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… eleven years ago today …

25 November 2005, 11 years ago today we left Mexico City for San Fransisco, we were en route to London. San Fransisco was a “technical stop”:  human and canine UK immigration paper work.

I remember the date because, well, I tend to remember things like that, and because I remember wondering at that time if we’d still be in the US of A on 25 December 2005, or whether our paper work would be done, and we’d finally be home! Again. Another big country move done and dusted.

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good bye Mexico

work in Mexico

I’d been in Mexico six years, and most of that time I was based in Mexico City, except for the first two years when I lived in Chiapas. I worked with communities stretching from the northern to the southern borders and lots of places in between, with the objective of building community and solidarity between the grassroots in Mexico and the US. I also wrote articles and longer reports to support US grassroots campaign work.  It is some of the most important work I have ever done, and in the ways I can from a distance, I continue this solidarity work.

Everywhere I’ve lived is dear to me, but Mexico, and Chiapas in particular stand out. The people, their struggle, resistance, creativity, joy, humour, generosity, world view and the beauty of the place gives me life and motivates me in my own everyday struggles.

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mural in X’oyep, Chiapas, a pacifist community caught up in the conflict

voluntary economic migration

We left Mexico to move to London for work. We’d had stable, full-time NGO jobs for much of our time in Mexico. At some point though, contacts and skills opened up freelance work, which was interesting, in some cases very exciting, and usually rewarding, but not all that well or timely paid, joining us to the majority of Mexicans in crushed feelings each month as we tried to meet our expenses.

As anticipated, work in London was plentiful, in fact, at times it felt non-stop, and how could it be otherwise? The whole world and the whole world’s people and problems are also in London.

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campaign flier collage occupying one whole wall in our London flat

and now what?

It took me a year in London to “find my people” and engaging, paid work. So far, Valencia has been more welcoming, or maybe I was better prepared. I arrived with a list of contacts and project opportunities awaiting me, and if anything, I’ve wanted more freedom and time to lose and find myself in this new context. But really, the the dilemma is not freedom and time, it’s about learning to say “no” and to prioritise better.

And now what? What might my reflections be in 11 years from now? While there is a piece of (simple) me that would like to know, I also know I have to move forward and discover that myself, and do all the hard, yet rewarding and surprising work, to get there.

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blue skies to reach for, and walls to climb

So here, I go … and see you here again soon, or if we are lucky, in-person, and we’ll catch up over warm, nourishing, and filling beans and tortillas.

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I may not be a champion (Mexican) tortilla maker in communities, but in the wider world I am uniquely skilled!

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