Friday, November 26, 2010

Race Relations

A funny event a few evenings ago in a hacienda of a small town...

I arrived just as the extended family was finishing their evening supper. The grandmother of the house was clearing the table and everyone was lingering in the twilight. I went to the kitchen sink to wash my hands before eating my plate of beans and tortillas when the grandmother noticed how dirty my tee shirt was - carrying half the desert off on my clothing. I admit, my shirt was nearly too dirty to even wear, but what else does one do?

It was too much for her to fathom, and by the looks of the kitchen, she's the perpetual cleaner type. There at the kitchen sink, in front of the tableful of family, she started screeching at the condition of my shirt and pulled it right off over my head, proceeding to scrub it on a washboard with what looked like a wire brush and plenty of boiling water from the kettle on the woodburning stove. In the meantime, before I had a chance to react to the imposed modesty of standing in my sports bra in front of a mixed group of strangers, the smallest of the group climbed over each other with words like 'she is a white person', 'like the white of an egg' and 'with chili flakes' (pointing at some freckles). The adolescent boys giggled uncomposed and the older men laughed heartily at the grandmother's unstoppable audacity. By the time one of the men stepped out and snapped a flannel shirt off the line under the veranda, everyone was laughing, even the grandmother at her own behavior. It was a good learning experience for the little kids, and frankly I doubt any of the adults had seen the white flanks of a gringa before, and I came away with a very clean, slightly lardy smelling, tee shirt. Pointellistically freckled arms and face, white as egg whites everywhere else.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

SO fantastic, Ann. I send heaps of people to your blog - it's absolutely fascinating. Love all your stories - I'm still thinking of that golden eagle!
If you run into a Torres family in Aguascalientes with four beautiful girls named Carla, Amaranta, Erika & Jimena ~ give them a big hug from Grandma & Grandpa!
Agnes Anderson, Denver

OHMV said...

Ann, while you are walking in Mexico, I will be flying to Ukraine Dec 22 to Jan 10. While there I will drink to your health, long life, prosperity and safe journey. I will also remember your courage and fortitude with awe. Naz da rovia! Sylvia!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Anne I'm reading about the Camino de Santiago & found a tidbit that ties it with your Ukraine-Greece pilgrimage: "... in 1270 a Greek Santiago pilgrim fell ill in Estella's Hospice of San Nicolas. He died, and when he was buried in the pilgrim cemetery, the grave glowed... discovered the fragment of the lignum crucis and the bone of St Andrew ... revealing that he was ... the bishop of Patras." Pretty neat! Keep on pilgriming!

Anonymous said...

Anna, I love to read your blogs!! We better start working on a script...I loved reading the last Anonymous here tidbit about finding a St Andrew bone in the pilgrim cemetery. How cool it that?

MermaidLilli said...

This blog entry was fun to read, imagining the scene in that kitchen. Love what you're doing and must admit a bit envious at all your pilgrimages.
Reading on,
Lillian

A Moment Adrift said...

Feliz Navidad Ann! I love following your blog and your story about about the Grandmother in the kitchen reminded me of my Sicilian Grandmother. She use to embarrass me all the time in ways like that. Thank you for your experiences.