apologies for my lack of postage, but i've been out in the reserve for the last few days. went to see Rosa in Cuzalapa and showed the ladies up there what i managed to make out of the interviews i did. i also got in another interview of the group that makes jams, preserves and the like. the project all started with a girl who came up to do her masters thesis on tomatoes and started a project investigating how people in the area traditionally preserve their fruits n veggies. from there they decide to hold a workshop to get an idea of what other traditional knowledge they, not only have, but still use, like natural remedies. they examined three groups of women: grannies, moms and kids of about 12 or so. the older women still retained heaps and heaps of knowledge about stuff, like the best way to keep your tomatoes, what to take for cramps and how to cure a hangover :) their daughters had only learned about half of all of this, and the children knew nothing. it's horrifying. now that the rains have come, everything has turned a lush green and in every direction you can see hundreds of different plants, flowers, and fruit. Rosa tells me that there is hardly a single plant that someone doesn't have a use for, and many have several. i can hardly imagine how many generations it took to accumulate such knowledge. the trial and error to discover that this plant over here that smells kinda funny is great for certain bug bights if you boil the leaves and mash them up with lime, or that fruit will give you diarrhea if you don't cook it. years of trying one thing or another, remembering what each plant can be used for, and in the end it only takes two generations for it all to disappear.
but students keep coming to the centre to work with Rosa and little by little they are helping the women there hang on to their traditions, and have a little pride in their culture, which is key. although it's a rural Mexican town of only maybe 300 people, they dress much like people back home, wearing jeans and t-shirts. they used to wear manta, or a light cotton calico cloth that they embroider with flowers, animals or traditional designs. but when they went in to the larger towns to buy things, people would look down on them for being indigenous. shopkeepers were rude, and would charge them more for things. they got the idea of borrowing clothes when they went shopping that allowed them to blend in and not have to pay the raised prices they charged the 'indios'. although this partially solved their problem, the greater damage had already been done. they had begun to be ashamed of their culture and who they were. soon after they stopped wearing manta altogether, and i have yet to see anyone wearing it on my visits to Cuzalapa. although there is a group here that makes and sells embroidered clothing, it took a long time for them to be able to sell and promote their products, because they were too embarassed. they have no comprehension of the worth of what they have. their traditions and customs give their little village a beauty that rivals any metropolis. it pains me to think of them becoming uniform and faceless, just a few more consumers of the american dream. giving up their culture to be like the people on tv.
wow, i'm SO disappointed! for the past couple weeks we've been seeing these posters around school advertising a student run event involving the exhibition of my favourite and yours....intimate apparel!! i couldn't believe it, i thought it had to either be some kind of joke or it's like granny wear or something, but upon further investigation i was told that such shows are put on fairly frequently, and actually involve quite scantily clad young men and women. in thongs even! so, pervs that we are, J and i just had to check it out :) but lo and behold, just our luck, this show turned out to be a big fat sham. it lasted a whole ten minutes, was entirely thong free, and what's more, had very poor lighting!! there was much booing and general drunken discontent from the audience. but happily, there was dancing afterwards, as well as buckets of beer (20!!! ok, 20 baby beers :)) for only 80 pesos....mmm...12 bucks?? so i quickly forgot all about the show and spent the rest of the night enthusiastically shakin my groove thang. sadly, there was a bit of an episode with my latest specimen of heartbreak, but i think he's ok now :) yes, i know, i am the diplomatic genius of romantic encounters. ha!
i am half a case study away from going back out to Cuzalapa. if i can get my ass in gear and finish it today i can go this week, tomorrow even! ok, prolly thursday. although Cuzalapa is really great, this does not seem to be motivating me. a couple weeks of sitting in front of the computer trying to put these things together has turned me into a bit of a zombie. GRRR!!!
on a happier and fluffier note, i have revived my cross-stitch hobby (i am such a granny!!) and am currently working on a lovely little piece depicting three chile peppers playing guitar. if i ever get my mom to send me the usb cable for my dang camera (something which seems to cost crazy pesos here) i'll even show you how it's going.
my weekend was not quite what i was expecting, but fun never the less. a trip down to the coast to see Siempre No, a local band, whose singer/guitarist goes to my school. fun bunch a guys, do kickass covers of songs i've never heard of but am beginning to memorize. they played at caxcan in melaque, a pretty touristy beach town and sung sweet child o mine!!! that's right. G N' FUCKIN R!!! words cannot express my joy. Oscar, the drummer, did a pretty sweet rendition considering he speaks not a word of english. i was getttin pretty sleepy early on in the evening and was afraid i wouldn't have the energy to hold out til they finished, but i was saved by the magic margarita that comes in a 1L wine flask....and it's friend that followed :) i think i startled a couple people in my ability to hold my liquor and i can only hope i succeeded in convincing Ruth she needs to follow my example. she's trying to snag Memo, the other guitar player who's not from our school, but since she's kinda quiet she hasn't made any headway yet. she didn't believe me that one of the best ways to find out if a guy likes you is to grab his ass and see what he does. even tho i insisted it can easily be passed off as a joke, she still looked horrified. if anyone has any suggestions (preferably less trampy than mine!) on how Ruth can get this guy's attention, please let me know.
although i suffered no hangover from saturday night, crashing with about 15 other drunken revelers in a wee little apartment made me more than a little heat-messed. also, i seem to have acquired myself a boyfriend. i would've much prefered the hangover. i've got til the end of the day to figure out how to get this guy to leave me alone without it escalating into some kind of greek tragedy (i get the feeling the boys are a little dramatic here). and if you're wondering why i can't just date the guy, it might have something to do with the fact that there seem to be 2 kinds of boy around here:
1) MEGA-Player - he will woo you like never before, as long as you're drunk, scantily clad, and his girlfriend/wife isn't around.
2) LEECH - hope you didn't need that arm, cuz you ain't gettin it back anytime soon. also, if you've got any problems with PDA, you're pretty much a goner, cuz this boy will have his lips locked to some part of you from now until the end of time. he will also tell you constantly how beautiful and wonderful you are, and how crazy he is about you. every five freaking minutes.
i'll give you all one guess as to which one i got myself stuck with. well, you'll have to excuse me, i have to go look for a crow bar cuz my sandal's getting all wet. BLARG!!!
it's friday!! WOOHOO!!! Cynthia, who's from Montreal, went back to Canada this morning....*sniff* she's a lot of fun. we helped her drag her stuff to the bus yesterday so she could go in to Guadalajara and spend the night at the airport. fun! k, maybe not. we had a bit of a bash for her wednesday night which resulted in much drinking, much reveling, and 2 mexicans passed out in the garden! yay us!
and for those who didn't already know....maid in manhattan is a vat of rank smelly cheese.
today i get to drag J to see Maid in Manhattan. because i friend of ours is in the program who's putting it on as a fundraiser and convinced us to buy tickets. i'm sure you're all dying to hear about my thoughts on this milestone in cinematic history, so i'll keep you posted ;)
in the interests of packing light i decided not to bring my cd player or any cds. i am the biggest moron to ever walk the face of the earth. what was i thinking!?! J did the same thing and we are both going through cranky music withdrawal. on the upside, i do a little happy dance when i hear any kind of music coming from anywhere. it's kinda funny.
yup, i rock the casbah. i finished a case study on a honey co-op, revised the one on the organic coffee growers, and wrote up a work plan to submit to the powers that be over here. yay me! good thing i had a weekend off at the beach to slough off some of the work bitterness i'd been feeling. i'm back on the horse! YEEHAW!
so, the beach. me, J, and Cynthia, the kickass chick from Montreal (who's leaving!! UG!!) left friday morning. due to mountainage, it sorta takes half the day to get to the coast from here, even tho it's prolly about 100km. it makes for this wonderful, winding, meandering trek through dusty, scrubby, cactus dotted scenery which i absolutely love. we had a quick stop in Melaque, which is a more touristy beach town, had something to eat, and caught a bus to la Manzanilla, which is much smaller and less gringo-filled. we get off the bus, walk about half a block and are faced with a rickety wire fence and a sign warning us to watch out for 'caimanes'. ALLIGATORS!! just our luck, not only do we spot one right away (seems they often like to hide out in the water), but at least a dozen are beached in the little alcove below the fence. even a few with mouths wide open!! it was awesome! they're *so* beautiful. once we were able to tear ourselves away from the sight (and the smell!! people like to throw them all sorts of fish so stinky bits get left all over the shore :P ) we kept walking over to the 'ecological campground' which sits right on the beach. it's really small and is run by Don George, who's this awesome old dude greets everyone with a 'Welcome to Paradise!' turns out he came down here for a vacation some twenty years ago and just plum decided to stay. he's got himself a trailer, a little campground, a chunk of beach and an admirable posse of strays, including the friendliest dogs ever and this psycho little kitten with fur that's a swirl of white and orange marmalade. and chickens!! sand chickens!! they just wander around on the shore, it's great :)
on friday we had the beach to ourselves, which was amazing, and on saturday we got a busload of mexicans on a day trip. but they left by late afternoon and the beach was ours again. Mario, who goes to school with us and who met us down there took me out in a kayak to check out this coral reef that was about 40min away, near one of the mountains. all i can say is beautiful. absolutely beautiful. i'm not the strongest swimmer and since there was a bit of a current i stayed closer to the shore, so i missed the little octopus that Mario saw (DAMMIT!) but the coral and all the little brightly coloured fish were frightfully exciting. we definitely have to get out there again, if we can only find someone else to lend us a tent, as Cynthia procured the one we had this time.
and yes, there was some definite tannage :) i'm kicking myself for not taking pics of Jamie impersonating a lobster....ha! luckily i only got a little burnt and don't think i'll be peeling. yay!! which means i'm looking that much more mexican. i get really excited when people think i'm mexican :) cuz i'm a big geek. now that i've gotten over that newly-arrived-starry-eyed look, even when i'm out with J, who they always assume is not from here, they sometimes ask if i'm mexi or not. now if i can just find me a mexican man i'll be set ;)
there are about a dozen different programs or 'career's offered here at the campus in Autlan, and among them is IRNA, which are the aggie/natural resource management engineers. they kick some serious ass. there was this party for the people in accounting who were graduating, and at first it really didn't look like much and Jamie n Cynthia decide to go home :P but it turns out that there was a band, half of whom are in IRNA, which means there's a whole posse out to see them and to take over the party once they get rid of all the accounting people. i was so amused. there were about twenty of us all sitting aroung this long table, with one of the guys from the band playing his guitar and everybody singing Mexican ballads and drinking songs. it was awesome!!! and every so often, someone would go away and come back with a whole bunch of beer, or a bottle of tequila, or both. i just sang along as best i could, tried not to drown, and made faces at people at the other end of the table.....around 3 or 4am we had to go cuz there was a noise complaint, so about half of us went to this guy Peru's place to keep the party going. we played music and danced til the sun started to come up. so glad i didn't go home early!!!
update on the beach coming soon....but i gotta get a whole whack o' work done for tomorrow morning so you'll just have to wait....
2 sleeps til the beach!!! i'm so stoked. i was rilly hoping to have gotten to the beach by now, but what can you do? all these friends, and weekend commitments....it's a full time job ;) also, i got to check out this semi-hot (ok, warm.) spring type thing yesterday. our fun little friends, the doctors decided to take us on another little trip. afterwards we has burritos and tequila instead of the enchiladas and mescal, and a rockin good time was had by all. unfortunately, it means me n J got up a little late this morning, and i still haven't gotten any work done!!! so why am i blogging?? cuz i'm a lazy beast, that's why. all i want to do is drink tequila, yell abuse at people, and occasionally eat something covered in lime and chili. is that too much to ask?
i'm not sure if i've mentioned this, but Autlan rilly does not have much of a nightlife. there's one club type place that's only open saturday n sunday and a bunch of bars which are nearly empty a lot of the time. so what's a kid to do? well, if you've got a car, you just drive around aimlessly, blaring music and yelling out the window at people. growing up in TO, i'm not terribly familiar with this, but i'm sure a lot of you are. this is what we ended up doing last night with our friends the bisexual stalkers, who are actually very nice people and fun to hang out with, but also keep us kinda busy trying to keep their damn paws off us. sigh. the burden of being beautiful ;) the funny thing was tho, their friend Carol, who continuously yells in this deep growly voice that makes her souind like a demented muppet, decided she needed to fuck some shit up. so´s we stops at a big campaign poster and watch them try n scramble up this fence and reach the poster, only to find that the markers won´t work on the slick, plasticy stuff that is plastered with the grinning face of jose gonzalez hernandez something or other. we did, however, find some nice traffic signs that were much more vulnerable to our little weapons of minor destruction and managed to give a couple of them a much more 'masculine' look. kinda fertile if you know what i mean. one of them, of a little man with his seatbelt on, also has devil's horns and a tail. dammit! i love mexicans!
to one side of the town there is a small mountain simply called 'el Serrito' or 'small mountain' (how original!) on top of which sits this strange glowing cross. i found this very odd when i first got here, as my home in Germany was also close to a large hill on which they had put a war memorial in the shape of a large cross. did you know i wanted to be a nun when i was a kid? that's right, laugh. sister mary tut. ha! anyway, we climbed the little mountain and the view from the top was great, to say nothing of the cool breeze. imagine! a whole hour spent lounging around outside, and with the sun still out, not thinking about how hot i was! yay! we could see the whole of Autlan spread out before us, and off to the right, a field of blue agave. it was gorgeous. i can't wait til the rains really get underway and i can watch all the scrub covering the mountain gradually turn green. anyway, that was saturday. guess i need to be blogging more huh?