viernes, 28 de diciembre de 2012

Monstruos Andan Por La Calle

Waking up, groggily, vision still slightly blurry, to an alien invasion... is what I think of when I see this photo.  What isn't really shown is that the being in the corner, while having a human face, has the body of a turtle and the legs of an octopus.

We were walking back to my place, my boyfriend and I, late at night, after having been to a Radaid performance in el centro.  They're always surprising: how many of them will be there (it's a regular gig and there are eight of them), how they will play their instruments... I won't lie, there were even a couple of instruments there that I'd never seen before.  Still on a bit of a high from that (they'd been pretty amazing, intense), I stopped to take some photos, before we started climbing over the monsters.  My boyfriend was proudly seated on one, riding it like a horse,  my camera strap the reins, when a small, dirty man came and asked for money for his diabetes medication.  Jumping down from his mount, we kept on wandering home, despite the man's call to me of, "no te conviene".

I don't know why, but desperation, rudeness and manipulation... I always find them haunting, like their acts echo throughout me, eventually fading down to a whisper, but starting out as a loud call bouncing from one part of me to another.  In their wake they leave a certain hollowness inside until they wane to a vague memory.  I'm hoping that eventually his call will be completely over-written by the image of my boyfriend sitting majestically on his monster in front of the church.

miércoles, 19 de diciembre de 2012

Campanas, Torres y Vistas

I've always had a thing for towers, and especially bell towers.  There's just something so cool and kind of creepy about them; romantic ideas about princesses, Quasimodo and haunted castles.

This one I came across in Trinidad, Cuba.  Once a church, the lower stories now serving as a museum; bearing trucks, flags, guns and maps detailing the revolution.  If you pass upstairs, you can get into the tower, which was all I had really been interested in in going there. 

At the bottom of the tower sat a lady, knitting.  She let me pass and I climbed up to the first level, which lead out onto the red terrace.  Continuing up the creaky, wooden, spiral staircase I came upon these large, circular holes that were cut into the towers walls, giving a snapshot view of two opposing sides.  Turning to continue up the stairs, the steps giving slightly underfoot, I saw a chair deliberately lain across the stairs.  I knew what that meant, I think there was a sign too, written in red capitals, making it more imposing: No se puede pasar.  But to me, the sign, the chair... what they seemed to be saying was something more like: Only the faint of heart shall turn back.  It seemed more like an invitation to adventure ; a challenge.  I couldn't stop before getting to the bells, even if I couldn't make it to the top.  I knew that the chubby lady was still knitting at the bottom, and she couldn't see up there.  So I climbed over the chair and continued, thinking that I could always say that I hadn't understood the sign. 

Around a couple more corners I came across the bells, what I'd been waiting for.  Like the circular holes, there were two bells, facing opposite sides.  Apparently once you had been allowed to climb up to the bells and maybe beyond, as there was a retro-looking sign asking you not to sound the bells. 

Finishing looking out and taking photos, I looked around the next corner.  This time there were two folding chairs laid across the stairs along with a couple of planks, which seemed to be saying something more like:  No seriously, dude, you should stop now.  I don't really know why you couldn't keep climbing, it didn't seem that rickety.  Turning on my heel, I started heading down the stairs, when I heard the lady from the bottom calling up to me: No se puede.  Guiltily I hurried back, she was leaning passed the - No se puede pasar - sign, watching me return, embarrassed yet so pleased with myself.  She muttered disapprovingly under her breath as I threw her a quick - Lo siento - and rushed down the stairs and then out of the building.

jueves, 13 de diciembre de 2012

Still Waters

La Huasteca Potosina... a small area of sprouting jungle in central Mexico; a mixture of natural and man-made wonders...

I had made it there with a bus load of exchange students from school one long weekend.  It was the first (and last) trip that I went on with the school, for good reason.  There was a looooot of time on the bus - it was pretty far away from Guadalajara, and all the sites seemed to be a good distance apart.  There was also the music choices on the bus which, unfortunately, did include a video of an entire Shakira concert.  But the thing that I disliked the most was that by the end I didn't feel like I had ''gotten to know'' la Huasteca - we were shipped around in the bus, I never knew where we were or where we were going.  Having said all that, it was a good trip, and we did see some amazing things, I'm just not really into large group trips or tours.

This one was taken at one of the first stops on the trip: waterfalls and calm pools of turquoise waters nestled into the jungle.  Whilst all of our group headed down to the otherside of the pool, in their bikinis/swimmers and their brightly coloured life jackets, where the water was more still, these two local boys were jumping off the rock face into the water gushing down at them.  There was a notable contrast between their carefree reckless diversion compared to the overly cautious tourists - and I know who looked like they were having more fun.

lunes, 10 de diciembre de 2012

Sweet Dreams

One of the sweetest memories I have is of sitting outside one morning, on the paved step by the back door, utterly sad (I don't remember why).  Pepper, our family dog was there with me, as always.  We had been told by the pound when we got her that she was a Rottweiler x German Shepherd, but she definitely wasn't.  So I was sitting there, head in my hand, possibly crying, when Pepper walks up to me deliberately and rested her head on my shoulder.  I hugged her back.

Over the years Pepper had been one of my best friends, especially for the year and a half of homeschooling.  She was up for everything: a run, a walk in the bush, a swim in the creek, fetch in the backyard or just lying in the grass.  Granted, she did have a naughty side: chasing any animal or vehicle that went passed.  But she was so sweet and excitable with any human she deemed a friend; which was everyone.  So excitable, in fact, that she scared people when she started beating them with her furiously wagging tail or trying to lick them.

With everyone moving away from home as we got older, Mum started at looking into moving into town.  She was scared to take Pepper because of how she didn't play nice with other animals.  And when Pepper wanted to go after something, it could be pretty hard to hold her back: she was a big girl.  So she gave Pepper away to a friend and farmer.  It always made me feel bad, thinking about giving her away like that, like we'd - I'd - abandoned her.  So I stopped talking about her, because it always left me feeling guilty.  Then I got an email from Mum today - the people that had taken Pep in had had to get her put down because she was sick.  Such a sweetie.

domingo, 2 de diciembre de 2012

The Mother's Visit

I was just finishing my semester abroad, and my undergraduate degrees, when my mum threw together a last minute trip over to visit me.  I actually hadn't even finished my exams before she arrived in Mexico.  So she spent a few days in Mexico City before coming over to see me in Guadalajara.

In the last few days that she was over I took her to Guanajuato.  I hadn't spent so much time with her in years, and by the time we arrived in Guanajuato I was beginning to tire of some of her tricks.  She doesn't speak Spanish, and wouldn't even attempt to buy anything for herself if I was there with her.  She was scared to try food when she didn't know what it was.  She would always walk behind me in the street.  She would never suggest a place to eat, but would just say, ''Wherever you want,''... which, given that I myself am terrible at making up my mind, isn't much of a help.  She was, at least, suitably impressed by the quaint beauty of Guanajuato.  We had been up these stairs of the university during the day, and up to the lookout, but I had wanted to see it at night.  So we wandered around and around, with me leading and getting us slightly lost, through the winding, narrow streets, passing the underground tunnels, until we stumbled across it again.

I always hold that while Mexico is pretty during the day, it is stunning at night.  I think it is partly the quality of the light, its yellowness, as well as how the streets seem to come to life.  Guanajuato was no exception.  I particularly like this one for the ring of light which seems to give it a surreal quality, like the photo, or reality, has been twisted slightly.

sábado, 1 de diciembre de 2012

The Wannabe Karate Kid

Growing up, I was often blamed for things that weren't my fault.  I think I must have been any easy target.  Whenever it happened, all I could do would be stare disbelievingly at my accuser, and protest my innocence.  It wasn’t me! It was her.  I imagine that it went something like that.  Looking back on it now, it seems that this method of declaring my innocence was largely responsible for me getting the blame: it made me look guiltier.  There was the incident with the bathroom scales, where my elder sister, Erin, thought it would be funny if we adjusted them so that when Mum stood on them she thought she had gained a lot of weight, and I agreed to help.  I started winding the knob on the scales, but at about 40 kilograms, it wouldn’t go any further.  After pointing this out to Erin, she took over, claiming she could do it.  So the scales were broken; and somehow I ended up with all of the blame.

But the best example would have had to have been this one time when we were at my Nanna’s with my cousin Nathan and his mum.  At this time I was about four or five, and Nathan was a few months younger than me.  I had never liked him, we’d never gotten along.  My brother, Kurt, and Erin always seemed to enjoy playing with him growing up, although they now claim that they don’t like him either.  Us kids were playing in the lounge room, while Mum, Nanna and my auntie were in the kitchen.  I’m not sure how it arrived to this point, but it was a standoff between Nathan and me.  I just remember the episode starting like this:
    “Well, I know karate,” claimed Nathan confidently.  While I knew that he had been training, I guessed he wasn't any good at it.
    “Yeah, well I can pinch,” I stated equally confidently.  I knew that I could take him, my pinches were crippling.

     “Yeah, she can, her pinches really hurt,” added Erin and Kurt, sounding uneasy.

     “But I know karate,” my cousin repeated.

     “She pinches really hard,” they stressed.  Then he attacked.  He let out a call that sounded like he had learnt on TV, “Hee-ya!” as he karate-chopped my arm.  I let him hit me.  Then I stepped aside, grabbed his arm and pinched it, hard.  The matriarchs rushed into the room, responding to his crying.  My auntie rushed straight to her injured son, who was sobbing loudly while nursing his arm, “She pinched me!”

I was horrified at this turn of events.  How hadn’t I seen this coming?  I had won, and then in my moment of glory in swept these women to punish me.  I claimed my innocence, to no avail; I couldn’t deny that I had pinched him, even though I could try to stress how much he had deserved it.  It was only in the car ride home that I was properly able to explain to Mum without any chastising as to what had actually happened.  And then she laughed: she had never liked the kid either.