Prison Break, Cancun Style

December 27, 2007 at 5:10 pm | Posted in Cancun, Village Life, Weirdness | 4 Comments

I was flipping through my journal last night, and found a couple of references to the prison break that happened in Cancun almost exactly a year ago.  Convicts escaping in Cancun isn’t a particularly rare occurrence, but this time upwards of 100 escaped after a supposed riot.  The chisme-vine said that the padrino of the prison was to be transfered elsewhere, and the inmates got their panties in a wad, rioted, and some made a run for it.

When we got home from Canuck’s house on Xmas Eve, the neighbors had put a thick chain around the front gate at the entrance of the apartment building.  Of course, we had no key for it, so we had to jump over a five foot wall to get in.

My sister-in-law returned from the village with some news: some of the convicts had arrived on foot in Chichimila, a two hour drive from Cancun, and spent the night whooping it up with the town drunks and some Chac Pol (what Mayans call aguardiente). 

A couple escapees also wandered on over to Homeboy’s family’s store looking for food.  His mom didn’t have anything tasty for them there, so she told them to follow her home and she fed them at the house. 

Homeboy had to call his mom to yell at her for bringing escaped prisoners into the house.  Her response was: “I didn’t know that they were escaped convicts.  They were hungry, and I had food.  So I gave it to them.”

So simple, eh?

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Nuestro Rancho

December 22, 2007 at 7:44 pm | Posted in Marriage, Mayan Culture | 8 Comments

I decided that I wanted Homeboy to buy me a horse, and he said he could get me one for about 500 pesos.  He also said that we could keep them (of course, he wants a horse too) on his father’s land, which is just south of Chichimila.  Don Petin (Homeboy’s dad) used to work his milpa there, but now the fields are fallow and the land abandoned. 

Our plans exploded from there, but Homeboy has now taken it in a direction that I don’t want to go!  Despite the fact that he used to cry like a baby when his dad would send him to the fields to work, he dreams of being a ranchero.  This, coupled with his parallel dream of being a torero, has taken our plans to an ugly place. 

I said I wanted sheep.  He accepted that, and added cattle to it.  Now he’s gotten it into his head that he wants to start raising black, brave bulls to sell for corridas.  We’ve often argued about bullfighting, as it really upsets me.  Yet he absolutely adores it. 

(An aside: when we were first together and I was living in Chichimila, we went to a corrida during the village’s feria.  He started egging on his friend, whom everyone calls El Vaquero , to jump down from the stands and get in the ring with the bull.  His friend protested, and I noticed Homeboy getting twitchy and crazy-eyed.   Before I realized what was happening, he had jumped off the stands and launched himself into the ring.  He then proceeded to chase the bull around for a good five minutes.)

If we actually ever do something with the land, I can forsee a lot of head-butting over the bull thing.  I really just had this romantic fantasy of getting to wear cowboy boots and spending leisurely afternoons on horseback.  But nothing gets Homeboy more excited than the idea of raising his own bulls. 

I also envision doing tours for those gringos who adore “authentic Mexican experiences.”  Tour on horseback, learn about how Mayans farm, swim in a cenote, eat some relleno negro, and get “cleansed” by a real Mayan shaman!  My idea for the last part was to get one of his friends to wave some tree branches around and babble on in Maya.  But Homeboy now wants to pay an actual shaman to do this!  There’s one living in his brother’s house.  He is supposedly ridding the house of the after-effects of the curse placed on his brother’s deceased wife.  This man has been there for years, and I imagine that if the house has not yet been cleansed of evil, it never will be.

I wonder if people would actually pay for something like this. 

If not, we’ve always got the bulls to fall back on.  Gulp.

There But for the Grace…

December 18, 2007 at 9:08 pm | Posted in Life in the US, Righteous Indignation, Self, Working | 2 Comments

I have to admit, I’m a bit of a forum whore.  I’ve lost entire hours of my life giving the same advice over and over again on forums such as those found at Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree.  Every now and again, I see posters make comments about visiting Isla Mujeres (invariably spelled Isla Majeres or Isle Mujars or some such massacring of the place name) or downtown Cancun so that their children can see how poor Mexicans live and realize how lucky they are.

No manches, this gets my panties in a wad.  Such condescension cloaked in the guise of searching for “authentic teaching experiences.”  It reminds me of those tours of favelas in Rio, where tourists ride around in buses to gawk at Brazilians living in abject poverty.  And they take pictures! 

How dehumanizing! How flipping arrogant can people be, that they take their tots to the “other side” in the hopes that their children stop sniveling about the inhumanity of not getting an iPhone the moment they are potty-trained. 

This gawking, this objectifying of the poor that makes me all twitchy with discomfort.  But I think it makes me so because I have some of it in me.  I was reminded of my nauseau at reading comments from forum posters that there’s nothing like seeing a small, shoeless brown Mexican child playing in a charco to teach their kids what it means to be grateful because of thoughts I had at work today. 

I had been doing intake for a Cape Verdean youth who lives in a group home and reflecting on how I’d be able to work with him on getting a job when he obviously has difficulty completing simple paperwork himself.  And I thought, “Man, I think I have it tough.”  And then I thought, “No mames, Gabacha, you’re just as bad as the rest. No wonder you recoil when you see comments from the privileged revelling in their privilege at the expense of the poor, overlaid by sympathy.”  Well, actually it didn’t come out quite so wordily in my head, but you get the idea.

How dare I use my interactions with people to pat myself on the back for not having a scary, dangerous, and difficult life. 

I’m lucky, damn lucky.  But the day that I compare myself to someone and consider that I’m superior in any way and think that it’s okay is the day that I hope someone smacks me upside the head for being the worst kind of colonizer. 

Mr. Puppers Tears Shit Up

December 17, 2007 at 11:10 am | Posted in Life in the US, M.r Puppers | 7 Comments

For almost a year, Leo and I spent great weekend afternoons and balmy summer evenings playing and mingling at the Gano Street Dog Park.  He loved to sniff around the edges of the park on his own, and wasn’t terribly interested in playing with other dogs.  And he was so docile, I nicknamed him my “little sissy boy.”  In fact, he could barely make it to his favorite poop corner without getting humped along the way.  He’d get humped by little ankle-biters, gigantic dogs, female dogs, neutered male dogs.  Everyone wanted a piece of Leo.  Sometimes he’d be on the bottom of a doggie Conga line.  Sometimes he’d get one going behind him and another mounting his head.  He’d just stand there looking slightly befuddled and let them have their way with him. 

img024_0001.jpgI think one day he got fed up and snapped.  He’s still generally his docile, sissy-boy self.  But he has gotten agressive at the park and I don’t know why.  He especially seems to have it in for small, unneutered dogs with attitude problems.  He’ll pounce on them, growl, and look menacing.  I’ve no idea what triggers this, nor how to stop it. 

I’m not even pleased that the other dogs no longer regard him as their prison bitch, since I have to be hyper-vigilant and anticipate which dog will piss him off for no reason I can see and then head off a confrontation. 

Most of my dog park buddies have said that it’s useless to remove him from the park after he behaves badly because he just doesn’t get the causal relationship.  I buy that, but after an episode, I’m tense and made uncomfortable as the other dog owners glare at me for letting Cujo harm their little ball of furry perfection. 

How I miss those idyllic summer afternoons sucking down Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee, chain-smoking, and gossiping with whomever shows up while Leo romps and plays and sniffs butts.  And it’s even more distressing now that Homeboy is in America and he can come along to watch his paisanos play soccer in the adjacent field every weekend, gleefully shouting obscentities at the referees. 

How I wish that Leo could just chill the fuck out and stop being so hardcore and just hang out and get mounted like he used to.

Life in a Parallel Universe

December 11, 2007 at 1:01 pm | Posted in Immigration, Life in the US, Marriage, Weirdness, Working | 6 Comments

Homeboy and my father are tight, and they certainly make an unlikely pair: a twenty-five year old, compact brown fellow and an elderly, red-headed white man.  Yet they go out to breakfast together at my father’s favorite diner, go on errands, and sneak donuts at Dunkin’ Donuts.  My father also fancies himself Homeboy’s tour guide, taxi driver, and ambassador to the English-speaking world.

So when Homeboy finally got a call from the temp agency to report for work yesterday, dad was only too happy to snap to attention.  I switched to crack-head soccer mommy mode to get Homeboy home with his resume, so dad could pick him up, pass off the required work boots, and take him to the temp agency. 

Dad calls to give me a run down of what transpired, but then got upset and only said: “It was chaos, pure chaos.  I helped him with his application, then they took him away in a van.  I don’t know where they took him.”  He calls me a few hours to express his concern, and he sounded even more traumatized than before, especially since Homeboy hadn’t called me to let me know what time to pick him up.

Homeboy finally calls, and I go to pick him up.  He had been moving packages for DHL and is thrilled to use his first paycheck in America to buy a gold chain and crucifix pendant. 

Jump to a few hours later.  Homeboy’s at English class, and I call dad to let him know that he was safely returned to me.  Stepmom picks up the other extension to tell me that after they attended a wake, they went to dinner.  Dad spent the entire dinner with his head down, mumbling “They took him away in a van, I don’t know where they took him.  I didn’t even get to shake his hand. They just took him away.”  Note: my father clutches at Homeboy every time they see each other.  He gazes meaningfully into my husband’s eyes, and celebrates each new step of his life in America as if he were a newborn. 

Dad was much relieved that Homeboy was fine, even jubilant.  I told Homeboy about my father’s trauma and how worked up he got that he couldn’t shake his hand. 

Apparently, as they shoved him into the van, my father remained on the steps of the temp agency, shaking his hand at his favorite Mexican in some sort of victory salute as a van load of recent immigrants, ex-cons, and the generally downtrodden temp laborers looked on.

Computerless and Bereft

December 10, 2007 at 10:16 am | Posted in Blogging, Internet | 4 Comments

I’ve been engaged in a battle of wills with Gateway for the last six months over the sorry state of my laptop.  I’ve been losing miserably.  I spent four hours on Thursday night on the phone with Gateway when I could have been: doing my lengthy homework for class, blogging, cooking and eating dinner, exercising (yeah, right), playing tug of war with Mr. Puppers, or watching 12 Corazones with Homeboy.  Instead, I spent it on the phone with Gateway tech support alternately whining, bitching, wheedling, and insulting the fine folks at this behemoth of uselessness.

Alas, I am computerless, hence the silence on the blogging front. 

But I’ve got things to share, and am looking forward to doing so on Orale, Pues once I have a computer that works!

Harried by the Weather

December 3, 2007 at 8:25 pm | Posted in Life in the US, Quirks | 5 Comments

Getting a Mexican dude to understand what New England weather is like has been quite the challenge.

Here is a series of brief vignettes of our experience thus far:

  • When we were still in Cancun, I told Homeboy that Rhode Island is very cold and he’ll have to learn how to dress appropriately.  He responded: “No te preocupes, I’ll bring my sweatshirt.”
  • We went to my favorite beach from my childhood in August, and walked towards the water’s edge.  I told him to dip his toe in.  He did, and then screamed “A la verga” and ran away.  (I’m not going to translate that, but believe me when I say it’s vulgar)
  • Since September, Homeboy’s stock response to the question “How are you?” has been, “I’m cold.”
  • The dog has been quite odiferous, and Homeboy wants to hose him done as he did in August.  I told him that it’s too cold, and the dog may very well get sick and die if he gets bathed outside.  He (the husband, not the dog) asked me when it’d warm up enough to wash the smelly boy.  I responded, “Uh, in May.”  He doesn’t believe me.
  • The temp of our apartment holds steady at around 75 degrees, so Homeboy lounges about shirtless as he has his whole life.  I called him to the door to marvel at the dusting of snow, and he shambled on over, still shirtless.  I told him to get appropriate clothes, and he wrapped a blanket around his shoulders.  He lasted about 4 seconds, and then continued to marvel at the window, flanked by Mr. Puppers.

I could probably think of a few more, but have to run to pick him up from his English class.  I wonder if today is the day that he’ll start to wait in the vestibule rather than outside.

Keeps Pulling Me Back

December 1, 2007 at 12:33 pm | Posted in Blogging, Self | 10 Comments

One of my favorite lines from Rumi’s poems is:

Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.

And this is manifesting itself in my blog.  I think.  The liveliest posts are ones about Mexico and Homeboy.  I tried to blog about Cape Verdean immigration to Pawtucket, and even I was bored by the flatness of what I produced.  My love for and commitment to The Bucket exists, but is still in its infancy.  Whereas my personal knowledge of and commitment to Mexico and the Yucatan is much deeper and has been growing for years.  Odd, considering that I’m from here, and have been discovering aspects of Rhode Island worthy of my fascination and attention since I moved back. 

As Orale, Pues! continues to develop, I think I’ll keep in mind Rumi’s words.

The subjects to which love draws me are the subjects I’ll post about.  I think it’ll be interesting to see how this blog unfolds if I only post about what moves me or obsesses me.

And I’m curious…I’d like to know how my visitors (regular or sporadic) who have personal blogs choose what to post about.  What is it that, in your opinion, makes a post rock or crash and burn?

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