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10 July 2010 @ 08:21 pm
 
Another day we visited the UNAM campus. It's the main university in Mexico. The campus was fine and there were lots of murals which I'm sure are historically and socially significant, but I was tired and like churches in Europe, after so many it gets harder to appreciate them.

That was the day of the last semifinal match in the world cup. The mayor of Mexico City, who has done some pretty progressive things, like provide viagra for poor people over the age of seventy, had had a huge FIFA Fanfest set up in the Zocalo (enormous main square) with great big screens for people to watch the games on. We caught the second half of the game there. The crowd seemed pretty divided. It was hard to tell if more people were supporting Germany or Spain, but it was fun.

After that our professor took us to meet a man named John Ross, a very left-leaning American journalist who has been living in Mexico for the past 25 years. He spoke with us about border issues and immigration. I may be reaching my limit with museums, but I had lots of attention for this discussion. Unfortunately, much of it struck me the wrong way. It was certainly interesting, and of course relevant to my work and my life in the US, but I didn´t like how his lecture revolved around his experiences crossing the border with illegal immigrants and facts and statistics about how many people and how much money is crossing the border. His border stories were recounted as great adventures and the figures he gave, such as how many people cross, how many die crossing, how much money gets sent back to Mexico each year, etc, did not seem to consider the people involved. I don't know how you can talk about that stuff without mentioning all the families that are torn apart or reconstituted, and all the difficulties involved in living in a new place where you don't have access to the opportunities you came to find. I mean, it was interesting, I just thought it was only part of the story. And since the story has become one that I deal with daily, I wanted more of it to be addressed. But maybe that sounds obnoxious.

After that, for the next day or so (I'm losing track of the days) we visited more museums and had more art history lessons. In the evenings we found food near the hotel and hung out with the participants and the professors of the course, and chatted with people in the neighborhood. I've been really overwhelmed by how welcoming people are. Both in Mexico City and now here in Taxco people are so helpful and friendly and interested in who we are and why we're here. Everyone has a story about some experience they (or a family member) had in the US and they definitely want to hear about how much we love Mexico. And I do!

We left Mexico City on Friday morning and travelled by bus through very foggy, rainy weather to Taxco, a few hours south of the capital. We spent the first night at a hotel with a stunning view of the city, but a discouraging number of bugs in the bathroom. This city is awesome. It's built on the side of mountain (or a big hill, maybe) and the narrow, cobbled streets wind up and down so that it's a little disorienting for a newcomer, but really fun to get turned around in. And it's not so big. Because it's on a hill it's easy to spot the cathedral in the main plaza and head toward it, and it's even easier to just hop on a combi heading back toward the zocalo. I love it. And almost all the buildings are white and interestingly constructed with balconies and terraces and terra cotta colored tiled rooves. It's very European looking, but the markets and vendors and comedores certainly aren't, and I'm quite charmed.

Oh, but that first hotel with all the bugs didn't seems like a great place to stay for the next three weeks, so my roommate and I have moved to a different hotel that is much nicer and slightly cheaper.

I'll write more about Taxco later. I hope you all are well.

Gen
 
 
 
(Anonymous) on July 12th, 2010 01:29 am (UTC)
Good move on the hotel change . . . bugs don't make for good roommates!

Connecting with real life immigration stories like those of the kids you're teaching puts the immigration issue in another perspective. Not obnoxious at all, far from it!

Love, Dad