I got this message today from dear friends who live near the tributaries of the Cape Fear River in North Carolina. The important note is that they are safe, and that they could employ Mexican immigrants (we don’t ask if they have papers) to help them dig out.
THANK YOU, to the Mexicans who travel here in search of jobs, we appreciate your work ethic and desire to pitch in, to send money home to your families, and we honor and respect you.
Here’s part of the message:
“Most folks who know us are aware that our 12 acre property was under water during Hurricane Fran 20 years ago, the day we were to move into our new home. There has been occasional minor flooding since then. Although we have carried flood insurance, we have never had to use it until now. This time was a little different with the creek behind our property overflowing upstream and coming across the front yard, in addition to the back 3 acres flooding over the lower banks. The house, which is slightly higher than the ground, quickly ended up as an island amidst rushing water on all sides. Two neighbors who came down to offer help were also stranded in the house with us when we finally called 911. The 4 of us and our 2 goats were evacuated via a Swift Water Rescue motor boat.
It must have been quite a sight! Unfortunately our youngest goat drowned earlier. That tragedy has been the worst part of all. The 12 chickens spent the night in our upstairs bathroom and the dog and 2 cats stayed together in the upstairs bonus room. The 2 horses were on high ground and entertained by all the excitement and extra loving. Our neighbor is the anchor for the nightly news so once again the farm was featured!
Fortunately water did not come directly into the house. Yesterday there was 2 ft. of standing water in the crawl space beneath the house, about 2 inches from the sub-flooring. After pumping 24 hrs. we still have about water so are unable to assess the full damage to the flooring. We do know that we lost ducts, installation, all of our HVAC units and a hot water heater. The yard and pastures were littered with debris. 2 freezers we used for animal feed storage floated away as well as the chicken coops and tack shed inventory. Minor water is in the vehicles.
God mysteriously touches us when we least expect it. We located 8 Hispanic migrant workers who were out of work due to the loss of the tobacco crop. Greeting us with grateful and smiling faces, they worked all day yesterday and today to rebuild fences and shelters for our animals.
It is a beautiful Fall day and hard to believe that so much has happened here.”
I’m so happy my friends are safe. That they have help. And, that I am here to vote against the wall.
Being a Oaxaca Host: Lessons for People and Nations
My friend Debbie from North Carolina came to visit me in Oaxaca this week. It was a fast three nights and two-and-a-half days. We packed a lot in as the news of the world was (and continues to) unfolding, raging, tangling itself up around us. I wanted to show her my world here.
Archeological sites. Markets. Weavers. Mezcal and candle makers. Mountain vistas. High desert.
Amidst Zapotec-Mixtec ruins, San Pablo Villa de Mitla church
Debbie is more than a friend. We share the sisterhood of once living together as neighbors in a co-housing community that was based on consensus decision-making.
Our relationship developed amidst all the attending struggles within a group of having to reconcile differences and come to agreement about how to live with respect, caring and intention. This is not easy, not natural and takes practice.
Evening respite, chiminea aglow, on my casita patio
We were part of a women’s group that shared reading material, discussions, intimacies, success and disappointments. We comforted each other when there was loss. We celebrated together when there was joy. We lost a friend in this group to cancer that took her fast. We mourned. Picked up. Continued.
Debbie wrote a blog post about how to be a good guest:
Learning to Be a Guest
The counterpoint for me is how to be a good host. Give comfort, security, food. Offer activities, entertainment and quiet. Make introductions to friends. Sit and talk. Understand the then and now. Have fun. Create discovery. A lesson how to be a good host should be a taught to the USA’s new administration.
Fresh carrot/beet/pineapple juice alongside Jugo Verde, Teotitlan del Valle market
This is not only about how to stay in another person’s house. It is about how we live/visit as guests in a country other than our own. It is about how we welcome people in, consider their needs.
Even for those of us who make Oaxaca or Mexico home for several months or the entire year, even for those of us who have taken up permanent residency, we are the other, the guest. In that capacity, how do we behave? How do we interact with the local community? What do we contribute? Are we observers or participators in local customs and traditions? What is our footprint?
Debbie in the shadows of ancient archeological site
This week, in the United States of America, land of the free and home of the brave, at the end of the first week of the 45th president, we have closed our borders and threatened our immigrants. We are at risk of sacrificing our civil liberties out of fear and isolation.
The country of my birth, where I also make my home, is rampant with xenophobia, arrogance, and has retreated into becoming a very bad host. The risk of losing values — that of welcoming the huddled masses yearning to be free — brings me despair.
Mexico, land of the free and home of the brave, too.
This new president, whom I call Mr. Orange Menace, has a lot to learn about hospitality, although he seems to run hotels. But, oh, yes, they are for the very wealthy!
Ancient Zapotec temple carvings, Teotitlan del Valle church
Here in the Mexican village I call home for much of the year, I am a guest. I try to remember that daily. I live here in respect for my hosts, the indigenous people who are my neighbors. I know many by name and they invite me into their homes to visit, for meals and celebrations. As a good guest, I try to be helpful and not overstep. Keep my footprint in sync with theirs. I live in a small casita and drive an old car. I am not worried about living in the campo.
Sharing mezcal with weaver friend Arturo Hernandez
With the tone of discourse between Mexico and the USA at a low point, with the bullying and bluster of wall-building on the border taking on fearful proportions, I can’t help but wonder if that will have an impact on how I might be treated here. I can only imagine these parallel universes between cross-border immigrants. Respecting minority rights is a basic principle of humanity, of democracy.
And, all I want to do is say, I’m sorry.
The high desert gives forth life, prickly though it is
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Mexican Immigration, Mexico, Photography, Safety, Travel & Tourism
Tagged border, friendship, guest, homeland security, host, immigrants, Mexico, Oaxaca, politics, safety, United States of America, wall, Women