Passion with the Mexican people
PASSION: According to the Random House College Dictionary it is "any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling." It is further defined as "a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm or desire for anything".
As some readers of this site know well, I have a passion for everyone and everything Mexican. What you may not know, is that I have three brothers whose lives in this world of growing interconnection are shaped increasingly by exposure to Spanish speaking people and their varying cultures. For them, it has not been always a matter of clear intention. Their new lives outside of Canada have drawn them close to the Mexico/America border, the long interface of two very different cultures.
Mi hermano, Bernardo, in the story below works as an international exploratory geologist, exploring high in the Sierra Madres and recently in the High Andes of Peru. He came with his family to visit me and mine this summer. In the course of our own reconnection, he told me this story of one of his first days working in Mexico.
"Be careful what you tell me," I warned him, "I'm an internet writer now looking for stories to tell. I even post pictures to the net!" Being the natural storyteller that he is, he carried on in our grand Irish family tradition of blending our personal experience into the greater world. So meet my hermano in my version of his story of "Passion with the Mexican people."
Pedro Gonzales greeted me as I stepped from the cab of my company truck.
" Bernardo? Bienvenido á México!" He loudly proclaimed as he extended his rough and callused hand in greeting. Pedro stood half a foot below my six-foot frame. We appeared to be both around the same age of forty. I was to be in charge of my mining company's north Mexican exploration project. Pedro, a local man from the Alamos, Sonora region was hired to be my field assistant.
"This way, Bernardo. I will introduce you to the other members of our crew!" Pedro continued.
After the introductions, we jumped back into my truck for a drive to survey the exploration site. As my truck jostled and bumped along the rutted mountain highway, Pedro started to fill me in on the multiple details of the work arrangements. His English was excellent and he was to prove to be my right hand man in the many grueling months that followed.
At one point in our conversation, Pedro suddenly exclaimed, "But Bernardo, you must have PASSION with the Mexican people!" The tone of his voice was exuberant! Since I had only known this man for a few hours, his comment struck me as a little strange. What did he mean by this? So I decided just to let these words pass by. Pedro continued to brief me on all the arrangements that he had been attending to before my arrival.
Twenty minutes later, he exclaimed, "Just remember, Bernardo, you must have PASSION with the Mexican people!" Again I was startled! This was the first day of my working contract in Mexico. What did Pedro expect me to do? My sister, Wendy had taken several long road trips with her family over the past few years throughout Mexico. She had told me that the Mexican people are exceedingly warm and hospitable. What Pedro seemed to suggest sounded positively sizzling! Did this mean that I had to kiss and hug them all of the time? Or was there more?
I don't consider myself a real "touchy-feely" type of guy, especially when complete strangers were involved. This was my first trip ever to Mexico. This Mexican geological project was becoming a little uncomfortable. What exactly did this guy expect from me? I was hesitant to find out. So I squirmed a little in my seat and decided to ignore the comment again. Several more hours passed swiftly by as we drove towards our remote mountain camp. Pedro and I continued to discuss the details of our project.
Again, Pedro asserted, " Always remember this, Bernardo. You must have PASSION with the Mexican people. It was getting dark and I started worrying about the up-coming sleeping arrangements. All his talk about PASSION! So finally, I said, "Pedro, I'm afraid I do not understand your idea of PASSION with the Mexican people. You'd better explain it to me."
Pedro stared at me with a funny look, " Bernardo, how can you not understand " paciencia"? It is so necessary for working with people. Do you not need a great deal of patience when working with new crews in your country? "
" Patience is PACIENCIA?" I exclaimed with a rush of relief. The English word passion and the Spanish word paciencia had sounded exactly the same to my untrained ears. Visions of hugging and kissing Pedro and the whole crew evaporated into the thinning mountain air. "O.K. Pedro. I will try to have much paciencia or passion with the Mexican people!