Monday, May 23, 2011


So... this morning I was sitting in a humble, traditional Mexican-style beach restaurant, sand floor and no frills. Run by a dear friend from our village, Olympita, we often park our shoes, sunglasses and whatnot here before hitting the surf with our boards. This particular morning, however, I felt like hanging out a bit before boogie'ing the biggies (yeah! they were big yet again).

Anthropology major that am, I ordered a coffee and invited Olympita to join me and thus began the conversation about her childhood.... I´ve been on a run with this topic, talking to various of the elders on this topic (NOTE: I am actually older than most of the people I talk to about their childhood, but their descriptions of their childhood is very similar to that of my mother, born in 1909 in rural Missouri).... What they tell me, and the tone of voice they use, and the facial expressions of nostalgia... Fascinating stuff and it is so very too bad that I am not completely fluent in Spanish in order to capture and record this fleeting, nay, altogether vanished(!) lifestyle.

Over fresh-off-the-grill salted tortillas and hot coffee (Nescafe...mmmgood), she began speaking of how she learned to make tortillas.

She was raised in a big family of kids up in the mountains (she pointed behind her to where the mountains rise into the mist of morning). Her mama would hand her a ball of dough and teach her how to expand and flatten it into a nice round shape for tossing on the hot-plate.

"But!" she added, if she did not do it right, her mama would grab her hand and place her HAND directly on the hot-plate to teach her to pay attention. (Must not display overt shock or they will stop talking -- lesson from Anthro 101)

Aw, the hell those rules -- I was shocked! Thinking back to my childhood and recalling the only incident of (attempted) corporeal punishment on my person, I commented that I would have run away! That is, after all, how I responded to the one time my parents concertedly ambushed me with malice aforethought -- dad attempting to hold me down while mom attempted to wash out my mouth with a soapy washcloth (ooooh, I had said a bad word indeed...) NOBODY was gonna do that to ME! I went into high-gear strength and was slippier than any soap, man. I was out the door and GONE!

However, I did not describe that incident to Olympita. That is one of the handy aspects to having a strong language barrier. Just as well.

All that I said was, "I would have run away."

So! Shock the Anthro Major once again. She began shaking her head sideways and saying that you wouldn´t dare run away! What her parents did if you tried, was take your feet and burn the bottoms of them, so that you could NOT run away again for some time.... so that you would think about it long and hard before attempting it....

More customers arrived, the waves rose high and beckoned.... and thus this conversation was put on pause.

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