´Where are you going?´what do you want to eat?´do you hate it here and want to go home?´do you like spicy?´can i use your ipod?´´tell her to give me her cellphone´tell them to go away´can I have the soccer ball?´why aren´t you married?´why dont you have kids´is there something wrong with you?´´what is she saying?´tel her bla bla bla´come here´eat more´what do they want?´where are we?´what are we doing?´´does she want to live here when her and Adrain get married´how many kids do you want?.... `
My job as cultural laison is far from the delightful challenge of translating a few words back and forth between a girlfriend and a boyfriends mother. I am the apex of all communication of feelings, needs, wants, and desires at any given time between up to and often exceeding 10 or more people. It is 100 degrees and I am not accustomed to so many eyes on me looking for answers. I am simply a mouthpiece. I do not make decisions, I do not serve much more purpose than to tranfer information from one person to another and try to do it with my limited vocabulary and with the most cooth I can muster. But sometimes I want to scream.... ´Yes I am fucking bored! and No, you are are right there is nothing to do here!!. ... it´s 10 am of course she is asking if you want breakfast... and no I do not want to play freaking futbol for the 30th time today! its fucking hot and I want to sit here in the shade and read my fucking book with 20 people staring at me and ten teenage boys making googy eyes at me and twenty old ladies looking at me from afar but not speaking to me lest the devil come tearing through my chest wearing in an american flag, shitting money and pissing fresh water.
Yesterday, in the boiling afternoon sun I slipped away unnoticed as the kids were distracted by broken glass and rusty nails and mothers dozed on the bed watching telenovelas and my travel partner was showering. Just a walk in the hot desert sun, some precious moments alone. To clear my head and to stop the exasperated shrillness piercing my better sence. I found a dirt road past the cows grazing openly past the goat pen a little farther past the spots of earth people decided would be the final resting place of say a toilet or a weeks worth of trash, past the spot where a cow decided to die a long time ago.... just me and the open dessert, from such a distance it began to share some similar traits with what I might call pretty. Desert flowers had burst after yesterdays downpour, the road turned to two dusty lines of tire track with brush flowers growing down the middle. The afternoon sun pounded my fresh showered head and I disroabed down to tank top and hiked my skirt up past my knees and walk with purpose, with strength, with speed. Far past the little pueblo called bufalo I found myself unwinding, listening to only my thoughts, singing a song I only knew a few words of but delighted by the sound of my voice.
I cam a cross a revine dried up by the summer sun but still green. In the heat I imagined a hidden river of crystal clear water to soak my hot skin in. I can see how people might imagine sand is water in heat like this. The sky above me burst with huge white fluffy clouds that seemed to extend just out of reach and settle on the tops of forboding cactus and spiny bushes that spread out across such hostil ground.
With each step birds shot out from low bushes and the farther I got from my return destination the wilder my imagination got. I had seen a tarantula the size of my fist the day before crossing the road and would like nothing more than to never see another. And though I had been assured there were no snakes I was not so sure of my translation skills thus far.
But at least I was alone, away from the questions the stares the helplessness, the one airconditioned room that has become a polyester bedspread prison. Just me... or not.
at one point I turn back to check my distance, and there I saw a pair of jeans scurry into the trees, disspointment burnt through me harder than the sun, just one minute alone for god sake. I walked a little bit further and turned around again, there they were a bit behind me but definatly on my trail.
Defeated and dampened by the thought that someone was sent to watch after me or that one of the ferril children that had come to attach themselves to us had followed me this far into the dessert was numbing. I turned back toward the dusty legs hidding just inside a row of trees and once they noticed my coming in a new direction they scampered up the hill and out of sight.
As I walked back I steamed from the heat of the sun and the exasperation of nary a minute to myself. Only then did I realize that I was in the middle of the desert far from the small thatching of civilazation and I was still unsure who was tracking me.
Now I had to drumm up some anger, some ´come get me motherfucker I will stroll into town with your balls as a trophy, it only takes seven pounds of pressure to break a knee and a little dust and my thumb in your eye will put you out of work for a while...´ Now I am mad! Some stranger in the dessert has forced me to bring out my inner roitgrrl. But this is a land of macho men and here in this place I am a white alien and must not forget that I am not seen as an equal or even as a person but some milky fleshed boobies and a big ol baby making booty.
With my fists clenched I round another corner and there is my stalker sitting in the shade of a pecan tree. ´buenas dias´buenas dias´what are you doing out here? just walking no mas? and you? just walking too¨ OK then have a nice day´. And I was off agian relived but sure I could have taken him... .
On the way back I checked my hemline and relaxed. I snuck back into the house where ther was a plate of food waiting for me on the table, my roomate reading in the frigid bedroom, having no idea what anyone had said to her in the last hour and ten little kids were outside aguing weatherto play futbol, volleyball, kickball, but equally content to fight about what of the three to play and never play any of them.
I tuck my selfish need for me time back into the folds of my mind and remember this is not my trip, it matters not what I think, what matters is that the people I am here to connect understand each other and that we both apply enough sunscreen.