Greetings from Mexico!
YAGM – Megan McClure is from Celebration Lutheran in Sartell
(We apologize for the late post, this is Megan’s latest newsletter – October 2017)
My new soccer team, Hormiga!
I have now been in my new home in Tepoztlan for a little under two months and every day is still a new adventure. I am either trying a new food, meeting a new person, or experiencing a new activity. Every Monday I think to myself, “This week. This is the week that I will be able to settle into a routine.” At this point I have resigned myself to the idea that not having a routine might be my routine for my time here. There are some things that I do have a scheduled time for, such as going to the play groups with La Jugarreta in San Jose and Ocotitlan on Monday and Tuesday afternoons from 4-6pm. There are also Salsa dance classes Monday and Wednesday nights at 7pm that I try to make. And every Saturday I play soccer with my all woman’s team.
Playing cards on the rooftop with one of my host sisters while waiting for our friends to arrive.
What I am still learning from this is how the people in this town regard time differently to my experiences in Minnesota. I used to work a regimented schedule, would go to the gym the same days at the same time, and expected my friends and family to be on time to gatherings and students to be on time for dance lessons. For me respecting someone’s time was a way of showing that I respect them and that I acknowledge that their time is precious. I am still trying to adjust my mindset to match those around me. Just this past weekend three of my friends and I said we would start our horror film marathon in honor of Halloween and Day of the Dead at 7:30pm; naturally it was closer to 9pm by the time we actually got it all going. After many experiences like this what I have learned is that it is not that they are disrespecting my time or me, rather they take the time to enjoy every moment with the person or people with whom they are present. Since everyone understands this here, if someone is absurdly late it is not taken as a personal offense, knowing that they will get their time with that person and during that time, they will be fully present. I still do not understand all the nuances behind this culture. I am the only person in my family that wears a watch. But “poco a poco,” little by little I am learning.
Sorting lobby cards, archival gloves and mask make it official!
Aside from the different experiences regarding time, my schedule continues to be thrown off by the after affects of the earthquake from September. Several kids that I play with in La Jugarreta still have not returned to school and some say they might not even be able to return until January. Efforts continue in La Jugarreta to provide classes and tutoring to children who need it. Baticine remains closed and our original reopen date of November may or may not happen. But Baticine has been making great strides to improve it and make it better than it was before the earthquake. One week in October I got approval from La Jugarreta to spend all of my time working at Baticine. The family of my supervisor, Viviana, is the Calderon family; they produced many films from the 1940s to 1980s making many cabaret, luchador, and fichera films. Viviana has collected a large amount of historical documents from her family’s works to create an archive. The week I was with Baticine a close friend of Viviana came down to work in organizing and inventorying the archive. Colin is a United States university professor specializing in Mexican cinema who enjoys working in all kinds of archives. We spent the week sorting through hundreds movie posters, lobby cards, photo stills, and press materials. What started as an impossible task became manageable between the two of us and the purchase of two new archival file cabinets. I could not believe how much we got done, and how much I still have to do. I miss my archival buddy Colin who had to return to teaching, but we did in a week what would have taken me months to do. I can not describe how honored I felt and still feel be trusted in the handling materials that are so old and hold such significance in Mexican film history.
Top: Colin and Meg enjoying sorting through materials for “La Mujer Murcielago,” Bat Woman, one of the Calderon’s more famous films.
Bottom Left: Colin sorting lobby cards.
Bottom Right: Meg sorting press materials.
In addition to learning about time and relationships I have also been learning a lot about el Dia de los Muertos and all the excitement that has been leading up to the big event on Wednesday November 1st. The best has been talking with the kids at La Jugarreta and in my host family about what they do in celebration of this day. Last week the kids told me about the fruit and meals they prepared for their “ofrendas” or offerings. They use these offerings to invite the dead to come and enjoy some time with the living. They put out offerings on different days for different people, there is a day for people who were killed, a day for children, and November 1st is for everyone. The night before el Dia de los Muertos young children will go out into the streets and ask for “dulces,” sweets. But unlike Halloween, they do not go out in costume but as their normal selves. They also carve large green squashes and place a candle inside like we would when I was a child with orange pumpkins. One feeling I associate with this time of year is terror. The feeling you get when you watch a scary movie, go through a haunted house or corn maze, or a person in an especially terrifying costume leaps out at you from behind a corner. While some people here recognize Halloween and these aspects of it, it is not the focus. The people dressed up as skeletons do so not to scare children, but to honor and celebrate the dead. While death is sad and tragic, they also welcome the chance to see their passed loved ones again. This act of celebrating the dead in turn is one of the most beautiful celebrations of life I have seen.
Calavera papel picado. Skeletons made by cutting folded paper. One of the adult leaders taught the kids and me how to make these at La Jugarreta one afternoon last week.