Yesterday morning at the Oaxaca Lending Library ─ a hub for ex-pats ─ I sat with 15 women in their 60s and 70s discussing Louise Erdrich’s novels. After a week of hard work stretching and straining to understand and make myself understood with the water man, the trash man, the tortilla man, the landlord, the laundry lady, the key maker, and the hardware man, sitting with these women was like nestling luxuriously into a soft, downy chaise. Easy. But not exhilarating.There is a place for this.
In the afternoon I went to a party at my friend Gustavo’s NGO, Universidad de la Tierra, in Colonia Reforma ─ a working class neighborhood away from Oaxaca’s touristy Centro Historico. Dear Gustavo hugged me deeply ─ we had not seen each other in 5 years. There was a potluck ─ I brought pasteles pequeñas (small cakes). There were small gifts for all – each of us took a number and claimed our corresponding gift on the long table. Mostly there were Mexicans, all ages, from 3 months to 70s. Gustavo gave a little speech about celebrating hope. I met a lovely Mexican woman, Lina, a psychotherapist who volunteers at Casa de las Mujeres ─ and we talked ─ really! ─ in Spanish.
Something good about being stretched, meeting the other. Something exhilarating about understanding the differences, claiming the similarities, opening the heart.
P.S.: Today is the Festival of the Virgen de Soledad, the city of Oaxaca's own saint -- stay tuned.