Chilangolandia to Chilango Lite / by Nicole Marroquin

This is an image from July. I had intensive taco eating lessons. Yes yes, there is also video footage. At this point I had gotten the hang of it and was moving so fast the camera could not pick up my magic. How complicated, I jump from July to the end of August in one line. But here I go.

It is hard to untangle all of the things that have been going on for the past few days. I am feeling like keeping secret what I am thinking on one hand, and also like moving on to a new phase. Now that I am home and I have interviews, videos, photos and so on, I need to look at spending extended time in the editing labs. also, distribution. Also, finding out what it all means. It is not everything I thought it was, but it sure is much more of other things. The way my personal identity is related to what I am working on is now more complicated, but I will go into that later. For now, paring it down, taming the beast. Summaries!

Tijuana was incredible. The city itself was amazing, and complicated. Ugly and breathtaking at the same time, which I say despite the cliche sound because I don't know a place it applies to better. It has the things I love about Mexico- people, music, foods, radicals in the streets, lotsa heart, and it also has a river of shit running through it.

We stayed in the home of 2 ex-pat justice workers who have figured out the keys to happiness and live directly on the beach. Waking up to see the surfers get some action before work, looking for dolphins and seeing them from the front porch, it was magical. Our hosts were kind, generous, fun and had so much exciting things going on, from the struggle in the maquiladoras to el campo y los indigenas, to water, to early childhood education, bullighting and surfing. Plus, the house was full of incredible ceramics because of course, they had incredible ceramists in the family. I could gush and rave for days, but I will leave some to the imagination. Here is a sunset with surfers. First time I saw surfers in person and you can see they made an impression on me.

At one point we were invited to go out to indigenous communities while a friend of our hosts passed on some information and news. Solidarity work is hard in rural areas because you have to get there, and toll roads are expensive. And it is in the desert and gas costs the same there as it does here, but you make $10 a day (if you got a sweet job) doing construction or $2 in a factory. Hours on the road takes lots of money. Plus, you get there, you hang out, talk, talk, talk. Email had made me forget how communication really works. You see someone in my reality and they ask how you are, and I say, have you not read my blog?

We went out and met with people, sitting down. As a result, in our posession are a few very hot testemonios from people who are not going to take the shit sitting down. Here are speakers in a house in a settlement that has no water, limited electricity (see the wires?) where we did an intense interview. Well, I asked as general a question as I could as part of the ritual of the interview, and these guys went off. From prison and torture in Oaxaca to the border. The margins are all centrally located here. This town was made up of people who were looking for work and either kicked out of the US or had foiled attempts at crossing.

In another location, on traditional ceremonial grounds southeast of Tecate BC, 20 miles from the border, people put trailers down and looked like they were going to try to settle it. Might have been folks from the US, poor Mexicans looking for a home, who knows. But these are tribal burial grounds for a lot of people. So they tied the trailers to trucks and dragged them away. It came to blows as you would expect. We were out there a few days later and the vibe was tense. It is not resolved and there were barbed wire fences everywhere and even an armed guard at one place. People are just settling the land as if nobody was on it. As if other people's spirituality meant nothing. As if their struggle took presidence over the struggles of the indigenous people who live there. Sound familiar?

Which is why solidarity is, to me, above everything.