Observations

Mexican man with black leather vest

Socializing in a plaza

Except for their Spanish, the girls could be any typical group of young adolescents in the U.S., talking and squealing in a tight clique. They’re dressed in school uniforms and gathered along the cramped sidewalk of Quebrada just above the bus stop where I’m waiting. I watch them crowd together, then fall back from one another, laughing. Their conversations seem urgent, their friendships kinetic, like they’ve just run a mile and are out of breath. Whispers and shouts emit from the group, and their eyes collectively watch each other and whoever is around them. Then suddenly it’s time to go. Kisses all around and peels of excited laughter as they pinch each others’ cheeks in fun. The kissing gives them away, as definitely not Norte Americanos.


I was caught in a funeral procession again last week. They’re more solemn here and a curiosity to those used to the sterilized grief of a parade of cars with orange flags marked ?¢‚Ǩ?°”funeral” adorning their hoods. As I stepped onto Quebrado I saw the slow parade of people dressed mostly in black walking through the street ahead, en mass, black umbrellas over head. Theirs was the largest group I’ve seen so far. The first I witnessed many weeks ago came marching down Insurgentes passed the Biblioteca following a flower-laden hearse. There was no question as to what they were. Their tears were enough to tell me what I was watching. Cars went around them, never stopping or hardly slowing. At home, I’d been taught to stop the car as funeral processions went by. So I stood at the curb and removed my hat in their honor. A little huddled knot of people unafraid to show their grief so publicly.


Horses in the campo

Horses in the campo

?¢‚Ǩ?ìHay Ingles/Espan?ɬ?l diccionario??¢‚Ǩ¬ù I asked the clerk at the bookstore. She told me ?¢‚Ǩ?ìSi,?¢‚Ǩ¬ù and handed me a copy of the one dictionary they had. Leafing through it I apologized, ?¢‚Ǩ?ìMi Espan?ɬ?l es muy mal.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù I was on my way for a hair cut, and while I once again had looked up ?¢‚Ǩ?ìlength?¢‚Ǩ¬ù (largo) and ?¢‚Ǩ?ìgrow?¢‚Ǩ¬ù (crecer) and ?¢‚Ǩ?ìdeaf?¢‚Ǩ¬ù (sordo) and ?¢‚Ǩ?ìbangs?¢‚Ǩ¬ù (flequillos), I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢d neglected to translate ?¢‚Ǩ?ìlayers,?¢‚Ǩ¬ù as in, ?¢‚Ǩ?ìI want my bangs layered.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù So, I was on a mission to get the correct phrase. My last hair cut I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢d used the word ?¢‚Ǩ?ìestratos?¢‚Ǩ¬ù only to get a look of pure confusion from my stylist. I managed to pantomime what I wanted, but I knew I needed something more definitive this time.

Art sales in the lavenderia

Art sales in the lavenderia

Looking at the clerk at the bookstore, I took off my hat and pointed to my bangs. ?¢‚Ǩ?ìQuiero corte mi flequillos en estratos. Como se dice??¢‚Ǩ¬ù I asked her, pointing to the Spanish translation of ?¢‚Ǩ?ìlayers.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù She wrinkled her brow and got that same look of confusion. ?¢‚Ǩ?ìNo uno largo,?¢‚Ǩ¬ù I said ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú not one length ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú using my fingers as a prop. She said something incomprehensible and then demonstrated different lengths along the side of her head. ?¢‚Ǩ?ìSi,?¢‚Ǩ¬ù I said, realizing she understood what I was after. ?¢‚Ǩ?ìComo se dice??¢‚Ǩ¬ù How do you say it? She repeated but not to where I could understand. Another hearing loss moment. ?¢‚Ǩ?ìEscribe, por favor.?¢‚Ǩ¬ù Write it, please. I handed her a pen and she uncovered a scrap of paper. ?¢‚Ǩ?ìEn capas,?¢‚Ǩ¬ù she wrote out. I repeated it to her satisfaction. ?¢‚Ǩ?ìSi,?¢‚Ǩ¬ù she nodded and smiled. ?¢‚Ǩ?ìMuy amable,?¢‚Ǩ¬ù I told her. (You are very kind.) ?¢‚Ǩ?ìMuchas gracias,?¢‚Ǩ¬ù I added as I tripped out the door with my newest magic phrase.

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