A Certain Kind of Freedom

January 17, 2011
By Tatiana Rayes BRONZE, Beirut, Other
Tatiana Rayes BRONZE, Beirut, Other
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

It was an endless number of turns, but we finally arrived to the place where we began to feel like “the strangers”. I opened the door of our enormous car that could have been mistaken as a miniature van. Then out of nowhere, many girls rushed to my side, all with big smiles that stretched from ear to ear. They pushed each other struggling to get closer to me, while on the way, they were pushing me, bringing me closer and closer to the car. They began shoving a bunch of colorful bracelets upon me and I realized that pushing back was not an option, as it looked like I wasn’t going break through without buying something. It took a while for me to make up my mind, but finally I chose a bracelet that I felt stood out. It had a mixture of bright colors that reminded me of the sun. Once I bought one, the little girl, with braided hair, offered me another one for free, as a gift. I told her it was fine and that one was enough, but she insisted and told me that the second one was to bring me good luck. Once I took one, I thanked her and raced to my aunt’s side.
The heat over came us and began to slow us down; at this rate we were never going to reach our destination. We then found a little market that sold only ice-cream and it seemed like our luck had turned around. As we walked on the streets of Chiapas, eyes began to wander toward my direction making me feel uncomfortable. People would stare at me as I passed them; it made me feel like I was an alien from a different planet. I was wearing a pair of deep blue jeans with a black top and they were dressed in long shirts and long black skirts that they made out of wool. But I tried to ignore that and admire what was in front of me, so I let my mind and eyes wander. The streets were filled with markets and stray dogs, which the people surprisingly respected when they came near. It took a long while, but at last, our ice-creams were finished as well as finding our destination; as we were then faced upon a large building known as the San Juan Chamula, Chiapas, Mexico.
Standing next to this beautiful church was very insignificant to me because it was just like every other church we visited; but that was about to change. A little boy began to tell us about this church and I pretend to understand him, nonetheless my mother translated. The boy finished and led us to the entrance of the church so that he could be on his way to talk to another set of tourists like he did with my family and I. Once I stepped in the church, a huge amount of smoke throbbed at me making it very difficult to breathe and see. Everything was blurry and the church was very dim; the air was so thick that I had to inhale and exhale deeply. The floor was filled with green and brown pine needles giving it a nice strong odor. I had to take small careful steps because the pine needles made the floor very slippery. As I kept getting deeper and deeper into the church, I began to see a bunch of empty Coca Cola bottles scattered everywhere.
Then I stumbled upon a family of three sitting on their knees sticking numerous amounts of colorful candles on the floor. The lady doing this, which I supposed was the mother, had a huge candle on the side that had hot wax drooping out of it and onto the floor. She then would stick the end of each candle into the hot wax; this allowed the colorful candles to stick to the ground. Each candle she stuck had a different color that represented something. One example could be the white candle which represented health. Once all the candles were lit and stuck to the ground, she began to whisper words uncomprehendingly. I decided it was time to look at something else and give her and her family privacy. Once I really looked around me, I realized that the church was filled with statues of large wooden saints dressed to prevent evil, and I learned that each year they would add another layer of clothes to the wooden statues. Then all of a sudden, an excruciating, loud, sharp sound rang in my ears and distracted my thoughts. I turned around to see what it was and found myself astonished with horror. A large family surrounded one sick member of their family. Upon them, they had a rooster screeching and struggling to get away for he knew what was coming at him. And then, in a split second, the rooster stopped screaming and its head dangled freely in the air; the family snapped the rooster’s head and then began to skin off the feathers. They believed that the sickness of the woman would be absorbed by the roster’s feathers, and as a result, the woman would heal and be healthy again; this was known as the healing ceremony since they didn’t have medicine. I couldn’t believe what I saw that I turned around in disgust heading for the exit. Once I was out of the church, the air felt weird upon my lungs, it felt clean, and everything was so bright it burned my eyes for a short period of time. Once my vision was back, we headed back to the car where our journey here ended.

On the way to the car my sisters got distracted with accessories and traditional dresses that the woman and men in the market made. While they were admiring everything they saw, I couldn’t help but think how an average day for the people here is. Well, to start with, it’s interesting to see how these regions, where the people are mostly poor and have no medicine, survive without the advanced technology we, people in the “modern” world, seem to rely on. They seem to fend and acquire everything for themselves; the clothes, the rooster, the objects they make to sell; even with all of this hard, self-earned work, they all seem very happy and, what’s more, they feel free.

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This article has 1 comment.

hello said...
on May. 12 2011 at 3:29 am

hey tatiana, your story is quite the catch, please tell me how you have written this, this story gave me quite a fright knowing how many chickens are being killed at this very moment  AT A CHURCH! might i say job well done:)\


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