Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sense in Nonsense

A beautiful eve to all of you keeping the Adventures alive, and I wanted to say thank you for staying connected to me. This line of connection is more important than you know and it’s been an amazing pleasure for me to re-birth a creative side of myself through this writing and be with it WITH you.

The eve is once again cold, and I am again reporting from my naked peach-colored blank bedroom walls, save the crayon scribbled designs of a young artist and a nail in the wall that conveniently holds my towel. I hope that wherever you are in your spaces, that you are feeling genuinely happy, or on a path that will help you unearth how you will get there. We deserve it…and I hope that you know that this is a surely obtainable goal for all of us…happiness.

Quite relative, I’d say, happiness. I recall when I was sitting with the women in a village bank out in the countryside and they asked me to tell them about the amazing “American Dream” that they longed for every day…It hurt me that they didn’t see their own wonderful dream and the righteousness of their connectedness right within their group. They had a true desire to know what the other members of the bank were doing and took the time to share that; they cultivated a lack of preoccupation with moving forward an let things move perfectly at will. I wrote a reflection about that called Barbie Dreams that I will share here. By the way, Barbie is a nickname here for a blond haired woman with fair skin. This name has a very positive affectionate connotation, more or less meaning “doll.” I had an interesting conversation about the image of Barbie and its meaning with the women of the U.S., well...or…maybe just me (unobtainable figure, dumb blond, etc). The women here thought it was so interesting since it is an ultimately caring term for them.

barbie dreams

the barbie brings dreams to the dusty roads
with coins in her eyes
can she fill their outstretched hands?

they wonder about her World
a world where they work
for things
things they have no time to use
because they work
for more things
for this Dream.

the perfume of burning wood envelops us
they sit on the sun burnt earth
a woman with a bent back of plants
lays her shawl down for me
this barbie can’t get soot in her nails
can’t scald her milky skin with equator sun
can’t work all day for a bag of rice and potatoes
they protect this barbie dream
so it remains whole and possible.

they watch me
with beautiful brown hues swimming in their eyes
their children touch my hair
and marvel to understand blue eyes
we sit in a circle of simplicity
a respite of friendship and appreciation
drinking the remnants of water soaked coffee beans

they ask if I can bring the Dream
and I ache
knowing that in them I see the Dream.

Hmmm, for me just a reminder that perspective is abound and oh so different. Concepts of time and happiness are different for every person. For example, today several AFIDER staff and I looked at “rental spaces” for the upcoming Women’s Development Center we want to create for the women in our village banks. Here is a little tale of how something like that goes, or should I say “went” today. We hop in the car that may be from 1974, the year I was born. I actually don’t know how it continues to drive. Nora gives us a list of 4 places to look at with addresses and phone numbers and our assignment is to seek. We drive to the Plaza de Armas, which by all definition is the “center of the Universe” here in Cajamarca and where all the action is bubbling. This is where groups of men whistle at women walking by or you get your shoes shined by an 8-year old boy who is so dirty you can hardly see his face. By all intensive purposes, this is the “mall” of the late 80’s here in Cajamarca..

OK, so we are back to looking for spaces to rent. I know from my two years here that this task is going to require me to call on the very rarely seen Maggie personality type B. Yes, I did say type B! There is a random information board in front of a shop that has some rental notices with addresses and phone numbers included. One of them is a block away, I know from the address, but for some reason they want to drive me there. I convince them by treating them to ice cream a block away that we can just walk there. We arrive, and of course, no one is there. A woman passes by and says hello to Jorge Cubas Torres, AFIDER Director. Now she suddenly knows another place we should look at so we immediately abandon ship on the place we originally wanted to look at. To see this “next place” we have to talk to the “dueno” (landlord) on the next corner. At the next corner, we find out he went to eat at the nearby restaurant and so this person pleads with us in the convincing puppy begging voice I’ve told you about that we should now go to the restaurant. I’m still wondering about the original place we looked at with no answer but a telephone number that wasn’t noted or called in our quick departure, but again, I am trying to go with the flow. We get to the restaurant and the dueno isn’t there so we can’t find out any information, But alas, thankfully…there is another woman there who “probably knows” some spaces for us to look at. She tells us about one and we go looking for it. We can’t find the street and so we ask the lady selling fruit on the corner where the “house for rent” might be. She tells us, “de frente” (go straight). We go straight, and there is a house that some man on the corner said he saw was for rent, but is no longer for rent because he heard it wasn’t. I finally drop the type B act and say, “Let’s call the number for the place we saw first?” They tell me no, we should just go drive by. No one here wants to use their cell phones because they are “pre-pagado” (pre-paid), which means you buy cards with timed credit on them and you are charged credit for the calls you make (not receive). I tell Vanessa to make the calls we need and I will buy her a 10sl. ($3) card to fill up her phone again. The call is made, but someone on the other end hangs up, at least I am told. No further action is needed because after this blasphemous hang up, Jorge and Vanessa suggest we move on to another place. I mention the very distant crazy option that maybe we should try and call again in case we didn’t dial right or lost the connection. After some convincing, Vanessa phones again. We get the address. We drive there. However, I soon find out this is only the address to ask a person who knows where the rental house really is. They tell us and we drive there. There is no stopping on the street where the house is and a police woman is randomly blowing her whistle (maybe not randomly, but I’ve deduced randomness from watching her blow her whistle at events that don’t fit together or even merit a whistle blow (like when no cars are around). We beg her in the begging voice to stop on the street; it’s for a nonprofit after all! She says no, and we end up stopping anyway. She blows her whistle and I leave the car with Vanessa, we’ve arrived! We knock on the door with anticipation and it is answered. The place is for rent. And this, my friends, is the search for one place, repeated by seven for me today.

Somehow, Peruvians get their things accomplished in some "ether layer" that is totally nonsensical to me and for many…but for them, perfectly in order. Today was a blast for the fact that I was reminded once again that the world operates so differently outside of our borders. None of this is wrong, or right, it just is. It finds itself. I think somehow, we can all learn something from that. Life is kind of like one of these big unfolding operations. It only makes sense when you get to the place you want to rent…and then again, there’s more to look at.

To the perfect order of the journey, MM

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