news.yahoo.com/anne-frank-lived-recalls-hiding-during-second-world-211228908.html

Lest we forget.

In Flanders Fields

– by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

poppy 01

*** I found the two photos on Google Images. No link to the sources showed, but my thanks to them

Halloween and Día de Muertos

RESTAURANT AMAROS is our favorite place to hear wonderful music, enjoy a good meal and great margaritas. And yesterday the owner Olga Moguel celebrated the 21st anniversary of her business in a unique way.

Carmen Aristegui and Olga Moguel at Amaro's 21st Anniversary
Carmen Aristegui and Olga Moguel at Amaro’s 21st Anniversary

She invited one of Mexico’s most popular journalists, Carmen Aristegui, to give an informative conference about the current political situation in Mexico. Three times more people, than could possibly fit into the UADY theater showed up to hear her. And some of those folks were very upset that they couldn’t get a seat! Jorge and I lined up for an hour, and we almost made it inside but not quite… so we left the theater and headed for the restaurant.

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We saw great costumes on our way to Amaros, and since it was early, we got a nice table right up front. Our friends, los doctors, joined us and to our delight, about an hour later, the two women of honor arrived. Both of them were very gracious about posing for photos, and I got the chance to tell Carmen how much I like to listen to her radio program, broadcast on EXA FM 95.5, from 6 – 10 am, Monday to Friday.

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At this time of year, we enjoy blending the customs from our two countries. We think our – altar de muertos – fits in well amongst the pumpkins and – catrinas – that decorate our house.

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Tomorrow, we’ll enjoy – mucbil pollo – with Maggie, Ricardo and his parents.

Mucbil pollo - a Yucatecan treat
Mucbil pollo – a Yucatecan treat

Of course, we’re missing Carlos & Jeanette and our lovely little Norwegian “pumpkin” – hopefully they’ll join us next year!

emma

Writing and Intercultural Living…

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