Thursday, September 23, 2010

Today I deserve the Lemons!!!

I can't believe how silly I am. Yesterday I spoke to the coordinator of CAMPO and she had arranged for me to go on a day trip to look at one of their programs today. It all depended on whether they and a vacant seat for me in the car. She said to ring them in the morning at 10 and they would let me know.

So I got up early in the morning and raced off to my Uni Lectures. During the break for the first lecture I rang and the girl in the office asked if I still wanted to go. Yes I said, so she said to be at the office at 2.00pm (at least that is what I thought she said). Great I thought!! I don't have to asked if I can be excused from my next Uni lecture.

As soon as the second lecture finished I caught a cab to the Office of CAMPO, arrived and greeted the girl in the office with here I am, a little early but I am happy to wait here. Well she looked at me with one of those looks!!! She had told me doce (12.00) not dos (2.00)!!!!! how stupid did I feel. I made a hundred apologies in very bad spanish, because when you get nervous it gets even worse. I was just about to head out the door when the Coordinator came out of her office. Again I apologised.

However, it turned out ok. There is another group going to the same place tomorrow at 8.00am (yes I checked this carefully). This trip is for two days. Oh my god!! please let everything go well for me tomorrow morning.!! I can't keep messing this up.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tequila and Salt

Well I think my last story needs a followed up. The next morning I got up early, dressed in something simple and conservative, had breakfast and headed off early for the meeting with the Coordinator. Got outside the door, locked the three locks only to find it had started to rain!! So, unlocked the three locks, raced inside, grabbed an umbrella and back outside again. I then headed off to the nearby shopping centre to catch a taxi to my meeting. To my dismay, when I put the umbrella up, it was broken!!! Not a good start to the day. I wondered if this was a sign???

Luckily I managed to hail a taxi quite quickly, so didn't get very wet. The nice taxi man dropped me off at the same house as yesterday. Again everthing looked shut, no signs or door bells to ring. I was about 40 minutes early, so to give them the benefit of the doubt, I walked back to a cafe for a coffee and to wait until the correct time. When I returned, nothing had changed, I walked around all sides of the building, but couldn't see where I could get anyones attention. Arrrh!!! then a nice young lady on a bike pulled up at the gate and I asked her if this was the correct office. Yes!! it was. She let me through the front gate and then opened the front door for me. I don't know what I would have done if she hadn't come along.

The girls in the office greeted me and asked me to take a seat. I had to wait for about half an hour but finally managed to meet with the coordinator. She was actually very nice and gave me a very long description (in spanish) about all their programs. I had to really concentrate to understand everything (and I am sure I missed lots). However, the good outcome from the meeting is that next month I should be able to visit a couple of their programs in the countryside with one of their project supervisors. At last something positive!!!!!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

When life hands you lemons............ DEMAND Tequila and Salt!!!!!!

Have you had one of those days when something or someone steps in and gives you a prod to move on!!!!

Today has been a little frustrating.

I have been trying to organise a meeting with some people connected with a program that works to improve and provide assistance for women in Mexico. Through a combination of factors, including my bad Spanish, a phone that wouldn't work, the busy schedule of the person involved etc., it has taken me a number of weeks to get the meeting organised. Finally, tomorrow, I am going to miss my Spanish classes and meet with them at 11.00am. The coordinator of the program suggested that I visit their office today, so that I could use their library to do some research to prepare for the meeting tomorrow.

So,today, after spanish class, armed with the address written on paper, I raced out and caught a taxi so that I would get to their office before they closed for lunch. It is always a little worrying when you head off to an area that you haven't been to before. The taxi man dropped me off at the address, however it seem to just be a normal house, no signs and all seemed to be shut.

Did I have the right address? The coordinator said that it was near the Channel 4 Television station. So I asked a couple of women near by and they said that the TV station was about 4 blocks away? So I walked down to the TV station, asking people on the way if they knew of the office. No, they could point out the TV station but not the office, no one had heard of it. I walked around the area for about 40 minutes asking directions to no avail. What are they going to think of me!!! not turning up when I said I would!!! Finally I decided that I must have written down the address incorrectly and headed home. I thought I would walk home to get rid of my frustrations!!! However the good hour's walk only made me more hot and bothered. Especially when I checked the address and I had written it down correctly!

After a shower and some lunch,turned on my computer and checked face book, only to see a friend had posted a quote that she liked, "When life hands you lemons............ DEMAND Tequila and Salt!!!!!!" . Yes Di, get over it!!!

Wish me luck tomorrow when I go for the meeting, hopefully the office will be open!! and the interview goes well.

Friday, September 17, 2010

More Pics of Celebrations

Happy Bicentenary Mexico!!!!

Wednesday was a day for massive celebrations in the main cities of Mexico. Two hundred years since Mexican independence. I wasn't lucky enough to be able to go to Mexico City, though I did see some of the parade on TV. However, I went into the centre of Guadalajara to check out what was happening here. This city centre was buzzing. Crowds of people were heading along all the main roads towards the centre. The centre of the city was a hive of activity, though under very tight security. I had to go through a checkpoint before going into the main area. All fluids, were confiscated (lost my bottle of water) , bags searched and checked for any metal objects. Considering the amount of people this was a major operation. Once inside there was lots to see. Food and drink stalls everywhere, Stages being set up for music. Ballet performances on one stage, and in the main plaza the largest taco in the world, the table holding it went around the four sides of the plaza. Then there was a huge line of people, waiting for their slice of "the pie" so to speak. I will let my pics do the talking. See the next blog.

Back into Circulation

Where has the time gone!!! The last couple of weeks I have had my head in the books and on Monday somehow managed to get my Literture Review completed. This was a 3,000 word review of literature related to the theme that I hope to do my research project on. The review looked at books and articles that examine the position of rural and indigenous women in Mexico. This group of women suffer from a complex combination of extreme poverty, gender and ethnic inequality and oppression and lack of autonomy.

Two of the books that I reviewed are worth mentioning. The first is a book by Sarah Levine called Dolor y Alegria , [Pain and Joy]. This book tells the story three generations of women, looking at their struggles, achievments and future hopes for their families. Many of the older women came from very poor rural backgrounds, with nothing but the clothes they wore when they married. They have moved to urban areas to try and improve thier life. It is interesting to look at the changes in expectations as the story examines each generation. A strong theme in the book is the battle for a better life for the next generation. This story certainly give you a good understanding of the complexities of life for women in Mexico.

The second book I would like to mention was only published this year. Women of the Yucatan. Thirty who dared to change their world, by George Ann Huck and Jann Free.
This book is an inspiring read. Huck and Free interview 30 women from the strongly patriarchal Yucatan region of Mexico. These women are from all levels of society, with very diverse backgrounds. However, each story is inspiring. They tell of how they overcame many obstacles, broke with tradition and pushed the boundaries. You cannot fail to be taken in by the stories of these genuine heroines, who have fought for their communities, families and independence.

If you are at all interested in these topics I would recommend both these books.

Huck, G. and Free, Gee 2010, Women of Yucatan. Thirty who dared to change their world, McFalan & Company Inc., Jefferson, North Carolina.

LeVine, S. 1993, Dolor y Alegria, Women and Social Change in Urban Mexico, University of Wisconsin Press, Wisconsin, USA>

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Quieres un amigo!!

A short but amusing story. On Friday, I finished Spanish classes and caught a bus into the centre of town, and then started to walk up towards the University Campus as I was going to meet a friend for a cup of coffee. The street ( Calle Alcalde) that runs up to the University is not the prettiest of streets. Six lanes of traffic, in an area that is a little rundown. It is quite difficult to negotiate the crowds of people waiting for buses on the narrow footpaths, and at the same time watch every step you take, so that you don't trip on the uneven surface or fall into a hole.

So, I decided to walk up one street back from the main drag for a change. Change of scenery and more room to walk. The first 5-6 blocks were very pleasant, wider paths, road blocked off to form a sort of a mall, people sitting in small local restaurants having their lunch. Then!! I was wandering along, not paying much attention, when I heard "Quieres un amigo?",(do you want a friend?).

I looked up and it was a couple, young men sitting in a doorway. I just ignored them and continued on my way. "Quieres un amigo??" What!! Another group of young men? What is wrong with them. Are they short sighted!! Can't they see I am an old lady!!! Then I decided to take a proper look around, further up the street I could see an number of groups of men, no women, hanging out.

This must be what you do at 2.00pm Friday afternoon, hang out and hassle anyone who walks by. Quieres un amigo?? Come on guys!! Get over it. Giving them my best black look, it was time to make a quick diversion to the main street and continue on my way up to the University. Life in Guadalajara can be interesting at times.

El Centro de Guadalajara

I was just talking to Steve on Skype and he said that he had given a few people the link to my blog page. So I thought I should put up some pictures of the centre of Guadalajara. Unfortunately, I have had so much work for Uni and Spanish Classes that I haven't had time to write any blogs. I hope you enjoy the pictures. Also if you click on the sideshow on the side of my blog you can see some more pictures.