Friday, September 7, 2007

September, and Life is Busy

September brings the end of summer and the beginning of fall activities. Although, we won't be gearing up for a new year of teaching, feeling that snap in the air I used to love about fall Maine evenings, and picking Macintosh apples up on Perkins Ridge Road, we are getting busier here on a number of fronts.

First, I'd like to add a bit to the post I last did about the Huichol family which we are trying give a hand to. A group of us went to meet HTeo in Chapala last week to take a look at the house that he has been offered rent-free for five years. It is basically a rough building with a partial cement floor, two metal windows. It is about five times the size of their present home, but it is very rough by any standards.
Of course, heat is not needed in homes here, so that's not a problem. There is a toilet hooked up to the city sewer system, but no other piping.

Roberto (left), who is a friend of ours who knows about local construction methods, talks here with HTeo about what renovations he would need to make the house livable. HTeo can do the labor, and he has a friend who can help him hook up piping to the toilet and a sink. So his primary need would be for materials to fix the floor, do something about the roof to deflect the heat (it's a metal roof now), and get a metal door for security. We are hoping to put together a fund to help this family get established. We also found out that one of HTeo's brothers was attending a local school, but could not afford a uniform. The other students were making fun of him because of the uniform, and because he speaks very poor Spanish (he grew up speaking the Huichol language.) We had a special collection at church last week to raise some extra money to help with the uniform money immediately. SO, we're making progress.

September in Mexico, besides being the beginning of the end of the rainy season, is devoted to two weeks of celebrations leading up to Mexican independence Day on 16 Septiembre. The Mexican people are very proud of their country and enjoy patriotic displays, which are often accompanied by the declaration, "Viva Mexico!" Overt patriotism here seems different than it does in the United States, for some reason. I think it's partly because Mexico is not a powerful country. Many Mexicans are not happy with their politicians and the corruption in their country, but they absolutely love Mexico. I think it used to be more like this in the US, but lately, such overt flag waving is usually used by right wing conservatives to justify their xenophobic, "we are the best because God is on our side" politics. (It's my blog, so I'll add my opinions!) But here, it's a simple expression of pride, especially in the face of the racism and humiliation coming from north of the border. Many of the Mexicans we meet are very happy to meet Americans who also value their country.

One of the events we went to was a free concert by the waterfront in Chapala to lead up to the Independence Day celebration. There is a Mariachi Festival in Guadalajara this week, and this event was part of the festival. Mexican folkloric dancers from several towns appeared, along with an excellent Mariachi band. I was surprised at the Mariachis. This band, which was actually from Tuscon, Arizona, had a large complement of women who played fiddles and sang solos. the music, although clearly Mexican, was very emotional, sometimes even reminding me of opera.

We are also busier now because our Spanish classes have started. Pixie is taking an intro course in addition to a level one class, and I am taking a level two class on a different day. I also started teaching my ESL class, which is wonderful. The students are highly motivated, and it's all about learning. I can tell I will behaving fun with this group. So far I have sixteen students aging in age form 13 to 48. It still makes me the old man in the room. I am glad that Mexico has a strong culture of respecting their elders! It shows in class.

We have been having some extremely heavy rainstorms recently, always at night. We, and many others, had some rain get in the house; thank God for tile floors! A bit messy, but no harm done. It's my own fault. We have an outside patio within our house, with a drain in the floor and surrounded by four walls. The drain was plugged with leaves and the water had nowhere to go but into the guest room. Anyway, they tell us the rainy season will start winding down this month.

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