ProMedios and Other Worlds

Buenas Noches dear reader.  As you already know we are all back home safely.  I have to say that I am none to glad to be back in familiar surroundings with my dear family.  During our last few days in Chiapas I noticed how natural it had become to greet people in Spanish and respond with “Gracias” instead of “Thank you.” I wondered if I would continue out of habit for days after our return. Nope.  I am struck by how easily I have also slipped back into familiar patterns. The only hesitation I have noticed is when using the bathroom. Continue reading

Getting Ready

Buenos Dias, dear readers! It is now less than a week to our departure to Chiapas on Monday and I am sure I am not alone among my traveling companions in feeling in a bit of a scurry to be sure all is ready for the trip.  I had my “travel consult” with my doctor today to get a “just in case” prescription of antibiotics and a typhoid vaccine.  Since that put me right in travel mode I stopped off at the store for a few last minute purchases; plastic self zipping bags, hand sanitizer and sunscreen.

When I got home I did a “practice pack” of my suitcase mainly to see how much my carry-on will weigh since there is a 40 lb. limit. I found out weight will not be an issue, but volume might! I will make the carry-on work, but I am a bit defeated by the limit to 1 quart-sized bag with liquid toiletries! It looks like I may do well to just buy some shampoo in Mexico.

Even with this busy-ness to get ready to leave, my mind and heart is full of so many thoughts and emotions about what I am already learning about the indigenous Mayan people of Chiapas.  That NAFTA has so adversely Continue reading

Chiapas Day 08—Bartering and an Overview of the Situation in Chiapas

A free morning!  What to do?  Visit the artisans’ market, of course!

Cecilia and David and I had a late breakfast at the hotel and then went wandering through the streets of San Cristobal until we found the large yard outside of the San Francisco Church.  (We had passed it on Day 02 during our tour of the city; it was an imposing cream-colored structure covered with intricate carving.  The heads and hands of many of the statues of the saints had been blown off with gunfire many years ago during one of the many conflicts that have happened in this city.)

The artisans’ market looked much like an art and craft fair would back home: many tables with jewelry, some white tents selling clothing and purses, some blankets on the ground with hats and trinkets.  One man was very determinedly selling hammocks, insisting to me that I wanted one in my Minnesota apartment.  The crafts were mostly handmade, some by collectives, some by the person selling them. Continue reading

Chiapas Day 04—Interfaith Dialogue, Futbol, the “Other” Perspective, and Ecological Disaster

Friends, it has been a very long day.  For those of you who followed Mr. Melcher’s posts from El Salvador in March, you will be familiar with his euphemism: Traveler’s Digestive Issues (TDI) have assaulted members of our group today, including yours truly.  As a result, even though we had the evening to ourselves, I spent my time getting medicated and retiring early, rather than catching up on the blog as had been my intent.  However, Cipro came to the rescue, and I (and the others) are feeling much more the thing now.

A New Meaning for “Ecumenical”

United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, with which this trip is affiliated, is an ecumenical seminary.  This means that people of all faith backgrounds are welcome, and we all learn together in the same classroom.  I’ve told people that it’s an incredible opportunity to learn how to express myself in an interfaith dialogue while still in my formational process as a minister.  It teaches me how to avoid stepping on other people’s beliefs while still honoring and expressing my own.

But today we walked to an ecumenical school here in San Cristobal where interfaith dialogue has a much different meaning.  This school is not for ministers-in-training.  This school is made up of a small, dedicated staff who have committed themselves to healing the deep division between Catholics and evangelical Protestants in Chiapas—a division that has fostered suspicion, fear, hatred, and even violence. Continue reading

Why Chiapas, Anyway?

I went and had dinner at my grandparents’ home the other night, having called them up to say that it would be nice to see them before I left for Mexico on Monday.

“I just don’t understand why you people feel the need to go flying all over the world looking for people to help,” my grandpa said as he set the table.  “There are plenty of people right here who need help.  You don’t have to go to Mexico for that.”

His point is a valid one. Continue reading