Today, at the end of the afternoon the rain falls in different stages of grief or perhaps relief and of expression. First, thunder claps loudly and suddenly, although dark patches of clouds have long announced its eventual arrival. Then the skies let loose water that falls without holding back. Finally, the rain comes down softly and gradually; you can hear individual droplets on the leaves of the various trees that occupy space that was once the city’s landfill and where now a jungle of green emerges. The dogs are sprawled out on the covered patio like wet blankets hanging limply and heavily over barbed wire fences to dry—tired from barking, fighting, and playing with random items they find around the yard.
Currently, I’m in San Juan La Laguna with Román. We got here Friday and will be here another day at which point I’ll go to instructor orientation (I’ll be leading another Dragons course in Peru and Bolivia during the fall semester) in Cerro de Oro, another location on the lake and where you might have heard the reference based on the book, The Little Prince, which is one of the author’s inspirations for the elephant of the story: the shape of the little mountain is similar to an elephant.
The other day we made a little visit to San Pedro, the town just east of San Juan and where the reality is totally different. There we walked up and down streets that were very narrow and it was a wonder the tuc-tucs could even make their noisy journeys maneuvering through the tight maze of alleys. Everything by the water’s edge is catered to tourists and they advertise Spanish classes, thermal baths, cooking classes, every kind of coffee drink imaginable, etc. People speak in English and all kinds of popular music can be heard from the bars, cafés, and restaurants we meander by. You can tell it’s the off-season because everything is empty.
As we walk up the hill towards the central plaza we look up and kites are flying in every direction, decorating the skyline with patches of geometrical color. Each kite whips across a patch of sky with finesse and seeming ease. Upon further inspection of the origins of the kite strings, we notice a boy flying a kite from his rooftop, his hands adeptly conducting his kite through the tranquil afternoon winds. Across the street from him, an older boy flies another kite from his balcony. The kites are all flown from different perches of the town, by confident and novice hands alike. Some kites we see have met their demise in the power lines or have crossed paths for the worst and have collided on someone else’s rooftop. A group of boys in from the marketplace look up at the rooftop morosely as they plead with the señor who has access at freeing their two kites. “¡Por fa, señor! Nos baja nuestros barriletes,” they plead. He looks beyond them and over their heads with a knowing grin and seems not to bother with their appeals—at least not for now. He too is enjoying the kites that fly overhead.
Román asks if I know where the tradition of kite flying originated from and I tell him I don’t. On all Saints Day, he explains, people traditionally fly kites with messages written on their “sails” that are for loved ones who have since deceased. At some point while the kits are flown, they cut the strings loose and these messages went straight to the heavens. It is nice to think that people have various traditions to communicate with and remember our ancestors and what pretty and heartfelt way than with kites and prose.
Barriletes Cruzados Al parecer nuestras historias se cruzan como barriletes coloridos en vuelo recordando los antepasados con prosas de bendiciones, memorias y cuentos. Nuestras historias son distintas y a veces tratamos de entendernos pero sólo existe el tratar porque el conocer la realidad del otro es casi imposible. Nuestros contextos están basados en el mundo de los que tienen y los que no tienen. Y luego, el qué hacer con esos hechos. Pareciera un cuento de Dr. Seuss como el de la guerra de la mantequilla— Un pueblo untaba su mantequilla en un lado del pan y el otro pueblo en el lado opuesto. En vez de dejar que las cosas simplemente sean distintas, se pelearon—una verdadera guerra. ¿Qué será si dejáramos que vuelan nuestros barriletes cada uno por dondequiera— alto, bajo o a vientos del medio con el mensaje a nuestros ancestros que diga lo que sintamos con las palabras que queramos? ¿Qué tal si nos dejáramos ser? ¿Qué tal si en vez de querer algo serio solo pensaríamos en querer algo sano el uno para el otro? ¿Qué tal?