I know how the world called The Netherlands looks like…
To the ones who have lost someone that they love... to my taak emej
When Tania told granny Eulalia that she was moving to the Netherlands, granny Eulalia was so worried because she could not imagine how Tania would live so far away in a different world. For granny Eulalia this place called Europe/the Netherlands based on her knowledge and her way of seeing and perceiving the life and worlds, was not only
another land or continent, it was another world with strong implications. She was a shaman and as such, she was a spiritual guide for her Ayuuk people in Tamazulapam and a knowledgeable person1.
Granny: dear daughter, do you know how the other world looks like? Are you gonna have food to eat (meaning maize and the things they grow in a milpa and her community)? What are you gonna eat? Where are you gonna live? (Granny was waiving her head showing she was deeply worried).
Tania: No yet granny but I will make some arrangements in the coming days. There is food over there, I’ll find things to eat. I’ve been told it’s cold over there. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. I’ll come back in some weeks when I’m about to leave to say good bye.
Granny Eulalia: I’ll be waiting for you darling, please, take care, god bless you.
Tania knew she will be fine, it was going to be her first time in Europe and she was ready for the adventure. Tania was conscious she might have to learn to combine ingredients and get use to new flavors and tastes and was willing to take the challenge. Anyway, as a good adventurer, she was ready to experience something new.
By October, it was time to leave, she will move to the Netherlands by the beginning of November. Tania went to her hometown to say good bye and get the blessing of granny Eulalia. Granny usually did not make rituals to guide her own family but this time, she made an exception and offered prayers to the Ayuuk gods so they would guide Tania´s journey and give to her the strength she needed. When Tania got to her hometown, she went to granny’s kitchen and as always, granny was ready waiting for her with a warm cup of coffee. They sat next to the fire and started to chat:
Granny: I know how the place where you are going is, I know how that other world is. Now, I am pretty sure you will be fine.
Tania: really? How is this place, tell me please granny…
Granny: it’s a cold place, there are many white people (ekaats) with white hairs, they do not look like us, they don’t have black hair. They don’t speak like us. They do not eat corn; can you believe that? They use the corn to feed cows. They eat potatoes and wheat. I know you’ll be ok even if you don’t have corn, you might have to survive eating potatoes and wheat. Now that you are leaving, please, take warm clothes with you, you’re going to need them because it is super cold over there. You will face some of the coldest periods of your life, but I know you will survive2.
Tania: (she was shocked) thank you granny, I’ll follow your advice. Granny, please, could you tell me how do you know all this?
Granny: (granny laughs proudly), your grandmother knows many things. A week ago, a white lady from this other world came with you uncle Daniel. She looks like a gringa, she is white and has white hair. She said she was from there and I asked her all these things. She wanted to learn from us, but I also wanted to learn from her. She told me what they eat, how is the weather and how they live over there.
When granny was telling this story to Tania, she didn’t stop smiling, she was happy and and proud at the same time, as the shaman and grand mother she was, it was her duty to guide and support her children, her family, her people.
Granny: when are you gonna come back? How long are you gonna be in that other world?
Tania: I’ll be there four years granny, that’s the time it will take me to get my degree. If all goes well I’ll be back in a year and spend some time in Mexico City (just as reference that Tania was going to be closer, granny had a particular way of conceiving the world). I’ll be closer to you and I’ll visit you more frequently.
Granny: I don’t think I’ll have the energy to wait for you four years because I’m already tired. However, I’ll be here when you come back next year, I’ll be waiting for you.
Granny invited Tania to follow her to her bedroom. She opened a box and took two shawls, she placed them on the bed:
Granny: daughter, choose one and take it with you. I want you to take it with you so you don’t forget us, so you don’t forget who you are and where you’re coming from, so you tell the others who live in that other world who we are, what do we do, and how do we live in this world.
Tania was speechless, she was thankful and took one shawl that granny gave to her feeling so grateful for such a gift.
The gringa that granny met is a researcher from the University of Berlin. She visited granny to get her oral testimony on a historical reconstruction she was doing. The researcher did not speak Mixe nor granny English nor Spanish but Daniel, Tania’s uncle, translated the conversation among these two ladies,
Tania keeps this shawl as her totem and she is doing the last year of her PhD. Granny waited for Tania’s return in 2014 as she promised and started her sacred journey to go back to the land where her umbilical cord was buried, to close her cycle in life and be part of the Mother Earth again in 2016. Granny won’t be there to celebrate, dance and acknowledge the Mother Earth when Tania finishes her PhD, however, she will always remain in Tania’s heart and memory.