Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Just in Time

I've often felt that I got here just in time. Just in time to soak in the true Mexican culture. The times are changing, fast. I blame the internet and possibly myself.

November 7th was Day of the Ijido here, the 80th anniversary of when the Ijido was formed, when the Mexican government gave this land to the original ijidotarians. There are 80 original ijidotarians living on this Island. Some of them lead the parade on the 7th.
It was a beautiful parade, bigger than I had thought it would be. Every class in the kindergarten, elementary school and secondary student participated. There was a grand queen, a child queen, and an elder queen, queens from the past were present. Every sports team was present. Families had individual floats.

As the parade went by there was a mix of music,  some played through Iphones, Ipads and laptops, some even in English,  it made me sad.

Most of the costumes and dance  had so much American influence in it. I couldn't help but wonder what this parade looked like 10 or 20 years ago (they do this every year).

Later in the day I was chatting with my neighbour (who is Ijido) I asked if he had taken a break from building his house to watch the parade. He had, and without me prompting he commented on how the young people are forgetting their own culture and traditions, he commented on the American style dresses of the queens and the American music. They hadn't even played the Island anthem or the Ijido anthem (I didn't know they existed) He also blamed the internet. The American culture is at their fingertips.

As we were talking Dona Cholita walked over,  she is around 90 years old, an original Ijidotarian as well. She joined in the conversation and agreed, the children are forgetting who they are. She started reminiscing about the "good old days". Here is a lady that has stories to tell and is willing to tell them, they should be written down I say, My neighbour says "start writing". I want too I say, but my Spanish is not quite there yet, when you are writing history you have to get it right. He encourages me, there are many elders that would love to sit with you and tell their stories, I want that more than anything. I want to sit on a door stoop in a rocking chair and listen to a group of elders tell me stories, I want that so bad. As we talk I think of my Tia's mother, also in her late 90's and at this moment not doing too well, her stories are going to die with her soon. I should get over there and at least get a picture of her.

The majority of the elders in this village are illiterate, not even capable of writing down their stories and their children aren't interested, they are busy "progressing" into the American way. All over the world the American way is assumed to be progress.

"I blame the internet and partly myself". I was referring to me as a North American, more and more of us come here for many reasons, to enjoy the culture, vacation, or to winter here because it's cheap. It's impossible to do this without bring some "Americaness" with us, not necessarily in things but even just our demeanor and attitude.  
If you go back to the very beginning of this blog you will notice a different writing from me,  I was very involved in charity work here, charities that North Americans have started, all very good things if you want to "make a difference" during your stay here. It was through these organization that I met a lot of expats here and was introduced to many locals living on the outskirts of the city, here on the Island and in surrounding towns and villages,  many of these people are still my friends but I have stopped trying to "make a difference" the American way, with an American model. I have stopped trying to change how they do things here,  instead I try to come alongside someone that needs help and watch how they do it and join in. Forget about making a difference and just watch listen and then help. Don't help until you've watched and listened awhile.

I laugh when I think of my first Spanish lesson one my land ladies sons taught me when I first got here. I was lamenting about  my Spanish, saying how I was at the point where I could ask almost any questions but it was when I was asked a question that I would get into trouble because I couldn't understand the question asked. He said "oh then you just say yo no se nada". which means "I don't know anything". The less you know around here the better he says. He still laughs when he asks me something  and I respond with "yo no se nada".  He says  "at least I taught you something".

A little disclaimer here;

All the American started charities here  are a great way to come here and "help",  they are a great way to get introduced to this city and surrounding areas, a great way to see how the people live and what the needs are here. If you are here for a short time and don't have Spanish I would encourage you to hook up with them. You will make some great friends and get your hands dirty and hopefully during that process you will fall in love with the Mexican people. Maybe like me, you will outgrow these organization and find your place in amongst the Mexican people like I have. Either way, you will meet some amazing loving and giving people, North Americans and Mexicans. Just remember to ask yourself  "am I helping or am I trying to change things?"

As I am writing this my housemate is playing English music, a mixture of Bob Marley, Whitney Houston, Madonna and the Police.

By the way,want to really see what Mexico was like a long time ago. Watch the movie Frida, if you are not familiar with Frida already watch the special features first, it will help to understand the movie. This is one of my favorite movies. I Love Frida and all she stood for. Not a movie for little kids.


Dave said...

I've been reading your interesting blog for a while but dont comment, and I'm pleased that you are back in Mexico and blogging again. Maybe instead of writing down the old peoples stories just record them. Looking forward to your new posts. Thanks.

Mary Klassen said...

THanks Dave, and a very good idea.

Contessa said...

Great post. So many do want to come and change things. I have seen this all over Mexico in our 13 years here, it is sad.

Did you know Grandma Carmelita? She told a few people here stories about how life used to be here on the Isla. I bet they were not written down. I like Dave's idea.

Barbara Lane said...

Merry Christmas Mary! Thank you so very, very much for sharing your life, your loves, your adventures. I live (and love!) vicariously through you! :)

Wishing you abundance and good health in the New Year and always.