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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is steaming with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want ALL to thrive in

Saturday, January 15, 2011

People and Sunset Acapulco - tbc

I collapse on the beach close to the water and spend the rest of the afternoon swimming, soaking up the sun, and studying espanol! At least I have Belen to look forward to tomorrow!

The water is warm, the sun is hot, the beach is soft and welcoming. People, mostly men but some womyn and children as well, trudge up and down in the intense sun, hawking their wares. Most are indigenous.

They are fully clothed, most of the time in long sleeves, long pants or skirts, and hats. Sometimes several layers of hats, if they're selling them. And the beach is not even flat where the tourists hang out, close to the water, so they are walking in soft, hot sand on a slope.
I am amazed at their tenacity and perseverance in the face of such hostility from the environment and most tourists.

I have an almost uncontrollable and totally unattainable desire to unburden everyone, buy everything and erect a huge palapa for everyone.

But I only buy a mango, peeled, dipped in chili and lime, and on a stick, from one womon, 15 pesos which is about $1.25.

Before I know it, it is 6:30 and the amazing sunset has begun. I know I've said this before, but maybe because the land mass here in Acapulco stretches around in mountainous a "C", and maybe because there is something so magical here (when you cut out the hotels, casinos, and tourists), the sunset fills me with delight and awe.

I sit on the beach scanning the horizon long after the brilliant reds and oranges end their playful jaunts across the skies, and the waxing moon hangs itself right over my head.

I walk along the warm, tumbling water as the semi-dark skies smile and softly float around me.

¿Es usted canadiense?

I am mistaken for Canadian several times today – and it feels good. Maybe it’s because of my terrible Spanish – from what I’ve seen, most estadounidenses of course do not bother to learn the language of the people here.

And they are most likely the ones that are so indignant back home when people cannot speak english!

And I am also mistaken for straight too many times today, as unfuckinbelievable as it sounds.

Coming out in Mexico has become a most frequent occurrence as heterosexism abounds. I like to, I am driven to make it clear from its first hetero-ripple I am only interested in dating womyn.

And I have to say that everyone has responded positively, some with humor, all with respect, and most kindly curious to find out more about me.



I return my truck to my new home, the side street where I am parking, even though the sun is not great here. In fact, there is a lot of shade, not due to palm trees but due to tall hotel and condo buildings.

I decide to change another $100, so go to several banks, looking for the best exchange rate, before I realize it is Saturday and they’re not open! Oy vey. My visions of fresh, hot tamales  and icy cold coconut evaporate.

I return to my truck, determined to head to the beach. I see an interesting womon reading my truck as I approach her. I greet her and she surprises me with one of my opening lines: “una pregunta por favor”.

And we are off! We talk for over an hour. She is a single mom with two boys, 17 & 18, who are mostly out of the house, and her baby a girl 14. She tells me workers get paid $100 pesos (less than $10 us dollars) for 12 hours of work.

She is carrying a plastic bag full of plastic toys. She has given up walking the beach today – she began at 7:00am and it is now almost 5pm. She didn’t make 10 pesos, which is less than a dollar.

Belen lived in the u.s. for two years – in San Jose, and in Dover New Jersey. We are delighted to share Jersey stories, and Bay Area stories. She found much discrimination and racism in the u.s. and is very glad to have returned to her home, Acapulco.

She tells me the only reason anyone goes to the u.s. is because they are starving here. We talk about Monsanto, the mega farms and all the produce that people get to put their hands on, but few get to eat well.

We talk about the violence in the u.s. and the violence that has spread here. We talk about the police presence, that Belen says aggravates everyone – especially the weapons.

Belen is only 34 years old.  She doesn’t like aging but she is very happy her boys are on their way to their own lives. They both are in college and she is struggling to pay for them.

She helps me patiently with my Spanish. I ask her if I can hire her to teach me Spanish. She tells me she will teach me but she doesn’t want money – she wants to learn english.

I insist I will pay her. I point out that she has already told me she needs a job. She tells me about her home, her community, her children. She asks me if I want to visit and eat with them, before I leave.

We talk about my struggles to get veggie oil – Belen walks or takes the bus with her bundles wherever she goes.

We make plans to meet tomorrow morning, 9am. As with all my plans in México, I am excited yet reserved too.

México dreaming…

Weeeeellll I return with my truck to the hotel, that is heavily guarded I should mention, but this time the men are in drab, inconspicuous cream uniforms sin (without) guns – alert, walkie-talkied, but no visible weapons.

I park in front of the side entrance unobserved and begin lugging an oil container to my truck. By the time I return for the second one, 4 or 5 such security people have formed a semicircle around the oil. Hmmmm

I smile and heave another one, more full than the last one, into my hand when Francisco comes scurrying out to tell me there’s been a mistake.

Oh fuckin no. I don’t know what has happened, but somehow they’ve changed their minds. Another guard comes rushing over, this one speaks very good english.

He apologizes also and tells me there has been some kind of mix-up and I can no longer have the oil.

I try my best to convince him to let me have it, regretting I didn’t haul the heaviest one onto the truck first, to no avail. The guard tells me only Senor Diaz can help me and he won’t be in until Monday.

The containers suddenly disappear along with the guards, now that I have succumbed to this news and promise to return on Monday.

As I go to walk away, the guard comes rushing back for the 3rd container which I point out to him.

My first – almost 2nd – and third score!

This other side of the busy main street is not as promising as the ocean side.
But two restaurants do promise me oil, even though one says they barely use any but I am welcome to what they have. I will return on Tuesday to both of them.

When I get to my starting point, I decide to continue on this main street, that parallels the beach but is separated from the beach by a good block of businesses, restaurants, condominiums and the like - so the beach and ocean are visible but not immediately accessible.

I was going to walk along the ocean but I can't bring myself to trudge through soft sand so hot I have to put on my shoes to step on it. So I decide to leave that until tonite or tomorrow morning.

I reach the last restaurant that actually is on the beach and the street because there no longer is a block separating the ocean from this main road.

After explaining several times to their total amusement, I finally convince them I really do want aceite comado (used oil). Two highly amused men grab the garbage bag out of the can and proceed to ransack it until they find a large water bottle ¾ full of used veggie oil!

I thank them profusely and they promise to save me all their oil! I promise to bring them back a container.

My next stop is the BEST! I stop at yet another huge hotel and at first the guy at the desk gives me the line that first says someone else buys it, and then that someone just picked it up.

When I push for when I can come again to get the next oil, he sends me outside and around through the guard shed to meet Franciso and off to get THREE 20 liter containers with various levels of used oil in them!

I’m PSYCHED! We carry them out in front of the gate to the sidewalk and I tell them I will return in 10 minutes with my truck.

I hurry back towards my truck carrying the bottle of oil recovered from the garbage and the previous restaurant. Just before I get to the street where my truck is parked, the owner of another small restaurant is standing out front.

He asks me where I am going with that bottle and I explain to him. Before I can wink, he has grabbed the almost full bottle out of my hands, marched to the back of his restaurant to the tiny kitchen and demands the cook to fill the bottle from their deep fryer!

I’m touched yet again. I’m on a roll! I take the now full, warm bottle of used veggie oil and head to my truck and three more containers!

Armed Men

As I approach the end of this one side of the 8 blocks I've decided to include in my hunt for veggie oil, I begin to see several soldiers strategically placed in and around a huge hotel that has a starbucks attached.

Macdonalds and burger king are nearby too.

I do not look at any of them but it feels like I am part of a ridiculous and terrifying stage. I am sure they are there in the belief they are making their tourists feel 'safe' but to me they just alert me to the potential of violence.

I want to ask them if they've ever shot that stupid machine gun at someone in their lives. They are standing a few feet from laughing children and women selling jewelry they've made.

And important men in mercedes and jaguars.

I forget momentarily that I'm searching for veggie oil as I hastily - but calmly - cross the street. As calm as a pedestrian in Mexico can possibly be.

Mango Mango

The next few restaurants I go to either do not use, or change, or use all of their veggie oil. Two restaurants I need to return to speak with the manager. Even though it is not yet noon, the sun is intense, although the shade is quite pleasant.

I pass a place that is closed but has a large post with the rainbow colors painted on it. Hmmmm - I'm wondering, maybe this is a Lesbian bar!

The next restaurant, an older man allows me to speak to him in Spanish, and then he answers me in english. He is the owner but he needs to speak with the chef, if I can return in the morning.

Well, this is the best I have so far, so of course I agree and jot down in my notebook to return tomorrow.

At Mangos, the next restaurant, I finally hit bonanza! It is quite beautiful, as I descend the stairs from the street and see they branch off in several directions, one leading directly to the beach, others leading to pleasant palm-decorated wooden decks.

At the bottom sandy level, I find a man who is fixing something in the wall. He tells me, I think, the same story, there's another person who picks up their oil. And I ask again, plead, one time for me?

He tells me to go to the next level up where the kitchen is and ask in there. Javier is there, busily spraying water on the floor and clattering things around.

I excuse myself and ask for his used veggie oil. He speaks english, not as good as the old man, but well enough so we understand each other - I HOPE!

Because Javier tells me, if I'm willing to pay $30 pesos for a 20 liter container, he will get me 10 containers. Or at least 5!!! By Wednesday!

We repeat often the amount of gallons I need and I'm willing to pay for. If he gets 10 containers, it will cost me $300 pesos which is about $25. Which is about 50 gallons! And again, no blood.

I am a psyched as I can be here in Mexico, where I have learned to try to contain hopes and disappointments - whether because I lack understanding the exact language, or understanding the culture.

In other words, I won't totally count on it until I pick it up on Wednesday.

California Dreaming….

The first restaurant I plan to go to looked so promising last night – California Cuisine! If anyone uses and changes veggie oil here, it should be them.

Several womyn stand inside the door, anticipating my entrance for an early lunch. I explain to them I am not there to eat, so sorry, but I am looking for veggie oil – usado!

Their curiosity and desire to help overwhelms their disappointment and quickly I am seated at a booth to wait for the right person.

Soon a short smiling man, dressed in white from head to toe, comes out from a distant hallway, drying his hands on his white apron. He explains to me, I think, that someone else picks up their oil.

Even though I’m fearing this might be the case, I persist and ask if he could possibly give the oil to me one time.

He of course responds that he would be glad to be they came this very morning and picked it all up. They will have more in a month.

What can I do? I’m beginning to suspect these people that come to these restaurants the very day I want oil. Are they reading my blog????

The hunt for veggie oil usado Acapulco: Day 1 to be continued

I'm going to try to find enough veggie oil to take me all the way to Oaxaca and Chiapas, so I don't have to spend more time looking while Bridget is traveling with me.

Today, I will begin on the streets. I walk about 8 blocks in one direction, asking at all the restaurants on that side. Then I cross the street and walk back, asking on that side.

Tomorrow, I will walk along the beach and ask the restaurants that sit on that part.

Martin Luther King -tbc

Let us not forget it is Martin Luther King's birthday today.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.  

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  

Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

We have guided missiles and misguided men.

There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.

The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.

The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be... The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.