This is my first journal entry and first blog post from Chiapas, Mexico. Today is September 4, 2007. These thoughts were written en route from Los Angeles to Mexico City, the first leg of my journey but were realized today when we arrived in Altamirano, site of Hospital San Carlos and our home for the next 2 weeks. More to come. Enjoy!
You’ve seen her image before: a dark round face. a stout but solid frame. Her body cocooned by colors of all kinds: a patchwork of red and gold stripes, bright green and blue hues, beads and other shiny accents. You may recognize her from the cover of a magazine, maybe National Geographic, or your favorite cable travel channel, but never would you ever expect her to enter your world, to see her and her many children in tow strolling your sidewalk or perusing the aisle of your local grocery. Never in a million years.
Now, flip the image.
She’s seen you too: your shape, your tone, your presence but never with her own eyes. Maybe in the TV set she passes on the way to market. Maybe in the dingy black and white of an old newspaper she once caught glance of. But never in front of her face.
Today, though, she sees me and I see her. We don’t stare but a glace is enough to know I don’t belong here. I interrupt her reality as though I’ve fallen from the sky (in actuality, I have). I am a head taller than most men she knows. Skin shades lighter than anyone she’s ever seen. Bespeckled and clothed like an alien to her world, which I am. If only to borrow her thoughts and her eyes for just a moment: Who is this person? Where does he come from? What is he doing here?
I wonder the same about her.
And we continue to wonder, for today anyway, and to guess. To speculate, perhaps even to fear, unless the museum glass shatters…with a word, a nod, or a smile…and we cease to be anthropologic specimens to one another and become human, in this moment: neighbors.