martes, febrero 25, 2014

A JW Wedding, a Canadian Bar-Tender, and a Nahuatl-Speaking Woman

A wedding on Monday? It had never occurred to me, but perhaps the Jehova's Witnesses keep a really busy agenda with lots of important activities the whole week and Mondays are the only days when they can squeeze in a wedding ceremony at 2 p.m.
A man who never stopped smiling and grinning rendered a speech in which he warned the bride that, at the beginning of the marriage, the husband is likely to make a few wrong decisions, but the wive must never question or criticize this, much less say something like "I told you" -- this is a big no-no. Instead, she is supposed to be very obedient, because they are "the helper and the complement" of her husband.

Once the religious ceremony was over, the buses, taxis and rented "combis" took the people to the celebration that was held at a beautifully decorated garden, with high palm trees surrounding the property. The sky was blue and clear and the weather was just perfect, especially when the sun began to go down. And though no alcoholic beverages were served at the tables, all the guests seemed very happy anyway, especially when the dance began. Yes, they dance cumbias and norteño music just like everybody else, though only on weddings.

Just as I had planned, I dedicated the next to walk around alone, without direction and without a specific plan. I visited some stores, admiring the silver jewelry from Taxco. I bought a chain with a little horse, and couldn't resist to buy a well-sized horse made with shiny abalone shell. At a cyber cafe, I finished a translation and emailed it back to the project manager of the agency that I work for.
The weather was getting very hot, but I was fortunate to come across Zorro's, a corner bar ran by a happy-looking Canadian named Rose.
I had a few beers chatting with Rose and another Canadian couple, and then I continued to walk around. I found an art gallery and met artist Guadalupe Gaytan Santiago, who offers painting lessons to both locals and tourist at a ridiculously affordable price. It was a real pity that Rodolfo had left the day before, because I'm sure he would have learned a lot from her -- he's really talented.
I kept walking and walking until I got to the beach, and then I spent some time watching the ocean, listening to the never-ending sequence of the waves and feeling the hot sand under my feet. I closed my eyes and tried hard to capture the sounds, the smells, and the sensations in my memory. Tired enough, I went back to my hotel.

Wednesday, my last day. I went downtown again for the last minute purchases. I sat on a bench by the wharf, watching the sea. A native woman selling necklaces approached me to offer her merchandise. I wasn't really interested, but when she complained in a sad tone that she hadn't sold a thing the whole morning, I couldn't resist and chose a pair of necklaces. She then sat down by my side, tired of carrying that heavy box and we began to talk a little -- she looked surprised when I pronounced the only words that I could remember in her own mother language: Tehua titlahtoa nahuatl? (Do you speak Nahuatl?), and then she taught me to ask "What's your name" in this language. It was getting late, so I said good-bye to Diana and the streets and shops of Zihuatanejo.
I had a light lunch at Dona Reyna's house, and soon it was time for me to say thank you and good-bye to everyone and head to the airport. It was a very moving moment when they asked me to come back -- I sure will, I said. At the airport, I gave a last hug to Güero and asked him to study hard. "Uncle, are you coming next year when I finish school?", I will, I said, and ran towards the gate.
A few minutes later, the plane took off and I was delighted to watch Playa Larga just beneath, then the Morros del Potosi. I kept watching the vast ocean until it slowly began to disappear in the distance.
The magic of planes - what a wonderful thing it is to wake up in Zihuatanejo, spend a little time at Mexico City's airport and then go to bed at my own home in Monterrey.

6 comentarios:

  1. Interesting post. I've often thought that if I ever actually move to Mexico, that it would be interesting to study some Nahuatl. I've heard that Nahuatl speakers have an easier time learning to pronounce English than Spanish-only speakers.

    I like the picture of you and the vendedora. Man! It's got to be a tough way to make a living selling trinkets along the beach. You were so nice to buy something from her.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we are POSITIVELY ITCHING to get to a Mexican beach. It's finally warmed up to 0°C here after starting the day at -7°.

  2. Hi! I had never heard that pronouncing English is easier for Nahuatl speakers than it is for Spanish speakers... but that's very interesting. When I travel, I'm very proud to hear my Maya-speaking or Nahuatl-speaking compatriots selling their merchandise in English. In my post I didn't mention that Diana spontaneously handed me the box and two or three bundles of necklaces so that I could "weigh" them and feel for a moment what she has to carry all day. Like you say, it truly is a tough way to make a living. She mentioned the village where she comes from, but I forgot the name. Told me she never got married, and I asked in a knee-jerk reaction: "And do you have any kids?". "No!", she responded, slightly offended. Being a modern guy, I could have told her that she didn't have to marry in order to have the children that could see for her in her old days... but I refrained -- I guess she lives in a small community with strict rules where an unmarried woman just can't have children. I loved talking to her, I can say she touched my life. Glad to hear from you again, I hope it gets warmer and warmer soon. Is the spring showing up there? Here it's no longer cold, there's plenty of sun and the plants and trees are coming to life again.

    1. It's warming up, but only going from worse to bad, if you know what I mean, LOL... The garden is still under about 10 cm of snow, but it's slowly melting.

      As for Diana and Nahuatl, I'd love to hear some Nahuatl spoken. I have no idea what it sounds like, but I'm curious. Some years ago, I briefly met a guy in DF who was studying Nahuatl, but it didn't occur to me to ask him to say anything. Hopefully on my trip, I'll meet someone who can show me what Nahuatl sounds like.



    2. I haven't heard much Nahuatl myself, only short phrases, but it sounds nice, you got to hear it. I have a CD with many songs in this language, including a delicious lullaby song. Also, there are beautiful Mexican songs in Spanish that also have their Nahuatl counterpart. Try "Cancion Mixteca en Nahuatl" on YouTube.

  3. Some many years trying to speak English, so no way I even try some words in nahuatl, my best friend is from Oaxaca, when I met him it was so hard to understand what he was saying because he had the accent from Oaxaca, still does

  4. Still does? I can imagine how difficult it can be to make it out what he says.


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