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  • 1.
    Women here are no sweet pies either.

    I know women, who have abandoned their children, just for a lover. I know women, who take the food - money for their children and spend it in the next bar for booze. I know women, who pretended to not see their husbands abusing their daughters, women, who when finally confronted with these facts became jealous of and angry with their daughters, not their husbands.

    Two men have cried their hearts out with me: both ran away from home when they were 6 - year - old boys and their mothers never ever searched for them.

    Mexican mothers often pamper the most light - skinned child and punish the other ones for being so dark. Mexican mothers, often abused by husbands and grown - up sons, take all their frustration mostly out on their daughters - in - law. They protect the machos, who have beaten and drunk and abused and educate their sons to become just the same.

    Many women here complain about unfaithful husbands and then go out to conquer the married neighbor or vendor from across the street.

    It seems a rat - race.

    I see little solidarity among women.

    Last night the taxi - driver, who brought me home from town told me about how his father had just survived seven stomach ulcers, three of which had had started bleeding.

    "Wow!" I exclaimed

    " My father is old and strong," he nodded with great contentment, " But you should have seen my Grandma! My grandma was something. She was a true heartbreaker up to her death with 97 years old a couple of years ago! Always a fine perm in her hair, always high heels on, even though the heels got lower with age. Always dressed impeccably and with her elegant purse in her hands! My grandma survived three husbands," now he giggles," People even started gossiping that she might be a mankiller! After her last husband had bit the dust she looked for a boy - friend and did not have to search for long. She was nearly eighty years old by then. That man also died before her. Finally she contented herself without a man. In the end she got cancer. She knew she was dying. A few days before her death she called my mom in and gave her detailed instructions about how to dress her up for the upcoming event of her wake. At the end of the encounter, my mother says, my grandma looked at her fingernails and said," Look at these nails! They urgently need new varnish!"

    I remember a terrible bitch in Africa:

    Mexicans need visas to visit many countries in southern Africa, but Europeans do not. My husband. fortunately, can travel on his Spanish passport. I travel on my German one. Thus, we have avoided many bureaucratic headaches during our travels here.

    We have Mexican friends from San Cristobal who are coming for a month’s visit and will travel with us to Botswana. We tell them about the visas and that they can be obtained through the British Embassy in Mexico City. They receive a one-month permit for Namibia with no difficulty. They also wish to visit Cape Town and Johannesburg for a few days en route to us. The British Embassy advises them they will be able to get South African visas on arrival in Johannesburg.

    When our friends land there, however, it is a different story. To their utter dismay, the immigration official denies them visas. They have already paid for their hotels, but the official holds firm, “Go to the South African Embassy in Windhoek and apply for visas!”

    We pick them up at the Windhoek Airport, rest a night and the next morning go in search of the South African Embassy. No one in our hotel has any idea where it is, so we go to the German Embassy and ask there. The receptionist tells me, “Oh, it’s just across the street from our building.”

    What we find there, though, is not the Embassy but the offices of South African Airways. There, however, we get the correct directions. The Embassy is way outside of the city, so we take a taxi. Perhaps the cab was once red, but now it is a patchwork of many different colors covering its innumerable dents. The pitch black, young driver is sweating bullets, but offers us a huge, warm smile. We show him the address which has been written down for us. He studies the piece of paper for a very long time and wrinkles his forehead. I’m worried he doesn’t know the location. Just as I am about to ask, he starts the car. It moves forward with a tremendous racket. Here we go!

    At the first intersection, the engine dies. The light turns green. Drivers behind us lean on their horns. Our driver, who speaks hardly any English, glances at us, smiles even more broadly and sweats even more profusely. He feverishly works to restart the car. I too feel terribly hot. I reach to roll down the window, but there’s no knob!

    Fortunately my husband’s window can be opened. We all gasp the fresh air. Just as we are ready to get out and search for another taxi, the monster inside the engine roars back to life and we are on the move. Our driver sails through a red light. Again the drivers protest with honks, but we are long gone.

    We drive and drive through this small capital of barely half a million people. After a while we ask our driver if he is sure he knows our destination. He nods and answers, but none of us can understand his English. He continues to smile, continues to sweat like hell. Finally he stops and begins talking to a man standing at the kerb. They talk for what seems an eternity in one of the click languages. Their conversation is accompanied with many dramatic gestures. We drive on. Our driver stops again to talk with another pedestrian. More clicks, more extravagant arm gestures. We drive on. We four passengers exchange glances. We don’t know what the heck to do, where the heck we are. Finally the taxi stops in front of an old, run-down house. Beside the rusty entrance hangs a crooked sign, South African High Commission.

    We feel huge relief getting out of the sticky, hot taxi. Our driver also radiates relief.

    The steps moan under us as we climb the dark stairway to the second floor of the ill-kept building. We open the door at the top and find ourselves inside a small, chaotic office. There is a Formica counter behind which stands a large black woman. There is nobody else in the room. Surely she hears us enter, but instead of looking up, she fiercely studies some papers right under her nose. She takes quite a while before acknowledging our presence by a cursory glance through her thick glasses. There’s no smile of greeting. She doesn’t greet us at all. Instead she has composed her face into an angry grimace. She makes us feel as though we have disturbed her. We sense strongly that she doesn’t want us there at all.

    My husband has great skill in bringing smiles to dull bureaucrats’ faces. I have seen him do it around the world.

    “We need your help…” he begins.

    The woman signals him to shut up. Our friend hands over their passports, explaining they would like a visa for five days to visit beautiful South Africa. The clerk slams both passports on the Formica. Her voice thunders, “You needed to get those visas in Mexico City!”

    Our friend repeats what he was told in Mexico City.

    “I cannot help you!” she shouts.

    “Please, madam…” pleads my husband. "My friends have aid for their stay in Cape Town and Johannesburg My God. They want to see your country! They are tourists who will be happily spending money there.”

    The woman stares at him, turns on her heel and leaves the room. She never returns.

    Our friends cancelled their South African trip and received a partial hotel refund.


    Art by Kiki ( Her Head Is Full Of Lovers)

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