third world

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I have been in Mexico City with Karen for the past week. It was amazingly wonderful from the weather, which was spring-like, to the architecture, to the people who foster an amazing solidarity regardless of class differentials. I have included a photo of some of the loot I brought back. We had a wonderful time.

There are many photos on my Flickr which I was able to load everyday. We had internet and my cell phone worked, the electrical doesn’t take adapters, they drive on the right side of the road and the people are very warm and accepting, even though I do not speak much Spanish. I was able to function very normally and everything I needed was at hand.

We plodded through many markets in the city. We had fresh juice from the vendors which you cannot get here. I got a great outfit for Mardi Gras, we got Karen’s cancer meds , we also got some phamaceuticals which will come in handy in the event of another emergency. This mission was particularly hard and took many different attempts, the one at Paris Farmacia resulted in a shake down from security.

Karen talked us through it and I was more then accomodating. I saw it coming. We were fine. Sometimes you get picked out simply for being awkward. For a few minutes we could understand what is is like to be a migrant worker in New Orleans. The security officials apologized to us in the end. Our redemption for diligence was the humane female doctor who helped Karen at the oldest hospital in the city, Hospital de Jesus. She was so compassionate toward Karen, she did not charge us. After so much stress to get her medications, Karen could not stop herself and broke down in tears outside la Urgencia, in the courtyard of the most beautiful place in the city. We were overcome. We have so much anger around us everyday in New Orleans. I recognized why she was crying, a complete stranger was being nice to her, helping her/us.

On the leisurely end of things, which to me doesn’t really exist, we take it all in . . . the lives. I really wanted some pottery I could cook in, we were connected with beautifully hand embroidered throws while in our boat in Xochimilco. I bought some toys for the kids who visit me in the hood, also some real soccer jerseys which are hard to come byand some traditional aprons worn by women in the markets all over Mexico City.

We encountered many challenges because we were after specific things, one was finding handmade paper flowers that Karen had to inquire about in the back of the stall of the couple who makes them. We bought a little plane I found a man making from Coca Cola cans which was very intricate, totally by luck. We bought baked goods and baskets, cool bags, some very pretty handmade bracelets for $3 in Malinalco and coffee too. Due to Karen’s masterful command of the language we were very well recieved everywhere we went. It’s really a testament to our friendship that we could travel together for a week, with me being rather dependent. In fact, we started scouting property. Our hosts, Nick and Jim left me feeling forever grateful for their hospitality which I cannot ever repay. Their perspective as sophisticated expats who have made the plunge to full residency was enlightening.

I am not done scratching the mosquito bites I got while in Malinalco, Mexico as part of my week-long trip to Mexico City and today, my first day back in New Orleans, I wonder how Mexico could be considered a Third World situation when I have had my senses full of third world New Orleans in only one day.

First thing out of the house today some City Inspectors, whom I know, were out in front of my house in their truck. I said hello, asked what they were up to. They were out taking a survey of the neighborhood as part of Blakely’s Target Area thing. I said, “Yeah, like y’all need more work! We need about 100 of you guys out here looking at so many things regarding real code enforcement.” They are really good guys, they agreed. Is this the best use of our limited talented manpower? Nevertheless, it was good to see these familiar faces first thing in the morning.

Then I went uptown to get a haircut and got caught by a speed trap on Louisiana Ave and even though I was cruising slow to look at the extensive work going on at Rhodes Funeral home, they gave me a ticket, hard to believe I could have been speeding. I asked to see the read on the gun but the evidence was already erased. See you in court . . . let that slide, keeping my vacation in mind. Trying not to care.

Proving that no one, who is anyone, is still in town, I was able to get into Paris Parker for a much needed haircut on the same day of my call ! So I felt good about that til my stylist told me his friend got mugged in the Marigny a few days ago and the two young thugs beat his friend badly by smashing his head against the house . . . this bloody scene, at 6 a.m! The cop who responded to their call failed them because he got a call in the middle of their incident report. He told them to go in the house, he’d send someone else to get a report. No one came. Next, my stylist then told me about his friend who died this past week of Meningitis. The most rare of the three types. He said they had been on the lake jet-skiing and perhaps that was how he contracted the disease which killed him within five days. By the time he went to the doctor, he had fluid on his brain. I could see my face hollowing before me in the mirror as he told me his sorrowful story. My vacation spirit slipping away.

Then I followed up on some demos as I crossed town to get my bike, which I stored at Karen’s. Stuff is coming down all over town, but the constuction of the new Walgreens on Carrollton Ave is moving along quickly. I saw that Trinity Church is gone on Valence St. This is hard to get your head around when you have been looking at 16th Century churches in and around Mexico City. Wondering where our priorities lie here. . . Karen and I did some investigating related to our architectural/rebuilding interest while in Mexico City. This, we posted to Squandered Heritage while we were there.

I got to Karen’s around 2 pm today and in looking around her yard, we realized there had been extensive caterpillar damage to many of the trees in her yard in her absence. Husbands are often not as diligent as the gardner of the house in catching this sort of thing. About five trees had been decimated. Pestilence, Plagues. We got medieval on these fuckers immediately, spraying the caterpillars in one of her Crepe Myrtles in order to avoid more defoliation, which would have taken another tree by tomorrow. If you look at the photos, you can see that the tree on the left has been eaten, we worked to save the one on the right from further damage, beating them out with sticks and rakes. When I left for Mexico, I was being pelted by termites in my living room. Where do we live?

Then I went to the grocery, not too traumatic, considering it can be. On the way home, however, there was a drug bust happening at the end of the block, the police pulled their guns and began canvassing the hood. I would usually run inside and take cover in case gunfire/confrontation broke out, but by now, I just didn’t care. I unloaded my car, business as usual in the zoo that is New Orleans.

I apologize in advance for any sloppiness here, I am tired. On top of all else today, my highspeed internet has been down today but it looks like my Cox is back up now. Posting from the backup wifi on my laptop has been slow tonight, especially with regard to photo uploads. Thanks for your patience, hang in there.

Karen’s Photos

3 Comments so far

  1. wow powerleveling (unregistered) on June 20th, 2007 @ 1:18 am

    there’s different culture ,life,communication in third world.

    in my opinion we shouldn’t abandon it because this difference.avoiding from is isn’t the right way to slove the difference.

    maple story power leveling

  2. Editor B (unregistered) on June 20th, 2007 @ 1:17 pm

    Welcome back. Glad you had a good trip. We still owe you a dinner, but the in-laws are coming in town, so maybe in July.

  3. Marty (unregistered) on July 6th, 2007 @ 12:57 pm

    Laureen, any suggestions for signtseeing when the AALL members come to town 7/14-17? thanks!

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