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Friday, 17 December 2010

Jorge va a Mexico y otras historias

So it's the last day before Christmas and coming up on my tenth month here in Mexico. I can't believe how fast the time has gone past. It feels like only a few weeks ago that I stumbled off the bus into the blazing sun in Ixtepec, exhausted and unable to understand anything that anyone was saying to me. It feels like i have been here for such a short time, but it feels like forever since I have been near my beloved family! So last Sunday all that changed with the arrival of my aul Da, Big Geordy! After a gruelling and unassisted 36 journey which consisted of plane-other plane followed by 8 hour bus-followed by another 7 hour bus journey, he finally arrived in Ixtepec on Sunday morning.

A bit of planning went into his arrival in Mexico, due to the fact that he had to get a plane into Mexico City airport. Mexico city airport is about 12 or 13 hours away from Ixtepec in the bus, so I didn't really like the idea of having to travel the whole way up there to pick him up, and then get the bus back down again, as it would mean doing the journey four times in one month. My good friend Liz suggested to me that her sister in Mexico City would be able to go and meet him coming off the plane, take him the bus station and put him on a direct bus to Ixtepec. I suppose the old saying 'He is big enough and ugly enough to be able to do it for himself', applies here, but i figured as the man brought me up to this point, I would try and make the whole experience a bit more comfortable for him!

The logistics before his arrival involved sending a Mexican sim card to Mexico City with a friend , who gave it to Liz's sister so that when he arrived I could be in contact with him in the event of there being any complications on the journey.

On arrival there were some delays coming through the airport so he was unable to make it onto the last direct bus to Ixtepec. It meant he had to take a bus at 11.30 to Oaxaca City, wait a few hours before taking another bus to Juchitan before finally getting a bus to Ixtepec. As if the journey isn't horrific enough without having to go through that.

On his arrival I imagined that he would feel as rough as I did when I arrived. I remember getting of the bus into the heat and only being able to think about finding where the university apartment was so that i could go to bed and possibly die there. After spending the day before and all of the night touring round Chicago with Shea with only a couple of hours sleep, I was in no state to do anything except lie down. Unfortunately it was necessary to navigate my way to the university and deal with people trying to communicate with me in Spanish while all i could think of was, somebody please give me a key to a room where I can go and lie down, all of this form filling in and administration can wait until i don't feel sick and delirious any more. So when Da arrived I was pretty surprised by how he hopped off the bus in good spirits and in my view, not looking very sleep deprived even though he hadn't slept or eaten(well he did inform me he had 3 snickers and a bottle of water on the bus!)for more than a day. I can't really express how happy seeing someone from my family after all this time makes me, i can only assure you that it did just that.

As I hadn't finished work for Christmas yet, he has got an insight into what my day to day working life is like, as the university kindly gave permission for him to come with me every day. After work in the evenings I have been showing him round Ixtepec.

On Tuesday the university organised a calenda for Christmas, which they hope to hold at the same time every year from now on. Calendas are a type of procession that involves everyone walking through the streets , accompanied by bands and music with everyone walking along singing, dancing and chanting. We walked from the university to the centre of Ixtepec, which took around an hour and a half.

On arrival in the centre, the students performed traditional christmas songs as well as displaying and judging piñatas that teams of students had made. Children from the town were then invited to carry out the tradional game of breaking the piñatas with a large stick to get at the many sweets which are hidden inside.

On Thursday in the evening after work we were sitting outside a restaurant having something to eat when just by chance, another calenda passed us on the same road, so we decided to follow it along to see where it would end up. In the whole time that I've been here in Ixtepec I've always found it to be a very safe place to be, and never encountered any problems as far as fighting or other types of crime. So when anyone comes here i always tell them how its very unlikely that they will every have any problems as long as they are reasonably careful. I have been telling Da this ever since I've been here and assured him before he arrived that there are very rarely any problems.

We followed the calenda for several blocks before it arrived at its destination, a church outside the centre of Ixtepec, where they have a traditional fireworks display and the custom of running the bulls (wooden bulls that have fireworks attached to them). In my experience the calendas have always been a happy family affair but this calenda unfortunately turned from people dancing and singing in the street to a into a mass brawl and unfortunately we managed to be right in the middle of it when it started off. For a few moments , every direction we went in to try to avoid the groups of people fighting turned out to be an area that contained more people fighting each other, before some kind locals directed us into the safety of the church gates where we were able to observe that arguments being settled from a safe distance!

We spent the rest of the week going to uni and in the evenings hanging out in Ixtepec. The accommodation can be described as nothing short of 5 star. It has everything that a person could want. Bed, fridge and your own bathroom with slightly leaky toilet.

He even has a state of the art concrete basin to wash his own clothes in. This all means that Da has been able to live in the comfort he is accustomed to when he is at home!

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