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photo credit: headersfortwitter.com

photo credit: headersfortwitter.com

I have endless lists out there in cyber space and in the myriad journals that I’ve kept throughout the years.  There are to-do lists, wish lists, goal lists, and contrasting diagrams about what I want my life to look like and what it currently looks like spanning the last decade.  It’s all quite interesting really in a sort of self absorbed kind of way.  So, I’ll spare you sharing all of them.

But, I’ve been thinking that I’d like a solid place where I can keep a list of things that I stand for, as well as a place for the things that I am “holding space” for.  A place where I can see it, update it, change it, etc.  A more solid place than some random page in my journal that I can never find.

Well, luckily I have a blog.  Lol.  So this post is going to be far less inspirational, informative or instructive and instead super intimate.  As of today, this is a pretty good representation of what I believe in and personally stand for as well as what I’m seeking in my ideal life, as of July 18th, 2012 at 5:40:39pm.

Beliefs:

I believe in the power of art to change the world.  I believe in telling stories and entertaining to bring joy, laughter, thought, and reflection to an audience.  I believe in making work with quality.  I believe in traveling and sharing things across beliefs, cultures and languages.  I believe in creating dialogues to solve world problems.  I believe in being a light in times of darkness.  I believe in laughing at myself, and our beautiful humanity.  I believe in falling down and getting back up.  I believe in telling it how I see it.  I believe in empowering people, especially children, our future, and those that have lost their sense of power and place in this world.  I have a passion that I believe has a purpose.  I believe that my talents and perspectives give me a voice to share things that matter with the world.

I am the possibility of light and love in all situations.

I am the possibility of the impossible becoming possible.

I am a story-teller.

Dreams:

I want to have the renown and financial success necessary to be able to live and create my art freely with the support, coaching, training, practicing, cultivating, brainstorming, and living that that requires.

I want friendships, romance, partnership, working relationships, love, and positive inspiration around me at all times that will support me and guide me when I feel less that brilliant, positive, or faithful myself.

I want to find that well of energy that fuels a life of creation and joy.

photo credit: fantom-xp.com

photo credit: fantom-xp.com

 

To be continued…

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Photo by Carlos Henriquez

If you haven’t seen my video debut of the fire trapeze last weekend.  You need to check it out here.

But here’s the thing…I’m like “this” close to getting my very own freelance performing and writing career launched.  “This” close, I tell ‘ya.  ;)

But I need your help!  Here’s why:

I invented a fire trapeze.  Why?  I had a dream about it in Peru and thought, how amazing? How death defying?  If Circus exists to give us hope, to make us marvel, to think: if that’s possible, anything is possible!  Then, I’m in.

And what is more awe inspiring than a girl on her trapeze, sharing her passion and talents, invoking laughter, provoking thought with movement, a girl that dances even as the ropes of her apparatus burn?

Oh, and she survives.

That’s a nice metaphor for our current world, no?

2 years of research and design, and it works!  People want me to perform.  They want me to tour.  They may even want me on TV.  And once completed, this act demands the kind of pay that I can live on.  The problem?  It is going to cost me at minimum another $5,000 to do it safely, properly and awesomely.  And that’s the minimum.  Defying death does not come cheap, apparently.

If you can donate even $1, please do so.  If you can share the link below, even better.  Let me make great art and dazzle the world with fire!  http://www.indiegogo.com/erinina?a=122333

Love and Peace,

Erinina

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Bench in Al Centro

Bench in Al Centro

Thursday morning bloomed bright despite predictions of clouds and the wind and chill of the previous evening.  I have scheduled to go to La Gruta, the hot spring the following day because of this chilly prediction, so I hope that the weather will hold.  Thursday was my final day in San Miguel to buy souvenirs and see whatever I haven’t seen yet in town, so I headed to the Art and Design Center, La Fabrica.  I think that someone told me that La Fabrica used to hold La Carpa, which I’d been looking for as the big circus tent that held trapeze classes and performances.  It isn’t La Carpa now, and I can’t tell from the pictures I’ve found online if its the same or not, but what I understand in my limited Spanish skills is that La Carpa is no more either way.   La Fabrica was originally a fabric factory, and now sells fabric craft work in addition to the fine art, gallerias, antique shops and artists’ studios you can find inside.  And this little gem was across the street from me the whole time and I didn’t even know it!  Sometimes things just happen the way that they are meant to happen though, and it happens this time that open studios are on Thursday afternoons!  This means that despite the fact that I can’t possibly afford the pricey works of art by these varying degrees of up-and-coming, established and famous-and-not-so-retired artistas del mundo, I get to speak with a few of them and take their pictures for my Why Do You Do What You Do project.  This is perhaps more valuable to me as a soul searching artist anyways.  I talk to Manuel Chacón, James Harvey and Mario Oliva about their art, and photograph James and Mario.  I did not have time to photograph Manuel, but I did buy a piece of his jewelry, a beautiful metal work bracelet with the famous Mexican heart on it.

James Harvey, Why Do You Do What You Do?

James Harvey, Why Do You Do What You Do?

La Fabrica

La Fabrica

It was interesting to see all of their work, but truth be told, it is Mario who shocked, surprised  and gave me the greatest gift and the most unusual experience of my trip.  He was the last artist that I met, after looking at paintings, photographs, and artisan work all day (I even saw one of Diego Rivera’s paintings, a tiny little thing selling for only a few thousand dollars!).  Nearing my limit of stimulation for the day, I stumbled into a small studio housing four artists’ work.  There was a young man painting in the center of the room, but I wish not to disturb him, or really to be disturbed.  For in this room, I found my favorite artist to date, Mario Oliva of course.  His work is passionate and psychological, using muscular figures that tell tantalizing stories through paint and script; monochromatic, vivid, striking and all seeming to be about some distant story that I inately and deeply understand.  They are a bit dark, but beautiful.  How does one paint the beauty and the light inside of the dark and forlorn, you ask?  I don’t know, but he does it.  I was staring at a work with five panels that I later learned is the story of a man carrying stones on his back, and of his discovery of a flower, his decision and difficulty in carrying the bag of stones and the flower and his pondering of whether if he keeps the flower, it will become a stone, or if the stones will become flowers.  It is a metaphysical, pensive piece, no?  What do you think?  Anyways, after staring at this piece for five minutes or so, the painter in the room ventured to speak to me at last.

Of course, it was Mario.  Duh, you totally didn’t see that one coming, right?  He gave me a little spiel and I asked him if he’d participate in my photography project.  He agreed and left the room to find something to write his answer on.  And it was then I saw it, the painting that I will remember forever.  It is called La Piel Nueva.  It is a large canvas in yellow tones of two figures embracing.  In his style, they are muscular, and intense.  There is something about the way in which they embrace, that you feel that they are holding on for their lives.  From their chest down their skin is falling off, but looks stitched on, like they are desperately repairing and holding onto it (I mean, wouldn’t you?).  But from their chest up, the skin seems to have already shed and is growing healthy and vibrant.  Psychologically, I can understand this growing of new skin.  The painting itself is beautiful to me.  But, it was before I could register any of it, it was like the moment my eyes fell upon it, I found that I was crying.

This may not seem like such a big deal.  I mean, I cry at movies, moving moments in plays, when I’m really happy.  But, there was something different here, because when Mario re-entered the room, I couldn’t explain at all what I was crying about.  I actually didn’t know.  And despite whatever I can relate to in the painting, whatever logic there is and beauty there is, I still really don’t have any idea.  I wish desperately that I could buy this painting.  But I have no idea how much it costs, just that it is more than likely more than I can afford.  I have dreams that someday, I’ll make millions and find Mario again, and have that painting, but hopes and dreams will have to do for now.  Mario, however gave me another great gift, friendship.  He was the first person to ask me, seriously, and with challenge in his voice, why it is that I do what I do.  To turn the intimate and thought provoking question back.  And I had to admit that I don’t know right now.  Normally, I feel self assured on my path and when I describe who I am to strangers.  But he probed deeper, maybe because of a language barriers or maybe because I really hadn’t made my answers or descriptions clear.  Or maybe he just had a tendency to ask about the things that I was most vulnerable and confused about.  This too, like the chance to see his painting, was a gift to my soul searching heart.  He invited me out for later that night when he would be finished working and after spending a few hours writing, I headed out to meet his friends in an old cantina.

Mario Oliva, Why Do You Do What You Do?

Mario Oliva, Why Do You Do What You Do?

In Mexico, there are cantinas and there are bars.  You cannot enter a cantina as a woman.  It is a place for men, not that they wouldn’t love to be distracted by a beautiful woman, but maybe it is a place in which they can escape and not have to be distracted.  It is a place to relax, to fight, to joke without concern for what a woman would think or say, a place where they are not trying to impress them, console them, nor need they even try to ignore them.  That is how I imagine it anyways, as despite my plans to dress up as a boy and figure it out, even a girl as careless as I deem this adventure too dangerous after two different men tell me that they think it would be dangerous for them to enter a cantina!  After all, I make a pretty scrawny and effeminate looking boy and strong as I am, if a man decides to challenge me to a brawl, I’m probably not going to last long.  So, the converted cantina that is now a bar that Mario directed me to(where women and men can hang out together!) is the closest I’ll get.  It is actually not so different than any bar anywhere in the world.  There were glamourously cute bartenders, friends laughing and drinking, some getting a little too sauced, an older man drunk past his limit was loudly hitting on every woman to catch his eye, and an escape from the days discoveries and trials was acheived for everyone.  I was supposed to go to another bar, Casa Payo which turned out to be an Argentinian restaurant that another young man invited me to.  After I ran into him multiple times in the street though, I started to feel like I was being followed, and decided not go.  Frequently, I saw him with other young Americans, but strangely this did not reassure me.  He may have just been eager to meet young people from around the world, but traveling the world alone as a woman, I trust my feelings about people and I felt like there was either some scam to get my money, or to get in my pants and that wasn’t exactly the experience that I was looking for.  Oh, how I wish men could know what its like to be a woman for just one week.  Especially a blond woman traveling alone in Mexico.

The weather held the next day, and I journeyed to the address that Whitney had given me as her temporary home.  I met Jaime and Adam and their wonder dog and we drove out to La Gruta to spend the day at the hot springs!  Today is the only day that I really relaxed like a tourist and just soaked up the minerals from the hot springs, talked with my new friends, drank a margarita and ate some enchiladas just chillin in the sunshine.  Jaime, Adam, Whitney and I tried to plan a way for me to stay another week, as they were going to be house sitting in a mansion the following weekend, with a pool even (and supposedly we’re in a drought, how extravagant! yes, that’s sarcasm).  It sounded lovely, but here I must admit that at this point in the trip I have become a little annoyed with most of the wealthy (and yes, mostly white) people here.  As Angelica said, there are people that come and become a part of the community and contribute actively in that community, and then more and  more there are people who come, gate themselves in their own ‘new’ community and contribute to only things that improve their own lives sometimes to great detriment to the community that already exists.  These are the people that move to Mexico and live here for ten years and never learn Spanish.  And these are the same people who when they lived in America would have insisted that everyone who moved to America be required to learn English first.  Its not like Mexico is a difficult place to learn Spanish.  It may in fact be the easiest place to learn Spanish.  The culture is welcoming and the people in general openly welcome the opportunity to listen to you stumble through your basic high school or college lingual skills and correct you happily and encouragingly when your tenses are (always!) wrong.  I see signs of the global depression here too, as wealthy people lose their retirement savings in stock crashes or decide that having a second home is no longer a frugal way to live and must sell.  Even here, there are no buyers.  And I must admit that I hope that perhaps the prices will fall back down to an affordable rate for the native Mexicans to reclaim their town a little before it soars back up again.  But, as Mario and I seemed to agree, gentrification, colonialization, the transitioning of cultures in and out of neighborhoods, villages, countries, whatever you wish to call it, has always existed and will probably always exist.  At least this form does not so obviously rely on coming in and killing or enslaving everyone in a village in order to claim it.  Some would argue that the same effect is acheived and some would argue that in fact gentrification does more good for people than bad.  In all honesty, I’m not sure where I stand besides thinking that if you want to move to another culture, you should at least attempt to learn a little bit about that culture and its language.

After La Gruta, we relaxed at Jaime, Adam and Whitney’s home for awhile, sipped tequila and made plans for the evening, as well as continued to brainstorm ways that we could make outrageous amounts of money for me to be able stay in San Miguel another week.

Consuming tequila at home transitions into consuming tequila out and then consuming mezcal out and even consuming chocolate covered crickets out!  Yikes!  Now, I am as adventurous of a gastronome as the rest of New York, wheat handicaps aside, but this is where I draw the line.  The little buggers with too many legs paralyze me in fear along with their cockroach and spider brothers (yes, I know they’re not really related scientifically speaking).  You really think covering them in chocolate will disguise them from me?  There is a reason that I can’t do Fear Factor people.  Climb up really high and jump?  Okay, take a deep breath, forget that you could die, throw up or embarass yourself and go.  Eat, touch, look at a creature with more than four legs?  I’m hyperventilating just thinking about it.  And I refuse to believe that this is some sort of native delicacy.  I know some cultures eat bugs, but these are chocolate covered crickets.  Some creep thought, ‘hey, you know what really freaks people out?  The idea of eating bugs, lets cover it in chocolate and people who aren’t squeamish can laugh at the people who are!’  Great.

It was around this point (remember that I’ve been drinking mezcal, some of it even with the worm, and things are a bit fuzzy now) that I start searching for someone with a cell phone in order to call Mario and tell him where to meet us when he finishes work.  However when I have no luck and am just starting to be frustrated by my lack of connectivity, he magically shows up!  It is at this moment (yes, a rather drunken realization, I must admit) that I realized that I rather liked living without the technology of a cell phone and started to formulate a plan of ditching my cell completely and relying primarily on a landline (gasp)!  I have been sufficiently mocked for this idea since returning to New York, but am still considering whether it would be possible and positive or extremely detrimental to my social and business networks.  My favorite suggestion is that I return to a pager and start a new hipster anti-tech trend!  Ha! 142!  That’s pager code for ‘I love it!’ for those of you born before 1980 and after 1985.  143 was the real pager code, meaning ‘I love you,’ because of the number of letters in each word.  Really, this was the first form of text messaging, a whole host of simple expressions that you could send to someone for the cost of a phone call at a payphone that didn’t require the time and personal touch of an actual phone call!  Brilliant!

Seriously though, I really enjoyed the much more natural pace of not having a phone while I was away.  I wasn’t constantly being distracted by texts, emails, phone calls that I felt guilty for ignoring because I was trying to live in the moment and didn’t want to be talking on the phone or texting right now, thank you very much!  Also it seemed to have an added benefit of making my time more important.  If I really commited to seeing you at three, both you and I had better show up because there can be no last minute text to cancel.  So, if I’m not sure I want to go, then I’m not going to make the plan.  I’ll just maybe show up.  And since, I’m not sure how long things will take in each moment, I don’t overplan my busy life or try to keep more things in it than I can handle.  Now, granted not everyone in the world has this same problem with technology.  Some people can distract themselves from whatever conversation that they’re having or moment that they’re living quite easily to answer the endless barrage of phone calls, text messages, AIMs and facebook updates.  Some people are okay with the fact that when they stop to have an hour dinner or drink or coffee with someone they spend most of that hour checking the time to see if they’re late somewhere else and have to leave before they’ve even really caught up.  And when they are overloaded some people can throw their phone in their bag all day and never feel remorse that it takes them weeks to never to get back to all the unsanswered messages.  And really, maybe having a landline would do little to change that last part.  But maybe it would just naturally slow down life to the people who really want to get in touch and really want to make plans.  I read a really interesting book when I got back to New York called Better Off, where a MIT grad lives on a Menonite-like farm for a year with minimal technology and reflects on many of the same discoveries.  So, I’ll admit it, I’ve discovered that when someone sends me a text saying that they miss me, they’re thinking of me, or we should get together soon, it really doesn’t make me feel more loved like it should.  It makes me feel guilty like its now my fault that we haven’t seen each other, because they’ve reached out (however feebly).  And when I do the same, why should it make the other person feel any differently?  Which reminds me, I have about ten phone calls to return that I’ve ignored today either because I was sleeping or because I was writing this posting…so goodbye invisible audience of readership and hello actual people to talk to.  Goodbye lovely Mexico and hello trying to maintain a calmer pace in hectic New York, at least for a little while yet.

Ryan and Evie waiting for me at home

Ryan and Evie waiting for me at home

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Of course, I’m pretty sure that what I wrote in the title line of this post doesn’t make sense in Spanish at all, but most of you reading this probably don’t speak Spanish anyways.  The more pressing concern is that I’m not even sure that it makes sense in English.  So, if someone actually does read this (I know you read the last one, but seeing as how this is the second post in a series, your continued interest in my abnormally long monologues containing abnormally long run on sentences is highly unlikely), you can comment with your own expert interpretation of what I was trying to convey if it so floats your bubble, or you can just keep reading if your boring.  And that’s fine too, because if you don’t post, we won’t know that you read this and that you’re boring.

My soul is singing!  I wrote for two and a half hours last night and finished an entire rough draft of a chapter!  I didn’t even know what it was going to be about really, until I started writing and it actually all came together!  Hallejuyah!  This was a major reminder to me that a) a chapter takes this long to write, b) that it takes me a half hour to ninety minutes of warming myself up and clearing my day to start writing and that c) the internet is death to my creativity.  As soon as I log on, there it sits.  The blog to be posted, the email to check, the facebook to check, the couchsurfing to check, the questions to look up, the website to update.  All great, except when you go to look up a word mid writing spree and realize that you’ve spent fifteen minutes just checking to see if anyone’s written you back in the last hour about tomorrow, yesterday, etc…  I know, I know, I have a problem.

So, its been three days since I last posted…aren’t you curious what new adventures I’ve had?  Well, no thievery or knifings this round.  But, let’s start where we left off, on Monday.  I slept in til about 11 again.  Hey!  I’m on vacation, didn’t you get the memo in the last post?!  Besides that’s downright early for someone who normally works until 4 am, sleeps at 5 or 6 and wakes up at 2pm.  My first victory on Monday was figuring out how to get the hot water to work, though I’ll admit, it took me another day to figure out how to get the hot and cold to work together to neither freeze nor scald me.  This victory accomplished, I cooked eggs and bacon with hot sauce, mmmm…then, okay…its confession time…what I’m about to tell you is deeply disturbing.  Morally incomprehensible.  Evil incarnate even.  Okay, here goes…on my way to the jardin…I stopped at Starbucks.  And yes, I even bought a mocha.  I can’t even believe that there is a Starbucks here.  I justify my actions to myself by reminding myslef that I needed something quick & to-go and that I have a morbid curiosity and wanted to know what a Starbucks in the middle of Mexico would look like?  Really, I don’t blame you if you stop reading this right here and now, I mean I’m supporting the ruin of the culture of this little town! Ai!  Not that I’m not also doing so by buying replicas of art works as souvenirs and more than supporting the vacation business of San Miguel which is becoming the gentrification of San Miguel…but lets just feel guilty for Starbucks purchases.  That’s way more eviler, no? And is what gringos do, no?  Besides I didn’t build the Starbucks…or start the fire…

Starbucks in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Starbucks in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Anyways, after this embarrassing encounter, I went to the jardin to meet Whitney, una chica simpatico that I connected with on Couchsurfing.  I got to the jardin an hour early to brainstorm some writing (and make sure I had time to enjoy and safely toss the evidence of the above stain), but strangely all of the writing projects before me, I was really more interested in this potential investment project that I’m thinking about and saving for in a few years…yeah right, I’m telling you what it is!  You’ll steal my idea, nosey!

Whitney told me that we would be the only young blond women in the jardin and that we would have no trouble finding each other.  She was right.  I sat at my little bench writing, and she found me no problem.  Not that there are not a lot of gringos near the jardin, its where the tourist center is.  But, most of the people moving here and living here are retirees.  I also had time to notice that most of the women both gringas and natives were wearing a considerable amount of clothing out on this 80 degree day. But I was sweating!  So, I hope that my jeans and wife beater tank top won’t lose me any social invitations  in town.  We did meet two jovenes that Whitney knows from her travels here, a fire spinner and an accordionist (Okay, I admit it, I just typed accordionist to see if it was a word or if spell check would catch it).  The accordionist was quite good actually.  But in this social scenario, my Spanish?  Not so much so.

After listening for awhile and everyone catching up, while I tried to catch up with their Spanish, Whitney took me to the best chicken sandwich stand…in the Jardin?  San Miguel? Mexico? no…the world!  I’d have to agree of course, even though I pulled it off the bread.  I’m pretty used to pulling apart sandwiches though.  Delicious!  And cheap! Its always a little nerve racking meeting strangers, you never know if you’ll have anything in common, or if they’re really just judging your every move, clothing item, and the way that you breath (Guess what? They are.  We’re human, duh, and you’re judging every word of this blog that I don’t think anyone’s reading anyways…except okay…my aunt, my boyfriend, my best friend, a couple of old friends…okay, now I’m starting to feel pressured! Yikes!).  At any rate, Whitney turned out to be a great person to talk to.  We talked about the economy, being a woman traveling alone, politics, our culture of ‘need to buy,’ and why we think Latin America is going to be the new global head honcho…along with or maybe instead of China.  Whitney is a vagabond musician currently house-sitting her way around Latin America with great stories that you’ll have to ask her about yourself if you ever meet her.

…Okay fine!  One involves her being homeless in Mexico and sleeping on the beach with nothing.  That’s right, what silly things are you afraid of losing or doing?  Hint: she lived happily ever after.

After lunch, we both parted ways.  She was late to a band session and I was early for a trapeze class!  As a side note, I notice that how I plan things here in Mexico seems really to work for me.  I get a lot done, but there’s never really too much of a rush to get from one thing to another because I haven’t jam packed my schedule, and I don’t feel guilty if I stay home at night to write after a busy day.  In New York, I’m always late, always stressed about being late, never feeling like I’ve done anything, and even if I’ve been running all day (or night), I feel guilty that I take any down time or sleep time in my life.  Alright, fine, you caught me, I was 15 minutes late to trapeze.  But, I wasn’t stressed about it.  It was my first time finding the place and at least I got there, is how I looked at it.

Circus School!!

Circus School!!

Gravity Works is located in the ‘warehouse’ district uphill of the city of San Miguel.  It is located in what looks like living cuartos and mexican style warehouses.  You have to follow signs up stairs to walk through people’s balconies, up more stairs to a roof, across the roof, and up a few stairs to another roof, and then up more stairs to another roof.

San Miguel de Allende from the Gravity Works' Roof

San Miguel de Allende from the Gravity Works' Roof

It’s great!  My first class here is with a young girl and a teenage girl who are already warming up with Cecilia and then with a guy named Jon who comes in a little later than me.  Classes are conducted with a mix of levels which is a lot of fun.  It was great to see kids learning new skills, to take an aerial class in Spanish and to see Cecilia’s beautiful style and how it differed slightly in set up from the styles that I’ve learned in New York.  I even got on the hoop a little bit, which I hate because it makes me sooo dizzy!  But I did some partnering with Jon and got to see what it looked like in the ballet style mirrors, which was a nice tool as far as checking out what my form looks like, though admittedly sometimes distracting.  I now understand why my coaches are always telling me to breathe.  My face turns beat red when I go upside down!

Ana Cecilia and Candy at Gravity Works

Ana Cecilia and Candy at Gravity Works

After this, I was simply exhausted.  I took a new route home and found the Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramirez de Nigromante (which I also think is called Belles Artes).

Belles Artes

Belles Artes

There are a bunch of sculptures…I mean there is a show of the feminist work of an artist whose name begins with a V that I swore I’d remember, but now cannot.  They were abstract persons in multiple media with only their sexual body parts emphasized and displaced in the attempt to portray our over preocupation with those parts in determining a genders worth. Sculpture After this detour, I was literally dead on my feet.  I came home, made tostadas (I’m getting sick of beans and tortillas already) and wrote one crummy page for my young adult novel and slept.

The next morning, George and Susan (who were staying in Casa Crayola next to me) and I got up at 8am, had breakfast and got picked up by our guide, Angelica and her driver, Mario to tour the neighboring town Guanajuato.

George and Susan

George and Susan

Oh my goodness!  What a day!  Let me just put it out there right now, if you’re looking for a tour guide in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico City or the surrounding areas, this woman knows her stuff!  You can email her at angelicatours1@yahoo.com.mx for more info, I can’t seem to get her website to work and link here.  Angelica took us from San Miguel to Guanajuato, to Dolores Hidalgo and back to San Miguel telling us the tales of her life, the lives of the indigenous peoples, the stories of the Independence and the Revolution, of the artists in the area and how the local stories, cultures and legends developed.

Where Hidalgo's Head Hung for Leading the Revolution

Where Hidalgo's Head Hung for Leading the Revolution

She is honest, hilarious, kind and really knows her stuff.  She is also passionate about getting the facts right, if something is only a story or only her version of a story, she will let you know.  Also George and Susan are great! They are this lively couple from Oregon with a daughter about my age who is a musician.  Seriously, everyone around me seems to be a musician!  George and Susan also have great stories about their life and initiated great conversations about economics, gentrification, classism, and politics.

I don’t even know where to begin with the stories and things that we experienced in Guanajuato really (oh please, it was almost a ten hour day, and you want to know everything?  Go there yourself! Read your own Mexican history), so I’ll give you the highlights.  We got to learn about the indigenous pyramids that were recently found and are being restored, but are not open yet (boo).  We had a very interesting discussion about gentrification in Mexico (particularly in San Miguel) and it was great to hear Angelica’s general take on it, “its good and its bad, but it is what it is and we can’t change it,” along with her more detailed stories of what it means to the Mexican people.  It turns out that there is a Starbucks in al centro because the Mexicans (okay, yeah, the wealthy Mexicans) wanted it there, so I’m not feeling guilty anymore.  Ha!

We stopped at a candy shop called La Catrina, which is named after one of Jose Guadalupe Posada’s calveras that became very popular in Mexico as an icon after many artists, including Diego Rivera, depicted the image in multiple forms.  The image is of an elegant skeleton woman, dressed in ornate attire from the late nineteenth century.  The image is a social commentary that no matter how much wealth you have, we are all equalized in death.

La Katrina says Smoking is Bad

La Catrina says Smoking is Bad

I bought myself a La Catrina in a beautiful purple dress to remember this important message as my life transitions once again and the world and the economy around us transitions as well.

Next stop was lunch at a Mexican restaurant that the international students frequent (and so yes, that same photo of Che Guevara is hanging right next to a paper Metropolitan Museum bag from new york…and yes, i totally loved this) and then a coffee at a stand that was roasting its own beans right outside.  It smelled magnificent.  I bought  a small bag of coffee for my casita and home.  Actually, I’m going to go and smell it right now (jealous?).

Coffee Beans Roasting

Coffee Beans Roasting

Now, if I get some Mexican chocolate, I can have the best mocha in the world in the comfort of my own home.

So, the only lesson that I’ll teach you from Mexican history (because I think its pretty cool) is that the Mexican Independence started in San Miguel de Allende.  And in Guanajuato, I got to see the bell that was rung in what is called the ‘cry of freedom,’ and the building where the four founding members of the movements heads hung from each corner as a warning for ten years until their followers succeeded and could remove them.

Cry of Freedom Bell

Cry of Freedom Bell

After this, we ventured to the mummy museum.  That’s right there are mummies in Guanajuato.  But not the kind of mummies that come from Eqypt.  No, these are bodies that were dug up from the cemetery by the government because the family couldn’t pay the rent on the grave and were found to be mummified because of the minerals in the water they drink, the dryness in the air, who knows?  So there are mummies from the late nineteenth century all the way to now.  Its eerie because many even have hair in their unmentionable places…some of them even have their unmentionable places, actually.  Like our guides said, you should go once, but once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it.  But its interesting that it supposedly draws the most tourists from outside and from within Mexico.

Mummy and Baby with Mummy Reflection

Mummy and Baby with Mummy Reflection

We also went to a market where supposedly Perfidio Diaz brought the ceiling from a train station in France to Mexico to use to make the marketplace.

The Train Station Market

The Train Station Market

And there is a rumor (that Angelica firmly believes to be just rumor) that the little tower on top was made by Eiffel.

The Market in Guanajuata

The Market in Guanajuata

This was a long day, finished with tequila ice cream and the return to my casita last night to write a full chapter after allowing myself to zone out for exactly one hour with television accompanied by either gun shots or repetitive car backfiring coming from outside in the street (I said no thievery or knifings, not no gunfire).

Today, I slept in again and then ventured out for breakfast at one of the vegetarian friendly places I’ve found here.  Recommended by both Marti, my host at Casa Crayola, and George and Susan, I walked there with my shopping bag to buy your souvenirs and hopefully some fresh vegetales, which I’m starting to feel are lacking in my beans, bacon, egg and tortilla diet.  I did have an excellent (and giant) breakfast of juevos rancheros (my favorite) and a mixed green salad, and I did buy a few souvenirs and some nice tequila for cheap, but I couldn’t find the market and carrying around a bottle of tequila and souvenirs is exhausting, so I rested at Starbucks again and re-focused my energy (this time guilt free-ish).  Then I took the ten minute walk back to my casita and got ready for another trapeze class.

Ana Cecilia Corona, Why Do You Do What You Do?

Ana Cecilia Corona, Why Do You Do What You Do?

It is likely that this was my last class at Gravity Works and it saddens me a little.  Seriously, even if you’ve never tried it, you should visit this place if you’re here.  Its very affordable, great fun and a great workout! This class for me was more challenging and I was tired, so harder for me, which was great.  I did jam my toe a little unfortunately, but it didn’t stop me and afterwards I got to talk a lot to Cecilia, mixing in and out of Spanish.  She is a person with a wonderful energy and is very patient, kind and talented.  I hope that our paths will cross again, even if I can’t make it to a class tomorrow, which is likely.  I have so much to do still while I’m here and tomorrow’s sort of it because I’m headed to the hot springs for a day of relaxation with Whitney and her friends on Friday and leave Saturday.  Aw, dios mio!  Muy triste, no?

My last adventure today was having dinner at the little restaurant across the street from my casita.  I was starving after trapeze and they grill their meat outside on a big grill.  Well, the smell was too much for me, and I couldn’t handle tostadas with beans and cheese after that, so I got five little mini pork (pastor?) tacos and conversed a little with Martin, who is 18 and hoping to grow up and marry a gringa.  I told him that we were all stubborn, too independent and used to getting our own way and that he might not like it so much after all.  I think that he told me women in the whole world were like that, but my selective ‘I don’t understand Spanish’ just happened to kick in right then…conveniently…

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On December 6th of 2008, some of our friends held a surprise arts inspired birthday party for our friend Ricky. As one of the activities, I did my first experiment in the Why Do You Do What You Do project. Seven people were gracious enough to participate and share some of the intimacy and truth in their lives and decisions with the group and now with you. I kept things relatively simple for this first round, we’ll see how the photos develop as I continue. I plan on asking participants around the world as I travel. Next stop is Mexico February 7-14th!! Again, thank you to the participants in this project.
Love and Peace, Erinina

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