Monthly Archives: March 2012

Alcides Arguedas

I am reading on Alcides Arguedas, about whom I knew relatively little. I learned the most amazing thing I have learned all semester: he thought that through education, the Indians of Bolivia could be transformed into Swedes!

This is something like Macunaíma, bathing in the magic pool and turning into a beautiful, white prince.

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Another thing about A. Arguedas: he was mixed but insisted on being seen as biracial, not mestizo. Why: because mestizaje is the degeneration of races over time, whereas biraciality is the synthesis of two pure races. Those are not his words but this is essentially what it comes down to.

I am fascinated just in general, but also because I wonder how many current people like the term “biracial” for that reason.

Axé.

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Veracruz, Ver.

Has anyone been to Veracruz lately? My original plan was to arrive at 11:23 AM, go through customs and then go directly to the bus station, where I would have coffee with milk before catching a bus south to Alvarado. Then there would be a local bus or truck to Tlacotalpan, where Mexico is said to be perfect; I would arrive toward the end of the Mexican lunch hour and before sunset.

According to the Mexican and Central American Handbook bus tickets in Veracruz should ideally be bought ahead of time, however, and according to Ticketbus, the website that sells them, there are only two buses a day to Alvarado – one at noon that I would miss, and one at 8 PM which is too late to be ideal. I am having trouble believing there are only two buses, and might telephone Tlacotalpan to ask about this. If it is true, I will have to spend the night in Veracruz, not a bad idea except that Mexico is too expensive a country for me if I plan to stay in actual hotels (I rent rooms from people, it’s a whole different economy) or eat at restaurants with printed menus (menus on a blackboard, once again, are a whole different economy).

However I do not know where to rent rooms in Veracruz that I trust, and I do not have the patience for a bad hotel, so I am checking them out. I feel I ought to want to stay at the Mar y Tierra, a sensible option for 450 pesos or about $38, but I would rather stay at the Baluarte, which has a promotional rate of 500 pesos or about $42. There is a historic hotel called the Mesón del Mar which would look better without its very irritating website, its 700 peso price, and its terrible reviews. People who stayed there fled in the end to the Balajú, which is in the same price range and much better, they say. I am charmed by it as well because it is named for a song, its website plays son jarocho and its restaurant is called the Tilingo. 700 pesos is about $58, high for me but not necessarily for all.

In Tlacotalpan I am thinking of staying at the Casa Blanca, which costs about $29. I am proud to know its address: Venustiano Carranza 8, Centro, 95460 Tlacotalpan, Veracruz-Llave, and its telephone number: +52 288 884 3192. When I looked up the location on Google Maps, another site started singing the bamba.

Veracruz has excellent music; Veracruz sones are practically as amazing as Cuban ones and they are more interesting, as they have harps and are less known. I can hardly believe I will soon see Veracruz music played in person.

Axé.

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Fotos de Cd. Juárez

By a brilliant photographer.

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Zacatecas

The character in this novel my class is reading is a composer of narcocorridos, which is one reason why I have so many corridos on this blog lately — I find them as I am looking for examples for the students.

Now I have found this, on the Battle of Zacatecas, Zacatecas being one of my very favorite towns in Mexico. When I first liked Zacatecas I had not yet read Los de abajo and did not realize what an important role it had had in the Mexican Revolution.

In the video we have an interesting song and amazing footage of Zacatecas as it was then.

Axé.

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Adrienne Rich

…with the rowboat ice-fast on the shore

in the last red light of the year

that knows what it is, that knows it’s neither

ice nor mud nor winter light

but wood, with a gift for burning

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Recordando a C. C.

…en el día de su cumpleaños, así nomasito.

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El corrido de Tejas

Immigration is not new.

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El cascabel

The harpist starts to sing around 1:22.

“Anoche por la ventana, platicando con mi amor.”

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Quebradita

This is quebradita.

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Those Stand Your Ground Laws

Last night when I got home after an intense discussion of the Trayvon Martin case in this Portuguese conversation group I lead, there were these Black guys working on their stalled truck in the small parking lot kitty corner across from my garage and driveway.

After a while one of them came up to my back door to say the waterhose in the truck was definitely broken, and it was too late to go buy a new one, and there was no point getting an expensive tow at that hour. The parking lot does not allow overnight parking, so could they push the car into my driveway for the night? They would be back at 8 AM with a waterhose, fix the truck and drive it away.

I said yes, so they pushed the truck into my driveway, said thank you very much, and left in their other vehicle. I left before 8 AM and the truck was still there, but now I am home again and it is gone.

I suppose I could have alleged fear, shot them, and gotten away with it.

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Some time ago I came home to find a white man collapsed next to the garage. I called the paramedics and they came and took him away.

A couple of days later he reappeared walking, to give me the day’s New York Times and a bag of oranges. “I am so glad you weren’t too scared to do something other than call the authorities,” he said. “It is really not a good idea to collapse in strangers’ yards, and it was really nice of you to call the paramedics.”

It was nice of him to come and thank me. And he had come in from offshore and gone to a party, and had collapsed because of a drug overdose, so he had been in an illegal state while in my yard. And I had insisted that paramedics come, not police; and this had been a good action because the man got medical care rather than get processed into Parish Prison and had who knows what happen or when. So in this situation I was very competent in a Haight-Ashbury kind of way.

But what was freakish about this particular event and that conversation was the subtext — he knew that if scared, I could have been within my rights to kill him.

Axé.

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