I wrote an entire blog post Tuesday and the interrnet saw fit to erase it. Life trying to tell me to loosen up I guess. Now I have less than an hour before catching a bus for the coast with two friends so I´ll give the short version.
Dia de Muertos happened, three days of it, and I was in the midst of the whirl.
The evening of the third day I spent wandering the dirt paths between graves in San Felipe cemetery on the Northeast edge of Oaxaca, trying to capture the pinkish orange glow of it all in my memory and my camera. I posted an album of photos on Facebook, but a few are here. The place was overflowing with flowers, candles, people and life in the middle of all that death. The place had an energy much older than its participants, and you could feel another tradition of getting right with the world unfolding around you there.
By Day 2, I was already fighting my hangover from Day 1, when I decided to go out with Rush Sturges and his crew of film makers – and stay out until 5 a.m. Aided by mezcal on Nights 1 and 2 of the festivities, I forged ahead with friends I´ve known since birth, and friends I´ve known since last week or five minutes ago even. Around 2 a.m. my mask suddenly disappeared from behind where I had been sitting, and the universe suddenly seemed much less friendly. I left in a huff, trying to let go of the mask I had invested two weeks of time and creative powers in, but I couldn´t. Something somewhere in me wouldn´t allow for it, so I went back.
I felt as though I was in a movie. I consulted the bouncer, who sent me back into the sea of people in the nightclub, where costume swapping had run rampant and the music and dancing was more debauched by the minute. I stood in the midst of the undulating crowd and turned around and around like a bird on a spit, until I spied the guy who had taken my mask. I had to wait several hours for him to pass out before I could steal it back, when I crept home. The streets were dead. I took inventory before dropping into bed. I had lost my sweater and one sock (your guess is as good as mine – thank you mezcal), but managed to hang onto all of my money and recover my mask. I cut my losses and went to sleep.
The second night, compañeros and I followed a comparsa (a rowdy Mexican parade through the streets with live bands, more mezcal shots and over the top costumes,) through a local neighborhood whose name begins with the letters ¨Jl,¨ a sound with roots in an indigenous language and exceedingly difficult to pronounce for us gringos. The center of the comparsa is essentially a mosh pit which you enter at your own risk. Michael Jackson, Buddha, several incarnations of the devil, zombies and butchers were all there.
The week since has been a bit of a fog, but a pleasant one. I baked bread pudding using leftover pan de muerto from Dia de Muerto altars in every home and business here. Mexican bread pudding is called capriotada, and version I tried had a sweet-savory sauce. I traveled three times to Teotitlan de Valle, where the main trade is weaving. Once I went to learn about how a collective of families there grow mulberries (arboles de mora) to produce silk worms, spin silk thread and weave silk cloth (in addition to a lot of beautiful work they do in wool and cotton.) The second two times, I went to help tutor English through a micro-finance organization.
Yesterday, on one of the three buses we took to get to the village, I had this thought. First, life is undeniably difficult, unjust, even cruel. Secondly, we (as individuals, societies and groups of societies sharing resources on the same planet) make things infinitely harder than they need to be most of the time. More on that after a weekend at the beach.