This course has definitely become summer camp.
Today, the wonderful Lily and Patricia let me hang out in their beautiful Kukurutz villa and in return I made a simple dinner for a few of us with help from Lily and Evan and Natalie contributed some of her vegetables too. It truly was a communal meal, and is there anything better than building community and care than through sharing food and filling our stomachs with fresh food?
It was the first time I had home made food since I’ve been here. Since cooking and baking is my all-time favorite activity my whole demeanour changed. Jeh came by after and I told him that it’s the first time I felt truly happy since I’ve arrived in San Cristobal de las Casas. We made some white rice with sautéed onions, garlic, zucchini, roma tomatoes and swiss chard. We were able to get some fresh cilantro and rosemary for just a few pesos at the local market.
Here are some photos I took of NaBolom, my residence in San Cris & some of the crew eating.
How do you find space in/between a large group of people?
Everyone here is either married, about to be married or in a serious relationship and they are my age or younger. Many have come to their current resident country on their spouses visas or have spouses that came on theirs when they started grad school in the USA, and most often NYU. Many also got married specifically for a VISA. Andrea tells me, “We were together for about a year and I got this Fullbright to NYU and it was either we get married or break up, so he decided to sacrifice his life and we got married. He was a house husband for a year while I did my studies, and now we’re trying to make it work for both of us, even though it is expensive as hell in NYC.”
It is a prevalent topic of discussion.
We finally got out of the classroom and went for walks around the city, a “city historical walk” and a “graffiti walk”. I’ll discuss what that entailed and what it means in the context of the course and me being in San Cristobal de las Casas later. For now, here are some photos defined by the only lens I shoot everything with —50mm.
It’s very intense being here in San Cristobal in so many ways. None of us are even getting proper sleep and we all feel like we’ve been here for weeks. At NaBolom, our residence, after finally falling asleep to an uncovered fire in our room, Tessa (my roommate) and I wake up around 7am. I wash my face, brush my teeth with bottled water, floss and brush them again. I cream my face and darken my brows. I spray some perfume, make a fishtail braid, put on my navy toque and wear layers of clothes that will serve me in the sun’s heat and in the shade’s gelid touch (i’m not even exaggerating!). It’s about a 2 minute walk from my cabin to the colonialist courtyard for a Mexican breakfast of beans, scrambled eggs, tortillas, fruit & coffee. After that’s finished, we walk to the library in the same residence to start class.
In the 1940s a Dutch archeologist man, Frans Blom, came to San Cristobal to do research. A Swiss woman of many talents, Gertrude Duby, heard about him and his work and wanted to meet him so she came to San Cristobal to look for him. He was not there and she was told he went into the jungle and his return time is unknown. She did not wait and went to the edge of the jungle to look for him. Some complicated stuff happened in between but eventually they married and then built NaBolom which became their residence until their death. It is now a museum, residence and cultural space. A giant painted portrait of Gertrude in colonial dress hangs above us in the library as we discuss social justice, identity and language.
So much talk of movement, migration, safety, love and New York.
Being moved in Montreal by another, being moved in San Cristobal de las Casas by others.
The internet as space between two places at the same time, both which I am in as much as the other.
I’ve been preparing for the start of the course because we have to read two books (including Greg Grandin’s Empire’s Workshop) before it begins and most of the readings since there won’t be much time to do them while we are there. The days run from morning to night every day!
I have never been to Mexico and am looking forward to it all, including eating corn since I am wheat allergic and learn some Spanish beyond basic expressions!