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Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

My home for the next two years, I thought as I approached Huimilpan for the first time, “the place of the biggest cornfields.” My whole reason for joining the Peace Corps, to live and work in a community, was finally manifesting itself after a month of living in México. It was time for my site visit, time to gather the information I needed to survive physically and mentally for two years. Gathering, recording, processing. It felt a bit like collecting kindling with full arms. My mind was already heavy with new information. Taking a deep breath and fortified by the scent of the sea of flowers surrounding me, I stepped out of Señor Francisco’s car.

A combination of nerves and leaving the controlled setting of my Spanish classroom, instantly transformed this “intermediate” Spanish speaker into an eight year old. Nice to meet you. Smile. Nod. Smile. Fumbling over my words, I desperately tried to link context clues with what my boss was saying. Please,..time..to..process…the..translation. There was no stopping. “This is so and so, and this is my cousin so and so.” Dozens of hands shaken, dozens of kisses given. Nice to meet you. Smile. Nod. And so it went for four days in Huimilpan. Freeing embarrassment from my list of possible emotions, no entiendo, otra vez por favor, became a motiff in every dialogue. Smile. Nod. Locals turned a much-appreciated blind eye to my broken Spanish, helping me to feel less like a fish out of water. People were kind and patient, taking the time to repeat their sentence or say the same things with simpler words. The smile and nod returned if all else failed.

As the days passed, it seemed that the people of Huimilpan were happy just to learn the reason behind why there was this foreigner, the gringa, walking around town. Mexicans aren’t very shy in asking personal questions. Luckily, my family prepared me for this growing up. Uncles always put us on the hot seat during Sunday dinners to interrogate us about the latest boyfriend, or life step. With this experience under my belt, fielding the questions wasn’t too hard to navigate. Thanks, Uncle Joseph. Foreigner celebrity status was a bit harder. Sitting in the plaza after attending the outdoor mass to celebrate the Huimilpan’s patron’s saint, San Miguel, I felt hundreds of pairs of eyes of me. Peace Corps warned us about this. Since we Peace Corps volunteers are the odd ones around in our communities, people will be looking at our every action, all day, everyday. Gaga status. While in site we are “on” all the time.

Gaga status does have its perks though. While visiting one of the communities, Piedra Lisas, and chit chatting with a woman about her different eco-technologies, I was invited to make some tortillas with her using one of her eco-technologies, her efficient wood stove. When conversations involve food, somehow I manage to understand that Spanish. We spent the next hour making and eating corn tortillas with salsa made from the chili peppers she grew in her garden. Hot tortilla in hand and a mouth of fire, I stepped outside for a second and checked out the surrounding view – my new home. It was then that Francesca’s poem popped into my head. Francesca wrote “Simplistic Beauty” for me when I graduated from Tulane to serve as a constant reminder of the person I am, and the person I hope to be.

“There is nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…life isn’t about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself.” With this as my mantra, Huimilpan didn’t seem as intimidating anymore. I went back to my host house in the city of Querétaro, took out my Spanish Grammar Book, and got to work. After all, I can improve a lot in the month before my service begins in Huimilpan.

the twigster,

Josefina

PS: After an extended period of  thinking about every verb ending before speaking, all I wanted to do is chit chat with other volunteers in English upon my return and know certainly that they understand the sounds rolling off my tongue.

PPS: With only a quick assessment of the community to inform this, I think I will be working to build water cisterns and developing people’s individual gardens!

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Oh, we’re soaring now.
Soaring, soaring
High above the trees.

Higher, higher
High above the trees.
But we cant stay too high for long

No.
We must find somewhere to perch,
If only ’til the morn.

Let’s perch here for a while,
But just for a while to be sure.
Nothing but sunny skies today.

Soaring, soaring
High above the trees.
But I can’t stay on this branch no more.

No.
We must keep on flying.
We must find another way,
Another way to soar.

the twigster and her sister,
Josephine & Francesca

PS: If you find yourself in Woodstock, NY, stop by Candlestock. This candle store has some of the most unique candles I have ever seen.

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