I ate so well today. I had 3 tacos al pastor, one with queso and a dish I couldn’t grasp the name of, but it’s a mixture of chiles, y cebolla y jamon. (medium hot peppers, onion and ham like deli ham). He cooks it all up on his amazing grill, and then puts it in these bowls until someone orders it. Then he gets his big spatula and puts what you ordered on the grill and heats it up. He put the cheese on the top of the cebollo on the grill, then pressed the tortillas on it and flipped it over. I felt like a queen. I also had an agua fresca with some sort of fruit in it. And I’d gotten a beer from a stall nearby. The entire thing cost about $4.50.
The cost of things is starting to make me feel uneasy. I know what I’d pay in Oregon, and it’s bizarre to get the same things for so.much.less. I wear my privilege with me everywhere I go, and Mexicans are completely delightful and helpful with me. An Uber ride for 45 minutes (a private taxi, basically) costs $7. That is by far the most expensive thing I have purchased on this trip-private privileged transport.
I don’t want to talk about politics. I’m dragging my feet and screaming in my head “NO,” because that’s not what I want to do here right now. But with what is going on with our borders in the US, and what I see here right in front of me-the contrast is too stark.
I’m not going to go too deeply into it. But I will share that I went to the Leon Trotsky Museum today. He was a banned Bolshevik, a Socialist, a freedom fighter for the people. His home tour was stunning. It was eerie and tragic, given the circumstances that led to him being in Mexico and being killed only four years later.
Yes, I went there because I heard of him through my knowledge of Frida Kahlo. The museum has history of him, of socialist movements, and the tour of his house. It also has a gallery for an art installation, and right now that installation is about Mexicans (and artists from other nations) coming to paint the Mexican side of the wall in Baja. It was beautiful and tragic and made me sick. What is happening at our borders right now is-complicated. But there has to be a much better way to handle this than separating children from parents. We can do better than this, and the fact that we didn’t makes me ashamed.
I wrote in the guest book, along with many others from the US-that the politicians in the US do not represent us, and that we are so sorry. If you want to learn more: Migrant Humanity
I am thankful and grateful that I never had to escape my country of origin in exile, due to political reasons or war. I’m glad I’ve never had to be a refugee. I’m glad that I can travel internationally to Mexico and no one bats an eye at my entrance. All the customs employee did at the airport was look at my passport and customs paper and stamp it. I think she looked me up in the flight record, too, but that’s about it. And there were no big gates or iron or windows or steel or bars or wire to block me. I just got in.
I know it would be different at a land border through entrance via car or walking. I know this is a complicated issue.
Walking through the Zocalo yesterday I saw so.many.parents with their young children, forcing the children to beg for money from the white people, tourists, and those that look well to do. Our Mexican tour guide said, “please don’t give them money. It encourages this practice, and if no one gives them money, they will stop.” Additionally, she said it is common for people to come into the city specifically to beg, and to make themselves look dirty and poor in order to play the part. Jenna countered that, they must have their reasons, and to have to make that choice is a real part of their reality. Our guide is no classist. She works for social justice every day, but she was pointing out a real problem and her point of view on it. The food we didn’t finish from our food tours was given to a homeless woman and her children in the Pink District, CDMX’s Castro.
One parent and children that made my heart tug and and almost cry-really, the only ones that made me feel that horrible-was a father with a clown face and his two baby boys. One was about 18 months, the other about 5. The boys were dressed in baggy clothes with balloons blown up and in their pants. They all had clown faces. The 5 year old was crying as his dad was carrying the weeping snotty small one and kinda roughly walking through the busy intersection of Insurgentes and Reforma. It was heartbreaking.
I’m glad I never had to and never will have to hustle quite that hard to make a living. Due to my privilege I never had to put my children to work, and I always had food and a place to sleep safely and access to a water, toilet and laundry.
YEAH, I had some hard times. But the perspective of seeing those that live SO MUCH closer to the bone is REAL. I never had to live as tough as a poor Mexican does, and I never will.
I have so much privilege. I will remind myself of this when I complain about running out of beer or soap or have to buy gas or groceries or have only $20 until payday. It’s all relative, isn’t it?