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  • I remember the morning while we were still living in Namibia when I awoke and had dreamt: a woman calls me and says, “I have bad news for you. Your father is dying. You have to tell him one more time how much you love him!” I try to book a flight to Germany, where my father is, I try to call him, but nothing works out.

    It took a while for me to remember that my Dad died more than 20 years ago. I was lucky enough, back then, to be able to tell him one more time how much I loved him.

    It was just about daybreak. I looked for my watch and finally succeeded in grabbing it. When I checked it I discovered that it was the 31st of October: my father’s birthday!

    During the following night I met my first boy – friend in my dreams. As soon as I woke up I remembered that in the dream he came to tell me that he was dead. I have long lost touch with him and in real life did not know if he was dead or alive or where and how he lived.

    I got up and prepared myself a Rooibos – tea, the national drink. I opened my Laptop and checked my mails. The first message was from my daughter-in-law who congratulated me to the Mexican Day of the Dead. In the last decades Mexicans have adopted Halloween as their fiesta and now in Chiapas the festivities for the Day of the Dead last from October 31st to November 2nd. She sent me a photograph of my three-year-old granddaughter in a death-costume. Even in that she looked absolutely gorgeous!

    We got ready to drive our friends to the airport in Windhoek. Our time together was over; they would fly back to Mexico. Both stood in line at the check –in –counter when I suddenly felt sadness pinch my heart. I closed my eyes to locate this pain exactly, but it had already nearly vanished and I could not pinpoint it. It was somewhere in my chest. Even though I could not find it anymore, my memory knew that just a moment ago there was suffering at that spot.

    A few weeks earlier we had said good –bye to our son in this same airport. As soon as I remembered that, the pain pinched me again. When I tried again to spot it exactly, it was immediately gone again.

    I remembered my good –bye before that from my sister and niece. I saw them both in front of my inner eye, their last waving towards us and: pinch-pinch there is that same pain tickling me, playing around with me.

    Our friends left, we drove for the night to our hotel. For the rest of the day I felt melancholic. On a table in our room I found a magazine and surfed through it. Suddenly a few words out of an article about I don’t know what jumped into my eyes: “We swim through life like through a huge ocean and there is nothing we can hold on to.”

    Tears started filling my eyes.

    My husband watched the news in CNN. There was a catastrophe in Tabasco, the neighbor state of Chiapas. The river erased hundreds of people’s homes. There were images of protests and revolts in Pakistan. I went to bed. In my dreams that night a song of the Beatles appeared. The following morning it still played inside my head. I had heard this song many times, but now I concentrated on the words for the very first time: We can work it out, we can work it out. Life is very short and there is no time for crossing and fighting, my friend….

    Later we sat in a café. There was only one other table with guests. A young German family sat there: mother, Dad and a boy about eight years old. Mother was spreading jam on her bread, her eyes were still half closed. She still did not seem to have left her nightly dreams completely behind either. Dad held on to his coffee cup. He also seemed to be somewhere else. But the boy was completely in the here and now. He was talking. His eyes were dark and very big. While he talked his eyes grew all the time larger and larger. His parents could barely give him attention.

    I understood what the boy said,“You know, Mom, yesterday . . . when I reached that special place with my friend there at the mountain….”

    “Yes,”, nodded Mom, who wanted to be a good mother, trying her best to express enthusiasm for her son’s story.

    “You know, what happened then?” asked the boy. He wass breathless with excitement.

    “No,”, mumbled Mummy.

    “Mummy, we suddenly got into another time dimension!”

    The boy was very excited now; , his eyes were two huge, deep saucers. I felt: if he kept talking absolutely anything was possible now!

    Mummy was still more captivated by her toast and jam. It was hard to be an alert mother to little boys so early in the morning; I knew that from my own experience.

    Mum asked her son to lower his voice and I could not understand anymore what he told his parents about his huge adventure the day before. But I did not need to hear more. Anything was possible. Hope had returned to my heart.

    We returned to Swakopmund that day and in the afternoon I walked along the Beach through a mist of rain so fine that even after an hour I was still not completely wet. I fell over a stone, I had not seen, something which happened to me so often that one of my toes was always hurting. “I am dreaming too much, while walking” I scolded myself, “I have to pay more attention!” ( Today I know that this was not about paying attention, but about dying retina cells…)

    While still thinking this I nearly stumbled into a black fisherman. He laughed and checked me out from top to bottom.

    “Which country are you from?” He asked me

    Without hesitating I answered, “I am from Mexico!”

    To my utter surprise I heard him answer,” That is what I thought, you look like a Mexican!”

    We chatted a bit more, then I started my walk back home.

    As soon as I arrived I told my husband full of pride,” Imagine, this fisherman out there thought that I look like a real Mexican!”

    My husband laughed,” I am sure that this is the first and last time in your life that another person believed that you are Mexican!”

    I took my shoes off, cleaned my feet from the remaining sand and wondered if in the soap opera The Gardener’s Daughter there maybe appeared a woman with red hair???

    The following night was the first time since I arrived in Namibia that I dreamt about my return to my little South Mexican town: San Cristobal de Las Casas. Munching my granola for breakfast the dream was still present.

    A few hours later I met Miriam in the Village Café. She was a 30 year – old Ovambo woman She had just been able to buy her own little home in the Mondesa Township and wanted us to accompany her and admire her new acquisition.

    We parked our car in front of her little house. It did not look much bigger than our car. Five children happily received us. Three were Miriam’s and the other two her nieces. Her oldest son was 12 years old.

    “Where is your husband?” I asked her

    She laughed that her big bosom jumped heavily up and down,”These children’s fathers are long gone far away! I take care of the children by myself!”

    We entered her living room, maybe 10 square meters wide. There were some plastic chairs; I detected a few books piled up on a fruit crate. I am surprised to discover that she did not have a TV. Along one side of the room was a small wall. A light blue curtain fell down from the ceiling on top of it. That was the separation between her and the children’s bedrooms. There was no bathroom, just an outhouse. A tin roof kept us all in pleasant dim lighting.

    Miriam excused the chaos inside her living quarters,”The children have spent the morning here playing all alone!”

    Miriam tried to clean up a bit and chatted away with my husband. My eyes just drifted here and there around in the room and suddenly detected something amazing: a photograph pinned to the wall in front of me. I recognized a woman from the back; she kneeled on a plaza in a long skirt and showed two long, black braids. She looked just like any Mayan Indian woman in San Cristobal!

    I got up and scrutinized the picture from closer up. The woman wore the woolen skirt of the Chamula Indians, held together by a red woven band.

    I called my husband.“Gabriel, come, Miriam has a photograph of a Chamula Indian woman here hanging on her wall!”

    Miriam was happy that we liked the image. “An Italian photographer I met here a couple of years ago sent this to me!” she explained.

    My husband studied the image and said, “It is not just a Chamula Indian woman, Kiki, but look here, she sits on the main plaza of San Cristobal in front of the cathedral!”

    We could not believe that in this so far away Township in Namibia we had found an image from our little and pretty unknown town in the highlands of Mexico!

    Miriam was not impressed at all. She had no notion about where or what Mexico was anyways.
    Photography by Kiki ( Train tracks near Swakopmund)
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