From a LEAPYEAR student teaching at a school and studying capoeira (a Brazilian dance/martial art form) during her internship time in Chiapas, Mexico:
Saturday was full of capoiera in the main square, everyone comes in parades of white and blue with their babies and families. We sing songs in Portuguese that I don´t even understand but I sing them in my head all day long. I kind of go into a trance of song when all of a sudden I am tapped on the shoulder and told to go do capoiera. Nervous because I only know how to kick, flip, duck and roll. My hands are taken and we shimmy to the ground. All the while sing “eu voy anogola vo pasa de pruanda, vo pasa de pruanade e capital de angola.” We start to move – I cartwheel and duck avoiding a kick and go onto my hands and swing my leg around. I am so nervous, they are walking on their hands and jumping over me. I get them in the gut with my head and end with a surprising kick in the nose.
We embrace and I am handed the berimbow. I press the gourd against my stomach, smooth the stone, shake my rattle and bang on the steel strings. They shout “cantar, cantar.” I sing, my voice drowned in the strong chorus. The bahia ends and we embrace and wish each other well. Fireworks start far off in the sky and they start to play samba. I samba till my feet can´t spring off the ground anymore.
Today (Sunday) I went to the nearby shanty neighborhood to visit the families of the children I work with. I buy bags of bananas and mangos and lots of candy. They show me around their one-room cardboard and wood scrap dirt floor house with pride and excitement. “Mira Maestra esto es mi osito” they pick up a dirt caked teddy bear and climb into my arms with it while giving my kisses on my cheek. We play with the ratty six-week-old puppies and build a castle from the coconut scrap mountain building outside. We play soccer and talk about who will win the game today Chivas or Pumas, careful not to kick the ball into the huge garbage pits that are literally bubbling like a swamp.
“Chivas, ellos son chillos,” they answer. As I ride from one house to the next, small faces peek over the old fences and wave. I go to visit my little friend Gustavo, we play boracho. I twirl him till he is dizzy and he tries to stumble around and chase me while yelling boracho. A boracho is a drunk. They say their dads are borachos and they live in the United States, getting manual labor jobs off the street corner. Some find new wives and never return, like my little student Adrianna. Her mama just tells her that her dad is dead. When she gets cranky and does not want to listen she starts crying for her papa, I hold her and tell her about princesses. Las princesas.
I give then hugs and tell them I will see them tomorrow and we will practice playing our bean filled toilet paper roll instruments while dancing and singing. We will play outside in the mud kitchen and draw pictures of our houses.
As a leave I see the mounds of broken cerveza bottles on the street, and the little children using them as toys. I enter the busy market of fruit and raw meat. I glance through the stands of pirated movies and music. The Lord of the Rings trilogy on one disk. And the new photocopy arrivals of Apocalypto. I walk down the slippery cobblestone street and watch the barefoot hippies run for cover, and the indigenous vendors quickly pack up their handmade goods. The taxis swerve by sliding along the slippery wet street, plashing the brightly painted buildings.
Sunday is quiet and shut down, everyone is resting for Monday. My Monday will be filled with two capoiera classes and volunteering. Another week in Mexico….