Saturday, March 10, 2007

What I Like About Chacala, Part 1

Often, when I am visiting with someone I don't know very well in Chacala, I will be asked the same series of questions. Like, “How long have you been in Chacala?”, and “When are you going back to the Estado Unidos?”, “Where is your husband?”, “Do you have children?”. The questioning usually ends when I say “Por mi, Mexico es major.” That is, “For me, Mexico is best”.

My comment almost always brings a satisfied smile. I guess the Mexicans who went to the U.S. and liked it aren’t here to tell me that the U.S. is best for them. I meet lots of Mexican men who have worked in the States. And a few women. The ones who have come home to Mexico. Of course, I wouldn’t be likely to met the people who stayed in the U.S., except when they come down for a family visit.
One of the things I like best about Mexico, or at least Chacala, is that there are lots of people making music, singing and playing instruments. Even from my house right now I can hear two different bands playing on the beach. Prieto sings in the taxi, and sometimes people sing along with him or the CD that’s might be playing. There are often dances, and bands playing so you can dance. Or stereos blasting (now my favorite).On the weekends there are always two or three small bands rotating around the restaurants. I think they play a song for a table, by request, for 50 pesos a song. I have been asked to take photos of the bands a lot lately. I don’t know why that is, but I like doing it. I learn a lot about what not to do. Mostly to do with lighting and distracting backgrounds, at the moment anyway.
Last night this band was roaming around town, leading "sing-a-longs" at various restaurants. As i walked home they were playing in the street in front of Koko Bongo's. They had a very enthusiastic group of young guys singing their hearts out. Very sweet.
Jason, who was here last week, showed me how to do continuous shooting, so I am experimenting with that.

This morning I was in the collectivo, reading to Las Varas to have my monthly diabetes A1c test (for less that $7US). A woman I see around Chacala but don’t know, was sitting next to me. She started asking all the regular questions. And when I said my usual comment, that Mexico is best for me, she agreed.

She has lived in the U.S. twice. Her two comments were that it costs too much to live there, and that people aren’t friendly like they are here. She said people in Las Varas (where she lives) and in Chacala (where she works) almost always nod and say “Buenas dias”, “Buena tarde”, and “Buena noche” when you pass. She said it's much nicer. And I really agree. And the more people say those words with my name attached, and happier I feel. And that happens more and more, the longer I am here. In Las Varas too.I guess being acknowledged with a friendly smile, and maybe a little chitchat, probably has some kind of mental health or stress reduction element. At least it seems to me. I am greeted by name many, many timesin a day, and acknowledged many more. And I am a hugger and huggee routinely in Chacala. In the U.S. I could go weeks without a hug. That would never happen here. And I get to hold babies almost whenever I feel like it.

This morning I was walking home from doing some errands, and the kids who were doing the Saturday morning trash pickup came by. Maybe 20 kids in the back of the truck. And it seemed like they were all calling out my name and waving. I loved it.

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