Slow n steady; halfway through/halfway in heaven
Buenos días/buenas noches/buenas tardes, ¡donde estarán ustedes!
Saludos de Mérida el 26 de febrero, 2015
Valentine’s Day in Palenque downtown
Sopa de lentejas y chorizo—choriza, vegetable, lentil stew
Clericó (mulled wine with ice and fruits) at a Trovadictos party hosted by Roberto, my dad (a group of 65-95 year old men who are musicians and “trova addicts,” a genre of Yucatecan music.
Excursion to Río Lagartos nature refuge—preciosos flamingos!
Otra vez el tiempo me ha transcurrido; pero al mismo tiempo, siento que pequeñas vidas han cabidas en poco espacio y tiempo. Hablaré de viajes—unos más largos que otros—de cosas chistosas, de observaciones, de relatos por mis compañeros estudiantiles en la Universidad Modelo.
Again, time goes scurrying past me, but simultaneously I feel that many little lifetimes have fit into so little space and time. I will speak of trips, big and small, odd things, observations, what I’ve learned from colleagues at Modelo.
¡La huelga ha terminado! The strike has ended at UADY! February 9, to be exact, I believe; I think that students, however much they were in total solidarity and support—every UADY student I talked to was attending all types of rallies to help out the no-school but yes to social learning vibe—benefit from the return to school so that it doesn’t extend so much into the summer. Teté, the woman who cleans our house twice a week, has a son in Prepa Dos, which is a high school connected to UADY, and so at that level students really got jipped for a month without class, however vacation-y it felt
After many attempts with Miguel to see a free event for Mérida Fest at the Centro Cultural Olimpo in the Plaza Grande, I finally arrived on time at the end of January for Nada humano nos es ajeno, a play with Argentine-Yucatecan actress Silvia Káter: according to the magazine Por Esto!, “Es un espectáculo sobre la universalidad de los derechos humanos… y de los “torcidos humanos” en el que a través de monólogos, diálogos y canciones de diversos autores exponen las más variadas emociones y situaciones.” From parodies of husband-wife relationships to the hypocrisy of the Mexican elite, the obra de teatro was a stellar two-person show of an arquitecta and male construction worker building a new visión for humanity; also a voluntary fundraiser for homeless children. One scene highlighted how the same phrase applied to men and women usually results in shorthand for puta when describing women. Ejemplos: hombre público: an admirably sociable, political man / mujer pública, puta (whore); hombre de la calle, a man who doesn’t stay at home much / mujer de la calle, puta (prostitute). This continued for approximately 15 phrases, and the actor’s continual admission that each phrase had such loaded double standards struck a chord with the audience. The final song played was Sólo le pido a Dios—very 60s-peacetime-esque: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gvyl_zdji2k
On February 4th, my Wednesday 4-hour Literatura Yucateca Moderna class cut short to attend in Modelo’s beautiful auditoriu a presentation by UADY maestría students and professors about the politics of disappearances in Tlatelalpa and Ayotzinapa, especially regarding historical precedents such as the Guerra Sucia in Guerrero during the 1960s and 70s. I am including one of the historical slides; one student, Valeria Contreras Hernández, also discussed the international nature, positive pressure, but also social tension of hashtag activism with #AyotzinapaSomosTodos or #Somos43. I was reminded of my friend Maya Reyes’ assessment of “We Are All ___” hashtags as erasing uniqueness of humanity instead of showing true empathy and respect for distinct yet connected struggles. Not everyone—and not all Ivy League students in the U.S.—is Ayotzinapa, and these students showed that there are so many more disappearances and corruptive, destructive practices occuring under the watch of the Mexican government in every Mexican state every day, yet the world focuses on 43 young students.
Sidenote time! Algunos episodios de gayness en historia mexicana: supposed nuggets of queer Mexican history (dicho por Gilberto en clase de Literatura Yucateca / as told by classmate Gilberto in my Yucatecan Lit class)
- Maximiliano de Habsburgo: when he arrived in Veracruz, his black male servants “festejaron”/”partied” with him as male escort types
- Siglo XX: después de la revolución, debates entre los grupos de intelectuales: nacionalistas revolucionarias—arte mexicana, Rivera, Orozco—versus los contemporáneos, quienes tenían que ver con artes globales. La prensa mexicana usó insultos de homosexualidad para describir y defamar el uno lado al otro
- In the early 20th century after the Mexican Revolution, the Mexican press used homophobic slurs to defame both sides of the Mexican public art debate between the national reolutionaries and the contemporaries
- Sara García—la Abuelita del cina mexicano y de las tabletas de chocolate! (supuestamente vivía con su pareja femenina por años)
- The Mexican actress who is the face of Abuelita chocolate tabs apparently lived with her female partner for years
- María Felix; femme fatale, fuerte, violenta, le gustaba dominar a los hombres, y su hijo vivió doble vida, actor de telenovelas
- Femme fatale film star María Felix’s son lived a double life sexually
- Cantador de rancheros Lupe Reyes y estrella del cine mexicana era supuestamente una lesbiana
- Siglo XX: un cronista en la Ciudad de México, Salvador Novo era abiertamente homosexual: también era escritor, de poesía, sonetos, y se burló de sus críticos flamboyantemente.
- A historical chronicler in the 20th century, Salvador Novo, was openly homosexual, and was a writer, a sonnet poet, and flamboyantly scorned his own critics.
- Stereotypical terminology according to Gilberto: joto=homosexual pobre; maricón (one that most are more familiar with)=homosexual rico, solo, de moda, educado (usually rich, lonely gay man).
The weekend of Valentine’s Day, which was also the weekend of Carnaval and a 4-day school break, I visited Palenque in the state of Chiapas (two states west of Yucatán) in order to spend time with Denise, the mother of my beloved friend Riel; Denise’s business for upwards of 20 years has been to buy inventory from cooperatives in San Cristóbal de las Casas, una de las ciudades más grandes del estado, to sell back in Santa Fe. Riel grew up accompanying Denise there, and Denise goes to Chiapas for one to a couple months at a time each year. We stayed at Mayabell campground (once a hub for hippie druggies, now more of a trailer camper friendly place, although there was still a stuck-in-the-60s pothead vibe to some visitors J) in a little tent underneath a palapa for when it rained lightly at night. The breakfast sándwich energético for only 50 pesos was one of the best breakfasts I’ve had in my life—pan integral/wheat bread, frijoles, huevo, tomates, spinach, turkey bacon…We embarked on a package day trip to Mizol-Ha waterfall and Agua Azul waterfalls—my photos are scant because there was no way to accurately capture the force of the current from the pounding falls, nor the infinite cascades that extended for seemingly miles and miles at Agua Azul. The water was higher than years past, according to Denise, and thus harder to ascend from one pool to the next. We basked on the crumbly limestone (cal) after stuffind ourselves with 7.5 empanadas each near the pinnacle of the waterfall; a great deal of vendors of Chiapas paraphernalia, jewelry, and zillions of variations on a theme of empanadas.
After first meeting up with someone I matched with on women-seeking-women Tinder, a Campechana (someone from the state of Campeche) in her mid-twenties from Ciudad del Carmen downtown at the Catedral to get champolas (milkshakes), about a month and a week ago, we’ve met up a lot and have really hit it off. Besides having a car—súper convenient to meet up with her and her closest friend—she’s been an awesome resource for learning the city, discussing the ups and downs of being gay in Mérida, where in some places being obviously out is suspicious and problematic, and what it’s like to be a Campechana (a state that many Yucatecans make fun of or judge harshly) who’s lived in Mérida the last six years for tech university. From what she’s told me about the tribulations of being one of the only women in the civil engineering program where she studied, much gender prejudice from professors exists, and the environment of machismo in civil engineering gave rise to more need to keep her sexuality under wraps—especially from her own family.
She and I have been to, among other outings, a cool film, yoga, restaurant called La 68 Casa de Cultura Elena Poniatowska, on a tour at night of the city’s Cementerio General in which socialist governor Felipe Carrillo Puerto’s grand tomb lies opposite his gringa journalist lover; and, after I went to a ROMEO SANTOS concert, we embarked with her friend to Pride Disco Show on the Periférico, the outer limits of the city. ¡Qué experiencia más iluminante y sorprendiente! Fuimos en una noche de tema “LesViernes,” entonces el tipo de show era más para lesbianas. LesFriday. You can guess. All the staff and the cool hole-in-a-wall but sophisticated vibe ROCKED. There were several tables of middle-aged butches having the happiest, wildest time watching the súper risqué but awesome show. A very very LGBT-friendly environment, to say the least. Before the lady dancers were several drag acts, and the whole show was directed by two fabulous drag queens.
I already have much fodder for the next blog, and you’ll finally be hearing from me queer peers! Thanks for reading as always, world.
Over and out, xoxo