'Viva la Vida' are Frida Kahlo's words. I think it means something like, 'Celebrate Life!' 'Long Live Life!' It's salutary that despite all her pain and suffering she was still able to say this at the end of her short life.
Tomorrow is our last day and given the problems I've had with the lap top I've decided to do a brief summing up of our Mexican experience tonight instead of waiting til after our visit to Teotihuacan tomorrow and the possibility that Dell boy may not want to cooperate.
Mexico is a fascinating country of contrasts; huge, diverse, complex, rich in history, custom, tradition, with many of the contemporary problems facing the rest of the world: rising unemployment and cost of living, climate change, diminishing resources etc. This year 2010 celebrates two hundred years of independence. At the demo supporting the strike by the Mexican Electricians' Union, we saw a poster which we think said something like,
Celebrate Mexico? What's there to celebrate?
Narcotic trafficking, Lack of Security, High Crime, Corrupt Politicians, Unemployment, Injustice...
Clearly, if workers are prepared to go on hunger strike then the situation for some must be desperate.
We have only been here for five weeks and our contact with Mexican people has been quite small. However, what's impressed us most is that despite the possible personal consequences there are those individuals and groups, like staff and volunteers at Natate, the Zapatistas and the Electricians, who are standing up for what they believe in. One of our guides talking about environmental issues told us, 'In Mexico it's dangerous to be an activist. People who protest loudly can disappear. Get killed.'
In a video of Rufino Tamayo's work, a Mexican muralist of Rivera's generation, he says that in his view it's a myth to believe that Mexicans are all about fiestas and celebrations. He believes that the national Mexican personality is quite a tragic one. I guess if you consider the oppression that the people have been subjected to from the very earliest times this view is understandable. The Mexican, 'Day of the Dead' is a celebration of the lives of ancestors and sees death as part of the process of living.
We have felt safe here, even in Mexico City, where we've riden the metro, the train and the bus and where we've stood out as the only gringos seemingly taking public transport. There are obviously dangers, like in any big city, and maybe we've been lucky, but there is also a large police presence. Maybe that helps us feel safe too.
We find the people very helpful and friendly. To our surprise most Mexicans don't speak English and our appalling Spanish has caused some grins. We wish we'd come better prepared language-wise.
We've learnt alot during this holiday. House-sitting for Larry was a great experience. He taught us to re-examine the place of trust in our lives. He's truly an exceptional person. We look forward to getting to know him better when he comes over to Europe next year.
We'd love to get to know this interesting, colourful and vibrant country better. Hopefully we'll come back one day. In the meantime, VIVA MEXICO!