The End of an Era (But Not Really)

Fast forward 10 days. Mara left. I spent the last week and a half knocked flat by a merciless full-body cold that started with a crippling fever and is still hanging on by a few coughs. Some would say I had it coming. There are many expressions for this–I was burning the candle at both ends, spreading my butter too thin, or, as my dad would ask, “Am I trying to get mono again?” My first response was denial, going along with my daily work and activities, but the cold fought back. We put on an incredible multi-trueque, I made 50+ veggie hamburgers for Mara’s goodbye party. I went to school. But when I finally surrendered, I was forced to spend a couple of days watching the sun rise and set through the crack of my door on the rooftop. I had to forfeit my trip to Juarez and submit to three days of significant rest.

multitrueque paloma

A captivating Arab dance performance briefly brings the multi-trueque to a stand-still.

taller comercio justo

Before the multi-trueque, participants of the introductory workshop on fair trade are asked to reflect upon the structures of violence, oppression and coercion created by money in global society.

This blip in time leaves me less than a week away from my symbolic return to the U.S. at the conclusion of my fellowship year (don’t worry, I’ll be back in Mexico City ten days later). I mean it’s my home, at least for the moment. I find this return so distinct from the one I faced six months ago. So many doors have opened, passions restored and talents awakened. The last few months have steadily marked change and growth on my part, a blossoming of sorts, to be sure. The landscape of Northern Virginia and those struggles now seem so distant, and the processes and opportunities and inspirations on this side of my life so infinite. My feet sprouted roots and I feel like I can’t take a step forward until I give myself the chance to keep reaching up. What I mean is I’m grounded here and I couldn’t feel better about my decision to not move on just yet.

Community supper

(Almost) the whole crew.

In the next few weeks, the Casa will welcome Siena Mann to its ranks as the 2014-2015 Haverford Post-Bac Fellow. As always, the Casa changes week-to-week, and it’s exactly that which makes it a miraculous place. People move on from it, but not really. And the Casa doesn’t move on either. It’s a many decades project, and a transcendent space which I encourage every single person in their lifetime to get a chance to know. The stories here are endless, hilarious and often tragic. It’s hard to imagine myself moving on any time soon for good, but for right now a little bit of geographical distance, a short break, and some family time sound too good to be true. Especially since its summer in Virginia and blueberry season.

Everything I’ve Got

Really? Just two weeks left of my Fellowship?

I’ve put everything I’ve got–heart, soul, body–into work the last couple of weeks. It’s been intense, but as always, so incredibly worth it. This week I dedicated a large chunk of my time to writing the Summer edition of the monthly Casa newsletter, which includes publicity about what’s going on in the Casa (its name in Spanish, “Lo Que Pasa en la Casa”), means exactly that. Here, for example, is the description for an event the Casa’s Economic Justice Committee will be holding in just two days, which we have pretty high expectations for. (If you recall the post from many months ago about the multi-trueque Mixhiuca, I’ve participated in multi-trueque once before. But the Casa is going to host one of its very own!):

Multi-Trueque Festival “La Paloma” (The Dove). The event is a practice in solidarity economics where we will use an alternative currency called the “Paloma” instead of the peso. The exchange will take place with many different elements-from seeds, to used books, to any other product you want to trade. There will be digital trueque (bring your USB and trade for music, books, or movies, from AutoGestival’s digital library). Small producers will also participate. The introductory workshop to multi-trueque lasts 20 minutes and starts at 12:30pm.

We are also going to host a series of workshops and special artistic performances. They are completely free, but you should bring something to exchange with those giving the workshops. We will have a Mexican “son” and traditional music concert by La Bruja y sus conjuros, an Arabic dance show (with a great dancer and friend from Iran), an awareness-raising workshop about the migrant and refugee community with our friends from Program Casa Refugiados, a Mazahua embroidery workshop with an indigenous Mazahua cooperative we work with, and a hip hop dance workshop with two of our volunteers from Haverford College. All are welcome to participate in this event. The introductory workshop to the multi-trueque begins at 12:30pm.

12:30 pm Multi-trueque workshop (mandatory for those participating in the multi-trueque)
1-6pm ¡Multi-trueque don y gratuidad!
1:30pm La bruja y sus conjuros (sones, Mexican and Latin American music)
2:30pm  Hip hop (dance) w/ Rafa y John (USA)
2:30pm Arab dance performance w/ Somayeh (Iran)
3:00pm Rhymes and rapping w/ Emilián (El Salvador)
3:30pm Awareness-raising workshop (about migrants, asylum seekers and refugees) w/ Program Casa Refugiados
4:30pm Embroidery workshop w/ “Flor de Mazahua”
6:00pm Closing

Sounds amazing, right? We’re all really jazzed about it, looking forward to seeing who turns out this Sunday for the event (we are competing with the World Cup Final :( ).

This coming week is also my last week we Mara, who arrived the same week I did last August to the Casa, and we have been attached at the hip ever since. I don’t really know what I’m going to do without her. My last two weeks at the Casa I’m also helping wrap-up a poster project for the cooperatives the Casa supports, doing a reflection piece about the Escuelita and planning/facilitating workshops in the Casa on themes of community building and psychosocial well-being, preparing for a trip to Juarez City to present a series of lino prints produced by the women’s printmaking collective, and, all the while immersed in a world of salsa dancing, art, Quakerism, migration, and the Escuelita.

So in summary, Casa life continues to be a whirlwind. I wouldn’t have it any other way.