Vidas, Muertos, Familias, Circulos…

Noche De Muertos, Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico

Daper DeathAltar MaxAltarOfferingsObsceneryEmpty Chair
The villageOf faith and sorrowCold feet at the gatesCircle of lifeCircle of lifeFamily Affair
Night of lightOh the pretty lightsPeaking Through...

Noche de Muertos… an old dream of mine that finally came to reality. Mexicans, have a way with a variety of things and death is no exception. A very rich, varied colorful and meaningful set of traditions reaching way back to to pre-colonial times… mingling with, battling against and mostly losing to the commercial and ephemeral.

Months later, of my journey (mainly around Patzcuaro, Michoacan) 2 things remain strikingly fresh in my memory:

– The beauty and strength of grasping of time and life through family ties and traditions
– The inescapable feeling of loss and loneliness

I am particularly fond of these three scenes:

Empty Chair

Of faith and sorrow

Circle of life


Die Leiden Des jugendlich CafeProz – Chapter 4, De Luxe Or Pyramids

Wednesday… 10:41 am, get there 11 minutes late (could be a *lot* worse).

“I’m taking you to somebody’s house, ok?” She says.

Hmmm…..somebody’s house? I wonder… Not for
long because oh heavens! she looks good. A mid-leg,
strait, sky blue, summer dress, golden skin,
and.. cute starfish ear rings (also sky blue…
well a tad more towards turquoise…but who cares?)
She looks as fresh as the rain on a hot summer day.
Continue reading

Die Leiden Des jugendlich CafeProz – Chapter 3, Brave by the Bell

Monday, the big day. I am restless, chomping at
the bit, it’s so exciting! but you’d never know if
not for the recurring smile that I am trying to keep
under control.

It’s 3:11 PM. I find the school where she teaches.
The school is locked and the bell I ring, loudly rips the
afternoon silence to pieces. Out comes one staff member shadowed by a
bunch of others peering from behind like prairie dogs in the
Continue reading

Paris Perfect

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A thousand times, and a thousand more, haven’t I seen the eiffel tower in the paris sky?
A thousand times, and a thousand more, haven’t I been right there, shooting but a glance, driving by?
Unexpectedly, this originally unremarkable night, took a stab at perfection…

From Trocadero’s deck, the tower took me by surprise, massive, impressive, elegant if not beautiful,
it had that Wow, that long time mates tends to loose.
Below Trocdero, was served tango…
I stared, marvelled, and later, took a chance and danced,
once with that shy parisian lady,
and twice again with a ballerina from Turkey,
all perfect strangers, dancing strangely perfectly

As I went back to the deck, still slightly buzzed from the beauty of nothing in particular, Continue reading

Travel is fatal to prejudice…. Might it also be to Love?

Coming back home, being the only one having gotten the benefit of extensive travel  can prove to be an issue…

First, we have the general Socrates’ Cave effect: For as much as travel gets you closer to former strangers, it can distance you from your home environment. For home wherever it is, means shared values as much as shared prejudices….

Second, we have  intimate repercussions: Love hopefully implies respect and esteem… How does one esteem that which one might no longer share?

It seems clear that enlightenment requires a much greater reflection and sense of self than one might originally imagine.  Otherwise one might be forced to choose between the enjoyment its full benefits  and avoiding feeling alienated from loved ones or ones that could be loved.

Traveler beware!

Die Leiden Des jugendlich CafeProz – Chapter 2, Braids and Prejudice

Saturday: I tried to go check her old address. Nothing.
Looked up her father’s name in the phone book and… miracles of
miracles he is there *and* answers the phone.  He confirms that is her father,
but does not have her contact information. All he knows is the name of the elementary school where she teaches.

Fine. I look up that school in the phonebook…. no school.
Look on line and there it is, oh precious perl of academia.
Not surprisingly, of all the schools in that city, the school is the
only one without a phone number!… Monday, I’m going to school.

I’m close (I think)…. and it is a bit nerve racking. I am almost jubilant
but don’t want to jinx it! Aaaargh. As of now I don’t want to be too happy but,
it is looking real good.

I have to sit on my hands, but my hyperactive self is on I-cant-take-it mode.
I am having all kinds of flashbacks about the things I tried to do to get
her attention… well more like the multiple ways I failed to even make a
dent in her armor.  She was a bit severe (obnoxious? stuckup? “reserved”?),
but those  2 long braids she had so often well made up for it. I loved
those braids. They were fascinating, beautiful, strong, seductive,
thick meshes of her very own fabric constantly in my sight (Naturally,
I sat the back of class… and she, in the front)

If she ever got to notice me was when, from time to time,
I would get her extremely “furax”(I am gifted like that) ….her eyes would
fire up, and launch these precision guided missiles towards me (yikes!!!)…
As I was saying, if she ever got to notice me (in a positive way) I had no
evidence of that.

Back then a couple of times I did follow her home after school
feasting my eyes on more glimpses of her (come to think of it, that sounds
either really cute or seriously creepy).  Ahhh kids. Funny enough, it
is with the same adolescent ardor that I am looking for her now.  Who
knows by now she could look like a big greasy potatoe(that would be a
downer) or maybe she’s maried, 5 kids….

I can’t help myself with wonderful idylic scenarios.  I vainly just try to
keeep in mind that no matter what it wont’ be anything like I imagine or
want to imagine… hmmm let’s see: still beautiful as I remembered her,
assertive, long braids, a nice clear forehead(I have a thing for
foreheads too), and that gleam in her eye that made me feel like
a fly getting too close to those zapping lights.

Ok, I will stop that  for now because this is silly. Sweet, delightful
nostalgic nonsense, but nonsense nonetheless!

Monday!! where art thou?

Die Leiden Des jugendlich CafeProz – Chapter 1, Collision

Why then and not at any other time is hard say.  What is certain is that
these were the days where the long forgotten utter despair from having an unexpected zit on the nose, a wavering voice pitch and a host of other gender-based embarrassments brought my well earned swagger to a screeching halt.

Sounds mysterious? Well, I am almost certain that for all those who have traveled and lived far away from the land of their youth this might sound familiar: sooner or later you collide with your past and when that happens you’re never quite prepared for it.

My own collision started with a long trip from the US to South America.  I landed on a Tuesday and, I must say, I enjoyed the benefit of no special feeling or any kind of premonition that I believe should normally precede momentous events… Nah, just your regular joyous friends and family reunion type of feeling.

To be honest, it was not the first time that I had thought about her.  I had gone back to French Guiana a couple of times in the last few years, and every time she would pop into my mind, but ever so gently…  and likewise that thought would dissipate in the effervescence of parties and excursions.

However, this time, out of nowhere, I felt the urge to check on my long lost love interest of 20 years ago (Mind you she probably never knew of said interest…).  Yes, just like that, it turned out that Thursday was the day the Lord had made for me to take a trip to where it all began: my old junior high.

Thanks to either my legendary puppy eyes, or my giant karma account I got to see records without any ID or vetting of any kind… and proceeded with my search.

Records were minimal. Nothing useful except for names and addresses of one or more parents. Good enough,  I thought. Women tend to shed their original last names after a  while, so yeah… parent info should prove to be very useful.

Ginger!  Got it. Her old address and the name of her father.  Not content just with copying down the info, I also took a photo of the page to make sure records did not disappear . Felt like a cold war spy.

Phase one: Mission accomplished! Big smile on face.

Things are looking good!