to my family and all my friends
The Crossing Border Festival 2016 came to an end some days ago, and I can still taste its music and words. The streets and the hustle and bustle. The friendliness of the Dutch, who are at ease being both funny and calm. Their intelligence and good will towards the fellow man. I understood that poetry can blossom around the corner. Between the trees and beaches we went to, where the wind pulled our hair. Between the compasses made of clouds and rain. In the sea that opens out, and the canals that branch off. In the cold benches and churches. In the candles.
And the hours pass by while I try to get hold of them, to memorise them, to condemn them to eternity between the empty pages of my travelogue. But time goes by: insolent, its melting soul sliding between the seconds that won’t come back.
I’m days away from getting back to my beautiful, albeit tragic, country: Mexico – and I’m still amazed by Holland. And even though I caught a horrible flu, I look at the rain through the windows of this beautiful Translators House in Amsterdam and smile. I draw a wet heart on the steamy glass after breathing on the window. It’s been some time since I left The Hague to come to stay here, among my friends Peter Bergsma, Myrthe and Maud.
In Amsterdam I learn that Trump won the elections in the USA. We all feel the world has lost something: the innocence of thinking that we could build a better world, perhaps. Because it seems like irrational people, those who vote with their gut instead of their brain, are using brutality as a bargaining chip. We all have the same underwhelming feeling: ‘Poor world! How sad! Now, it’s the poor, the outcast, the neglected, who’ll have to give a hand to the rich. The world is upside down. How tragic!
All is not lost. I learn there have been a lot of demonstrations in the USA against Donald Trump and the hatred he represents. All under the same universal flag of justice and dignity. Because we will never surrender. And from here – in the short, really short time we spend on Earth – I take with me the brightest pearls of wisdom I’ve found in my young age:
Always ensure no injustice is done
Make yourself heard when you disagree.
Never hurt another person.
Protect the elderly and children.
Don’t allow any kind of abuse.
Look after ourselves and the environment.
Keep a clean conscience.
Be outraged by brutality and abuse.
Fight with all your might, without fear, so hope will never die.
Cycle more often.
The world is turning, and sometimes its movement makes us fall. But it never takes away the humour we use to fight the pain away. I think internet memes must be a specific circus act made to dent people’s hypocrisy.
Today. November the 9th, is the third anniversary of my grandad’s passing. Perhaps he’s sailing in the North Sea – where I threw a shell and called his name from the beach shore, in such cold water. I lit a candle to guide him back home, back to our hearts. My granny asked me the following: “Light a candle for him, darling. Maybe in a theatre, because he had the soul of a musician, a poet, a madman.” The soul of a troubadour, like the birds that shine at dawn. “Grandad, do you know that I miss you lots?” The bench is cold so I go in to a church to take shelter from the rain.
I read in Dutch and learned some bad words in French. I worked alongside my translator girlfriends. They are the mirrors that throw light on the process of invention.
I walk in Amsterdam. Father Christmas comes from the river. People sing songs. I think about all the meals, the dinners, the food that keeps me going. I look at the price of the clothes and I think it’s all so expensive. I come from poverty, from hunger. I look at the price tags counting the pennies. No, I think I will walk everywhere today. After all, everything is closer here than from where I come from – even if it takes me three days.
I’m happy going to Amsterdam, Utrecht and the fantastic town where Myrthe is from. Her parents are great, super fantastic. I get sick and they look after me like a daughter. I fall in love with them.
I check my email with a runny nose and cough. Clara Stern, my guardian angel in Mexico, tells me that my book will also be published in Polish. I’m happy. In other emails they ask me to guest write for a magazine and also to write an article for a newspaper in the USA. They are also planning my return to Holland and Belgium next March, after visiting Paris and Arles in January. I’ve been invited to Perugia and Milan. In August I’ll be in Poland for a festival. I never thought, as I said in my first chronicle, that writing would take me around the world and give me so much from so many people.
Thank you for inviting me, for offering me a place to stay and for giving me the gift of your friendship
Tot ziens en veel geluk!!!**
Amsterdam, November the 18th, 2016
**Goodbye and good luck, according to Google Translate