Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Final blog entry

Sorry for the long silence since our last entry. Needless to say, much has been happening here and we want to let you all know that we are alive and well south of the border. Between the Swine Flu, minor earthquakes, and the daily slaughter of the narcotraficantes, some of you may think that we are in danger, if not already dead. But no, it takes more than a pandemic, natural disasters, and mass beheadings to bring us down!

As for the Swine Flu, it was indeed a reality here, but for the most part contained in Mexico City (DF-distrito federal). In DF they closed all restaurants, bars, theatres etc and they even canceled masses for the first time in over 100 years! Nearly everyone wore surgical masks, and handshaking and kisses were strongly discouraged. Needless to say, the topic dominated the news here and it felt like we were living in a Sci Fi movie. Life throughout the country slowed down considerably as people were told to avoid any place where there may have been large gatherings of people. All schools were shut for two weeks. However, as of two days ago the government proclaimed that the epidemic was under control and the country for the most part could return to life as normal.

Influenza Porcina

(Swine Flu)


P          igs, it appear, are finally getting the

O            pportunity they have so long awaited

R         evenge on the pork-craving, deep-frying

C            arnivores who have so cruelly and thoughtlessly

I           nflicted pain, suffering and death upon them for so many years

N         ew strain of virus, No vaccine

A         nimal Farm Revisited


As for our time here, it is diminishing rapidly. We finished our workshop at the school and it went well. Since we worked with a smaller number of children than anticipated, we still have some sketchbooks and art supplies left. We are getting involved in a center for migrant families near Puebla. It is a very interesting project that is putting together a theatre of the oppressed presentation, cultural performance etc. for a planned visit to New Haven, Connecticut, where most of the men from the village migrate to work. Many of the forty women involved have not seen their sons or grandchildren for ten to fifteen years. We plan to give a workshop to the eight organizers so that they can take over during the summer. The idea is to tell their life story in their sketchbook, so that when we return to Mexico next fall, they can put a book together written and illustrated by themselves. Another project is called Lee Mexico (Mexico Reads) a government program to promote reading in poor areas that do not have easy access to books.  It is a very grassroots organization and offers some very interesting possibilities. Marie has been asked to train teachers at la Universidad Iberoamericana in Puebla, at the "Secretaria de Educacion Publica" and at the school we worked at in Tlaxco.  An avalanche of activity toward the end of our stay!

 The most interesting future projects are near Puebla and Tlaxacala, so we are considering moving nearer to one of those cities. Atlangatepec has been a very good experience, but we think it is time to move on to something new. Both Tlaxcala and Puebla offer much more socially and culturally and we are ready for that now. We went to Guatemala to renew our visas at the end of March and Marie did her workshop in Oaxaca on the way to the border. We came right back into Chiapas where we spent two wonderful weeks, four days on La Palma, a tiny island of fisherman surrounded by mangrove swamps on one side and open sea on the other.  From there, we headed off to San Cristobal de las Casas and the Mayan ruins in Palenque. Mexico is an incredibly diverse country, and we feel very fortunate to have had the chance to explore a small part of it while we were here.

Some of you have requested that we include some of our sketches in this blog, so we will accommodate you.

Hola, Marie here… I will finish this blog with a small paragraph. I have canceled my flight to France. Part of me is really sad not to see my mother and friends but also relieved. I do not think that it is a good time for flying, as the world seems to be flipping out with worries about contamination from Mexico. 

Being here for the last six weeks will allow me to enjoy the peacefulness of Atlangatepec  a perfect place for introspection… Start working on our children's book, a story about the right to not emigrate and how the maguey cactus made that possible for one family.

Reflect upon our 9 months stay in Mexico, and get involved in the migrant center before we leave so we have a better idea of what to expect when we come back in the Fall. Although it took a while for opportunities to present themselves, things have taken off and as we prepare to return to the States, we feel the need to return to Mexico next fall to make our efforts here these past nine months worthwhile.

Beside the projects, I have given two three-day workshops for Mexicans, one in Oaxaca and one in Puebla. I never even considered giving three-day workshops in Spanish before arriving here, but both went very well and I intend to repeat the experience next year.

One of the most important parts of our stay in Mexico has been to realize the importance of the "pedagogic "aspect of what I do and love to do. I have been approached by a few teachers who have asked me to train them so that they can integrate "sketchbooking" into their curriculum. It has been a great experience to be able to share this amazing tool at a different level than my regular workshops, although, I will resume these in Oregon and in Oaxaca in the summer and fall.

Last news…The last night of my three-day workshop in Puebla, Deek tripped on a piece of metal sticking out on the sidewalk and fell face down and broke his nose. He had to get three stitches and was operated on last Thursday. Today, he is looking like his own self, ouuf!


This will be the last blog before we go back to the US. We may not have been very prolific in keeping in touch but what can I say…. We did what we could, considering our life here in Tlaxcala and our limited blogging skills.