Wednesday, 24 December 2008

That time has arrived once again, only this time, for me, its back in Mexico and with an extra little, beautiful addition to the festivities.

Christmas away from home (is it still home when you don’t live there anymore?) is always a mixed bag of emotions. I honestly thought that when I began my own family it would be a bit easier, but to be honest it feels harder. I’m suddenly struck by childhood memories of crap movies, selection boxes, filled stockings and staying in my pyjamas till the middle of the day AND a wanting for my daughter to experience the same things. Even though at 7 months she’s more concerned with the teeth currently trying to break through her gums than anything to do with wintery, pagan celebrations, but on her behalf, its making me experience a form of melancholy, if not a bit of sadness.

Ho hum I suppose we all have our niggles to bear at this time of year. I admittedly spent many a year when I was at home moaning about the effort that needed to be made around the festive season, and wishing that one year I could just escape to a desert island and ignore it all. Perhaps now I’ve arrived on a theoretical desert island it doesn’t seem like such a good idea. What makes the pull of home so strong at this time of year? Pure social conditioning or human dependence on hazy memories? Ask me in January I suppose.

January the first marks the 15th anniversary of the Zapatista uprising here in Chiapas. An introduction of the EZLN to world, with their media savvy, charismatic spokesman, Mexico’s answer to Che Guevara, an outsider who looks good on a t-shirt and armed ranks of indigenous women, young people and men, fighting for a better, fairer future. News of their short lived yet very bloody take over of important strategic towns in Chiapas reached few ears outside of Latin America and global activist movements. But it defined a whole era in Chiapas, a new hope for indigenous people in Central America and amazing business opportunities for postcard and balaclava makers in the years following. But what effects are left 15yrs later; other than a booming tourist industry for young backpackers hoping for a taste of revolution without having to get dirty and a silent majority still hidden from the world stage and suffering severe poverty and discrimination. Bono and Sting are not to be found here, not a Chris Martin in sight.

Many young lives lost, unaccounted for and most definitely forgotten by many, other than their families. Is a revolution so small worth the loss? I would say a definite YES! Only the people doing the hard work can really measure success.

A rev-o-lu-tion, a new turning of the wheel, has to be better than standing still and doing nothing, whatever the consequences.

I try to start a household revolution everyday, although having no clear aim makes my wheels go backwards rather than forwards, or perhaps ending in a full circle (I promise no more motion related metaphors). Like the Zapatistas, I doubt the world will be any wiser of my intentions after 15yrs and I probably won’t sell as many t-shirts, (obviously a beard and smoking instrument is needed for icon popularity). But as I tap away at my own mini revolution I’ll always try and remember that other people are dying in the name of theirs and successful or not, that bit is important.

At this time of year it’s definitely better to have a family to miss, than to miss having a family.

Love, joy, happiness and most of all hugs to all….

Friday, 21 November 2008

Write or Wrong

Wow.. we've moved house for the third time in 18months, this time hopefully we can stay where we are. Its cheaper, smaller, easier to keep clean, on the side of a hill and currently when its hitting 5 degrees celsius outside a house with a tin roof is bloody freezing!! Thank heavens for hotwater bottles and brothers who bring them over. We've yet to gain the luxury of an inside loo, but with a view of half the city and surrounding mountains thrown in i can live without a warm seat in the morning.

The house is also about two blocks away from our fav cafe, which is great from a buying coffee and chocolate perspective and also the fact that they love hugging Emilia and take her off my hands for half an hour when i pop in for a brew.
The people that own the cafe have been ace since we moved here, always giving us a slice of free cake when we celebrate something and its good to have a mummy winge to the owners wife, somehow i don't feel so guilty when its another mum who has just as many problems as well, i feel it's allowed to complain. Anyhooo.. i was chatting to the girl Mari behind the counter and talking about school, her younger sister works in the cafe and i noticed she is of school age (13yrs), Mari told me she simply wasn't interested in school so she didn't go, when i asked if she could read and write she replied "more or less". In a country where its not compulsory to be educated attitudes to education differ greatly, especially where girls are concerned. It made me ponder.... What is education? Where and how do we really receive it? Who sets the agenda?

A woman once said to me that she thought young people should be removed from school at the beginning of adolescence and put to work until 18 when they may have an interest in actually learning something, although a generally sweeping statement with my own experience of working with 'da' yut' both here and in England, and Arturo's recent work as a high school teacher i am very tempted to agree. As a mum, i'm not quite sure of my position, i feel maybe Emilia will learn more at home and from her world outside than any education institution. Lets face it, if she were in England the teachers would be so busy filling in ofsted paperwork that they wouldn't have time to teach her anything, and here in Mexico, well considering about 80% of qualified teachers recentely failed a govt. basic skills exam, i'm not sure what she's due to learn!!

After the reading, writing and 'rithmatic bit what do we actually get from the system? Disregarding the questionable social skills and community conforming....
Culturally speaking education around the world; actually i change that to school rather than education as the two are argubly very different things. School around the world tends have basically the same set up due to countless imperialism of the leading nations ooooohhh many years ago, not accounting for the different lives children and young people around the world lead everyday. If you are a child or young person that works to support either yourself or your family, what subjects do you really need? What has life taught you that a text book can't? The math skills of any child i've ever met selling in the market or street can match that of any British GCSE student (do GSCE's still exist?). And the parerenting, cooking, DIY and farming skills of any child or young person supporting siblings can never be taught in a classroom, what use have these young people to learn about the position of the moon, basic chemistry or food technology??? I'm not saying that the right to 'school' should be denied to anybody, in any place. I just wonder whether the schooling in place is actually of any use or it just makes western governments and developing charities feel like they're doing some good in far flung places.

Whe Mari and her sister can read, write, run a small business feed and cloth themselves what use would a archaic secondary education be?

I myself have no high school qualifications more than 3 gcse's (university career not withstanding), my dad (love you dad) has even less, my mum, nan and women of my family all write beautifully and live with the hidden wisdom of all great women not certificates.... and yet we and most of all the other people who have positively effected my life are amongst the most intelligent, strong and sensible people i know!!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Cooking with gas!

We celebrated our first wedding anniversary on monday 13th, Arturo bought me some lovely flowers (after a few hints), we were given free cake at our fav cafe and spent the evening watching a dvd on our newly fixed laptop and downing a bottle of cheap plonk, after which we spent about an hour cooing over photos of Emilia... Now thats what i call fast living!!

We finally have a proper cooker (thanks parents!!), Arturo is slowly coming to terms with it being powered by gas, he seems to thnk his face will blow off everytime he lights the hob, and has yet to go anywhere near the oven. I'm slowly moving him into the 21st century but it's taking time.

My brother is visiting this week yay!!!pressies!!!

Emilia also completed 5 months on our anniversary and is celebrating with her new talent of eating her feet and burping on demand. She promises next month to try and wash her own nappies (i wish!!).

Whilst the first world continues to go up the spout a bit (world service informed am I oh yes), here in the third world economy things are the continue as always.... completely buggered!!! But at least there's continuity. We live off about 5 quid a week, don't pay taxes and somehow meet the rent each month And we don't have to pay nearly three quid for a mango down tescos, we just pick them from the trees..... aaaahhh sounds like paradise, which in a way it is, although i must admit it wouldn't be if we didn't have a steady stream of treats and packages from 'the isles' (thanks motherland people)....

Hoooever, apart from the apalling human rights record, deep class divides, religious control of society, no education, health or any kind of protection unless you can pay for it......What keeps me here?

The loves of my life....................... and the weather, food, music, culture, people, chocolate, coffee, mountains, beaches.......
bye bye for now xxxxx

Thursday, 9 October 2008

sitting pretty

Emilia almost sat up by herself this morning, after 2 seconds all went a bit wobbly and she was back on her back.

Arturo seems to be noticing my stressed face very easily and now send me out of the house for half an hours downloading of bbc podcasts and well, doing this blog stuff. We celebrate a year of marraige on monday, WoW, getting better everyday.

We had a visit from aunty Alba yesterday, she arrived, drank coffee, ran around the town centre, i've never seen her move soooo fast. She felt cold but refused a shawl, living here i am noticng the diference between the BIG city folks who turn up to visit looking well stressed and by the end of a day leave refreshed and chilled out, all ready to get stressed in the city again. Apart from Aunty Alba that is, she came and got more stressed because she noticed we didn't have a tv and she had missed her soap opera.

A mexican without tele is like a first world nation without a fake cash crisis....

Time to get back to the nappies

Monday, 6 October 2008

God Makes Nappies (apparently)

We had a visit from the inlaws at the weekend, they had been up late listening to evangelical radio and my mother in law was ready to roll. I counted at least 4 god bless yous as they walked through the door and whilst changing Emilia's nappy i was informed that i was using the best that harms nobody, as god makes cloth nappies, and apparently everything else in the world. Making me think that it must make disposables as well and is therefore ruining its own world creation. I managed to bite my lip as usual, oooh so tempting but motherhood seems to have mellowed me somewhat.
She also promised to send along some informative pamphlets on the next visit, aparently i need to be saved.... i'm thinking of getting myself, husband and baby shaved heads and buddist outfits, or maybe we should just move!