Peggy Lynn Bryan


© Copyright 2006 Peggy Lynn Bryan Should you wish to support the mission of the Episcopal Church in Oaxaca, we welcome your tax deductable donation: Make the check out to: St. Barnabas Episcopal Church In the memo line write: Oaxaca Mission Mail to: Bill Ashby 113 Ancient Coast Fredericksburg, Texas 78624-6139

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Dedicated to The Rev. Mary Ann Garrett Episcopal priest and my internship supervisor Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, Mexico Adelina Santiago Cruz Zapotec textile artisan and my best friend in the streets of Oaxaca City Mitla, Oaxaca, Mexico Cathy Holley My partner in life and love Campbell, California, USA

Pero, por último, a mis compañeros, aquí y allí, gracias a Dios y adiós. Pase lo que pase, yo regresaré. Mientras tanto, cuídense porque ustedes tienen mi corazón. ¡Por favor, no me olviden! Sobre todo y siempre vayan con Dios. ------------------------------------------------------------But, finally, to my friends, here and there, thanks be to God and goodbye. No matter what, I will return. In the meantime, take care of yourself because you hold my heart. Please, don't forget me! Above all and always go with God.




long-legged spider friend unmolested so he can continue clearing out mosquitoes for the next visitor! So here ends my Gringa in Oaxaca travelogue. Allow me to take this opportunity to thank you for being my audience. Writing about my Mexican adventures helped me capture this amazing journey in a way that otherwise would have faded with memory. Every day here I’ve asked for the grace to not just look, but to see; to not just hear, but to listen. To be graciously and humbly and constantly present…in the streets, the churches, the prison, the markets, the villages…to be vulnerable, to take risks, to dust myself off and try, try again. I’ve given Mexico all that I am. I held nothing back. Yet I am departing with far more than I gave. Understandably, I leave with mixed emotions—I will miss mi familia nueva de Oaxaca but I’ve missed equally my friends and family at home. Cathy has been a saint to run our household alone; her support and patience have long since exceeded above and beyond. I miss my dogs. I miss my bed. I miss you!

Equal parts adventure, sabbatical and course requirement for my Masters in Divinity Degree from Church Divinity School of the Pacific, I set off to Oaxaca, Mexico early January 2006 for a six month internship. I rented a tiny roof-top room in the heart of Oaxaca City and spent my days and weeks studying Spanish; interning at Holy Trinity Anglican Church which included a weekly pastoral visit to the state prison; volunteering as a photography teacher with an organization that serves “street kids;” and investing all my remaining time wandering and wondering. As I’d never visited Mexico before, I moved to Oaxaca with no expectations. I went with a commitment to be open for discoveries from the land and the people. I am in transition from retiring as a public school principal (hence, some references are to Sherman Oaks School) to a ministry within the Episcopal Church. As a principal, I’ve been blessed to serve many Mexican immigrant families so I felt it was a perfect opportunity to immerse myself in their culture and language. From the start of my journey, I composed regular e-mails to a group of personal friends, family members, seminary advisors, and professional colleagues. In order to preserve the energy and share the insights gained from this amazing experience, I assembled and published my electronic communications in chronological order. Some I wrote in Spanish which are included with translation into English. Will I return to Oaxaca? Sin duda. Without a doubt.



Date: Subject: I needed a Trojan Horse

Fri, 9 Jun 2006 10:26:52 -0700 (PDT)


Sat, 7 Jan 2006 06:44:30 -0800 (PST)


El Fin/The End

"Map out your future, but do it in pencil." – Jon Bon Jovi

"Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever." – Isak Dinesen

After my Pirates of Escondido adventure, the rest of the week included long hikes on sea walls and beaches that stretched on forever; sunsets beyond description; fresh fish grilled and served right on the beach while I watched surfers challenging the famous Escondido Pipeline and the biggest waves I’ve ever seen (that is saying something since I grew up in Santa Cruz—the surfing capital of California). Plus, for many hours I hung contentedly in a hammock on my private veranda reading senseless novels, occasionally popping up to make sure the local iguanas were staying a respectable distance away. Now, I’m back in the city, packing to leave Mexico tomorrow. I've arranged to have my room cleaned but with specific instructions to leave my daddy

Hola! Off to Mexico through Texas via Phoenix. I didn't anticipate joining a load of Texas Longhorn fans returning home to Houston on the same plane! As we passed Austin at 30,000+ feet, the pilot had the nerve to announce that everyone should look to the left and salute Austin (home of the Rose Bowl winning Longhorns). Hook 'em horns everywhere with applause and cheers. So many Rose Bowl victory t-shirts, I felt like I was on a booster flight. Sick! I suspect if the crew knew that a Trojan alumnus was on board, I would have been seated in a middle seat across from the rear bathroom. I needed a Trojan Horse for an escape route. When does baseball start? Go Yankees. Peggy



"No. posiblemente no podría tener ninguna intención malvada para tirarme al agua.” me deleité fuera de la orilla con la vista extraordinaria del océano cubierto con calas protegidas para bucear. los acantilados rocosos salpicados con cactos. The next clerk took me to the Christening section where I could buy a white chiffon blouse with pink buttons but I said. común en Monterey/Big Sur en California. la platija o el huachinango. Perla!” No necesité ser “el pez que huyó. The first clerk guided me to the book section of the (huge. blusa. pero las buenas noticias fueron que la temperatura fue tropicalcálida. las playas de arena blanca. walking into a Oaxacan Catholic supply house. "Excuse me. esperando el Mahi Mahi. Después de mi epifanía “sin peligro. Mary Ann. but I need to purchase a black priest's collar. Una collara negra. por favor. una collara negro. me relajé. caminaba por la playa y los hermanos me decían." She commanded común en Monterey/Big Sur en California. “¡Hola. please. Entonces. sprawling) store and handed me a map of Oaxaca. 12 Jan 2006 13:40:07 -0800 (PST) Subject: Una collara. después de eso." so I started by adding an "a" to "collar" making it "collara" since so many Spanish words end that way: "Perdon. caminaba por la playa y los hermanos me decían muy amablemente. por favor?" pointing to my neck. Nativos en sus canoas de pescar para arrojar las redes. Todos los días. "No.Date: Thu. gracias" says I. mappa. El color de la agua verde jade y azul azur. This is how that worked. Si alguien se había emocionado tanto con una tortuga del mar. a white Anglo female. por favor. the Anglican priest supervising me. asked that I get a black priest collar so I would look more official for my prison clergy photo. So. Here is my first Mexico adventure story. Todos los días. después de eso. I located the Roman Catholic Store and it was packed with at least one thousand women looking for Christening clothes and men buying baptismal fonts that needed to be tested by pouring gallons of water into them in the middle of the store. I assumed I needed to pass many more history of Christianity classes before I could be official and wear a priest collar but she said it was ok.” 6 103 . I don't know how to say in Spanish. gracias. asking for a black priest's collar. el Faro de Puerto Escondido. pero las buenas noticias fueron que la temperatura fue tropicalcálida. imagine me.

"Venga" and marched me to the manager who. el Faro de Puerto Escondido. buscando algo debajo de un plástico." Not to be denied a black collar without taking a lot of tests. De hecho. Después. mi identificación. posiblemente no podría tener ninguna intención malvada para tirarme al agua. “¡A ella no le caemos bien!” Entonces. Nativos en sus canoas de pescar para arrojar las redes. completamente sola? ¡Si desapareciera.800 millas de mi casa. mi crema solar SPF-45 estaban en mi mochila. Si alguien se había emocionado tanto con una tortuga del mar. Peggy 102 7 . Después de mi epifanía “sin peligro. tan cerca. la tortuga y yo. I poked around myself and finally located a vestment section complete with UN COLLARA NEGRA! I marched back to the manager and said. Todo mi dinero. Me preparé para lanzarle mi cámara. Adiós. nos miramos. just smiled. Él sacó su caña de pescar.kilómetros lejos de la orilla cuando me surgió la paranoia. shrugged and said "No. when I asked him. esperando el Mahi Mahi. Esperaba atrapar un pez para el desayuno de su familia. que nosotros. la platija o el huachinango.” me deleité fuera de la orilla con la vista extraordinaria del océano cubierto con calas protegidas para bucear. "Venga!" and took him to window #5 where I pointed to the collar behind the glass. “¿No puede una tortuga tener un poco de privacidad?” El joven se rió y me dijo. me relajé. I was out on the street but with my collar and happy about it. An hour later and 40 pesos poorer. ¿Y si yo era su presa? ¿Cómo había aceptado dar una vuelta en una lancha con alguien que no conocía . El color de la agua verde jade y azul azur. cuando él apagó el motor y dio unos saltos hacia el frente. las playas de arena blanca. Simple victories. la tortuga se dio vuelta y lanzó una mirada feroz. nadie tendría ninguna idea en donde comenzar a buscar! La orilla estaba casi completamente fuera de vista. los acantilados rocosos salpicados con cactos. a 2. señaló emocionado a una tortuga que flotaba por ahí.

se veían muy serias mirando fijamente hacia a los pescados. Después de un vuelo de cuarenta minutos (diez horas por el autobús) temprano por la mañana. etc. También. Humanity and friendship never fails to team up in song and smiles.. pero un joven me tocó en el hombro y me preguntó si quería ir en su lancha.. fui de vacaciones a Puerto Escondido. conmigo como su “pesca turística."--I knew enough of the song to entertain (or shock. 20 Jan 2006 09:02:05 -0800 (PST) Subject: Singing and Dreaming I would walk along the beach and the brothers would call out a friendly. Keep singing! Peggy 8 101 .. talking (a little more Spanish) and breathing in the sights and sounds of Oaxaca. preguntándome que pasaría después.one of the women is named Maria. Él me mostraría cinco de las playas locales más populares y si teníamos buena suerte.Date: Fri. mirándolos.. This morning was the weekly market and wow. llené mi mochila con el equipo para nadar y me marché. Me reuní con un grupo de mujeres locales que estaban paradas. era una casa magnífica al otro lado de la Playa Zicatela. por lo tanto. I launched into a full scale solo of "Maria. él y su hermano empujaron la pequeña lancha con motor. as the case may be) the courtyard of women. after completing our official work with the women.” Su hermano se quedó. me puse mi traje de baño. so many different fruits and vegetables. etc. Todavía no eran las nueve. Perla!!” I did not need to be the “fish that got away. Quién sabe cuanto tiempo hubiera durado este ritual. I encouraged them to sing with me and there were many shrieks of laughter and shy smiles. Maria. una región de playas famosas en Oaxaca. everyone cheered and applauded. Estábamos más o menos dos Hola! Week two and I am still walking. Mary Ann (the Anglican priest) hummed the first bar to West Side Story's "Maria" -. Wednesday at the prison. cheese. los defines y las tortugas. Instantáneamente. “Hi. aún las lanchas estaban descargando su pesca de la mañana. me instalé en mi cuarto alquilado. meat.” --------------------------------------------------------------El pez que no necesitó huir La semana pasada.. La tripulación era sólo yo y el joven capitán. I just met a girl named Maria. When we finished with our inmate choir. I shall take some photos in days to come so you can send me and my prison amigas and amigos good thoughts. hence the inspiration for humming. contesté que “Sí!” – Estuvimos de acuerdo con el precio. yo estaba tan solemne. It was a special moment in a miserable place that breeds hopelessness.

. my identification and my SPF-45 suntan lotion were in my backpack. no one would have any idea where to even start looking!! The shore was almost completely out of sight when he cut the motor and took a couple of leaps to the front. He looked like a ghost had appeared--it took him a moment to get his bearings with this Anglo woman. Every day afterwards This Sunday morning I was fully vested (look like an angel all in white—photo of Mary Ann and me below) and was tending to gate-opening for our parishioners. the turtle and I. better--I made a new friend. white sand beaches. But.Date: Subject: Vision of a friend Tue. after regaining his composure.800 miles from home. He pulled out…. A man who comes daily sweeping up street trash was busy doing his job until I bounced out from behind the gate to start up a conversation in Spanish. 24 Jan 2006 08:54:46 -0800 (PST) me and the young skipper. Too bad-for a moment I had visions of being enshrined on Constitución Street in Oaxaca for future pilgrims! But. so close that we. “Can’t a turtle get any privacy?!” The young man laughed and called out “She doesn’t like us!” At that point. The turtle actually turned around in the water and glared. completely alone? If I disappeared. he smiled and decided I wasn't a new vision like Guadalupe. After my nodanger epiphany. I prepared to throw my camera at him. He hoped to catch a fish for his family’s breakfast. Then he excitedly pointed to a sea turtle floating by.fishing line. dressed in a floorlength white gown ("cassock") babbling Spanish to him. flounder or red snapper. I reveled in the unique off-shore. What if I were his prey? What was I thinking to accept a boat ride with someone I didn’t know. fishing canoes casting nets out hoping for mahi mahi. made eye contact. Peggy 100 9 . We were about two kilometers offshore when paranoia crept in. rocky cliffs dotted with cacti. 2. ocean view of sheltered diving coves. reaching under a tarp. I relaxed. All my money. The water color is the jade green and azure blue common to Monterey/Big Sur in California. but the good news is that the temperature is tropical-warm. the Puerto Escondido lighthouse. Anyone who could get so excited over a sea turtle could not possibly harbor any evil intention of tossing me overboard.

I found a great little free cinema that is set up in the old aqueduct so. I suspect most people can tell I’m not “native” by just looking at me. I joined a group of local women who stood. Well." – John Lubbock* The Fish That Didn’t Need To Get Away Last week I took a mini-vacation to Puerto Escondido. DON'T!! Hasta luego.Date: Subject: Puerto Peggy Wed. Some habits live on (which. one of the most famous beach areas in Oaxaca. pulled on my swimsuit. You can still tell I am not a "native" because I continue to look both ways before I cross the streets and ALL the streets in town are oneway.” His brother stayed behind. looking very serious staring down at the fish. Who knows how long this ritual might have gone on but a young man tapped me on my shoulder and asked if I would like to go out in his boat? He would show me the five most popular local beaches and. I responded “Sure!”—we agreed upon a price and he and his brother launched their motor boat with me as their tourist “catch. I settled in my rented room of a magnificent house across from Zicatela Beach. if we were lucky. 7 Jun 2006 12:18:18 -0700 (PDT) Date: Tue. dolphins and turtles. It wasn’t yet 9:00 AM so the fishing boats were still unloading their morning catch. If you haven't seen Jane Fonda's 1968 classic. I think I will hang on to this habit). given the truly awful driving both here and in the States. After an early morning 40-minute flight (10 hours by bus). there are times I do wish that were an option! The good news is that I continue to faithfully report to class--four hours every weekday--and I am now waking up with dreams of Spanish verbs dancing in my head. Peggy 10 99 . 24 Jan 2006 15:53:49 -0800 (PST) Subject: Verbos! "A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work. The crew was just In case you were wondering. I also now confidently graze around town at my favorite street vendors for the best hamburgers. Instantly. corn on the cob and yummy pralines. I take in a movie. So. when I have time in the evenings. I stood just as solemnly staring at the fish wondering what came next. stuffed my backpack with swimming gear and headed out. french fries. So far I have resisted throwing my book into the dumpster (as ended my Berlitz class in Campbell). Barbarella. I do not copy homework from any of the other language school students!! However.

Si no me doy a entender.. As I stroll along the main tourist street. flashlight. try again and again and again…. 25 Jan 2006 10:59:35 -0800 (PST) • • When in doubt. I now look like the boys who purposely wear their pants practically to their knees: sagging. here is last night's Oaxacan story: I went out late to buy a hamburger and french fries--two different street vendors are required. Now. this is a dilemma: there is no where to put my food down even temporarily and did I mention yo tengo hambre! However. • • Talk fast! Those who understand Spanish will assume they just didn’t hear me correctly and those who don’t will assume I’m fluent. I am hungry! I figure underwear doesn't matter anyway-it can be uncomfortable but not indecent exposure. As I am walking. filling my pockets with my pesos. I notice that my underwear is slipping--seems like the heavy concentration of minerals in the water dissolves elastic as part of the laundry process--but. “Hey.. hablo inglés casi perfectamente. put a banana inside so when the monkey reaches in and grasps the banana you can capture the monkey because he won't let go of the banana to save his life.” You have all heard the folk tale about how to catch a monkey: hollow out a coconut. Plus. trato y trato otra vez. No permito que cualquiera traduzca por mí. Well. por favor Wed.. Cuando dudo. “Mira. bagging..” Cuando me siento muy desesperada. trato. use subjective. camera (always looking for a photo op). uso el subjunctivo. my outer pants start slipping! All the weight in my pockets is pulling my pants down. recuerdo. I speak English almost perfectly. ¡Hablo rápido! Esas personas que comprenden español supondrán posiblemente que ellos no me oyeron correctamente y ésas que no comprenden español supondrán que yo hablo con soltura. • • Don’t let anyone translate for me. after 54 years. I buy my food and now have both hands FULL of dinner. If I can’t get my point across. my favorite vendors are a bit of a hike from my room so off I went. después de cincuenta y cuatro años. remind myself.I look around to see if anyone else 98 11 . • • When I’m really desperate..Learning Spanish – Aprendiendo español Date: Subject: Un plátano. and keys. not ever as simple as one stop.

My underwear. • • Only buy one basket weave pig. me voy hacia atrás y me siento rápidamente. and pulled my pants up into proper position. try to be first on. Here is a photo of a banana growing wild I spotted on one of my many walks. Adiós. Practice: NO GRACIAS! Sólo una vez compro una cesta en forma de puerco. “NO GRACIAS!” 12 97 . trato de entrar primero. move to the rear quickly and sit down fast. Ningún venedor lleva mucho cambio—de los bancos a las tiendas—por lo tanto tengo que acostumbrarme a eso. • • notices my problem but thankfully no one was pointing and staring. ¿Desea papel higiénico? Le pago a la encargada del sanitario. from banks to corner stores. Camino casi siempre pero si debo viajar en autobús. alas. so just deal with it. was a lost cause. wiped my hands off with the matchbook-size napkin that is issued with the food. no importa cuantas veces las vendoras me lo pidan cada día.• • Walk whenever possible but if I must take the bus. Peggy Want toilet paper? Pay the restroom attendant. Practico. My solution was to back up against an adobe wall and work my pants up by a series of movements that may start a new salsa dance fad in Oaxaca! The good news is that I gulped down my food. no matter how many times in a day I’m asked to buy another. so it went out in the trash. • • No vendors carry much change.

. • • When buying fresh fruit. where. Cruzo la carretera con los locales.the.... Cuando compro las frutas frescas. "Perdón. J. busco a las abejas de miel zumbando..w..... look for honey bees buzzing around.o." – A.l. I smiled at him and said "two blocks straight ahead..l.y ask me directions to the Zócalo. take a left and walk to the trees.." He had a good laugh and we both parted in the night.. Cronin Managing the Mundane – Adaptándose las causas rutinarias • • Walk on the shady side of the street.por favor?" He thought me a Oaxaca native with no English! Too funny. 96 13 ...... Guess what?! A tourist stopped me last night to s. y no espero hasta mañana para comerlas porque están maduras hoy mismo..• Date: Subject: Fwd: From A. and don’t wait until tomorrow to eat it because it’s ripe today. J... but only saps today of its strength.Zócalo. Camino siempre en la sombra Hola! I like this inspiration today so thought I'd pass it along. Such fun! A…d…i…ó…s… Peggy • • Cross the highway with the locals. Cronin Fri.... 27 Jan 2006 09:14:33 -0800 (PST) • Find the answer to this question: Why are Mexican people and their cultural traditions considered exotic and fascinating by American tourists but labeled alien and unwelcome if the same traditions and people are found in America? Encuentra la respuesta a esta pregunta: ¿Por qué la gente Mexicana y sus tradiciones culturales se consideran tan exóticas y fascinantes para los touristas americanos y por qué las mismas causas se calificaron extrañas y importunas cuando se descubrieron en los Estados Unidos? "Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow..is...

que cada vez que formo una opinión de alguien. imagining what it might have been like so many centuries ago. no agua pura o sin agua).000 year old depression in the rock which served as a bathtub and took turns squeezing into it. Es mi reacción personal. no hay cubre asientos en la taza de los sanitarios. Go OUT! ¡Cuando la soledad empieza a parecer aislamento. Happy Monday. la distórcion de la humildad es humilación. representa mi país. 30 Jan 2006 09:44:15 -0800 (PST) Subject: Watch Out for Cacti! Ouch!! Cuando me frustran las logísticas (por ejemplo. for better or worse. recuerdo que voy a regresar a mi casa y la gente aquí está en su casa. A few of us spent the entire afternoon hiking around the ancient ruins of Yagul. and (b) in trying to get a better angle. Como me comparto. This morning I cheered on a march of union workers from the university--secretaries-I cheered Vive Oaxaca! They appreciated my fervor. I didn't get many good shots because (a) it was dark.• Date: Mon. bien o mal. • • It is my personal reaction that distorts humility into humiliation. • • When solitude begins to resemble isolation. sal! • • Remember that every time I form an opinion about someone. • • How I behave. On Saturday there was a grand student dance performance. correr para alcanzar el camión de la basura. they are also forming an opinion about me. Recuerdo. dance after dance. ellos también están formando una opinion sobre mí. you can be sure of that! Yesterday. Adiós for now! Peggy 14 95 . Sunday. was church with a booming 25 people in attendance--our top number yet outside Easter which is often the one day of the year people dust off their Sunday best and head for church. The hike to the top of the mountain included just me and Mary Ann (the priest with whom I am interning)-we found 3. I backed into a cactus and impaled my leg so spent a good deal of the evening extracting myself from the little-but-mighty plant which didn't appreciate being stepped on! I will exercise more respect in the future. represents my country. enjoying the view.

Eden is inside. Si deseo ver la belleza de la ciudad. Dios no escribió las guías turísticas. doy un paso hacia los portones exteriores y cruzo las paredes de los edificios. no toilet seats. smile more. • When frustrated with the logistics (i. Read the walls. 94 15 . Posters announce the social events.• • If I want to see the beauty of the city.. no clean water or no water period). • • God didn’t write the tourist guide books. step through the gates and past the building walls. Cuando me siento menos benévola o más irritable. Be open for local adventures every day. Y el eden está adentro. sonrío mucho. Leo las paredes. Busco las adventuras locales todos los días. Managing Emotions & Behavior – Adaptándose a las emociones y al comportamiento • • When feeling the least charitable or the most irritable. Los carteles públicos que anuncian los espectáculos.e. running to catch the trash truck at dawn. remember I am going home and these people are home.

I went on a mini-strike. (una alerta: brains=sesos) • • Karina (above) and Ale (right). Estoy borracha = I am drunk!! However. “No puedo hacer eso. Peggy • • • Don’t avoid street food vendors but eat where there is a crowd. 30 Jan 2006 10:03:46 -0800 (PST) My Oaxaca Lessons—Mis lecciones de Oaxaca Take [safe] Risks – Se arriesga [sin peligro] • • When my inner voice whispers “I can’t do that. go a different route. Surly Student in Oaxaca. announcing boldly to mi maestra.. "Estoy borracha!!!" She gave me a funny look and then laughed asking me to recheck my vocabulary and try again. voy a una ruta diferente.” DO IT! Cuando mi voz interior susurra. es bueno. Seems that I meant to say "Estoy aburrida!!" which means I am bored. my two Spanish teachers at Becari Language Institute. "borracha" may soon be accurate. I might see an elephant! Continuamente me fijo en la banqueta para ver los baches. (Caution: Sesos = brains) No evites a los vendedores de las calles pero come en donde hay una multitud. Continually scan the sidewalk ahead for potholes but keep looking up. standing in line is a good thing. estar parada en la cola.. pero también miro hacia arriba porque puedo ver un elefante! 16 93 . Cuando sé como avanzar de punto A a punto B. Oaxaca.” Hazlo! When I know exactly how to get from point A to point B.. Subject: Word Selection After yet another long afternoon of conjugating irregular verbs. if I keep having to conjugate verbs.Date: Mon.

then do what's possible. Peggy Three days a week." Lessons I've Learned in Oaxaca is the start of a possible book I'd like to publish about my time here. Francis of Assisi Here is my submission for Exhibition Night--the annual student performance event at the school that I am still "senior principal. my Spanish teacher. We've adopted a litter of puppies--11 to be exact--and feed them as part of our trek." Plus. There are so many self-publishing opportunities now that the only thing that stands in the way of publishing my Gringa in Oaxaca is me! I also did a power point but it is too memory intensive for yahoo to mail out. first thing in the morning. and suddenly you are doing the impossible. Best. governor of Oaxaca stands proudly. Ale. They are so cute now but clearly part pitbull which wouldn't encourage me to bring them all back to my room! Peggy 92 17 ." [that _expression was one I used that caused her some consternation!!]. she is also defending herself by sharing that some of my expressions have no Spanish equivalent so "Deal with it." – St. 30 Jan 2006 10:23:59 -0800 (PST) Subject: My Exhibition Submission "Start by doing what's necessary. Mary Ann and I pack a bag of puppy food and a thermos of coffee and hike to the tip-top of the hill above Oaxaca where stands a statue of the former president of Mexico. wanted me to tell you that she would prefer imperative throughout but I argued (and won--mostly) for present tense because the entire piece is framed around first person. 5 Jun 2006 09:26:31 -0700 (PDT) Date: Mon. "Yo. For the record.Date: Subject: Puppies to love Mon.

I stopped and asked why she needed money from me. Then. not riches.. without a doubt. I saw her and called out a greeting. I hear the distant bell.Mary Ann and I make a break for the staging area--only to see the glow of red tail lights in the distance. She explained that their roof collapsed with the last heavy wind and her daughter was sick with no protection from the sun or rain.. were two-tone red and green leather sandals with bright.. in the dark.bells ringing for another neighborhood. Last night as I was out for an evening walk with Miel. a smile stretched from her to me across the plaza. replacing the rags. I dug into my backpack and pulled out a five hundred peso bill ($50 US). this morning. As soon as she recognized me. Instead of resorting to my typical tactic of pretending she didn’t exist. a real angel came around the corner--my Sunday trash man friend--the one whom I caught by surprise by bounding into the street in my full Sunday white! He volunteered to take all the garbage off our hands although it meant he had to make an extra trip with his laden pushcart back to his staging area--a true amigo! Regards. Her warm. and that henceforth I considered her a friend and friends don’t ask each other for money.. The driver rings a bell signaling residents to haul bags. I was the one humbled. disheveled. for pick-up. The trash truck comes around the neighborhood every morning between 5:30 and 6:00 AM. and buckets of trash up to the corner. t-shirt on inside out. about a block from where I live. Once again. the most beautiful shoes I’ve ever seen. She pointed down towards her feet and there. boxes. The look on her face and the bear hug she gave me was from the deepest pool of desperation and disbelief. They were. The process reminds me of a cruise ship drill because those who answer the bell are women and children first! So. I gave it to her with the caveat that I trusted that she would indeed replace the roof.Date: Tue. She had good news to share. genuine kiss and hug of solidarity reminded me once again that true fortune is found in relationships. sandals flapping.. 18 91 . colorful flowers engraved into the leather. My hunch is the family lives in a shanty with a roof of corrugated tin and a floor of dirt—a very common abode for the poorest of the poor. The roof was repaired just in time for the rainy season PLUS she had just enough money left over to buy a pair of shoes. asked for money. Peggy usual. dragging several full garbage bags and one bucket loaded with empty wine and beer bottles (necessary for conjugating homework). pulled inside the heart of humanity for a fleeting moment. totally stripped of my arrogant superiority within her raw embrace. well before sunrise. lurked my latest Oaxacan adventure: taking out the trash.we missed the truck! Now what? There we stood. clutching our buckets of empty bottles. and stumbling and bumbling. 31 Jan 2006 08:57:43 -0800 (PST) Subject: Trash Pick-Up 1A This morning.. miserable.

something changed. Some of my most mundane Mexican adventures provide my greatest challenges and victories! I’m including a photo of my 90 19 . weary and bleary-eyed. is a muddy swamp resulting from the construction on the property. Then on Easter Sunday. promise. up on the roof—my version of Mexican fireworks. I would be sitting in my favorite internet café or making a call on the public phone and she would walk right up. Not once did I even make eye contact preferring to ignore her or cross the street when I saw her coming. as This is the first and last toilet paper story I will tell. remplazó los trapos por unas sandalias de piel de dos tonos rojo y verdes con flores brillantes y alegres. My solution? I start launching toilet paper. I start the climb to my rooftop room. Like clockwork. Saturday evening. Ella señaló sus pies. los zapatos más hermosos que había visto Mon. etc.. etc. A couple of days later she. etc. ahí estaban. she wrapped and tied rags around her feet. I was beleaguered by a very aggressive woman who seemed to show up wherever I was. the parish puppy. that it was all I could do to carry the dog. I wonder if any of my rooftop community neighbors caught a glimpse of the toilet paper flying through the air. did she have children. and I were walking towards one of the local churches to take in the festivities. 6 Feb 2006 08:39:32 -0800 (PST) ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Walk a Mile in Her Shoes (If She Has Any) For weeks. I am returning from several hours of study at the Reading Room at Santo Domingo Church. roll by roll. About mid-way up. That evening Miel. albeit silent ones.. El techo se reparó antes de la temporada de lluvia. Fueron. ADEMÁS. sin duda. there waiting below. To drop the toilet paper is to lose the toilet paper.Date: Subject: Toilet Paper Fireworks compartir. We continued walking together and parted ways at the church. I realize that something has to give—the backpack or the toilet paper—all priceless—but the stairway is too narrow and too treacherous to safely proceed. She started petting Miel and we struck up a conversation: where did she live. I politely explained that I had none with me. le sobró dinero para comprar un par de zapatos. hand extended. she walked up asking for money. I did notice her feet. at the base of my stairway. Not once did I give money. And. With one arm bracing toilet paper rolls and my other arm balancing my fully loaded backpack (which weighs probably 30 lbs: computer. etc. camera. I pop unto the main house to restock my toilet paper reserves: four rolls. books.). Instead of shoes. All that matters is that my technique worked—I didn’t fall or drop my prized backpack or lose my allocation of toilet paper. I complained about her to my teachers and friends. always demanding money.

no en las riquezas. sincero y un abrazo de solidaridad. su sonrisa se extendió cruzando la plaza hacia mí. Ella me explicó que su techo se rompió con el viento y que su hija estaba enferma sin la protección contra el sol y la lluvia. believe in them and try to follow where they lead. La mirada en su cara y su abrazo de oso vinieron del embalse profundo de la desesperación y la incredulidad. Un par de días más tarde. but I can look up and see the beauty.ascending “staircase” so you can fully appreciate my task. y de hora en adelante la consideraría una amiga y las amigas no nos pedimos dinero. la vi y la saludé. En vez de recurrir a mi típica táctica de pretender que ella no existía. la verdadera fortuna se descubre en las relaciones. I may not reach them. separándonos en la iglesia. I thought this quote quite fitting: "Far away in the sunshine are my highest inspirations. me despojé totalmente de mi superioridad arrogante con su abrazo intenso. me pidió dinero. Esculqué en mi mochila y saqué un billete de quinientos pesos ($50 US). Tuvo buenas noticias que 20 89 . Se lo di con la advertencia que confiaría en que ella repararía el techo. me recordaron que una vez más. Continuamos caminando juntas. Una vez mas. Su beso cálido. Una noche cuando caminaba con Miel. me detuve y le pregunté por qué necesitaba dinero de mí. Mi idea fue que la familia vivía en una choza con el techo de lámina y el piso de tierra. una casa muy común para las personas más pobres. como usualmente. sentí el corazón de la humanidad por un breve momento." --Louisa May Alcott empezamos una conversación: ¿Dónde vive? ¿Tiene niños? Etc. Tan pronto como ella me reconoció. fui humilde.

algo cambió. la mujer se acercó para pedirme dinero. Nunca le di nada de dinero."----Sufi Teaching Camina una milla en sus zapatos Por muchas semanas. However. siempre me pedía dinero. "I did do something.. la cual me parecía verla en todas partes. Me quejé de ella con mis maestros y amigas. fue al perro. I finished my Sunday swizzling down Margaritas while cheering on the Seahawks against the Steelers in the Super Bowl at a local sports bar jammed with crazy Americanos! With the sad exception of my team LOSING. ella los cubría y ataba con trapos. 28 May 2006 17:31:53 -0700 (PDT) Subject: Walk a Mile in Her Shoes (if she has any) "Past the seeker as he prayed came the crippled and the beggar and the beaten. When they struck up Johann Strauss' famous Blue Danube. Noté sus pies. En vez de zapatos.Date: Subject: Blue Danube Mon.he cried. Nunca ni siquiera hice contacto visual para ignorarla o cruzaba la calle cuando la veía. Comenzó a acariciar a Miel y 88 21 . Entonces en Pascua. 6 Feb 2006 10:15:55 -0800 (PST) Date: Sun. Just so you know that I am doing more than launching toilet paper or trying to keep my pants from falling down in the streets. yesterday afternoon I enjoyed the Oaxacan State Orchestra play a sampler of classic songs outside.. under the enormous shade trees of the Zócalo. Me sentaba en mi café de Internet o hacía una llamada en el teléfono público y se acercaba a mí y extendía su mano. "Great God.. Cortésmente le expliqué que no traía nada de dinero. it was a well balanced day in Mexico for me! Best. how is it that a loving creator can see such things and yet do nothing about them?". Peggy Esa noche. Como un exacto reloj. And seeing them.. I wanted to grab the closest person and start waltzing around the plaza. el cachorro de la parroquia y yo caminábamos hacia una de las iglesias locales para ver las actividades. I made you. una mujer muy agresiva me molestaba. I then waltzed solo a few short steps over to the Cathedral and listened to an organ concern sponsored by the Historical Organ Society of Oaxaca--a program that combined classical composers with some contemporary Latino composers. que lo único que pude cargar. Miel.God said.

Live a balanced life — learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. Cheers.Date: Thu. it was evolving into a lizard! "Be aware of wonder. making a special ascent up my stairs and printing off his photo with my postcard maker. Peggy 22 87 ." – Robert Fulghum Subject: Colors & Parades I struck up a conversation with a float-maker this morning on my way back to my room and took this photo of him. He was quite pleased and hopefully will chat with me again soon (or. 9 Feb 2006 13:22:14 -0800 (PST) all I was seeing was a piece of raw wood being carved. The float is for Mardis Gras coming up in two weeks--I try out my Spanish with my street buddies--I knew he was a good amigo because he corrected my pronunciation of fotografia! I rewarded him by dashing to my room. maybe let me ride on his float--better!).

copal. pretty neat that during the presentation on Friday. while Vegetarians may wish to skip this story: Ok. I had no choice so I. I am making my way down a narrow aisle at a market place in the outer part of the city which is HUGE!! I am lost (easy to do on your initial visit to this particular mercado) and find myself in the meat section. sleeping and dreaming while blending into the natural landscape. A friend who accompanied me that morning doubled back and helped me sort out my feet from chicken feet and off we went to the fruit and vegetable section where I did my best to avoid winding up in a pile of watermelons or papayas! Bull in a china shop. This cooperative of artists harvest their wood on a twelve year reforestation rotation plan so the resource is replenished and sustainable. The wood they use. shedding old skin. I happen to believe that various animals "walk" with you to serve as spiritual guides during phases of your life. 11 Feb 2006 10:34:58 -0800 (PST) Date: Sat. Not only are they protecting the tradition of their artisan community but they are also committed to protecting the environment.Date: Subject: Me and the Mercado Sat. Peggy 86 23 . is extremely rare and over harvested by "pirates" in the dead of night. Not only did I have the honor of hearing why and how they continue to create art. Coming right at me is a man pushing a cart full of water jugs--he is not about to slow down so I can get out of the aisle so my choice is to stay put but find myself as mercado "road kill" or back into piles of [dead] chickens. but I got to try my hand at it--all the time keenly aware of not losing my hand to the machete!! That chunk of wood I'm holding is destined to be a colorful lizard! What is also interesting is that "lizard" is an animal that keeps showing up in my life right now. if all kinds of ways. Lizard represents transformation. my market bag and a thousand chicken feet are now entangled as one. So. 27 May 2006 15:48:42 -0700 (PDT) Subject: Eco-Alebrijes Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting a cooperative of artists in the little village of Arrajola who are continuing the family tradition of carving colorful animal figures from wood. picture this. This place sees relatively few "gringas" so the merchants are fascinated at my plight but make no offer to help. Another day in the life of "a gringa in Oaxaca!" Best. Well. alebrijes.

With the help of dedicated partners you can do anything!...Date: Mon. 13 Feb 2006 07:37:45 -0800 (PST) Subject: Zorro Returns Doing what is right is not always easy. Triques. it comes from learning from other's people wisdom….Rev. Marcos. I immediately thought of the popular story in the New Testament about a young man by the name of Zacchaeus who. carried a large banner declaring their support for a “La Otra Campaña (The Other Campaign).. the Ascension being a set-up for the next Sunday’s Pentecost when the Spirit comes down onto the people. My favorite snapshot is of the young boy who climbed a tree in order to see Marcos over the crowd.” Their village is almost purely female because their husbands and sons are working in the United States in order for their families to survive at a subsistence level.Louise Laver Wisdom does not come from knowledge or DEGREES. along with a growing crowd of Mexicans and indigenous peoples (many who traveled by foot or bus for days or hours) to hear the Zapatista revolutionary leader. I'm sure if you Google “Marcos and Zapatistas” you will find lots of information on him and photos of him and the hood he wears to cover his face—a modern day Zorro— the hero of the poor. Ernest Cockrell Last week I waited in the government plaza. It can be heart wrenching and confusing at times. but well worth it! and it takes courage to speak up. erasing all barriers of language and love…. climbs a tree in order to catch a glimpse of Jesus over the crowd. Thirteen local leaders spoke to the crowd.. others in Spanish. some spoke in Zapotec. because he is short. but once you take that step. The women in the photo. you have found a new force in yourself that helps you take a stand and see it through. speak. Peggy 24 85 .Yolanda Chang What goes up just come down” is a starting point.

BIG UPS to you this sunday i send my spirit to be with yours and just let them know that you present to them with the added power of many from your home that send their love to them through the power that is YOU….Rocio Valdovinos 84 25 . My wants and needs seem much less because I am really blessed with so much!!!! Good health is a great gift!!!.Gerry Chartrand My mantra continues to be the best i can do is all i can do and in the end i am fine with that.I appreciate what I can see and hear and touch and move to and what I can ponder and think about. could we go through our day with an open mind and heart? That is the power we can give to others. How good health can be limited or out of commission so in a matter of seconds!! I appreciate each day .Beth Taylor It seems health issues are strong in my head lately.. I see other friends paralyzed from strokes and limited because of bad health or having eye problems and I realize how precious our body and mind are and how strong yet fragile we can be.... the wonders of God's creation that I never observe or see as I drive by in a hurry to get someplace...... Rather..closed minds.. They are empowered by our gift of love….Jerome Flowers TRUST…. I went walking this morning and as I walked I realized how greatful I was to move about on my own two legs and enjoy the beauty of the morning.

. but all the people I've known. observing and accepting were the gifts that you brought to people where ever you went. available and unafraid. Eugenia León and Lila Downs (blessed with a voice from heaven) and a final act—Celsa Piña who rocked the house with his accordion of all things! Sunday night I got wind of a classical guitar concert by Japanese composer and guitarist Atsuasa Nakabayashi held at the most incredibly beautiful Teatro Macedonia Alcalá.Date: Mon. and studying Spanish. you can add culture to my list of Oaxacan treats..html Lila Downs was involved with the music for the movie. 13 Feb 2006 10:00:03 -0800 (PST) Subject: Classic & Pop Culture will compile your [brief] responses and share them with the Oaxaca Holy Trinity congregation this week.. Saturday night I hiked up to the auditorium built on the hill.Kate Avraham Along with politics. the children. Frida and Nakabayashi composed the music for Gregory Peck’s classic The Old Man and the Sea.. overlooking the city lights and under the glow of a full moon. Preacher Peggy Responses: While looking for photos of my favorite aunt who will be 92 tomorrow. Friday I attended an art opening of a local Anglo artist who used North American cave etchings as the inspiration for her work. There were two female singers. We go with expectations and judgments and 26 83 . the people in the store. And look at that. But change is a scouring and is hard all the same…….. That seems so simple. I'm exactly half the age of my Auntie Beth. of course. it hit me that I really have had a wonderful life. I watched the Simpsons in Spanish From the beginning... you have been present there.. Listening.which is God. rocked out to three Oaxaqueña performers.. the places I've been and the experiences I've had combine to make the last 46 years pretty incredible. Wonder what my reflections will be 46 years from now. Thank you for contributing insights now that the end of my Mexican stay is in sight. but how many time do we go through life not really seeing those near by us.com/360/teatro_macedonioalc ala/teatro_macedonio_alcala.. The greeting with the garbage man . Now. Things haven't always turned out the way I might have planned. There is a virtual tour available online worth viewing: http://www. Change is essential and manifests that which is best in us. and. I need to watch both films! Just to reassure you that I am not getting carried away.oaxacamio. the 'cardboard lady' were all times when you were present and in the moment.Cathy Holley The hard bone of life is inexplicably filled with the soft and infinite 'marrow'--. shopping.

not necessarily religious. I spoke extemporaneously relating a story from my childhood about coloring in a picture of Jesus with Superman’s “S” --segueing to the distinction between power and love. I now open my service—two days early: what wisdom percolating in your minds and hearts would you care to share?! On any topic weighing on you. 25 May 2006 18:50:06 -0700 (PDT) Subject: In-Sights Please one evening! I'm attaching a photo I took last night--full moon illuminating the facade of Santo Domingo Church with a group of people enjoying a huge telescope brought out by a local "sidewalk astronomer. I spoke from two pages of notes copiously covering the Old and New Testament readings." – James William Fulbright I will be delivering my third sermon this coming Sunday.. the presiding priest is attending to a family emergency in Texas.. I 82 27 . This Sunday I am in charge of the entire service since Mary Ann. Last week. feeling much more comfortable. For my first sermon. I’m going to offer a Quaker-style alternative where whomever is so moved may offer their insights and reflections for the good of the order.Date: Thu. Unless you say not to. My point: experiencing a simple but not simplistic faith. In lieu of a sermon." Peggy "We must dare to think "unthinkable" thoughts. We must learn to explore all the options and possibilities that confront us in a complex and rapidly changing world. culminating in a story of marching in a local processional on the evening of Easter Sunday.

I know nothing else but miracles. speech therapists. was fitted with glasses--when he realized that he could see for the first time in his young life. The glasses were collected via donations to the Lion's Clubs around the western states.. What stranger miracles are there? --Walt Whitman Subject: And the Blind See Over the past four weeks two teams of USA medical doctors have held open clinics for children suffering with cleft palate and for all people. with vision problems. he clapped his hands. Whether I walk the streets of Oaxaca. Or watch honey bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon. The team was reduced to liquid! Thanks be to God for the medical volunteers: doctors. --Chinese Proverb As for me.. Peggy 28 81 . Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring. Or talk by day with any one I love. laughed out loud and hugged his mother.. The optometric team fitted over 1. etc.000 people with glasses just last week. or to walk on the water. Or of stars shining so quiet and bright. when you see a plea for donating your old glasses--know they really do open up the world for someone else. Or the wonderfulness of the sundown. Or stand under the trees in the woods.. So. nurses. nearly blind. but to walk on the earth. opticians. Mary Ann is assisting in providing translation support between the medical teams and the patients. Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water. adults and children. Or sleep in bed at night with any one I love. Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky. 13 Feb 2006 15:39:48 -0800 (PST) The miracle is not to fly in the air. One little Downs Syndrome boy. Best.Date: Mon.

Date: Subject: Happy Valentine's Day Thu. Happy Valentine's Day! Love. Below are some of my favorite walking quotes including one [modified] poem of Walt Whitman. I have not learned from the locals how to balance things on my head or how to ride a burro. Hola from Oaxaca! I persuaded a young man who was selling Valentine's balloons on the street. at night I drive to the local track and log two miles of walking for exercise. I now recognize the silly irony in that habit! In Mexico. Peggy 80 29 . In general. I do not have access to a car. In California I jump in my truck and drive any number of places to run errands. of course. shop. then I take a bus. Waking up each morning depending on my feet as transportation is quite a paradigm shift and one I hope to keep intact when I return home. I tote along large colorful baskets to carry home my groceries or other wares. 14 Feb 2006 11:15:14 -0800 (PST) Subject: Foot Traffic One ah-ha I've received in Oaxaca has come from my feet. my rule of thumb is to walk unless the destination point is beyond 3 miles. etc. Pedestrian Peggy Hi everyone. to take a picture of me holding the balloons so I could send you all a special greeting from Mexico. 25 May 2006 12:49:47 -0700 (PDT) Date: Tue. I walk and walk and then walk some more. I've learned by watching the locals to stick to the shady side of the street. Then.

I have a ways to go with them because their favorite photo this week was of a 4-year old girl who was on the losing end of a preschool sand war! Today’s quote perfectly sums up what I hope to accomplish over the next few months with "my kids.Date: Tue. clothes. I am using photography as my offering of time to these kids--who trust no one (for good reason)." – William Butler Yeats Allow me to introduce my three newest friends. This week I introduced them to my digital camera and then turned them loose to snap a few pictures which we immediately downloaded into my computer and turned into a slide show. and Luis Enrique. Taken from Community Links web site: www." Send me good energy! Peggy 30 79 . This week I started volunteering for an organization that provides support (food. while simultaneously guaranteeing individual rights and responsibilities. Jose Antonio." the poorest of the poor trying to make a life in the city.org "We taste and feel and see the truth. Miguel Angel. We do not reason ourselves into it. and school supplies) to "street kids. 14 Feb 2006 15:55:43 -0800 (PST) Subject: My Street Kids *“Tequio” --an indigenous value--refers to the practice of lifelong community service for the benefit of the whole.commlinks.

even if it is only kindness!" – Anne Frank Earlier this week I went along with two student groups from Notre Dame and Georgetown Universities on a visit to the largest food bank in Oaxaca. Thought I'd share the picture along with a poem that captured the moment for me. their favored position was to shoot a picture while sprawled flat on the sidewalk focusing up at the sky. ultimately reforming the black plastic bag mountain (from floor to ceiling in the warehouse). I encouraged them to "look up" because we miss so much of life by staying focused on what is straight ahead. Instantly. always give something. In the spirit of tequio* we spent two plus hours sorting donated clothes.. When we got back. 25 May 2006 10:24:00 -0700 (PDT) Date: Mon. great and small. Spend a day looking more up than down and you will be surprised at what you see. 27 Feb 2006 10:53:52 -0800 (PST) Subject: Mountain of Clothes "How lovely to think that no one need wait a moment. The one they liked best was of the sun shining through the tree. And you can always. Best. can make their contribution toward introducing justice straightaway. start slowly changing the world! How lovely that everyone. At first I felt like I was in the department store version of Wall Street with everyone shouting out "Men's Shirt" or "Women's Skirt" or "Boy's Pants" and bits and pieces of "ropa" flying everywhere. But. I identified less with a Wall Street trader and more with Sisyphus! Today I took my "street kids" out for our weekly photo fun. Peggy 78 31 . passing bag after bag assembly line fashion. I had them select their favorite picture. we can start now. Our goal: to organize and reduce the mountain of plastic bags crammed with clothing.. My directive was to take pictures of trees within the confines of one block around the facility.Date: Subject: Street Trees Thu. when we lined up as a human chain.

the trick is to internalize the quote below--in English AND Spanish. Karina. Into the windows of homes." Now. 32 77 . From left: Ale. unsullied from its tireless journey. It has already circled the Earth and Looked upon distant lands and Far-away peoples."Morning" by Clinton Lee Scott Date: Subject: Spanish Team Sun. The works of honest men and women and The conspiracy of knaves. Peggy "The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place. Not ONCE did they make me feel incompetent or silly. It comes to us. Alfonso. Peace. It has been witness to both good and evil. And also the hovels of the poor. and Manuel. It has beheld cities with gleaming towers. They were the greatest quartet--most of the weeks I had Ale for conversation and Karina for grammar. Messenger of the morning. Now. Bringing a new and unspoiled day. and. bomb-blasted villages And "the destruction that wasteth at noonday. Harbinger of a new day. and factories. 21 May 2006 07:41:05 -0700 (PDT) Hola to all! Friday was my "graduation" from Spanish studies and Saturday my team of teachers surprised me by showing up at the front gate and taking me out to dinner. And shops. It has passed over mountain ranges and The waters of the seven seas. me. It has seen marching armies." – Lady Dorothy Nevill From the East comes the sun. It has shown upon laborers in the fields. but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment. I had fun teaching them some of our more interesting idioms.

Un hombre muy viejo y muy borracho me pidió matrimonio. Tradicionalmente.” Cuando mi amiga. Anoche. muchas personas se sentaban en las gradas mirando los bailarines ambos tradicionales y contemporáneos. mis amigos y yo manejamos a Zaachila para ver la celebración de Mardis Gras.” Mardis Gras es el ultimo día antes de la Cuaresma. Denise. Escuchamos que el espectáculo en Zaachila es grande. la gente se aprovecha del día con las fiestas incluso bebiendo mucho.governments around the world would drop balloons rather than bombs! ¡Ojalá! Date: Subject: Mardis Gras: mi esposa por un dia Mon. me dice. “Tu acabas de aceptar ser su esposa.” nos reímos y yo le di mi collar de las cuentas moradas. Mardis Gras is the first day of 76 33 . comiendo. Mardis Gras es un día loco verdaderamente. We call this day Fat Tuesday or another name more popular is Mardis Gras. y comportándose tonta y loca.27 Feb 2006 10:47:04 -0800 (PST) Hoy es un día especial por los cristianos en del mundo. Primero. Mardis Gras: My Spouse for a Day Today is a special day for Christians around the world. Cuando llegamos a Zaachila. Nosotros lo llamamos el dia “Martes gordo” [Fat Tuesday] o un nombre más popular es “Mardis Gras. Los bailarines contemporáneos son hombres se vistieron como las mujeres. yo no lo comprendí así contesto “si.

munch on corn-on-the-cob dusted with chili. These cylindrical shaped balloons defy gravity. Tonight. parents and grandparents visit with friends and family. visitors and residents alike. Mardis Gras really is a crazy day! "The power of imagination makes us infinite. The contemporary dancers were men dressed as women. eating. “yes. Workers driving home from neighborhood construction sites slowed down and smiled.” When my friend. “You just agreed to become his wife” we all laughed and I gave him a set of purple beads. Tyler (see photo). When we arrived at Zaachila. I didn’t understand what he was asking so I answered. my friends and I are driving to Zaachila to see the celebration because we hear that it is a great event. Texans walking dogs and riding bikes did smiling double-takes at our balloon launch…. No one is either strange or a stranger. First. Wouldn’t it be great if 34 75 . laugh and cheer at street theater. play chess. many people were sitting in the grandstands watching traditional and contemporary dancers. settle into a park bench and watch while kids of all ages bat “globos” into the air. While the kids run and play. I’ve seen some blasted so high that the massive tree limbs towering over the plaza are the winners of the capture-the-globo competition. Denise. Traditionally. people mark this day with parties which include a lot of drinking. made me an offer of marriage.a miniature Zócalo community was transported to Houston. a taco truck driver leaned far out her window and waved.Date: Subject: Global Globos Fri. the central plaza of town. dance to the state marimba band. 19 May 2006 07:49:56 -0700 (PDT) Lent. When in Texas last week I took my 2 ½ year old grandson. the sense of community pulls everyone in. and acting silly and crazy. to the park to play catch with a Blues Cube globo I brought from Oaxaca. said to me. One man." – John Muir One of my favorite evening activities is to stroll to the Zócalo. running to catch them before they hit the pavement. old and very drunk.

. All too often we shrug off our small victories. every day a little.. Why? Little victories: I actually tossed trash into the garbage truck for the first time. I'm not sure what it is exactly that erodes the walls of suspicion. Bigger challenges: I officiated at the Ash Wednesday service by myself last night because the priest.. maybe not the clerk in the Piticoe bakery but I still have a month!). 2 Mar 2006 10:59:36 -0800 (PST) Hola! On Monday I was feeling like I couldn't possibly keep my current pace up but today I'm back with more confidence." – Isak Dinesen 74 35 . indeed. whistled down the water man and bought three bottles of water. and.but knowing it is possible on the most micro level--between two people--gives me HOPE that it is possible to accomplish it on the macro level--between nations--global peace--a lofty goal. Peggy "When you have a great and difficult task. if you only work a little at a time.. suddenly the work will finish itself. Peggy Thu. but NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE! Much love & affection.. Mary Ann is in Texas (and I did not get ashes into anyone's eyes!) and I met with the three prison groups solo--one prisoner told me that my Spanish was getting much better! Plus. I survived an amazing thunder and lightening storm that rocked the city at 1:30 this morning-there is something good to living on the roof. Take care. Keep in mind ALWAYS that the small things build gusto and confidence for the bigger challenges.Date: Subject: Small Victories (well.DON'T. something perhaps almost impossible.

I look like I have chicken pox! (What's the story about malaria down here??) I added a few words from the Zapotec language to my vocabulary! That was fun. This quote fits the bill for me these days as I'm now stepping out of the security of the Mexican culture into the indigenous world. I've humbly discovered in Mexico that the arbitrary but ever so resilient boundaries of race. Growth demands a temporary surrender of security. "If we don't change. sleeping in a cot that certainly had to provide a resting place for Father Serra centuries back." The BIG IDEAS of respect. I think it is especially interesting that the more I struggle and sweat it out within conversations. we are not really living. add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee. Not even once have I been turned away in disappointment--people always respond eventually to my overtures of friendship 36 73 . for now I'm trading in Buenos Dias for Hey Y'all until saddling up and heading back to Mexico on Sunday for my final month.. language. ignore the small daily differences we can make which. and PEACE are gained. 8 May 2006 09:45:06 -0700 (PDT) Subject: Place Value Matters We must not. gender.Date: Subject: Hi y'all Sun. I'm back from an "interesting" trip to the state of Vera Cruz where I stayed a few days at a Jesuit Retreat Center. So. trust. person-by-person. If we don't grow. class." – Gail Sheehy I like this quote because as a "big idea" person. Vera Cruz..recede into the background time after time as "relationship" is the point of contact between me and "strangers. – Marian Wright Edelman* Just a note to let you all know that I am visiting my family in Texas this week. we don't grow. in authentic and sincere dialogue (authentic=listening more than speaking). And. in trying to think about how we can make a big difference. grasping to make sense in Spanish. I snapped a photo of a statue in front of the government building. over time. I look like an "after" picture for someone who DID NOT use mosquito repellant. 12 Mar 2006 13:03:53 -0800 (PST) Date: Mon. the more people appear willing to let down their guard. Looks like Ponce de Leon should have been looking for the fountain of youth in Xalapa. economics.

As a tourist. Thought you might enjoy a few photos I snapped. National holiday festivities today commemorate his bicentennial birthday. It was suggested that Americans stay away from the demonstrations but I don't accept that as an answer towards improving relationships between our two countries. you are not allowed to show any political interests or you could be deported.000 foot level) to the tiny village of Guelatao.Date: Subject: Fisticuff Fiesta Thu. pure Zapotec. Uriel instantly sized up the situation and pulled me back from the main crush but we lost sight of our friends. There is great turmoil within Mexico (mirrored by the Zapatistas in Chiapas) due to a history of oppression towards the indigenous. This is background to help frame what happened next. isn't considered a political act. so far at least. 4 May 2006 13:07:25 -0700 (PDT) Date: Tue. 'We will never give up. Juárez.'" – Jim Collins What I thought was going to be a grand fiesta today turned out to be a lesson in Mexican politics. We arrived just as President Fox was airlifting out flanked by a trio of helicopters. Benito Juárez. We will never capitulate. Uriel and I remained helplessly 72 37 . 2 Americans. and 1 Mexican) jammed into a jeep early this morning winding 60 kilometers up (10. especially in rural regions. Five of us (2 Australians. but we will find a way to prevail. a surge of humanity rolled directly toward us. is revered especially by the indigenous people. This being a year for national elections has ratcheted up the anger..but offering a smile. It might take a long time. "There is a sense of exhilaration that comes from facing head-on the hard truths and saying.. 21 Mar 2006 15:03:29 -0800 (PST) Subject: Day Without an Immigrant Monday was a big holiday in Mexico--their annual Labor Day plus support for their American counterparts. Before I and my friends could get our bearings (we’re innocently looking around for the dance area). On ground level what appeared to be the entire Mexican legislator began exiting the outdoor auditorium four or five abreast down a narrow pedestrian walkway. the birth home of Oaxacaño native son and former Mexican president.

1872 “El respecto al derechos ajenos es la paz” ”Respect for the rights of all is peace” 38 71 . 1806 . The exodus of politicians and soldiers finally thinned providing room to regroup at the banks of the beautiful spring-fed. There are too many. Marching directly behind the politicians were machine-gun toting soldiers (with bugles in one hand. guns in the other!!) so I was greatly relieved when the young dignitary wisely decided to swallow his pride and keep walking.” Later that day. of Mitla but sells shawls on Cinco de Mayo Street near my house. Her box was torn up and piled next to the trash can. natural lagoon and swap stories of what we’d each seen from our different vantage points. Benito Juárez March 21. The only casualty turned out to be one of my earrings! Maybe this type of public interaction is typical for Mexico and their legislators are accustomed to orange pulp assaults. She wasn’t there. I went to find the woman in the box. the bureaucrats had enough sense to keep moving. “They have nothing to give because everything has been taken away. but admittedly each of us were pretty wide-eyed. two women asked me for money. “Please.July 18. Fortunately.” I cut a piece of cardboard from the box to remind me of Adela’s wisdom and of the desperate lives everywhere. One beleaguered young politico who took an orange square in his back did pivot and glare.pinned against a wall watching the politicians being showered with obscenities and rotten fruit. While we were talking. I said to Adela that it is impossible for me to give money to everyone who begs in the streets of Oaxaca. They have nothing to give because everything has been taken away. They beg because they have nothing to give. I held my breath and muttered “uh oh” to Uriel because I felt it would take just one retaliatory action to incite the hostile crowd to serious violence. I remembered the words of Adela. She responded (in Spanish). Another day in Mexico! Whew. understand.

Hay demasiados. She sits. I stand. who lives in the tiny town 70 39 . Ella me contestó. I stopped and chatted with my friend. We feel pain and joy. Somewhere. we both have been children. I pass her almost every day. por favor”. We are both women. Ella no estaba ahí. I’m not a mute.Oaxaca. Then. Su cartón fue derribado y amontonado cerca del bote de la basura. “Entienda. Recordé las palabras de Adela. Adela. fui a buscar a la mujer de la caja de cartón. We hope that when we die. The cardboard box On the sidewalk of a street near the city center is a cardboard box. Inside the box lives an elderly woman. wedged in that space between the woman and me. The question is clear but the answer isn’t easy. “Ellos no tienen nada que dar porque todo se lo han quitado. sometimes I slow down and even stop. What should I do? Give her money? Food? Supportive words? Prayers? I need an answer.” Corté un pedazo del cartón para recordar la sabiduría de Adela y las vidas desesperadas por todas partes. We don’t look at each other but in realty we know each other. is the meaning of faith. She never looks up and I don’t look down. and probably we are both mothers. Ellos mendigan porque no tienen nada que dar. we will be missed. we want our lives to be happy and meaningful. Ellos no tienen nada que dar porque todo se lo han quitado. Yesterday.” Más tarde. while walking to my room. why don’t we look or speak to each other? She isn’t invisible. Therein lurks both a question and an answer.

En alguna parte dentro de esa mujer y yo. Nunca nos miramos. By the way. Es necesario que yo encuentre la respuesta. Yo no soy muda. 23 Mar 2006 12:56:06 -0800 (PST) Subject: Play Ball! La caja de cartón En la banqueta de una calle cerca del Zócalo hay una caja de cartón. I've attached a couple of pictures--the only difference between baseball at home and here is that at home you can't buy homemade tamales from a Zapotec woman who brings her steaming pot right into the stands! Peggy 40 69 . ambas hijas y probablemente somos madres. Ella está sentada.. Ayer. Aquí hay una pregunta y una respuesta. Le dije a Adela que era imposible darle dinero a cada mendigo que anda por las calles de I forgot to mention in my e-mail about the event where I watched Mexican politicians pelted with rotten fruit and soldiers marching by with machine guns--I proudly was wearing my new official Sherman Oaks t-shirt. "Play Ball" in Spanish is. Mientras hablábamos.I'm going down as a global member of the Sherman Oaks family! Today I am wearing a Guerreros baseball team t-shirt. afuera de la caja. un pueblo pequeño. If I'm going down." If you don't believe me. existe el sentido de la fe. 29 Apr 2006 10:29:00 -0700 (PDT) Date: Thu. I'm sending Cathy the sports section which runs that headline.. ¿Entonces. Somos ambas mujeres.. Ella nunca mira hacia arriba y yo no miro hacia abajo. Fuera de esa caja vivo yo. Dentro de esa caja vive una mujer anciana. me paré y charlé con mi amiga Adela que vive in Mitla. ¿Qué debo hacer? ¿Le deberé algo de dinero? ¿Comida? ¿Palabras de apoyo? ¿Oraciones?. Sentimos el dolor y la alegria.. queremos que nuestras vidas sean felices y significativas. Deseamos que cuando muramos."Play Ball. A group of us cheered on the local team last night for the season opener. ella vende rebozos en la calle Cinco de Mayo cerca de mi casa.. nos echen mucho de menos.Date: Subject: La caja de cartón (en español) Sat.. La pregunta es clara pero la respuesta no es fácil. por qué nunca nos miramos o hablamos ? Ella no es invisible. dos mujeres me pidieron dinero. Yo estoy de pie. pero en realidad nos conocemos. al caminar a mi cuarto.

I am convinced that. 27 Mar 2006 08:41:08 -0800 (PST) Within a four block radius of my room. Starting at 5:45 am Sunday. Next up. etc. as if to say. La Sangre de Cristo. lightening and rain so with impeccable timing and. Once dry. and colonial era church bells. Every piece of clothing could pass as a plaster cast sculpture. through two doorways and up one level of cement steps. not only met the bell challenge but answered with a series of cherry bombs that exploded with enough racket to wake not only the living but the dead! Not to be outdone. there are at least five of the twenty colossal-sized Roman Catholic churches that are located in Oaxaca City. Carmen Alto and Santo Domigo led the airways with clanging and banging to rouse up the [soundly] sleeping neighborhood to my west. My scorecard reads: The Angels 1. in unison. one at a time—gives a whole new meaning to “wash by hand. opened fire with their firecrackers. Mon. Very artistic.” Once you are satisfied (and I use that word very loosely). Within minutes. cherry bombs. twist. but allow me to beat you to the punch: NEVER!! I’ll take my chances with the laundry service and keep closer tabs on the dog. it is time to wring the water out of each item. and Soledad Basilica to the south joined the cacophony with their pealing of bells and explosion of fireworks.” Squeeze. to the east. (8) Repeat steps 1-6 but don’t use soap—this is purely a “rinse cycle. You are free to ask me when I will do my laundry again. could simply be stood up next to the bed for quick dressing. We’ve just recently experienced a daily diet of thunder. the Fire Department could use this self-serve laundry approach because pants. (7) Repeat steps 1-6. twist.Date: Subject: Hell's Bells and twist machine back inside. various priests participate in a parish competition to see who can ring their bells the earliest. “NO ONE OUT DOES ME!” the sky was split in half with a zagged bolt of lightening followed by a fierce clap of thunder ending the contest. As of this past Sunday. The Padres 0! 68 41 . to the north. the loudest. Next hang up the clothes on the two lines strung up adjacent to the main house. the Cathedral. shirts. In fact. and the longest—a brass-and-crash morning crescendo. during Lent. squeeze. Our Lady Guadalupe. San Matias Jalatlaco. take the clothes down off the line and marvel at how very stiff they are.

I worked on as many women as I could fit into the approximately 30 minutes we allow for our visit (see photo below). (4) unplug and roll. the women (we serve 67 of the more than 50+ who are incarcerated) were a combination of sick and/or depressed. (3) plug in for automatic thrashing. That is it.but the ”gift of touch” did brighten up their prison yard for a moment in time. Most have families they never see and may never see again. For you linear types. shreds of one-half nightgown. 42 67 . six t-shirts. while Mary Ann went ahead with the prayers for Eucharist. I decided that today was a good time to announce that in one of my other lives I am a practicing massage therapist. So. undergarments for five days. dodging muddy backsplashes. Down here laundry in general is done for you. the women were pulling off their sweaters and coats. 22 Apr 2006 15:31:52 -0700 (PDT) Wed. Lest my return trip home in June be a page out of the Emperor’s New Clothes. pull and twist the machine from the “laundry room” to the yard. In January I started out with four pair of cotton pants. The nuance is that the agitator has to be manually drained which means unplugging it and wrestling it outside into the yard where the gray water can be dumped into a hole in the ground.Date: Date: Subject: Where is my Maytag?! Sat. I recently resolved to wash my own laundry. I don’t recall seeing any towels with your order”) and puppy Miel appropriating my linens as her personal chew toys. tucking their braids into their shirts and lining up to take advantage of my offer. I can only imagine—spring is in the air and they face day-after-day. (6) roll. year-after-year in a concrete box that does not invite any sort of celebration of life.00 USA). pull. here is the sequence: (1) fill agitator with water using hose. As a result of laundry loss (“No. Mary Ann owns an agitator which is a metal barrel mounted on four tiny rollers. push. and one towel. 29 Mar 2006 10:59:07 -0800 (PST) Subject: Healing Touch Today at our weekly prison visit. I won’t take credit for breaking down the raw pain and isolation these women face…. one nightgown and four towels. (5) connect the hose and aim the water into the hole. a week’s worth of undergarments. I asked if of them would like me to work on their shoulders and neck and. Take in your bag full of dirty clothes and wedge the bag into a scale hanging over the counter. Your bill is by the kilo (10-12 pesos per kilo/90 cents-$1. push. (2) add soap. I now have three pairs of pants. in an instant.

wrestle off the top of the tinaco (container that holds water) to make sure it is empty.reminiscent of the poor rusty Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. slosh…over to the cistern. 30 Mar 2006 18:10:25 -0800 (PST) I know many of you contributed toiletries for the men and women at the prison. Occasionally. we always give the bounty to Antonio—el jefe (the leader) and he doles it out to his compañeros. out of the corner of my eye. turn on the pump and transfer enough water to provide me with a second. You have to understand that in the prison the women receive one meal a day period.Date: Subject: Things we take for granted so this is a double climb). The one 66 43 . water flow is a function of the tinaco pump needing a restart. soap. One older female inmate accepted her bag and immediately rushed over to a friend where I could see. they were turning each item over and over in their hands with great wonder. Once outside in the blistering sun. the other men--they come in all sizes—short. Instead of distributing individual bags to the ten or twelve men we see weekly. but the women have no source of business income. everything else must be purchased out of their own funds—if they have no family to help. dirtfree shower. and since the rains aren’t due until June. tough luck.slosh. tattoos—huddled around Antonio but they insisted that I tell him twice “Antonio. A friend and I carefully sorted and made up individual bags filled with an assortment of shampoo. the other trick is to move FAST before I harden and am locked into mud armor-. skinny. When I gave Antonio the toiletries.” They were just like little kids wanting insurance of fairness and waiting excitedly for their tiny bottles of shampoo and lotion. you must share. that isn’t a reasonable option. The men are able to make money by sewing together soccer balls. The men receive two meals a day gratis but the same rules apply—if you want more. not lack of water. slosh. and lotions (all the things you leave behind in hotels). pay for it. After ascertaining that the tinaco is indeed empty—I retreat down the ladder and stairs…. tall. Another victory! Thu. I might be immobilized until a rainfall washes me free. heavy.

This area is suffering through a drought and occasionally the city water gods turn off the pipeline causing a flotilla of tanker trucks to roll through the streets manually filling cisterns (big holding tanks in the ground). for bathing. Then for 30 to 50 pesos. It's the way it is. city water suffices. 20 Apr 2006 09:35:32 -0700 (PDT) "Life is not the way it's supposed to be. was so moved that he ping-ponged between tears and an ear-to-ear grin. He let me snap a picture of him (below) after he pulled on his shoes. thank you for your donations! Little things are HUGE to those who have nothing.Date: Subject: AGUA. I’ve come to develop a keen appreciation of water. First I climb a ladder on top of my roof (remember my room is already on another person’s roof 44 65 . No one drinks tap water. Thu. So. I trade in my empty water cooler bottles for full ones. I dash outside and unleash my Sierra summer time-to-bring-the-dogs-home whistle. But. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference. a purer form is bought off the streets from young men who peddle special 3-wheeled “cargo” bicycles up and down the streets yelling “AGUA! AGUA!” When I hear their street advertisement." – Virginia Satir Living in Oaxaca City. The trick is to avoid showering when the city system is low because you emerge from the shower looking like the creature from the dark lagoon. It never fails to stop them in their tracks. POR FAVOR gentleman. who received a new pair of tennis shoes. coated with muddy grit. This morning was one of those days when I morphed into mud woman. Oscar.

hurtling down the two-lane road. we were sitting outside one of the biggest churches in town—Soledad Basilica—savoring old-fashioned handcranked coconut ice cream. crammed with four other people in the cab. but Cathy said “NO MAS” so we headed home leaving the streets yet crammed full of families enjoying a community event of faith [and food]. Thirty minutes later I was eyeing pancakes covered with a thick sugar and cream syrup. pressed and grilled right in front of you on a comal heated red hot over wood coals. Tacos. passing burros. and chickens. tlayudas (pizza-like dish). I was in heaven. pueblos. The kids were divided into two classes—younger and st th older (looked like maybe 1 grade to 5 and 50 or 60 children).Date: Subject: School Visit your way across the city. but that is an understatement. chili rellenos…each corn tortilla is formed. I was able to quickly count the number of books in the library—37—all donated through a project at the English Lending Library (gathering place for Canadian and American expatriates) back in the city. chorizo con papas (spicy sausage cooked with potatoes) and smothered in mole and topped with squash blossoms…tamales steamed in banana leaves…. papayas. memelas (like tacos but thicker). passing on the right. sweet pineapples. A church group from Chicago is coming down in July to offer their services to complete a volunteer project at this school and we were the advance team.45 minutes out of the city…we were dropped off on the side of the road and then walked another 45 minutes along a dusty road through corn fields. For the record. 64 45 . watermelons. I can’t envision slogging through the mud—but that is what the teachers do to reach the school. on blind curves… I sought reassurance from Mary Ann as to our odds of survival. fresh. and mangos effortlessly sliced and bagged in whatever combination you desired…café de la olla (coffee brewed with cinnamon and sugar in a clay jug)… Near midnight. During the rainy season. horses. Fri. to the tiny two-room school tucked at the base of a hill. Once at our destination…. meeting with the two teachers to solicit their ideas. That experience in and of itself is worth a separate description but suffice to say at one point. on the left. we visited 12 churches! I would say I caught a glimpse of heaven that night. stuffed with fresh Oaxacan cheese. 31 Mar 2006 09:58:21 -0800 (PST) Earlier this week Mary Ann and I hopped a colectivo (a taxi that is licensed to only travel roundtrip between a central staging area in the city to outlaying villages.

I spotted a couple of calculators and very old work books. The students were all smiles and anxious to ask my name and introduce themselves. and each church was packed. all earned the right to be appreciated from your knees. and moving out. doubled blessed by a full equatorial moon. from floor to ceiling.Date: Subject: Soul Food Fri. these children and teachers. we zig-zagged around the city streets. A couple of mothers were grilling tortillas on an open fire to sell to the children who had a peso or two for a snack. To our delight and surprise. visiting churches. awesome gold and silver brilliance etched into every inch. joining throngs of people. On Thursday night. Some student work was on display in the classroom of the younger children that suggested a lesson on vocabulary. things were just getting started. meticulous efforts to create creative altars thematic for Holy Week. reciting prayers. multicolored tapestries and murals. But. After all. we left two hours later with the hopes of catching the tail end of the church visits. I surprised the class of older children (the teacher stepped out to talk with Mary Ann) and instantly turned into “Principal Peggy” to reprimand one boy who was taking advantage of his moment of freedom by tossing wads of paper at a girl across the room. For the next three hours. ivory statues inlaid with jewels. alas…that would be too difficult with the cost of shipping so I will do my part by contributing some books to the Lending Library book collection…and appreciating my personal and professional abundance! Holy Week in Oaxaca is full of homegrown traditions. Special chapels within the centuries old colonial churches were opened for the evening. visit seven churches.made me long for one wish: to transport our extras/unwanted to this school. At recess the kids kicked around plastic bottles in lieu of balls. School is school…no matter where. Cathy and I started out Thursday evening with a 7:30 PM baseball game. baseball is religion to some people! After polishing off three of the best empanadas in town (the baseball stadium empanadas are even listed in tour books). Thinking of all the bountiful resources stuffed behind the white boards at Sherman Oaks or in closets…. Kids are kids. young and old. 21 Apr 2006 09:23:08 -0700 (PDT) There is one old computer which is of a vintage predating Sherman Oaks. Each church took painstaking. PACKED with people moving in. Springing up around each church were temporary markets with so many different types of foods that you could easily eat 46 63 . It is being moved to the director/teacher’s office because it is all he has for his work and he is afraid it will break if the children use it. “the faithful” (which as best I could tell included toda el mundo—EVERYBODY—in and about the city).

" – Mahatma Gandhi 62 47 . But if you do nothing. Paz! Peggy "You may never know what results come from your action. I will be different. I already am. When I come home in June. action. there will be no result. and love.blessings of faith.

I was issued a symbolic white flag and sage clipping and for two and a half hours about 400 of us paraded around town. the young twirling women. My current strategy is to choose a discarded brick off the rubble heap and launch it strategically into the midst of the territory held by the insect mercenaries which clears out a narrow pathway for me to explode across…to safe haven of the ladder that a climb to my room. and blessings. Once dusk eases into darkness and the work crew head for home. We sang. 31 Mar 2006 10:20:11 -0800 (PST) Date: Wed. an army of cockroaches emerge. At the end of the procession. heat and rain has caused quite a flurry of activity in animal land. children. The obvious problem is: they move and if one of those brittle beasts scuttles over my toes. Once inside. songs. This time in Mexico is saturating me with the 48 61 . lit their metallic headwear creating human pyrotechnics. over and between the giant bugs. we filled the church to standingroom-only for more prayers.Date: Subject: Pascua en Oaxaca Fri. I actually have to stop and mentally calculate the safest stepping route around. sitting on a heavenly throne. A brass band played. the two of us hiked up to Carmen Alto Catholic Church where I planned to watch an Easter processional. howling dogs. I heard. slither or swing My room is a quite comfortable concrete and plaster box plopped on the roof of the main house. I am welcomed home by a congenial family of daddy. with the church’s puppy Miel firmly tucked into her doggy pack.longlegs whose webs form an artistic maze Easter night. Parents. led by a group of male pluma dancers and young women twirling about with various confections balanced on their heads—flowers. crowns. friends. this Anglican. and at least one tired puppy—retired to the street to eat stacks of pancakes. The combination of construction. Priests chanted prayers. Some nights when I’m coming in particularly late. and shattering fireworks. This would be of no real interest to me except that I often am moving about myself after dark. The main house sits a goodly ways from the street and three other apartments are currently being restored on the property. blaring music. crosses. families. An altar boy rang bells. smelled and touched the living power of religion in this country. my unearthly shrieks will add to the nightly cacophony of blasting horns. A statue of the resurrected Jesus. was hoisted high on the shoulders of young men. Last Sunday. Instantly. grandparents. 19 Apr 2006 15:26:10 -0700 (PDT) Subject: Critters that scuttle. wailing alarms. Outside in the plaza. Cherry bombs EXPLODED and a gigantic bonfire was lit turning night into day until the fire finally died out. tasted.

At the end of the month. baby geckos race each other around the concrete floor doing their best to avoid me as I accord them the same respect.(who can read). we will participate in the prison’s Day of the Child festivities— Cathy bought out Affordable Treasures. The geckos and spiders capture and munch on mosquitoes. And. so all 500 kids with parents in prison (some have both mom and dad incarcerated) will receive some goody. linking the corners of my ceiling. a supply house in Los Gatos. most recently. and gnats…so I [warily] welcome them as silent roommates--as long as they stay off my bed!! 60 49 . flies.

. scrambled around cleaning everything up. I did have to issue a principal-intonation reprimand when I saw they were littering their grounds with tiny bits of colored foil. future. Well. I wonder when those prison walls ever heard so much laughter. from shampoo to hair clips to packs of gum—goes unappreciated. I’m melting. they were no more patient than kids and before I could count uno.Date: Subject: Scrambled Eggs Fri. The latest in Easter bonnet fashion! Your generous cash donation will pay for their fresh fruit and vegetables for nearly a year.. I’m melting… Here is a picture of Ale editing one of my English-toSpanish stories. debris from the candy.I’m melting. I instructed the men to cover their eyes and WAIT for my signal once Cathy and I “hid” the candy-stuffed eggs. subjective. reciprocal. A donation of Spanish language Bibles from a supporter in Texas is allowing us to distribute Bibles to those men and women in our weekly fellowship group 50 59 . For once she is the victim! We staged the prison egg hunt last Wednesday. 31 Mar 2006 10:06:45 -0800 (PST) Date: Wed. giggling and complete chaos. 19 Apr 2006 15:17:08 -0700 (PDT) Subject: Graduation!! Good news! This week I graduated from the beginning Spanish book to intermediate! The assumption is that I’ve mastered the grammar and language construction in Book One (I haven’t) but let’s follow-the-yellow-brickroad from present. and then resumed trading peanut butter eggs for jelly beans or vice versa. Luis even strutted around with a Ramada Inn shower cap on his head while gobbling up candy peeps.. and past verb tenses to reflective. Thanks for all your donations—not one single item. They hung their heads and kicked the dirt while I delivered my lecture but quickly recovered. dos. tres…a stampede ensued and 100 eggs were scooped up amidst good-natured jockeying for position.

yes. Finally.Date: Subject: Seeing is Believing I noticed this week that Adela (see photo) didn’t show up to her usual street location where she sells her shawls to the parade of tourists. Closing out the procession were pinto ponies with riders dressed up as American Indians—feather head-dresses. when I walk—I keep my head down. Adela took the hour bus trip into town to try and sell enough shawls to buy flowers for the funeral. llamas. I still have two and a half months left! 58 51 . language. Blessed are those that mourn.staring down at me was…. When I hit the intersection I stopped—still looking at my feet—waiting for traffic to stop. Keeping step with Señior Dumbo was a string of Shetland ponies. as usual. tears spilled over her face--a leathery face hardened from years of poverty. I looked up… up …UP. Arbitrary categories of race. the poor. yes…an elephant. Over the weekend. Yes. 2 Apr 2006 18:16:40 -0700 (PDT) How humbling to be blessed by the embrace of “the other” – the sick. for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.reminiscent of Wild Bill Hitchcock and Annie Oakley’s Wild. yesterday she reappeared. As proof this tale is NOT an April Fool’s joke. spears…. Matthew 5:3-5 Saturday early afternoon. bows and arrows. checking for safe clearance. She patted the sidewalk inviting me to sit down beside her. yet. for they shall inherit the earth. and Bengal tigers. ethnicity.. war paint. I kept a two-for-one ticket tossed to me by a clown on a camel.. camels. When I asked about her absence. but not hardened to love of family. Wild West Show ages ago. Blessed are the poor in spirit. When the light changed. from them. for they shall be comforted. Sun. possibly disappearing forever into any number of sidewalk potholes which I would politely characterize as chasms. They have nothing to give. and socioeconomics fell away into a city street in Mexico. I receive everything I need. This posture works best to avoid falling. her mother-in-law died. I wish for each of you an equal blessing. The circus was coming to town. the imprisoned…society’s forgotten and forsaken.an elephant. Going nose-to-knee with an elephant in the streets of Mexico might just be the ultimate animal story I can offer…but then again. Blessed are the meek.grieving together the loss of a mother. two human beings…. leaving behind two women. I was walking back to my room and.

sí. arriba. Después desfilaron antes mí: los ponies.. . ¡El circo había llegado! Por último. ARRIBA. Cuando me detuve a esperar el tráfico.. tigres de Bengalas. Sí. como usualmente cuando camino—especialmente cuando tengo mi mochila pesada—voy con la cabeza hacia abajo. miré hacia arriba.Ver es creer En la mañana del sábado. camellos. Justo cuando pensaba que había visto todo. Esta postura me funciona mejor para distribuir la carga de mi mochila y evitar que me caiga... me topo con un elefante en Oaxaca. posiblemente desapareciendo para siempre en los baches de las aceras. sí. pasaban los caballos y los jinetes vestidos como los indios americanos.un elefante en la calle de la ciudad de Oaxaca. y las llamas. caminaba a mi cuarto después de pasar una hora en la biblioteca.un elefante me miraba. 52 57 .

I was very proud of myself! It was shortlived. toe-tapping. While the point of that e-mail was to celebrate my ability to complete a transaction in Spanish. cranked up auxiliary speakers to maximum volume and unleashed a number of “Cantos para Celebar Misa” [Songs for Celebrating Mass] that beat back the noise of raw human heartache and WON! There were shy smiles. well. knowing nods..... 4 Apr 2006 13:42:13 -0700 (PDT) Subject: Living the Beatitudes Earlier this week I made reference to buying a CD recording in Spanish of songs from a Catholic folk mass.Date: Subject: Climbing a Sand Dune Fri.accent is everything! Oh. they hummed. remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.. and when they forgot the words. On Saturday (post-Senior Dumbo).. "When we long for life without difficulties. the learning process is similar to (I read this metaphor in an article) climbing a sand dune.. Then I finished the day unable to dredge up the word for "change" (cambio) so stomped home disgusted with myself for knowing the word for elephant but not something as practical as 56 53 . the wedding was lovely. swaying and SINGING. 7 Apr 2006 08:47:46 -0700 (PDT) Date: Tue... Hope that an offering of music would challenge the dismal oppression that systematically suffocates these prisoners whom I now call parishioners.. In the Women’s Section... In the Men’s Section—even those young men who never bother to raise their head from stitching their soccer balls —joined in the singing.specifically in regards to learning a second language.I said "órgano". I was the one having to keep my eyes down to avoid totally dissolving. my motivation was hope. This Wednesday at our weekly visit I fired up my iPod. I revisited the store where I bought my black priest collar the very first week here in January (remember that story?). Voices lifted in song infiltrated the guard towers and escaped through the barbed wire.he heard "novio". I asked a man for directions to an organ concert at one of the local churches and wound up sitting in the pew as a wedding party entered. but this time I went in and emerged with exactly what I wanted: a CD of Spanish songs for Mass which I can play at the prison and 15 plastic wallet-sized cards of The Lord's Prayer (Padre Nuestro).." – Peter Marshall This quote is perfect. our initial group of four tripled to twelve—women gathered around singing song after song.

in general. several of them teamed up to wash. Karina and Ale. Oaxaca. therefore we all need to provide support for others! And. they could proceed. but I’m sure it was some former student appreciative of their infinite patience and good humor. I was ushered into a salon chair and was waiting patiently when I noticed all the stylists huddled together talking gravely about something.even when sitting. style. I made an appointment and returned yesterday morning for the works. The "something" turned out to be me. and dry my hair. the giant.Date: Subject: Giganta en Oaxaca change! My two Spanish teachers. none of them could reach the top of my head! After an hysterical exchange in truncated Spanish and English involving many. Armed with a recommendation I went to a local beauty Salon wishing to have my hair cut and colored--the combination of equatorial sun and four hours of Spanish a day is turning my hair white. color... many gestures. Oaxaqueños. I highly recommend "Linda's" on Calle Quintana Roos. We all need somebody to provide us support. I really feel your support these many miles away! Gracias!! Tue. The did a great job and we all had a good laugh. cheer me up every time I get down. No. it was determined that if I were willing to slide far down in the chair.. Oaxaca! 54 55 . for the record. You see. 4 Apr 2006 14:26:52 -0700 (PDT) Here is my latest achievement [with a twist].a tag-team effort of minions amongst me. I didn’t carve their names into the giant tree towering over the city.. cut. are short and my 5'8" Americaña stature posed a problem to the staff. I complied.

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