Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Driving through Mexico - July 22nd

i love looking out the window of this big blue bus and seeing the caravan of buses and trucks headed for tampico! we've worked hard to collect and transport all these goods for the cubans, and we've now got tampico sign posts on the side of the narrow two lane highway (that's under construction, to be expanded). the mexican labourers are smiling and waving and offering peace signs as we pass. they understand, so much more intently than those who have it all, or who have the opportunity of it all, or who are forced to look and yet are still denied it all, north of the border.

rick (our driver) suggests his country needs a new name. mexico is also known as the 'united states.' and we can't call it 'america,' because america is much larger than just the middle bit. he's suggesting 'kleptopia.' he says he's been promoting that for about 15 years. they'll need a new anthem, and a new flag.

we left early this morning, though much later than last year, after sleeping four to a room at the capri hotel in reynosa. i'm adjusted to 4-5 hours sleep, amazingly my body fell into the pattern before i left home. i guess it sensed the journey, and remembered last year. this year doesn't seem nearly as harsh. of course, it helps that i didn't fall ill this year. that's no fun at the best of times, and especially when on the road and without the usual comforts and herbs. so yesterday, after all those hours at the dockyard waiting for the mexican authorities to finish their work, i snuck a few quiet moments alone in our room, watched a colbert report i'd downloaded, caught a 20 minute nap, and headed out for dinner with more vegans than i've ever met in a random situation.

did i mention that there's a woman on the caravan who lives in the same town as stephen colbert? apparently he lives in a regular house, drives a regular car, and teaches sunday school at a catholic church. who knew?

we left so much later than last year because this year the mexican heffes wanted to keep the buses overnight at the border. we didn't have to navigate the narrow mexican streets with them, that was a good thing, but it's a long hot drive to tampico and leaving that much later means we'll be unloading the aid until the wee hours. luckily we don't fly until the afternoon so at least we'll get some sleep.

in reynosa last night, after a vegan dinner of frijoles, arroz, y guacamole (and a coronisata, a little tiny bottle of cerveza .. what's the point) my new friends and i wandered over to the zocalo where we sat and watched the commuity gather. people so often talk about places like mexico and south america in terms of mere finance, claiming they're 'poor,' but i rarely see family and friends gathering in the city square of any north american city after dinner, to just talk and let the kids run around freely. there's a price that just can't be put on community. thanks to capitalism, the preponderance of individualism at the expense of community building, and the corporate media that promotes fear and hysteria, we north americans are denied these simple acts of solidarity and friendship.

from the plaza we returned to the capri. i stopped in the restaurant and had a real sized beer and chatted with some caravanistas, then wandered up to the rooftop. last year there was a horrid stench up there, though the view of all the neighbourhood 7/11s (and there are many of them) almost made it worthwhile. this year there was a lovely evening breeze, a gathering of progressive minded young folk, some music, and a distinctive lack of sewer stench. i laid on my back and listened to their conversations and the music and looked at the stars and marvelled at this adventure i'm so delighted to be a tiny part of.