Monday, July 30, 2007

The Last Dance



The Encuentros Zapatistas wrapped up on Saturday and so has my work here in Chiapas. I never made it out to the last leg of the Encuentros in La Realidad (Tojolobal Jungle) but it was a difficult two days from what I understand. The heat of course was brutal plus there were some issues with finding/harnessing electricity for the talks and of course for the dancing in the evening. The Zapatistas reminded me that even if you can’t dance, you can dance. It doesn’t matter if the lights go out or the band stops playing or if your resisting and struggling in a revolution you can always find time to laugh and have some fun and my last dance at Oventik was just that, FUN! I am exhausted from all the traveling I have done over the last two and a half months. I was able to see almost every corner of Chiapas, however, thanks to the grueling work provided to me by Frayba and CAPISE. The experience has been unforgettable and one of a lifetime. I’ll never forget the people that touched my life and I hope that I (us) made a difference in theirs. I am excited to return to Minneapolis to talk to people about my experience, keeping true to Alejandra’s words – “Don’t forget about us”. I feel like I have a million ideas swirling around in my head about a dissertation topic (or maybe four), and ideas for a new class to teach. The pictures I have taken of all the graffiti have turned out nicely and I am not sure what I am going to do with them yet but I think it would be cool to make them in to a little book. I have also begun creating a pretty extensive bibliography complete with not only books but articles, videos, websites, etc. and I am on to a fourth page already.
My sense of time has changed dramatically since I arrived in May. This is probably my sixth or seventh stay in Mexico but this time around I had a difficult time adjusting to a different concept of time. When someone tells you “horita” it means you’ll be attended to anywhere from the next 5 minutes to the next hour. If someone tells you “mañana” it usually means two to three days and if someone tells you “unos días” o “dentro de la semana que viene” then forget about it. I have caught myself over the last 6 weeks or so saying these exact things though, even telling the guy that comes to pick up the trash that I’ll be around “mañana”. So, there is already this cultural difference in the concept of time, but when one leave San Cristóbal (a major town/city) and goes out to smaller communities, many of these communities and all of the ones that I visited do not change the hour for day light savings time. Once you leave the city there are two different times. There is the “hora de Dios” and the “hora del gobierno” which many kindly refer to as “la hora del Diablo”. The communities, from what I understand, don’t change the hour because, 1) it is an act of resistance against the government and 2) they don’t have electricity, which means it really doesn’t matter what time it is, you get up when the sun comes up, work all day, and go to bed when there is no more light. Needless to say Zapatista communities are on God’s time. This puts a whole new twist in teaching beginning Spanish speakers “¿Qué horas son?” In short, even though there is no time zone change there still exists a time change, if you know what I mean (right, Kelly).
One of my last stops today will be at CAPISE to drop off some pictures to send back to the communities that I visited and also to say thank you and good-byes.
I hope all of you received the postcards I sent and if not hopefully you’ll receive them by the time I see you next. Thank you to everyone that has helped me along the way and thank you for all the emails and support from home.
Starting on Wednesday (Aug 1), I am going to take advantage of already being in Mexico to travel north to hang out at the beach for a while with my sister and my wife before returning to Minnesota. Enjoy the rest of your summer where ever you are, I have heard that is has been quite hot the past month in the upper Midwest, I hope it passes by the time I return home. Un fuerte abrazo para todos and I’ll see you all at the end of August. We’ll talk soon – Te jk’opon jbatik ta yan k’ka’al – the Tzotzil (Bats’I K’op) sounds better.

From the mountains of the Mexican southeast, JT

3 comments:

grandpa said...

HASTA LAVISTA, JOSE...SEE YA MANANA, I DID NOT KNOW HOW TO ENTER THE CURLY TAIL OVER THE N IN MANANA. I SUPPOSE YOU NEED A SPANISH TYPEWRITER FOR THAT. JOE, REALLY ENJOYED READING AND KEEPING UP WITH YOUR BLOG. IT WAS INTERESTING AND YOU HAD A FANTASIC JOURNEY. I'M PROUD OF YOU. ENJOY YOURSELF AT THE BEACH, TAKE CARE OF JESSICA SO SHE DOESN'T GET TO SUNBURNED. HEY, I BECAME A GRANDPA AGAIN. DAVID JAMES HAS JOINED THE FAMILY. WHEN YOU GET HOME, WE'LL TOAST WITH A TEQUILA, I'VE GOT PLENTY TO GET RID OF. TAKE CARE HAVE FUN. I'M SURE YOU HEARD OF THE BRIDGE COLLASPE AT 35W, YOUR MOM SAYS YOU AND MANDI USED IT A LOT. IT SO SAD. WELL, SEE YOU AT THE END OF THE MONTH. LOVE YA. GRANDPA

kmkat said...

Hello, Joe, I found your blog while googling for "la garrucha chiapas," which is where my son is right now. Through the auspices of the Chiapas Support Committee in Oakland, CA, he is volunteering in Chiapas until next April. We live in Wisconsin, about 75 mi. n.e. of Mpls; I lived in Mpls for 32 year before that. A blog that is a, about Chiapas and the JBG, and b, written by a Minnesotan, is a good find.

Your time in Chiapas sounds fascinating and life-changing. I have added you to my bloglines so I can read any further postings.

Andrew, my son, went to the Encuentro, too, after spending 2 weeks at language school in Quetzaltenengo, Guatemala. Who knows, you two may have "encuentro-ed" each other sometime during the last two weeks of July. He just graduated from NYU and will start med school a few months after he gets back from Chiapas.

Best of luck to you. I look forward to reading more on your blog.

Kathryn Kienholz
kmkatt AT yahoo DOT com

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