Thursday, September 20, 2012

Just a Comment

The other night I watched a well done documentary  created around the story of what became known in the media as the "Longoria Affair", which took place in 1948 in the city of Three Rivers, Texas. The director of the only funeral home in town of about 2000 people refused to allow chapel services for the body of a Mexican-American Soldier killed in action during WWII. Three Rivers, TX was a planned township started in 1913. This planned township with Anglo street names in one area and a smaller area across the railroad tracks streets with Latino names was the first segregated planed community. So, what happened with Felix Longoria, the WWII Vet. because of all the media attention he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  But the racism continued.

 After WWII, the Mexican-Americans who serviced in the military often found that they could not use their VA benefits to go to school, to get a housing loan or to use the VA medical facilities.

The film went on to look at the Hispanic Civil Rights Movement under the presidency of Lyndon Johnson. I found even though I was a teen during the time, there was so much I was unaware of, how little we sometimes know of the history being made around us. I was in high school in the 60's and remember many marches for civil rights and anti war we joined in Berkeley, Calif. the center of demonstrations at the time. I went to an all white high school in the suburbs of San Francisco and really had no understanding of the Civil Rights Movement. My friends and I shouted and chanted holding signs of protest, but in our safe white world we had never felt the inequality of was just theoretical to us. Still I am proud that we did something and that I continue with my church to be involved in social justice work. Though I wish there was not the need for this "civilized society" to be reminded about fairness to all of its citizens.

Soon, I am going to see how it is to be the one who is the immigrant. But my experience will be very different I'm  sure, starting with the fact that I am traveling as the privileged retiree to a tourist area, with money to spend not as the immigrant from a war torn or poverty situation hoping for a better life. Though, I do think  my goal is the same for a better life, a fuller enriched life for the experience. I will face some of the same challenges of the immigrant, like not knowing the laws, language, local customs and culture. I wish I could say I was a fast learner, but don't think I am. I've been trying to learn Spanish for years, wanting to more easily communicate with my students and parents in the all Latino high school I worked at in California. Now I am going to understand really how it feels when you have the frustration of not being understood. Lucky my friend who we are sharing the house with does speak Spanish and much of the population speaks English, being a tourist area we will be living in. Still for this journey I am stepping out of my comfort zone a little to enjoy a mild winter at the beach.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Packing and Saying Adios Amigos

Lucylu is ready to go but I still have to pack these suitcase. We are getting excited about our up coming adventure to Rosarito Beach in Baja, Mexico. We have rented a house for the winter and spring overlooking the Pacific Ocean with a short walk to a wonderful sandy beach. This past month has been spent doing lots of research on Baja. Soon we will be joining the expats on the longest peninsula in the world, some 800 miles long with the Sea of Cortez on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. Baja is two states the north one is Baja California and the southern one is Baja California Sur. In the north there is the most famous border town of Tijuana, a place I was first taken to back in the 1950's with my family. I do remember the dusty market place filled with brightly painted toys and little child size wicker chairs that my parents bought for my sister and I.

Today Tijuana is not the little dusty border town but a bustling major city of 2.5 million people. You can take a trolly from downtown San Diego to the border and walk across visiting a tacky area of commerce. It is not the best that Tijuana has to offer and unfortunately for many tourist it is the only view they get of Baja. Taking a drive on a well marked freeway will bring you to the Playas of Tijuana, (the beach). There  you will find a long beach filled with families and high raise condos. Travel on down the highway south and you come to Rosarito Beach, another coastal town with the landmark Rosarito Beach Hotel. A hotel that has seen many famous stars on holiday over the years, most recently Robert Redford. Rosarito Beach has become a popular place for Americas to have a second home or even to communicate to San Diego for work. It is a much more affordable place to live than California and so I join these California's and expats on this next chapter of my journey finding what is over the rainbow.

You most likely have also, heard of  Cabo San Lucas it is at the very tip of Baja California where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific it has become a popular tourist destination with fine hotels, condos and time shares. We are planing to drive down along all of Baja and will keep you posted on these adventures. But for today we are  focused on all details for spending 7 months in a foreign country. There is much to do to get ready for our trip to our new digs, with cats and dog and my 86 year old father making a 2000 mile drive from Atlanta, Georgia. I'm  sure it will be a road trip to remember. I wonder what interesting public art we will find along the way? Let me know if you have any must sees. We will be driving HWY 20 though AL, LA, TX, and HWY 10 through NM, AZ, CA.

First off there is the saying of good byes for awhile, and so I say adios amigos to my Georgia friends and fellow Chestee Artist..