viernes, 20 de diciembre de 2013

El Cumpleaños de Lupe...

The anniversary of the sighting of the Virgin of Guadalupe, almost five hundred years ago.  Perhaps the most incongruous and colourful event in Mexico, Lupe's birthday is a huge deal for many Mexican's, particularly those who undertake pilgrimages to sites such as this basilica in Mexico City.  I have talked about the Virgin Guadalupe before, here and there, but before this recent birthday of hers I had never seen her worship to such a scale.

Many people came to the Basilica dressed in a shirt or dress bearing the image of the Virgin while others have her portrait strapped to their back, or carry her image as a statue all day; any tangible way to prove the strength of their devotion to la reina de México.  My favourite were the kids with the Virgin capes and the Virgin stamps on their faces.

Prior to this, I had been unfamiliar with the idea of Christianity wrapped so thoroughly in feathers and shrouded in incense.  A paved expanse surrounding the main, circular church which is somewhat reminiscent of a circus tent, was filled with scenes like this one: feathered, colourful people dancing their praise to the Virgin in a haze of incense.

The contrast between the sombreness of the church and the brightly coloured, feathered people dancing is striking.  It reminds me of how the Lupe was used to legitimise the Catholic church in Mexico, to strengthen Spain's hold over the newly found land, but seems to show rebellion as well.  It shows Mexicans accepting her, and thus the Spanish religion, on their own terms.  With all the colour, flourish and jazz that they can squeeze into their devotion, Mexico has truly made Lupe, and this pedacito of Catholicism their own.

miércoles, 4 de diciembre de 2013

Los Conflictos De Los Toros

Los toros... An event at once horrifying, grotesque and an intricate game between man and beast.  A violent dance that is not even close to being fair, with the odds stacked against the bull.  Trotting in, the bull appears somewhat confused by the open arena and the eager crowd.  He's slowly weakened, poked and prodded, tired from charging around the arena.  Only after this does the real dance begin.  It is a shame: the best bit only happens after the bull has been worn down and injured.  Having said that, with a skilled toreador, the dance can be truly breath-taking.  A furious bull, charging, turning in tight circles, following the cloth, or turning firstly in one direction and then doubling back on himself, going where the cloth leads him: it is genuinely astonishing.  And even more so, when after this tight dance between enemies the toreador turns his back on the bull and walks away, arms upraised to the praise of the crowd.  How can he trust his opponent that he has been tormenting not to run him down?  I don't know, but for some reason the bull doesn't.  Maybe the bull doesn't understand it is a fight to the death.

It is really an emotionally confusing event.  The setting itself buzzes with excitement, the stabbing and the deaths of the bulls seems tragic - and even more so when the crowd celebrates it.  I often found myself on the side of the bull, cheering against the crowd, cheering on the underdog who didn't even necessarily know what he was fighting for nor the rules of the game.  But the archaic attire, the bold colours, the food vendors - all build an enthusiasm which sometimes left me sickened - enthusiasm for violence and death?  Like the gladiators of ancient Rome: in the end it is a spectacle.  Shocking, unsettling, exciting and above all else: dramatic.  I am glad we saw the two startling and conflicting faces of the event, but I have no need to go again.  And although once was enough for me, it wasn't enough to  understand the event, something I'm not sure I could ever achieve.  Despite all the associations with los toros - masculinity, sexuality, risk... I can't get past the violence at its core.

sábado, 9 de noviembre de 2013

México... de nuevo

Everything seems at once familiar and foreign.  Returning to a place that you once knew well, that was dear to you... It is not something I'm practised at.  It is strange, walking through streets that were once familiar, remembering isolated places but failing to recall how they interconnect.  A giant and unrelenting case of déjà vu.  Knowing places but not how they are situated in space.  Stumbling over words in a language left dusty.  Seeing phenomena that feels as though you had watched a documentary on it a year or two ago, not as though it were a reality you lived.

That is the unsettledness that has plagued me since returning to Mexico.  And while it is dissipating more and more everyday, it is slightly unnerving that it was ever there: almost two years ago I fell in love with this country.  Shouldn't it feel more natural, being back?

I arrived shortly before Día de muertos, and on going out to was not how I had remembered it.  I had forgotten that Oaxaca, where we had celebrated Día de muertos the year before, was very different to Guadalajara.  Where Oaxaca was indigenous, superstitious and extravagant in its celebrations, Guadalajara seems to treat the occasion as more of a big costume party.  Guadalajara takes the holiday and dresses it up in a cosmopolitan outfit.  Maybe the surprise of this was exaggerated for me because I was still getting used to the idea of being back in Mexico.  I think I had been dreaming of reliving my memories instead of making new ones; that was a mistake.  Nothing stays the same, even less when it is on the other side of the country.  Mexico, I'll give you another chance.  No more biases.  Lo prometo.

miércoles, 23 de octubre de 2013

The Door To Tomorrow

What is that old saying?  I can just hear Julia Andrews in The Sound of Music - when God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.  So often I find myself stumped, considering the future, laying out all of the possibilities before me.  It is always so hard to decide when there is so much unknown, so much at risk.  So often I find myself pleading internally for the door to just open that I don't think, or can't bring myself, to knock.  Knock and maybe someone will tell you the answer, solve all your problems.

I guess that would be the ideal situation... but in my experience they tend to just open more windows, adding to the array of possibilities already spread out before me, none of them markedly any better from those already there.  And at this point in time, having just finished my studies (for a while), I already have so many options before me... along with an apparent lack of decisiveness...  All I need is one door to open.  Maybe I should just relax, take a break from life, right?

Taking these photos, of course, I was not thinking so philosophically.  In the street in Trinidad, Cuba, I was more worried about standing on the road, in full blast of the sun's rays, and looking like a fool while I waited.  This fear of standing out, of drawing attention to myself, is deeply tied to my desperate want to avoid attracting the jineteros for which Cuba is also sadly famous.  I had already attracted them in Trinidad, being pounced on as soon as I arrived and followed around town for a while.  I waited slightly ill at ease, and after a moment the door to open for the lady, allowing her to enter with her groceries.  A door opened for her, why wouldn't one open for me too?

lunes, 14 de octubre de 2013

La Quinceañera del Parque

This photo always makes me giggle.  The quinceañera: Mexico at its most extravagant and ridiculous.  I didn't even know that dresses like this actually existed in real life before I arrived in Mexico.  Walking through the streets of Mexico City, I passed a store that sold quinceañera dresses.  I couldn't help but stare they were so... flamboyant.  Shaking my head, I told myself that it had just been some kind of fancy dress shop.  I managed to go on believing this for about three weeks, until in Guadalajara I found myself walking around "that part of town".  All up, there were about twenty stores selling these outrageous dresses, each one seeming crazier than the last.  There were all kinds of ornamentation: wings, leopard print, sparkles, but mostly there was plenty of poof.  This was when I knew that it was probably not just your average fancy dress.

It turns out the quinceañera is a girl celebrating her fifteenth birthday, when she is seen to go from being a kid to a woman.  Just like that, a flick of the switch.  Of course, this idea in itself is not so strange, after all in Australia we have debutantes.  I just love the idea of the quinceañera so much because it does the typical Mexican; it takes what is a fairly normal custom and then seems to have taken a step back, asking itself - but how can I make it more.... jazzy?  The result is a ritual which combines the church and community with a bursting forth of exuberance that seems to hit you over the head, leaving you wondering where it came from?

The quinceañeras are one of my favourite parts of Mexico; they pop up from nowhere when you least expect it.  For instance, this photo was taken on a casual picnic in the park; but I've also seen the girls posing in front of fountains and even once on a roundabout.  That they can just appear, so unexpectedly, is what I love about Mexico.  It takes the extreme, the extraordinary, the ridiculous and makes it the everyday.  Life in Mexico is really quite dream-like: dramatic, colourful, startling and sometimes scary things happen, but no one misses a beat, everything just keeps going on.  - Did you see the girl in the giant purple dress lying on the grass with people attending her skirts?  - Oh, what? The quinceañera? Yeah, I think so.

viernes, 11 de octubre de 2013


Serenity.  That's all I can think of when I see this photo, everything seems still.  We reached this lake in the Peruvian Amazon by canoe.  The jungle had been dense either side of the river, giving a sense of being boxed in by walls made of plants.  Casting shadows on the dark water, the morning sun stretched to touch the far side of the watercourse.  As we steered into the lake the world seemed to open up, leaving me with the conflicted feelings of being liberated from the confines of the jungle while also being very aware of how exposed I was.

We had made the trip to the lake in the hope of seeing some wildlife.  Sadly, no one was home.  While there was a far-off sloth, he didn't seem very enthusiastic about seeing us.  We paddled further around the edge of the lake, following its banks.  A loud holler erupted from our guide, shattering the silence and stillness of the lake.  He was calling out to the monkeys that were often around the lake.  They answered him, a distant call ringing back through the trees.  He offered to lure them down to the bank for us, coaxing them with offers of bread or some other treats.  We barely considered this before declining it: we were in the Amazon, not a petting zoo.  Bribing wild animals would sap all of the magic out of a place so unknown and so mystical.  Better to leave the place with some of its power.

miércoles, 9 de octubre de 2013

The Clouds of Change

Clouds always make me think about time and change.  They're so fleeting.  By the time you've pointed it out to your friend you can't even be sure that what you saw in it is still there, and by the time you explain it to them it probably won't be.  Isn't it strange how quickly things pass before you when you're not paying attention, but as soon as you have a goal, something to look forward to, time seems to slow.  Instead of seeing sand pour through your fingers, you can see it pass through grain by grain.  Maybe time isn't as objective as they say.  Maybe time is spiteful.  Maybe time slows down because it thinks at those times we are most interesting.  I don't know... maybe I just feel the need to blame someone.

In other news: what strange weather we've being having in Melbourne!

lunes, 30 de septiembre de 2013

An End Of The Silence

I know that I've left this page abandoned for sometime now.  I took this picture at my university at the start of the year, having in mind at the time that I would be spending a lot of time amongst the shelves in the coming months; nervous, excited, not quite sure if that was a good thing or not.  In a few weeks the academic year will be over for me, thesis polished and submitted.  With the end in sight I can say that the year wasn't nearly as hard or tortuous as I had been led to expect; in fact, it was almost the opposite, although there were definitely moments throughout.  It leaves me with a swelling up of emotion, of excitement for the possibilities of the future, and of dread of facing the job hunt which seems to beat so many graduates.  But either way, or any way in between: there will be change and opportunities.  It also means I should be around here a bit more.

Wish me luck!

lunes, 22 de julio de 2013

That Feeling

Do you know that feeling, where everything has been chaotic or distracted or disorderly, or just not good in some way, but then something happens.  Or rather, nothing happens, there is no change, just subtle shifts that aren't really noticeable.  Everything slows down, time seems idle but the best thing  is that everything matches.  Everything seems to fall in place: to coordinate, to just be right.  Everything is where it needs to be.  And suddenly you realise how perfect everything is.  No matter how much you may have strived to achieve such cohesion, such sync-ing previously, you would never have been able to attain it.  It is not the kind of feeling that you can work towards, it is more like a moment where everything in the universe aligns, and it is just that you are there to recognise it.  Or like your breath catches and time stops for a second. You are completely at peace with yourself and everything makes sense.

I imagine a lot of people get this feeling from drugs and alcohol, or at least it is what they are striving for.  I would like to believe this: who can be blamed for trying to feel such perfection?  Drugs, sex and music - the triple combo - maybe that is all you need to feel it.  Maybe that is all you need; but it wouldn't be the same.  It wouldn't be pure.  And if you can get that feeling sober, well, what need do you have for drugs?

lunes, 1 de julio de 2013


It seems that while Mexico comes to life at night, in Australia everything only becomes more intimidating, dark and lonesome; which is ironic considering how much safer Australia apparently is.  Boundaries seem more definite, more intimidating.  Seeing such (generally pointless) rigidity  makes me feel the need to rebel... But being caught out somewhere where you weren't meant to be at night would get you into a lot more trouble than during the day.  While all the signs are there during the day,  at night disobeying them may leave people jumping to conclusions about your intentions: stalker? murder? rapist? pervert?  It is like the personal and private aspect becomes so much more prominent at night than during daylight hours.  And while I am a private person myself, maybe I wouldn't have been if I was raised somewhere else.  

Apart from a certain coldness, there is an unsettling element to such strict privacy though: what are they trying to hide?  Maybe it is my misinterpretation given Australia's reputation for being a really laid back country... but the suburbs at night are definitely unwelcoming, creating a heightened sense of your own isolation, almost an absence.

sábado, 15 de junio de 2013

Patria o Muerte

Defending Socialism

I have been thinking lately, about what it is that makes Cuba seem so jarring.  It is a very mysterious place, with a lot of seemingly inherent social contradictions.  You see some things that really make you stop and think: that is what I was waiting for!  Like when you see a 1950s car. And then other things that just seem really out of place or contradictory.

I think previously I had always focussed on the things themselves.  Like the prevalence of smoking in a country that is meant to have one of the best medical systems in the world.  But I think the main one, or what it all boils down to is politics - or social structure.  The image that I had in my mind before going to Cuba was playing chess or dominoes in the street, 1950s cars, street music, cigars, rum, mojitos on the beach and Che, obviously.  And Cuba is all those things, undoubtedly.  There life runs to a different beat to in the West, an unhurried one.  It is almost like an exotic, time-warped version of reality.  Education, music and sports seem to take more prominence, especially the latter two, than in Western cultures.  But bearing down over this more relaxed lifestyle, is the ominous presence of socialism.

We want you all to be like Che - Fidel.

Travelling around some of the most common and, for me, the most shocking hints at its presence were signs painted here and there bearing messages such as: patria o muerte (father-land or death), or socialismo o muerte (socialism or death).  What I found the most confronting about these were that they were so common place, so everyday, and passed by locals without even a blink.  So it seems that the idealised relaxed Cuban lifestyle is peppered with social and political propaganda.  I don't intend to debate the benefits of socialism versus capitalism, but rather to note the oppressive political vibes that are constantly being sent out.  Maybe that is rather an indication of the perceived threat of other ways of life encroaching on their established system.

viernes, 7 de junio de 2013

La Calle Por La Noche

Oaxaca, in the days leading up to Día de los Muertos.  Maybe it was just my imagination, my own excitement for Día de los Muertos, but there was an energy, an electricity in the air, and particularly at night, when people would come out dressed up, or in a parade.  I remember thinking shortly after arriving in Mexico, that while it is pretty during the day, it is stunning at night.  Maybe it is because everything seems to take on a kind of mystic quality, like the borders between the real and the unreal, reality and dreams seem to blur.  There is more potential at night; greater possibilities, choices and events that would never occur during daylight hours.  This is, of course, exaggerated to a completely different scale around Día de los Muertos, when the divide between the living and the dead realms is meant to be at its weakest.  Everyone seemed to be buzzing.  Although it may have just been that my vision was distorted by my own buzzing, shaking everything, I don't really believe that.  Sitting at this food stall I could feel the excitement tugging at me, drawing me back to see what was happening around the zócalo.

What I wouldn't give to be back there now, instead of working on an essay for Uni.  Even take away the excitement of Día de los Muertos, what could be more enticing than the carelessness of walking down a deserted street late at night, drawn by the scent of frying meats and tortillas?  Like a moth to the flame, not just drawn in by the smell, but by the well-lit stall against the dark night.  The carefree days of late night tacos.

sábado, 25 de mayo de 2013


I nearly laughed when I saw this sign.  It seems a decent overreaction, to have a sign for some slightly uneven paving.  I mean, if you go around marking all the bumps, who's going to pay attention when the sign says: CAUTION: CHASM ?  Could you imagine walking down your street seeing signs saying: CAUTION: STEP at the gutter, or CAUTION: SLOPE at driveways?  A bit of an exaggeration, I know, but even more ridiculous.  What if I want to choose not to exercise my caution, as an act of rebellion?

I guess it is pretty easy (and maybe slightly corny) to extrapolate this, but I feel like this is really relevant for me at this time.  Life is a constant stream of bumps, and if you spend so much time looking down and focussing on them, you're probably going to miss something big up ahead.  Where is the fun in life you are constantly worried about finding yourself off-balance?  That's when the most interesting things happen.  This is, in part an explanation for my absence here; being over-run by uni with the semester ending.  Not a very interesting excuse, but I guess I've just been putting too much energy into the bumps along the way.

lunes, 22 de abril de 2013

Buddha Goes to the Beach

Along the malecón of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, lie a range of sand sculptures, onsite lighting making them even the more striking at night.  I find this sculpture itself out of place in Puerto Vallarta, a highly commercialised, tourist town, hinted at in the lit up buildings in the background.  The malecón is not designed to be a peaceful walk at night alongside the incredibly detailed sculptures and statues.  Even more so than in less touristic places it springs to life at night, with a seemingly endless trail of food venders, toy and trinket sellers, and performers.

There is too much peace in the sculpture to fit.  It's also not very Mexican.  But I think the sculpture, standing taller than I, deserves my forgiveness this time.  I wish I could  keep so composed facing the constant threat of being washed away.  Maybe if I stretch my ears and grow some bonsai trees it will help.  I think I'll do that.

miércoles, 10 de abril de 2013

The Mysteries of the Korean Church

Wandering through the suburban streets, you only have to navigate a couple of corners to come across this church from my house.  It's not a very pretty church, simple red brick, although it does have some stained glass windows, it doesn't appear very remarkable at all.  The denomination in Uniting, a common Christian denomination in Australia.  What intrigues me about it though, if you look at the sign, is that it's Korean.  I also really like their minibuses with the Uniting Church insignia and Korean writing on the sides.  I have seen a couple of churches in Australia that are something like - Chinese Baptist Church - or something of the sort, and they always stick out at me, but they are still so rare. To me it seems quite bizarre, it poses many questions, but mostly: are their services normal, but just in Korean?  Is that the only difference?  I really want to attend one of their services to find out, but my conspicuousness concerns me: I don't exactly look Korean.  And really, if I went, I don't speak Korean, and even if I did, I don't know what a normal Uniting Church service is like to compare it to.  But despite all that, it is very intriguing.  Every time I walk past I find myself staring at it and wondering.  So many mysteries around this small Korean church...

domingo, 31 de marzo de 2013

Lupe II

I've already discussed the Mexican virgin Guadalupe in another entry, so I won't be re-hashing that.  I just love the intensity of this photo; the sheer volume of religious iconography, the prominence and centrality of Guadalupe and the brightness of the colours and in particular the flowers.  What else is so great about this is is that it was located in a small, roadside restaurant in Oaxaca.  By small I mean that while it wasn't small in size, it did have a definite quaint feel about it, particularly in the way that the waitress/cook/owner (I guess), an elderly woman, would simply come and ask you what is was that you wanted to eat, without providing a menu.

Such intense and concentrated imagery in such a relaxed, everyday setting.  Religion is a funny thing sometimes.

martes, 19 de marzo de 2013


I have talked about Cuba before, in other entries.  But today I want to talk about feelings (oooooooh).  Cuba is, above all else, confusing.  In a lot of ways you feel like you've gone back in time: 1950s cars, horse and carts being legitimately used as taxis and in towing, the casual attitude, kids playing with tops in the street...  But then sometimes you come across something and it is completely disorientating.  For instance, you can find Internet access in Cuba (although it can be difficult/impossible at times), once I saw a new-looking Audi (excuse my lack of knowledge about car models... but it was shiny if that helps) or the fact that they are meant to have an amazing medical system.  Added to these temporal confusions are social ones, and in particular, economic ones.

In some ways, the confusion I'm feeling now is the same that I experienced in Cuba.  In some ways I feel like I've gone back in time - I'm back in the same city, attending the same university and I have the same friends (who have not at all changed from when I last saw them).  But then I get disorientated: I'm doing Honours now, my schedule is different, I live in a different neighbourhood.  There are also added social and economic confusions.  But really, in the end, it all boils down to the fact that I am different.  I wasn't sure that I was completely compatible before, but now I know I am not.  I have come to the conclusion that I really need new friends, to make my current ones become old friends.  I am not compatible with them, and I feel that being around them makes me into a worse person.  I need my freedom back.

viernes, 15 de marzo de 2013

México en una cajita...

I went to a function today, a homecoming celebration/debrief here in Melbourne, Australia, for students who had recently returned from exchange.  It was about reverse culture shock, using the exchange experience to sell yourself to employers and future directions, basically.

When I think of how Mexico seems to Australians, this picture is what I think of, as well as Taco Bill's, drug cartels, tequila and sombreros - as in ridiculously large, straw hats.  Although that had never been my summary of Mexican culture, there is no way I want to revert to someone who even makes those distorted associations, let alone believes them.  I was shuddering internally when the speaker even mentioned 're-assimilation' and 're-integration', but maybe that is in part due to my studies in Anthropology.  Ideas of a culture should never be condensed into a mass-produced package and shipped off for consumption.  Ironically, I took this picture for my boyfriend, who had set me the task of taking photos of normal, everyday things in Australia that would not seem normal to him.

Part of my aversion to ideas such as 're-assimilation' clearly stem from not wanting to give up ways that I have changed, to revert back to the 'original me'.  But, on the other hand, seeing again how Mexico is portrayed in here, makes me cringe at the ways that similarly I, as part of my own culture, am represented in some packaged-format as well.  I mean, this was obvious to me when I was in Mexico, and basically whenever I would mention Australia to a Mexican I would get a comment about kangaroos.  Maybe in this way I feel double packaged: originally in Australia, then shipped off, adjusted, and shipped back in a shiny, new Mexican wrapper.  I just wish wrappers weren't necessary.

sábado, 16 de febrero de 2013

El Esqueleto De Bob Marley Está En La Calle

I never exactly understood why I like this photo... It probably has to do with the tackiness of the Bob Marley hat, casually thrown on the dummy, like it was really hip...  the elaborately decorated skull in true Mexican fashion... But mostly with how out of place it seems in the quaint beauty of this street in Guanajuato.  Maybe its out of place-ness speaks to me, because I've always felt that way myself; a stranger in a familiar place.  Maybe because it hints at standing out, but remaining in hidden; unknown and disguised, bringing the magic of a masquerade ball to the street.  Maybe it is because it shows the ever present and radical contrasts in Mexican society - from the cholos to the fresas; two extremes together as one.  But who knows, maybe after all it is just a funny hat?

domingo, 3 de febrero de 2013


I actually took this picture a bit over a year ago, just before I left for Mexico.  I'd just gotten a new camera, by far the fanciest camera I'd ever had, and took this one while fiddling with the functions.  At the time I was staying at my aunty's for a couple of weeks after my lease ended and I'd moved out of a share house with friends, all the while waiting (and organising myself) to leave for Mexico.  The year in Mexico came and went, an amazing year in so many ways.  But now I'm back I find myself in the same boat, but reversed.  Now I'm waiting for friends to move in with.

The messiness of the transitions really seems to emphasise the end of an era; to rub it in, and not just skin deep.  But maybe, just maybe, as I was looking down the lens from the balcony, I wasn't seeing the end; but what came next, what was lying in wait for me in Mexico.  And maybe I just need to look a little further to see what is waiting for me here.

But seriously, don't go into share housing if you're planning on moving a lot.  If you have a choice, that is.

viernes, 1 de febrero de 2013

Bathroom Prisoner

I was often in trouble as a kid.  I just never understood why things had to be how they were. Why was it that old people were always listened to more than kids?  We had opinions too.  But it was also largely due to the fact that I had a really bad temper.  Once we had some family friends visiting, I think I must have been about seven at the time.  Mum and Dad had gone down the farm to do some work, I think Mark, the dad of the other family, must have gone with them, because we kids were playing Duplo with only the supervision of their mum, Sonya.

This argument, I am fairly confident was my fault.  David, their boy my age, took out one of the people of the Duplo box and said he was going to be it.  I went to take it from him, claiming that it was my favourite and that therefore I would play with it.  And so the argument ensued.  Sonya swept in, to the aid of David, declaring that he would play with it.  And suddenly I was taken by fury.  It was not her argument, why did she have to step in?  Surely she was only supporting David because he was her son, so she liked him more than me.  But, in my pent up rage, I was unable to express myself and settled for yelling incoherently and hitting blindly.  Sonya was a big woman, there was no chance that I would hurt her, or that I would be able to win against her.  She carried me to the bathroom and shut the door.  None of our doors inside the house had locks, especially not from the outside.  She stood by the door and held it shut while I threw myself against it repeatedly, shouting strange noises and pulling at the unmoving handle.  

Finally I stepped back from the door to think.  I was clearly not going to be able to escape by that means.  I was still puffing heavily, tears falling from my anger at the injustice as well as from all the screaming, and pushing and pulling on the door.  I glanced around: I was trapped.  What was I going to do?  Then I sighted upon the window.  It was a sliding window that had no fly-screen – I could escape after all!  I removed all of the bottles of shampoo, conditioner, including the novelty Barbie ones my sister and I had, and all other lotions and potions from the window sill and left them on the far side of the sink.  Sliding the window open, I climbed up onto the sink and out the window.  I found myself in the carport between the old, metallic blue Statesman and a pile of boxes that were against the window.  But most importantly: I was free.  The feeling of success was quickly quenched by a new fear: I couldn’t get caught.  So, after quickly assessing all my options for concealment, I ran, trying to keep low to avoid being seen while I crossed the fifteen metres of bare backyard to the sheds.  But instead of entering them, something that I deemed too obvious, I went behind them.   The sheds backed up onto our back fence, but there was a gap of about forty centimetres between the back of the corrugated iron shed and the barb-wire fence.  I gave myself a few minutes of waiting to see if they had seen me before I would allow myself to enjoy my success.  I began to fret, I shouldn’t have left the bottles like that; I should have tried to conceal my escape.  But the minutes passed, no one came.  I was safe.  They would never find me here.  The more comfortable I became with my escape, the more I allowed myself to look at my surroundings.  Although it may have been the most obscure hiding place I could find, it certainly wasn’t the most welcoming.  There was corrugated iron lying in a pile, old tyres, and things of the sort.  Nothing that would allow me a seat, and I was a bit nervous of the sheets of iron as I knew snakes would like such a home.  But there I stayed.  I had won, and I had to make sure that they knew that.

But eventually, I never was sure how long I was behind that shed exactly; I grew tired of my victory, especially since I couldn’t be sure that they knew I had won, which was the important thing.  I hadn’t heard them calling for me or anything.  Did they even know that I was gone?  That would be the most insulting of all, to have made this grand escape only to find out later that no one had known that I was gone.  They never did find my secret hiding place.  I abandoned it to see if I could find out what was going on.  For the second time I ran across the backyard, doubled over like I had seen on TV.  I had decided that I would go along the side of the house, along the carport, where I was the least likely to be seen.  Despite my anxieties that someone would shout out, “There she is!” as I crossed the open space, my concerns proved to be completely unmerited.  Once again I had gone unseen.  Now I was safely squatting back beside the Statesman.  Carefully I listened for any inside noises, any commotion that indicated disequilibrium, worry about where I was.  I found myself sneaking along, bent over beside the cars parked in the carport.  I had gone the length of the Statesman and was beside the Commodore when I heard the click of the clip on the farm gate.  Mum and Dad were coming.  I could see them now.  I was safe.  It didn’t matter if I was seen now.  I ran over to them, across the road, to tell them of all the atrocities that had passed me.  I knew that I would have to tell them before Sonya poisoned their brains with the fight being my fault, which was completely beside the point.  When we made it to the house Sonya claimed that she had been worried about me, thinking that I may have fallen from the window and broken an arm.  I could never truly believe that my captor was concerned for my safety.

jueves, 24 de enero de 2013

Guadalajara, Guadalajara...

I took this photo in maybe my first complete day in Guadalajara, over a year ago now.  I hadn't yet come to know the city's quirks or understand its charm.  I was unaware of the unreliable and unpredictable public transport system, of the street food and tapatío specialties such as tejuino and jericalla, and the almost unchanging weather.  Still unaccustomed to the lack of punctuality and the lack of haste of the people, I settled into this foreign city and made it my home.  The architecture, the traffic, the food, the people, the Mexican slang, the no pasa nada attitude... while there were still surprises along the way, over time everything became more or less natural, expected.

For just over a year I called Guadalajara 'home', and let its charms entice me.  Having just made it back to Australia (like an adopted child, I have started to think of Australia as my 'birth home' rather than my actual home)... things don't feel the same as when I left them.  Everything seems to come with a certain superficiality, maybe even sterility... but maybe that comes from the whole first world thing.  Slowly the differences are becoming less jarring, but I don't think the 'Lucky Country' will ever be the same for me again...  Maybe I left my heart in Mexico.

lunes, 21 de enero de 2013

Serpentine Streets

The scales of the sleeping snake that is the street below, form from the glittering of paving; wet from earlier showers.  A passing taxi bringing life to the serpent, forming a head maybe, as he shuttles along, kicking up water from the snake's back, letting it fall in his wake.

Perched up on the ledge of the building beside the serpentine street, while the echoes of the fireworks reverberated, maybe not through the damp air that seemed to hang over the evening, watching, but through the people for whom the burst of light were also bursts of hope for the coming year.  I watched the lying serpent wake and sleep with passing cars over and over, as my boyfriend held me, not trusting me so close to the edge.  New Year's Eve 2012...

I hadn't realised that in Mexico, New Year's Eve is more of a family affair, despite the warnings of my boyfriend.  The idea just seemed so foreign to me, that subconsciously I'd instantly rejected it.  The quietness of the streets was eerie, and the intermittent rain and the heavy clouds above, waiting impatiently to dump their heavy loads on whoever happened to pass below, ominous.  But the distant fireworks seemed to be trying desperately, yet weakly, to offer promises for the new year.  It's yet to be seen if those far-off sparks of hope will last out 2013.