Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Making radio for real

So, time to put rubber to the road. Today we had a more or less all-day meeting to hash out exactly how we are going to manage programming and staffing a radio station 7 days a week. Community radio in the abstract is a wonderful idea, but then when you sit down and think, what are we going to do 12 hours a day, and who is going to do it, it becomes somewhat daunting. 

There have been a number of obstacles that have slowed down the process -- I have blogged previously about what I thought were inaugural broadcasts, one in March and one in April. But there has not really been an official start date for daily broadcasting.. or at least not a very secure one. After the first "initial broadcast", the signal had to be recalibrated to a different frequency.  And then there have been structural and technical problems -- I don't know all the details, but the antenna had to be taken down and reinstalled, and then there were some problems with the frequency.  Also, the actual broadcast "studio" needed work so that it could be more functional. All of this, of course, requires money, and so funds had to be requested and/or allocated.

I've been a bit anxious about this - and I have to admit, for mostly very self-centered reasons. I have to submit a research proposal to my university, and I need to really be sure that the emisora (radio station) is actually happening and that I am going to be able to be intimately involved in it. Otherwise, spending the time and energy to write the proposal and submit all the supporting documents for human subjects research would be a huge waste.  Also, I've been planning to bring my students up to Quiché and the weekend we agreed upon was this coming weekend, and every time the radio has been delayed, I've wondered what I am going to do with the students when they arrive. Semana Santa meant that I couldn't really talk about this with anyone from Ixmukané, or at least not anyone in a position of much authority. I'd told the director about a month ago that I was planning to have my students visit, and she was very agreeable, but then I didn't get to talk to her again about this before I left for Puerto Rico on April 13, and I got back at the beginning of Semana Santa. Last night I was up half the night fretting about this.

Yesterday I went to the office in the afternoon, after spending the morning with a group of comadronas (sort of) in Zacualpa, to try and talk with Doña Mari, the director and also Sebastiana, who has been coordinating the radio project. Doña Mari had left because she wasn't feeling well; Sebastiana and I talked a bit and she told me that Tuesday (i.e. today) there was going to be a meeting to talk about the radio station and how to actually handle the day to day broadcasts -- who was going to do what, on what days. Of course it would have been nice if I had been able to learn about the meeting without having to drive to Chichicastenango, an hour away from Chinique (especially with gas close to $5 a gallon).  I tried to explain to Sebastiana why I might seem a bit anxious and pushy -- because of my need to submit a proposal to the university and also to work out something for my students. She asked me to come early -- the meeting was going to be at 11 -- to start working on things.

So, I drove to Chichi this morning. It's never an easy thing to pack up and leave Chinique even for just 2 days; I have to think about what I need for the day, what I need to have with me for my time in Antigua/Guatemala City. I also realized my sheets were kinda funky and that meant washing them out I didn't sleep well so I got up at around 5:15 and washed the sheets and did yoga and made my breakfast, and then had to wait for the water to warm up for my shower (it never really did).  The floor in the kitchen is "slumping" in one place, and there is a gap between a few of the tiles, and I've noticed that there are some beetles crawling and flying around (especially at night) since the rainy season started, and I finally figured out that some, at least, are probably entering through the gap in the floor. So I went to find my landlord to ask him to see if he can patch that gap with cement or spackle to at least slow down the insect invasion.

Driving through Santa Cruz I saw that the stop lights were not working; there were police out on the corners directing traffic. When I got to Chichi, the power was off throughout the city; I climbed the stairs to Ixmukané's office and saw the staff room lit by a single candle. It turned out what Sebas had wanted to work on with me was to listen to some recordings that other staff members had done (I gave Ixmukané two digital voice recorders earlier this month) but since there was no power and the recordings were on a computer that didn't have a charge in its battery, she was working on accounts. So I busied myself catching up on fieldnotes and then finally Humberto -- a man who has about 20 years of experience in community radio and who has been contracted by Ixmukané to work on this project -- and Jenniffer, another staff member, arrived (and that is how she spells her name). So we could start. We worked through the broadcast day hour by hour, trying to both sketch out what would be the content of the programs and more important, who would take on responsibility. I ended up agreeing to do the early morning slot on the weekends (Humberto will do it during the week, although I might take on another day from time to time). I won't go through all the details of the program, but we came up with a pilot plan for the first couple of weeks. I'm tired already. It's clear that this is going to demand a lot of a small number of people. For example, a couple of hours ever afternoon were going to be dedicated to civil society and governmental organizations -- but no outreach has been done to them and so which of them will be ready to come into the studio and go on the air for two hours next week?  So the suggestion was to have some material pre-recorded. I volunteered to go to Santa Cruz with Kan, one of the young men on staff, and try to meet with some of the organizations and record interview so we would have material. 

I'll blog more about this later; I'm now finished up dinner in Antigua and am tired. I didn't get to leave Chichi until nearly 7, and the stretch of the Interamericana between Los Encuentros and Tecpan was very, very foggy; for some stretches I could barely see 10 yards in front of me, so it was an exhausting drive.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bring the noise //Trae la bulla

It's not very anthropological of me but I was really wishing that I had some serious speakers, the kind that kids in the U.S. have in their cars, that are so strong that they make the car rock, so that I could blast some music out the windows of my house to do battle with whatever event it was that was taking place across town, but that had its sound system so loud that I was having a hard time concentrating.

I am not sure whether it was a culto or a party or a combination of the two. For the first couple of hours it was straight music, which makes it seem like it would have been a party, since cultos usually involve a mixture of preaching and playing. And while I wasn't really paying attention to the lyrics, the one song of which I caught some fragments had a chorus that was about liking rumba, cumbia and other genres. However, at the end, the announcer or MC or whomever it was that had the mic, went on and on for about 30 minutes or more. While the music was mildly annoying, it was at least somewhat entertaining and slightly pleasurable. Just the rhythm and melodies, although somewhat monotonous, kept it from being completely unsupportable. But hearing someone speaking loudly (he was shouting, as well as having the volume pumped up) across the silence of the afternoon was more than mildly annoying.

So I rummaged through my Itunes collection and thanks to my friend Rip, I had a lot of old school hip hop right at hand, so I started up the Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill and put the volume on the computer up as loud as I could.  I did fantasize about blasting this out my windows and then realized that (a) it was pretty childish, (b) not likely to facilitate my acceptance in the town, and (c) probably against some section of the AAA's code of ethics. Plus I didn't have any speakers that were appropriate -- my one little clip on laptop loudspeaker probably wouldn't be powerful enough.  

Thankfully, while I placated myself with a few tracks, the festivities stopped, and now the town is back to it usual Saturday night doldrums. Now I can get back to reading about la violencia (the violence, a euphemism for the genocide of the 1980s).

Mala Suerte, parte 2-- procesion cancelada, otra cena perdida

Las lluvias han comenzado en serio, parece. Y realmente no debe ser tan egoista a quejar sobre mi problemas personales porque una cena es una cena. Aunque la invitación vino de Doña Anastasia, una de las compañeras de Ixmukané, quien ha querido invitarme desde hace un buen tiempo a compartir con su familia.

Fui a Chichi ayer (viernes santo) en la mañana para la primera de tres procesiones que fueron programadas para ese día. Comento sobre la procesion de Chichi luego. Pero el sol estaba brillando, una frescura agradable en el aire, y a las 8 de la mañana, poco gente en las calles. Terminando la procesión, decidí a volver a Chinique para ver la procesión allí. Super que no iba ser ni tan elaborada ni tan grande como la de Chichi, pero es el pueblo donde estoy viviendo y también quería poder subir hasta Tapesquillo para cenar con Anastasia y su familia.  Llegue a Chinique a las 1 y algo, y ya los jóvenes estuvieron trabajando el las alfombras que adornan las estaciones de la cruz. 

Es un pueblo chiquito, y entonces algunas calles fueron cerradas y tuve que hacer varios desvios para llegar a mi casa. Miré por ambos lados cuando desembarqué del picop: una estación al fondo de mi cuadra, cerca de la Farmacia Esquipúlas, y otra estación en la otra dirección, frente al pequeño santuário o capilla.  Ya no pude salir hasta que la procesión había pasado. 
 Almorzé y salí para tomar fotos de las alfombras en creación. Algunos ya eran mas o menos terminados; los otros eran "en proceso".  Vi en algunos caso una persona mayor -- puede ser un maestro, por ejemplo -- dando instrucciones o animando a los jóvenes pero en general estaban trabajando solos. 
Otra cosa notable es que los equipos de trabajo eran divididos por sexo: los equipos era solamente de muchachas o solamente de muchachos; no vi a un equipo "mixto".  
Creadores con su obra
En general los jóvenes se pusieron muy tímidos y comenzaron a reir y esconder sus caras. Unos seguramente estaban haciendo comentarios sobre mi (conversaron en una mezcla de K'iche' y español, o al menos los equipos cuyos miembros eran mayormente o solamente mayas).  Una cosa notable era que todos que estaban trabajando en las alfombras eran jóvenes. En cambio, en Chichi (aunque solamente vi la construcción del algunos), pareció que adultos y jóvenes fueron involucradas. 

Las alfombras en Chinique fueron construidos de serrin (serrin de pino; el aire acre con el olor inconfudible de pino), tintado en varios colores. Parece que la técnica básica era: hacer un rectángulo grande como fondo, utilizando un color neutral, y luego hacer adornos con plantillas y también a mano. 

No creo que vi a todas las alfombras (y ahora, una lástima) porque pensé que iba a ver los otros durante la procesión. Mirando a un altar frente a una casa, una señora me vio y comencemos a conversar; me invitó a entrar y allí compartí un plato tradicional para viernes santo: bacalao preparado con una salsa de tomate, pimientas rojas (no picantes), aceitunas, alcaparras, y cebollas chiquitas (lo que llamamos en los estados "cebollas de perlas"). 
Mientras estuvimos hablando (yo mayormente escuchando) y comiendo - no solamente platos de bacalao pero platos de dulces caseras, frutas confitadas, cocidas en un jarabe de panela y no sé que otra cosa, comenzó a llover, primero lloviznar, y luego llover en serio. Esperé un rato para ver si la lluvia iba a parar, y cuando no parecia que iba a parar pronto, me despedí de mis anfitriones y salí caminando rapidamente. Vi a los jóvenes corriendo para cubrir las alfombras con plástico y buscando asilo bajo de los aleros de las casas cercanas. Tenían caras largas -- todo el trabajo que se han realizado en peligro de perderse,  desaparecerse con los aguas. Ya los margenes de las alfombras estaban comenzando a llevarse con las aguas, porque los plásticos solamente cubrieron el centro del diseño. 

Llegué a la casa; a las 5, viendo que la lluvia no había parado ni disminuido, llamé a Anastasia para confirmar que no pude subir hasta Tapesquillo; me dijo que si pude venir el sabado (o sea, hoy) todavía era bienvenida. Vamos a ver. La lluvia siguió por varias horas, hasta las 8, mas o menos, cuando salí para poner el carro en el parqueo. Escuche de una casa el la cuadra de parqueo, los sonidos de una fiesta ... música alta, voces animadas.... rompiendo un poco el silencio ya la oscuridad del pueblo.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ladinos and Mayas

Some very brief observations about inter-ethnic relations. This comes from today's meanderings through Semana Santa/Viernes Santo activities in Chichicastenango and Chinique. Both municipalities -- a municipality is not just the town but more like a township -- have populations that are over 80% indigenous. I don't know enough about the history of ethnic shifts in either town. Chichicastenango was established under colonial rule as a "pueblo de indios" (an "Indian" town) -- which was supposed to mean that non-indigenous people were not supposed to live there. This was part of the Spanish policy to contain and control the indigenous -- concentrate them in towns that were allowed to have a degree of self-governance but in the end subservient to the colonial regime. Something like that. In my previous visits to Chichi, I have seen very few Ladinos -- mostly because I go to the offices of Ixmukané and then to the market, where I would estimate that over 90% of the vendors (maybe 100%) are indigenous. And so are most of the people walking around. I don't know enough about Chinique's origins; I think it was a pueblo de indios also but I'll have to check. The town's official website is no longer available; I had looked at it about a week ago and just tried again and got a "this account has been suspended" message. So I'll have to try somewhere else, at another time.

Both towns, like most of the country, have Good Friday processions that trace the stations of the Cross. I will write about the processions in more detail at another time. However, something that was striking in Chichi was that nearly all of the participants in the procession -- the priests, the people who carried the statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary, the people who sang, the musicians, and everyone else who walked the entire route -- were indigenous. At least they were at the start: with the exception of 3 foreigners (including me), everyone else was indigenous. As we walked the route, there were people on the sidewalks watching, or watching from the doorways of their stores or homes: a mixture of Ladinos and Maya.

However, when we got to the actual "stations" (small shrines set up on the street outside a store, or a home, or just at an intersection), it seemed that most of the people who had made the stations (they were all privately made; you could see the owners/constructors standing alongside of or behind their creations, or putting finishing touches) were Ladino. So there were several well-dressed (generally) Ladinos standing alongside an altar, and large numbers of Maya (I didn't see any women not in traje at the start) passing by.  A few of the stations, as we got to the higher numbers, seemed to have been made by Maya or by some mixed group of people. So I'll have to look into this. A few of the Ladinos who had made these stations did join in the procession after the procession had passed their station, and once the procession had reached the church and people entered, a number of Ladino families who had not been in the procession came into the church. But the contrast was pretty striking.

In Chinique, the procession never took place because of the rain. The alfombras (decorative "carpets" made of sawdust, pine, flowers, laid out on the street) were being made by young people, mostly Maya but some Ladinos as well. I only saw a few of the actual "stations" and some seemed to be at stores that were owned by Ladinos; one was in front of a private house. I was photographing it and a Ladina in her 40s came out and started to talk to me and then invited me in. This is one of the few houses of a Ladino family where I have actually entered and eaten a meal. It was a large house with 2 floors, and rooms on 3 sides of a central patio. We went down a short hall, across the patio and into a dining room. Everyone was very friendly. But what I noticed immediately was a young Maya girl; at first I thought she might be part of the extended family (there are some, not many, "intermarriages") but then she took plates and went into the outdoor patio. A little while later a Maya woman appeared, took some more plates: the girl's mother. No one said anything to either of them; it was almost as though they were not there. There was a young Maya boy -- probably the woman's son, I'm guessing. I really don't know. I didn't ask questions. The boy, however, was playing with the other children, who were apparently the children "of the house" or of the visitors (I didn't stay long enough to figure out who actually lived in the house and who was a relative or friend who lived elsewhere). The girl disappeared into the patio not long after I first saw her; in fact, until I saw her mother, I had an uncomfortable jolt that she was the servant.  The boy, however, seemed to be more free to roam around and spoke a few times. However in retrospect it seems he might have been minding the little girl who had come with one of the women as I recall seeing him holding her by both hands and walking across the patio and standing at the doorway looking out. Perhaps he was working after all.  In contrast to the females, nonetheless, he seemed more at ease in the presence of the Ladinos. The woman did not speak to anyone (maybe one of the family went outside and spoke to her), nor did she make eye contact.

At one point I looked up and saw a load of firewood -- leña -- entering the door, as it were. that's what it looked like as I saw the wood first, then the person carrying it: a woman. She had the wood tied with a cord and balanced on her head. Right behind her was a boy, her son undoubtedly, carrying a load of wood on his shoulders and back using a forehead strap. The transaction, from what I could see, seemed solely business-like. No chit chat, no easy banter of the kind one might have with a tradesman or woman with whom one does business regularly. I didn't see enough at the beginning to know whether this was a pre-arranged delivery (meaning that this household was a regular customer of this woman and her son) or whether the wood-sellers were simply walking through town carrying wood and hoping someone would buy it from them. I tend to think the former: given that this was viernes santo, and the town is mostly shut down, it seems unlikely that someone would pile a load of wood on her head and walk into town from an aldea on the slim chance that she would find a buyer. On market day, or a normal week day, sure, one sees a handful of people, often old men or young boys, carrying wood to sell. 

At one point in the conversation (I drifted in and out of paying attention to any single line of conversation) I overheard one of the people saying something about "Oh, then we'd have to send the criada (servant) to do such and such a thing..."

This is offered without analysis, just some observations.

Mala suerte, parte 1-- la cena perdida/Bad luck, part 1-- the lost (or missed) dinner

Parece que las lluvias comenzaron temprano este año, porque ya dos veces esta semana el tiempo ha acabado con mis planes. 

Tuve varias invitaciones para cenar con amigos esta semana. Primero Don Felipe me invitó. Luego Doña Anastasia. Luego Doña Reyna. Y por último, la familia de Gorgonio (realmente la invitación vino de su hija Eva, con quien hablé por teléfono y me preguntó porque no había subido a visitarles; la dije que si me invitaba, iba). Dije Eva que iba a visitar su familia el miércoles (aunque me dijo "venga el jueves") porque ya había aceptado lo de Felipe para jueves santo.  Miércoles comenzó a llover en al tarde y tuve que llamar y decir que no pude venir. Con la excepción de Reyna, todos viven en Tapesquillo 1 y 2 -- son aldeas un poco distante, y solo accesible por una carretera de terraceria, que sube y sube, con muchas curvas. El verdadero "camino largo y sinuoso" (de la canción de los Beatles: "Long and Winding Road").  Realmente sin un carro con doble tracción no se puede subir cuando está lloviendo fuerte. No solamente es problema del agua y lodo,  pero también es difícil ver bien; entonces decidí a no correr el riesgo (hubiera sido casi imposible a volver al pueblo en la oscuridad cuando está lloviendo). La carretera no es fácil cuando NO está lloviendo.

El problema era que no había comprado cosas para cocinar para mi cena. Tuve frijoles secos pero estos requiere ser remojados primeros y luego varias horas sobre el fuego para ablandarse. Había hecho una sopa de lentejas para mi almuerzo y aunque PUDE comerla otra vez, prefería una variación. Pero casi todo el pueblo está cerrado para semana santa. Si, algunas tiendas de "artículos de consumo diario" están abiertas, pero no venden muchas cosas frescas; mayormente lo que el escritor Michael Pollan llama "productos que se parecen a comida" (alimentos procesadas, lleno de químicos, sal, grasa). Comí huevos la noche antes y entonces, también sale el asunto de la variedad.

Lo que quería comer, realmente, era pupusas de queso. Es un gusto que desarrollé a través de mis amistades con algunas señoras salvadoreñas en New Bedford y también mi breve viaje de investigación a El Salvador en 2009. Me gustan tanto las pupusas que la gente de la casa donde quedé y yo hicimos como 15 el día de mi salida y los cargó en mi equipaje de mano; los metí en la nevera cuando llegué y los comí poco a poco. Durante los 2 últimos años, se ha convertido en una de mis cenas rápidas preferidas porque con masa instantánea, uno puede tener listo a comer en 5-10 minutos. También para mi son mas fáciles a preparar que tortillas. Porque el queso fundido compensa por muchos errores y entonces no es tan importante si la forma es un poco irregular o si la masa quebra un poco cuando las pupusas se están cocinando.

Salí y recorrí el pueblo. Maseca se puede conseguir en cualquier tienda, pero no todas tienen queso fresco. La tienda mas cercana, a mi izquierda cuando salgo de la casa, solo tuvo queso duro. Muy salada y no funde bien. La tienda de mi terrateniente no tuvo ningún queso. Me desesperé. Pero en la próxima tienda por la misma acera en la calle principal, la señora me dijo que al lado tenía y fue al comedor "Las Flores" donde he notado no solamente sirven comidas preparadas pero también venden unos productos como verduras y frutas. Allí del refri sacó un queso, envuelto en unas hojas de maíz, y contento, volví a la casa y hice mis pupusas con un curtido de repollo.  


It seems that the rains began early this year, because twice this week the weather has quashed my plans.

I had several invitations to have dinner with friends this week. First Don Felipe invited me; then Doña Anastasia and Doña Reyna. Finally, Gorgonio's family (actually the invitation came from his daughter Eva, with whom I had talked by phone (she asked me why I hadn't gone up to visit them; I said I would come if invited). I told Eva that I would have to come on Wednesday (she first told me "come on Thursday") because I had already accepted Felipe's invitation for Holy Thursday. Wednesday it began to rain in the afternoon and I had to call to say that I couldn't come. With the exception of Reyna, they all live in Tapesquillo 1 and 2, hamlets that are a little distant, and only reachable by a dirt highway that climbs and climbs, with a lot of curves. A veritable "Long and Winding Road" (as in the Beatles' song). Truly, without a double-traction vehicle, it's not possible to drive up that road when it is raining hard. It's not just the water and mud; it's also hard to see clearly. So I decided not to take the risk (it would have been nearly impossible to have returned to the town at night when it was raining). That road is not easy even when it's not raining.

The problem was that I hadn't bought anything to cook for dinner. I had dried beans but they need to soak first and then require several hours of cooking to soften them. I had made lentil soup for lunch and of course I could eat it again for dinner but I wanted a variation. But nearly the entire town was shut for holy week. There were a few stores that sell "items for daily consumption" but they don't sell a lot of fresh things, mostly what Michael Pollan calls "food-like products" (processed edibles, full of chemicals, salt, fat).  I ate eggs the night before and so then again there was the thing about variety.

What I really wanted to eat were cheese pupusas. It's a taste that I have acquired from my friendship with some Salvadoran women in New Bedford and also my one brief research trip to El Salvador in 2009. I liked pupusas so much that the people in the house where I was staying and I cooked about 15 the day I left and I packed them in my hand luggage and put them in the freezer when I got home and ate them little by little. During the last two years it's become one of my favorite fast dinners because with instant masa you can have them ready in 5-10 minutes.  Also, for me they are much easier to make than tortillas. The melted cheese compensates for a lot of errors and it's not so important if the shape is a little irregular or if the dough (the outside layer) breaks a little while cooking.

I went out and took a spin around town. You can buy Maseca at any store in town but they don't all have fresh cheese. The store closest to my house, to the left, only had hard cheese. Very salty and doesn't melt well. My landlord's store didn't have any cheese. I started to lose hope. But in the next store down on the same side of the main street, the woman told me that next door they had cheese and we went into the "Las Flores" canteen [there is not really a good translation for "comedor" in this context: it's an eatery that is a little less formal than a restaurant] where I have noticed that they not only serve prepared meals but also sell some products like vegetables and fruits. She took a cheese, wrapped in corn husks, out of the fridge, and I went home and made my pupusas with a spicy cabbage salad.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Semana santa

Holy week in Guatemala: half the country is at or en route to the beach, it seems (judging from the photos of miles-long traffic jams in the newspaper), and the rest holed up at home. Well, at home or flocking to places like Antigua where there are elaborate processions throughout the week. Luckily I was in Antigua on the one day (Tuesday) where there were no processions but the streets were clogged with foreign and Guatemalan tourists and lots and lots of police. Streets partly blocked off, municipal workers out cleaning up from previous parades and preparing for the new ones. 

I had several invitations from friends for this week, most of them for the same day, today (Thursday). I had accepted the first one, from Don Felipe and Doña Lola and so am trying to see if I can manage to visit some other people as well. Popular opinion has it that Doña Lola makes very good tamales, so perhaps I should stop blogging and get out the door for my morning walk so that the tamales won't do too much damage to the waistline. 

Chinique was even more quiet than usual when I rolled into town on Tuesday. It seemed that there were fewer trucks and buses roaring through town and threatening damage to parked cars, pedestrians and anything else in their path. Yesterday I noticed that over half of the stores in town were closed; most of the corner groceries were open, but the others were closed and there was only a skeleton crew of vendors and tortilleras in the plaza. Even though the official market days are Friday and Sunday, there are always a few vendors and open-air comedores in the plaza. Yesterday there was one vendor in the actual plaza, one woman sitting on the sidewalk across the street selling ayotes, herbs and some large green leaves (for steaming some kinds of tamales). The ayotes were expensive (Q2 and Q3) but since I had little in the house other than the cabbage, cilantro, onions and pineapple I had bought in Chiché the previous night, and I wanted to make lentil soup, I bought one, and then tomatoes from another vendor down the block -- the only storefront on that little block that was opened. It's a store that normally sells plastic buckets, pails, basins, and they had a small wooden table out front heaped with tomatoes and a few other vegetables.

Friday there are processions throughout the country. I had planned to go to Chichicastenango, because the procession there is supposed to be especially elaborate, and the trajes from Chichi are very beautiful. But then I heard that there is also a procession here in Chinique, so I'm a bit torn. I do have acquaintances in Chichi, some of the staff of Ixmukané, and I had planned to meet one or two of them in the morning, so I will have to decide.

It's an odd place to be a Jew, and an atheist one at that.  I had been invited, in theory, to a seder in Antigua, by a woman I'd met at Tom Waters' photo opening ... but although I gave her my card with my phone number and email, I never heard from her. Part of the fun of a seder is sharing it with other people, and since I wouldn't be able to assemble the ingredients (especially matzo -- I suppose I could have tried to make some, but I don't have an oven), and I don't really know enough people who would have been interested to invite, I will just have to content myself with making some charoses when I get back to New York in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Good news/bad news: More car talk

The good news is that I now know where you can get a flat tire fixed, or purchase a replacement tire, in Guatemala City at 11:30 pm (there is a 24-hour pinchazo/venta de llantas at the Trebol). The other good news is that if you drive from GC to Antigua after midnight, the trip only takes about 30 minutes as there is no traffic. The bad news is that I had to learn this useful information because I came back from a trip out of the country at 10:30 p.m., to find that I had a flat tire and my spare was also flat.

I had been to Puerto Rico for a conference, and had left my pickup at a parking lot across the street from the airport. This was the place recommended by a shuttle driver who lives in Antigua; although I had only need of his services once, my friend Roselyn, the other Fulbright scholar at UVG, has used him a lot (she doesn't have a car here) and swears by him, so I figured he would know what would be a secure place to leave the car. I decided to bring my car to the airport for two reasons. First, I was teaching on the day of my departure, and there really is no good way to get to my university without a car, nor from the university to the airport. In order for the day's plans to run smoothly, I had to go straight from my class to the airport (as it turned out only 1 of my 3 students showed up that day, but I didn't know that when I purchased the ticket and decided to book a 1:50 p.m. flight so I could teach).  Secondly, I am having a bit of an issue in Antigua regarding parking my car and wasn't sure I could find a place where I could leave it for 5 days (without going into details, I thought I had access to the enclosed driveway in our little complex but the tenants in the big house now claim that the driveway is for their exclusive use, and while they let me keep my car there when I went to Seattle, I didn't want to ask them again 10 days later. They have a Land Rover and although there is space for two cars, one behind the other, they usually just park their car in the middle of the space so there is no room for another car anywhere).  So taking the car to the airport seemed most expedient.

The rear driver's side tire had gotten a flat a couple of weeks ago. When we were at the Programa Maya event on March 22, I think, someone asked to use my car to run an errand, and then told me there was a flat; he went off to get it fixed.  This past Monday, when I went to get my car to go to a meeting at Doña Reyna's house (people from the central office of Ixmukané were coming to distribute the proceeds from egg sales -- the women had had a "productive project" as it is called here with laying hens) the same tire was flat. I cautiously rolled my car through the streets, trying to find a pinchazo (a place that fixes flats). The one near the plaza was not going to open for a while but someone told me there was another one at the entrance to the town, on the Zacualpa side, so I headed there. I decided to purchase a used tire, and obviously in hindsight I didn't pick well. So, new tire installed, I go off to the meeting, then do the rest of what I have to do and end up in Antigua; the next day in and out of Guatemala City for stuff related to my conference, and then Wednesday to the airport and the parking lot recommended by Marcos.

So, return flight was uneventful (thankfully: and Copa serves alcohol and food so I was able to enjoy an itty-bitty glass of red wine; the sandwich was pretty awful, however. It was called chicken but it was a ground chicken meat -- one hopes -- patty, so I just nibbled on the bread; I had purchased a salad in the airport so I was okay). I got my bag, got waved through customs (if they had cared to inspect, they would have found that I had purchased nothing more exciting than a bottle of Barrilitos at the duty-free shop and some dulces típicos) and headed out to the parking lot.  It was dark, so I just got in the pickup and started to move it towards the attendant's booth ... and then heard that unmistakeable sound and felt that unmistakeable sensation of a flat tire. Damn! It was nearly 12. What to do? I don't know Guatemala City at all, really.

Luckily there were other people in the parking lot, a couple of guys. They came around, looked at my car, asked if I had a "repuesto" (spare) and I said I did. They suggested that I move into another spot so that the exit would be clear and they would help me. However, I didn't have a jack. They found another man, who was willing to lend a jack. A third man, who turned out to be an airline employee, came to help out. So the youngest of the three crawled under the truck to place the jack and pump it up. We got the tire off and lowered the spare, only to find that the spare was low in air.  I hadn't used the spare before, so hadn't had the need to check it.

What struck me was the generosity of these men, none of whom knew me: and yes, although I do have my guard up when I travel alone, as an unaccompanied female in a highly macho society with an awfully high incidence of sexual and gender violence, my assessment of these men was that there were genuinely offering to help, no strings attached. And a good thing. I do know how to change a tire, but a pick up is a bit more unwieldy than a compact car, and it was late at night and I had been traveling. Also, I was a stranger, and didn't have the vaguest idea of how to find a repair shop other than to ask people who would be more knowledgeable. We chatted about the car; they asked me several times if it was mine and I assured them it was. I don't think most Guatemalans expect to see a gringa behind the wheel of a Toyota pickup.

The new arrival asked me what I wanted to do: stay in a hotel and then deal with this in the morning? Or find a place that fixed tires. The former might have been the prudent thing to do but I really wanted to get out of GC and back to my own bed.  So, he said he knew a place, but the problem was, how would we get there? He offered to go with me, to take both tires, and then come back and install the tire. This was very generous of him.  He tried calling a friend who was a taxi driver but he (the friend) was just getting off his shift. He then tried to get the number of the yellow cab company. No success. We joked about taking the tires on his motorcycle. Meanwhile a few cabs came by en route to the airport, and eventually we just flagged down a cab, although the men were discussing whether the cabs on the street were reliable or too expensive.  The driver, whose wife and child were in the cab with him -- I used to see that a lot in Cuba, that drivers would have their women with them, maybe because the women wanted to police their men's late-night ramblings -- offered to take us to the pinchazo and back for Q60. At this hour I wasn't going to argue too much so we loaded the tires and ourselves in and set off to Trebol. 

The pinchazo was set in a sliver of an island in an intersection on a broad, and now almost empty, avenue. We pulled in and hopped out and took out the tires. The tire that had been on the car turned out to be unrepairable: once they had pried the rubber tire off, I could see a jagged strip on the inner edge.  That would mean buying another tire. I fumed internally; I had just purchased that tire a week earlier. I said I would take the tire back to bring to the man who sold it to me, even though I didn't think he'd give me a refund. The taxi driver actually joined in the discussion and helped me look at tires; he did a close inspection of the various tires that would fit my truck and showed me how to check. Once the three of us had agreed upon a tire, the driver and my new best friend (his name, I later learned, is Brandy, but I didn't even ask his name until much later in the adventure) argued with the owner of the pinchazo over the price (Guatemalans are much, much better at this than I am, so I left the men to their devices).  He was asking Q225 for the tire; we ended up agreeing on Q200 for the tire and fixing the spare (which just had a small leak, nothing serious). I then realized that I didn't have enough money for the tire and to pay for the parking lot, so I would need to stop at an ATM. There was one, I knew, on Boulevard Liberación at the Shell station right in front of the arcos, the aqueduct that crosses the airport access road.  However, Brandy said that he thought he could get us into the airport; the driver said he would need an extra Q20 if we had to go that way, since it would mean a longer drive.  About 10 minutes later we were able to juggle the three tires and ourselves back into the cab and headed back to the parking lot. 

The two other men who had been helping us earlier were still there; we installed the new tire, secured the space to the underside of the truck and then the lot attendant let me drive to the airport (there is no easy access to the terminal without going down a long, dark block and around a rotary and into the main entrance). It looked dead; the doors were all closed. Brandy said he would be able to get in; what he didn't know was whether I would be allowed in. Brandy knocked at the glass, talked to the guard, and then waved me in. We walked through the empty room, all the check-in desks empty, and around the cash exchange table to find two ATMS that I had never seen before (I've never walked around that side; the door leading to the gates is on the left hand side of the check-in area). I retrieved some cash and then we went back and I paid the parking lot fee.  I wanted to thank Brandy; offering him cash seemed tacky so I suggested that I would take him out for a drink. That meant another adventure -- driving around on Guatemala City late at night on Monday of Holy Week (now actually Tuesday, as it was just after midnight). We drove up 7a Avenida (Septima or Seventh) and everything was dark; we then went onto the other side of La Reforma and into the Zona Viva (the "Alive Zone" literally) and found one street with a few bars and a loud discotheque. The bartender said they were closing in half an hour, which was fine by me, so we ordered drinks and chatted. My savior, whose name I now learned, is a young man (I didn't ask his age; probably early to mid-20s) from the area around Escuintla. He has been working for American for 2 years; sometimes works in the airport, sometimes gets to go on flights as well. Probably a highly coveted job in Guatemala where few people have the opportunity to travel.  I asked what he wanted; he said he would have what I was drinking. The bar didn't have wine (not a big surprise) so I ordered an añejo and some bottled water (most bars don't just give you glasses of water, unlike in the U.S.). The añejos were expensive, about Q65 a glass, but given that this man, who had never seen me before, was willing to drive around GC at midnight to help me buy a tire and then install it, it seemed appropriate to splurge. He told me a little about his family (in response to my questions; he didn't just start blabbing): three brothers, two sisters. Most of the family is back home, near Escuintla; he and one brother are in GC. No, he wasn't going to go home for Easter; he didn't have the whole week off and traveling back and forth would be too time consuming.

The bar was across the street from a disco with loud blaring music, and we watched with some amusement as some very drunk women dressed in tight clothing and high heels, upon which they could barely balance, tried to convince the bouncer to let them in. Two other women, in tight short dresses and even higher heels, sauntered down the block and then back. We watched the drama of the drunk women and the bouncers for a while; we couldn't hear what they were saying but could read their body gestures. After about 10 minutes the women gave up and half-staggered back down the block.

At about 12:50 the bartenders started to pack up the chairs on the sidewalk (we were the only patrons, by the way) and close up shop.

I took Brandy back to the parking lot where he had left his motorcycle (I had to head back in that direction anyhow) and then headed for Antigua. I know it is generally not recommended to drive solo on highways in Guatemala at night, especially not this late (it was now 1 a.m.), but I didn't really have much choice. The roads were nearly empty; just enough other vehicles that I didn't feel completely alone. Antigua is the center of Holy Week festivities: all week long there are processions, and so even at 1:30 a.m. there were a fair number of police vehicles and foot patrols on the streets.  

So, let's hope this tire lasts for bit longer than its predecessor.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pequeñas molestias/small disturbances

No he querido pensar ni mucho menos escribir sobre algunas cosas que, en la esquema grande del mundo, no son tan importantes. Pero realmente, tengo que enfrentarme con los hechos, como dicen en los policiacos.  Han desaparecido algunas cosas mías durante mi estancia en Guatemala. No son cosas muy grandes; no son cosas muy caras; no son, en otras palabras, cosas del otro mundo.  Su desaparición (o mejor dicho, sus desapariciones, porque se supone que no desaparecieron de un solo pero uno por uno) no va a causar una interrupción en mi trabajo.  Pero son -- o eran -- cosas mías.

Para precisar, son los siguientes:
(1) Un bracier (no sé cual es la palabra en Guatemala: en Cuba dicen "adjustador"; el diccionario dice "sostén" o "sujetador"; otro diccionario ofrece "bracier", "brasier", y "brassiere")  tipo Wacoal, color negro, nuevo, en mi talla (disculpa si no pongo mi talla de bracier en mi blog, pero podemos decir que no es una talla muy común. Yo sé que no es común porque cada vez que tengo que comprar un nuevo bracier me cuesta mucho trabajo encontrarlo en la talla correcta).
(2) Un par de sandalias, de la marca "Crocs", color café, talla 7.5
(3) Una chaqueta ligera de algodón, marca Gap, color negro, talla S o XS (no recuerdo).

Es POSIBLE, posible que dejé la chaqueta en algún lado -- que fui a una reunión o a la casa de alguien y la dejé allí inconscientemente. 

Pero las sandalias no. No es posible que fui a algún lado con sandalias puestas y volví descalza. Es posible que están escondidas en algún rincón del apartamento en Antigua porque es muy oscuro adentro; voy a mirar otra vez.

Tampoco es posible que dejé el bracier, sostén, adjustador, lo que sea, en algún lado. No he estado en una situación que me demandó a quitarme la ropa fuera de mi casa, con la excepción del día que fuimos al balneario fuera de Chichi, pero (a) no tuve puesto este bracier aquel día, y (b) aunque quité la ropa para ponerme la trusa, luego quité la trusa mojada y volví a vestirme en la misma ropa. 

Entonces, las únicas conclusiones son (a) que un día el viento llevó mi bracier, o (b) alguien (y tiene que ser alguien conocido) se lo llevó, aunque no conozco a NADIE aquí que puede usar la misma talla (estamos hablando de "cosas de mujeres", y si algunos de mis amigos masculinos quieren saber como estoy segura, les digo, nosotras sabemos lo que sabemos).  

No será la primera ni la última vez que este tipo de cosa ocurre a mi o a otras extranjeras. Si una viaja o vive en un país con un nivel de pobreza, o un país menos rico que su país de origen, aunque una personalmente no es rica (comparada con otros en su país), todos sabemos que somos muy privilegiados relativamente, particularmente comparada a la gente en nuestro nuevo alrededor. Yo he visto tantas compañeras en las reuniones, sobretodo mujeres de lugares muy rurales, con zapatos medio rotos; algunas andan descalzas. Y niños con ropa media rota.  

Las otras ocurrencias desagradables tienen que ver con el carro, el famoso picóp. Hace como 2 meses, en el portón de la casa de unos amigos en Tapesquillo, alguien sacó un aro de una llanta. No era nada mas que un adorno; el aro no tuvo ninguna función estructural. Pero fue parte del costo del carro.

También, algunas semanas después, una noche alguien me quitó los dos espejos en el exterior del carro -- que estuvo en la calle frente a mi casa. Fue una noche cuando no tuve energía a meter el carro en el parqueo, que queda 2 cuadras de la casa.  

El los dos casos, no sé si era personal -- o sea, porque alguien sabía que fue MI carro, o sencillamente un acto de delincuencia hecho al azar. Como dicen mis amigos chapines, SABER!!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

La emboscada/the ambush

Hace unos días, precisamente el martes, cuando estuve en la oficina de Ixmukané, en algún momento determinado, salió una de las compañeras de una reunión de la junta directiva y me preguntó como se escribe mi nombre. No fijé mucho en la demanda; suponía que estaban escribiendo algún reporte sobre algunas actividades.

Descubrí el objetivo en un momento del programa de viernes -- el día de la apertura de la emisora y el encuentro con los magistrados. Antes del almuerzo, llamaron a varios compañeros y compañeras al salon y comenzaron a dar algunos platos comemorativos como reconocimientos a varias instituciones cuales habían apoyado el trabajo de la asociación -- representantes de Oxfam, la embajada de Noruega, et cetera.
Doña Mari y Benjamin de Oxfam
 Cada reconocimiento fue entregada por una persona diferente  -- muy democrática y participativa. Pero me sorprendió cuando Reyna, una de las compañeras de Chinique, y la persona quien originalmente, en agosto de 2010, me presentó a la asociación, acercó al micrófono y anunció un reconocimiento para mi.  Seguramente no pude tomar un autoretrato de este momento pero confío que uno de los compañeros capturó ese momento.  Solo pude retratar a Reyna el en momento del anuncio y mi plato
A few days ago, Tuesday to be precise, when I was at the offices of Ixmukané, at a certain point, one of the compañeras came out of a meeting of the executive committee and asked me how to spell my name. I didn't really think too much about the request; I figured they were writing up some report about their activities.
Dejé la cinta y corbata para ahora
I found out what the purpose of this was during Friday's activities, the day of the radio station launch and the meeting with the magistrates. Before lunch, they called various compañeros and compañeros to come into the big meeting room and started to hand out commemorative plates to some of the institutions that have supported the work of Ixmukané like Oxfam and the Norwegian Embassy.  Each recognition was handed out by a different person -- very democratic and participatory. But I was surprised when Reyna, one of the compañeras from Chinique and the person who first told me about Ixmukané in August 2010, approached the mike and announced that I was being recognized. Of course I couldn't take a photo of myself at that moment but I trust that one of the compañeros caught the moment with his camera. I could only capture Reyna at the moment of the announcement and then later, my plate.


Aquí es uno de los jóvenes grabando el evento con un pequeño video -- todo es parte de la "estrategia de comunicación" de la asociación. Uno de los comentarios mas notables del día vino de un representante de la asociación de emisoras comunitarias, sobre la urgencia para comunidades rurales, comunidades indígenas y mujeres (o sea, grupos marginados y silenciados) a tener sus propios medios de comunicación en frente de la gran monopolio mediático que predomina en Guatemala hoy en día.
Here is one of the young'uns recording the event with a small video camera - all part of the "communication strategy" of the association. One of the most notable commentaries of the day came from a representative of the association of community radio stations, about the urgency for rural community, indigenous communities and women (that is, marginalized and silenced groups) to have their own means of communication in the face of the great media monopoly that predominates in Guatemala today.

Juicio por femicidio/justice for femicide -- blog bilingue/bilingual blog

Veremos si logro un blog bilingue.  El periodico de la mañana anunció, entre otras noticias, que "se inicia juicio por femicídio." Según el artículo, que era muy breve, el caso trata de dos hombres quienes mataron a dos mujeres. Mirando a los apellidos, PARECE que el caso trata de un hombre quien mató a su esposa, de 49 años, y su hija, de 17 años, con la ayuda de otra persona. No habían detalles, mas que un comentario por el abogado querellante que es el primer caso de femicidio frente a un tribunal.

No sé si es precisamente verdad -- si no ha sido ningún juicio sobre femicidio -- pero señala una de los problemas grandes aquí -- que la mayoría de los casos de violencia contra una mujeres, incluyendo violencia fatal, no hay denuncias y en los casos que si son denunciados, la mayoría no llegan a los cortes.

We'll see if I manage a bilingual blog.  This morning's paper announced, among other news, that a trial for femicide is being started. According to the very brief article, the case concerns two men who killed two women. Looking at the surnames, it SEEMS that the case is about a man who killed his 49-year old wife and his 17-year old daughter with the help of another person. There weren't any details other than a commentary from the prosecuting attorney, who said that this is the first femicide case in front of a tribunal.

I don't know if this is precisely true, that there has never been a legal proceeding in a case of  femicide, but it points to a great problem here -- that in the majority of cases of violence against women, including fatal violence, there are not complaints and in the cases where there are complaints,  the majority don't end up in court.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Blogueando en vivo desde SCQ

Bueno, aquí estamos en un encuentro histórico -- una discusión entre mujeres de comunidades rurales del Quiché y miembros del cuerpo jurídico. O sea, magistrados, jueces, etc.  Esta reunión fue organizado por Ixmukané -- durante los últimos meses han estado trabajando en el tema de la violencia contra las mujeres, y capacitando las mujeres para tener conocimiento de sus derechos y también sentir empoderadas a acercarse a las instituciones públicas -- sea la policía, los centros de salud, o los juzgados de la paz. 

Primero hablaron los jueces, comenzando con un magistrado de una corte nacional  y pasando a jueces locales y regionales. Ahora las mujeres están comentando -- algunas mujeres quienes han sido capacitado como promotoras jurídicas. Las dos quienes han hablado primero comentaron sobre algunas condiciones duras en sus comunidades: por ejemplo, una niña quien fue violada por un hombre mayor, y creo que no sucedió nada al victimario. 

También hoy era la inauguración oficial de la emisora, Radio Ixmukané.  Muchas de las compañeras y los compañeros estuvimos aquí ayer arreglando y limpiando el espacio, porque realmente ocurrieron dos eventos hoy: la apertura del radio (con invitados especiales, ONGs y representantes de organizaciones de sociedad civil) y este encuentro. 

Luego puedo hablar sobre los arreglos; siguieron hoy en la mañana, porque nosotras, por ejemplo (yo y 2 compas) tuvimos que buscar ciertas cosas para un ceremonia Maya que iba a comenzar las actividades del día. Habían invitado un aj'ij (o "guía espiritual") para dirigir la ceremonia, para pedir sabiduría y fuerza de los abuelos (el nombre común para los ancestros). Pasemos por el mercado para comprar un jarro de varo (para quemar el incienso) y algún alcohol para el altar.

La ceremonia en si fue bastante impresionante.  Hago una descripción más detallada luego, pero comenzó con la construcción de un altar afuera, detrás del edificio donde está la cabina del radio. Las mujeres habían traido muchas flores, velas en cuarto colores, tabacos, carbon, incienso, azúcar y maíz -- y posiblemente otras cosas que ya no recuerdo. También unas pequeñas matas de piña, y agujas de piña. Algunas de nosotras (yo porque tengo un carro) fuimos a buscar piedras grandes, y luego el guía, Don Felipe, dirigió a las mujeres a buscar más piedras mas chiquitas.  

Después de arreglar todo, comenzó hablar sobre la importancia del día de hoy en el calendario maya, un día de la sabiduría y la inteligencia. Entonces, él nos recomendó que ese altar fue para eso, y no para otras cosas.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mil usos (y a veces inútil)

A veces uno sienta como un cuchillo del ejercito suizo -- hay que cumplir con distintas demandas, que corresponden a las distintas necesidades de la comunidad donde uno está trabajando. Así fue mi trabajo dentro de la comunidad maya (y la comunidad de migrantes más amplia) en New Bedford. Un momento había que traducir unos documentos que una señora recibió de la escuela de sus hijos; luego alguien necesitaba ir al "Women's Center"; luego me pidieron escribir una carta a una compañía donde habían despedido algunos trabajadores injustamente. Muchas veces me llamaron mis compañeros para ser una traductora en alguna reunión de importancia, por ejemplo con el jefe de policía. 

Y así fue. En algún momento me convertí en una especie de agente de viajes, por las sencillas razones (1) que pude navegar el internet con más facilidad, y (2) tuve una tarjeta de crédito -- la falta de la misma impidió la mayoría de los migrantes en New Bedford. Sin documentos, era difícil, si no imposible, tener algo que nos facilita muchas cosas -- cosas que ciudadanos no miran como "privilegios" aunque realmente son. En estos casos las personas siempre me pagaron la cifra en divisa muy puntualmente. 

En varias ocasiones arreglé paisajes para personas quienes han decidido a volverse a su país. Con la economía en un estado de depresión, muchas personas encontraron dificultades en conseguir un trabajo estable; otras posiblemente tenían otras razones a salir voluntariamente. También tuve que arreglar algunos viajes en la otra vía -- guatemaltecos quienes habían recibidos visas para visitas temporales. 

Hasta pequeña prestamos de dinero a algunos compañeros muy estrechos. 

También varias personas me acercaron para pedir consejos sobre varios asuntos -- sobretodo, asuntos de migración. En muchos casos tuve que decir que realmente no pude ayudar mucho, que no era abogada, pero les di mi opinión -- aunque me daba pena a decirles (en ciertos casos) que no vi mucha esperanza. 

A veces era difícil a ver donde terminaba el "servicio comunitario" y donde empezaba mi trabajo de investigación.

No fue muy sorprendente que aquí en Guatemala también varias personas me han acercado para pedir ayuda con asuntos parecidos.  Hace algunas semanas, una mujer a quien yo había conocido a través de mi participación en varias actividades me llamó para pedir mi apoyo con asuntos migratorios. Me llamó varias veces cuando estuve ocupada pero no entendí bien exactamente que tipo de apoyo ella quería, aunque le dije claramente que no era abogada ni experta en trámites de migración -- para no crear expectativas no realistas.  Pero insistió que quisiera reunirnos. Finalmente decidimos en una fecha para reunirnos y vino ella y su familia. Me dijo que muchos familiares de ella y de su esposo ya estuvieron en "los estados" y quería saber si yo podría ayudarla emigrar legalmente. O sea, si yo podría decir que iba a ofrecerla un trabajo a algo. 

Yo creo que fue una pregunta inocente en el sentido de que ella realmente no entendió como funcionaba las leyes. Con mucha pena -- porque le veo como una persona honesta - tuve que decirla que era imposible. Que no pude hacer una declaración falsa que iba a ofrecerla empleo. Expliqué que yo tendría que firmar un affidávit, y será posible que las autoridades investigarían para ver si realmente ella estaba trabajando para mi. La dije que no tuve un negocio, y también que iba a estar casi un año en Guatemala.   La dije que lamentablemente existieron pocas posibilidades legales para migración a los estados. Agregué que no era que no creía en romper leyes injustas, pero si iba romper una ley iba a hacerlo abiertamente como una declaración pública .. y como una persona quien había tomado una posición pública (al menos en el área de New Bedford) sobre las leyes migratorias, no pude hacer una cosa así "bajo de la mesa". También tuve pena porque supe que ella tuvo que viajar una gran distancia para verme.

Otra solicitud que me no pude satisfacer vino de una amiga quien tiene varios de sus hijos en los estados -- y me vino a buscar para decirme de uno de esos hijos fue agarrado por la policía o por la migración -- no era muy clara cuando hablé con ella. Me pidió con mucha emoción a tratar a ver su hijo cuando fui a los estados al final de febrero. Intenté verlo, pero cuando fui al centro de detención (él fue agarrado por inmigración) un domingo en la noche (el único día que estuve en New Bedford), me dijeron que él solamente pudo recibir visitas 
los jueves en la tarde, y porque tuve un vuelo para Guate el día siguiente, no pude hacer nada.

Cambiando la onda: blogueando en español/pa kaxlan tzij'

Bueno, estoy respondiendo a algunos comentarios de mis colegas/colaboradores dentro de la comunidad maya en New Bedford y en Guatemala que no pueden leer mi blog porque está escrito en inglés. Entonces, yo les prometí que iba a escribir algunas entradas en español, y con este breve escrito voy a comenzar. No tengo el tiempo a traducir todo que he escrito antes, ni voy a tener tiempo a traducir todas las entradas que voy a escribir en español a inglés, entonces, cada "público" (los que manejan solo inglés, los que manejan español pero no el inglés) tendrá un poquito de frustración porque habrá contenido en un idioma que uno no domina. Cuando sea posible hago traducciones pero pido su comprensión.

Well, I am responding to some commentaries from colleagues/collaborators within the Maya communities in New Bedford and Guatemala that they can't read my blog because it is written in English. So, I promised them that I would write some entries in Spanish, and with this brief submission, I am going to begin. I don't have time to translate everything that I've already written, nor will I have time to translate all the entries I will write in Spanish into English. Therefore, each "public" (those who only speak English, those who speak Spanish but not English) will have a little bit of frustration because there will be content in a language that you don't know. When possible I will do translations but I ask for your understanding.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

News briefs

Brief, really. Just a small article in today's paper claiming that the traffic in human beings -- particularly migrants at the U.S./Mexico border -- is a more profitable business than drug trafficking.  

Enhanced enforcement, detention and deportation policies in the U.S. notwithstanding, people still leave Guatemala every week, heading north. I know from my contacts in New Bedford that there are new arrivals there. The son of some people I've met here arrived a month or so ago; was in detention but has now been released.  Although I have not started to do formal interviews yet, I've come across several women who are either wives of migrants currently in the U.S. or themselves attempted the journey. One young couple, currently in their early 20s, set out a few years ago (before they had a child) but didn't make it. Another woman told me that she had tried a few years ago, made it part way through Mexico, stayed there a while, and then turned back. Another woman told me that her husband has been in Providence for the past three years.