Q & A with the Author|
Q: How did you reconstruct your time in Chicavasco? Did you keep a journal? Is there anything you wish you had written more about at the time?
A: I kept a very limited journal, written on the run. I wish it had been more detailed, but it helped me with some time and event facts. The biggest aid came from my letters to my parents, which my mother saved for me, and which I kept. These were more complete and some of my personal reactions came through in the writing. Also, the many slides I took helped with descriptions. Some particulars appeared in the 3 newsletters our group published during the time there. Presenting programs to groups after I returned to the U.S., when the experience was fresh in my mind, must have helped fix details in my long-term memory. At any rate, the adventure was so unique that I can still see in my mind most of the scenes recalled in the book.
Q: Did you imagine then that you would write a book about the experience, or become a writer?
A: I have always wanted to be a writer, but while I was teaching I never seemed to have the spare time. Unconsciously, I must have known that some day I would write more thoroughly about this adventure.
Q: Do you think that life in Chicavasco is different today? Is the church still there?
A: I've heard from several people born in Chicavasco and now have a few photos of the town today. I have posted two of them here, under the Chicavasco photos from my book, and you can follow the link to see more. I confess that I didn't have high hopes for what had become of the town, but in fact it now has a flourishing textile business in which women (like Rosa and Ester in the book) can provide income for their families. The town now boasts paved streets, electric lights, a beautiful plaza, larger houses, better schools and more churches. Unfortunately, like in many small Mexican towns, there don't seem to be enough opportunities for men to earn a living and they are forced to emigrate. It is clear from the photos, however, that festival days bring exiled workers home to enjoy coveted time with the families and friends they must leave behind.
I have learned, also, that several protestant churches still flourish and older people in the village speak lovingly of "Don Jorge" and his selfless work there. Perhaps some day I'll learn how long he and his family remained in Chicavasco. If still alive, Jorge and Isis would be in their mid-seventies now and have probably retired to be cared for by their children.
Q: What advice would you give to a young person embarking on such an adventure today?
A: Be open. Listen with your ears and your heart. Try not to judge negatively things that are merely different from what you are used to. Try to learn the language before you go, but realize that you will learn more while you are there. There are many ways to communicate and people respond to your attitude and actions as well as your words. You will come back a changed person.