Why cafe con leche? What does coffee with milk have to do with anything?
It's the oldest joke of our relationship:
Cafe (aka Ibis Gilberto):
Leche (aka Teresa or Tere):
Cafe + Leche = Cafe con leche, also known as Isaias, Chai, Birdy, Isaiah, and Zay:
We moved last year into a little house on the boundary line between two small towns outside of Oaxaca City, just in time for Isaias to be born at home. Our immediate neighbors are a cornfield, an empty lot, another empty lot, and a lonely older man who trades plants with me through the fence when he's sober, and mumbles apologies and hides from me when he's drunk.
Last winter, Luis, who's twelve and stays next door with his uncle during the school year, saw the devil in the road outside their house. They knelt down in the yard and prayed until morning, when they matter of factly informed us that the devil had come around.
I'm alone a lot with Baby Isaias, while Ibis works, and so far the devil has left us alone. Our only visitations have been from birds: a huge white owl landing silently on a fence post late at night. A hummingbird perched on a branch of the lime tree, its tiny toes no thicker than lines drawn with a pen. Little red birds with black masks and capes, like avian superheroes, chasing down bugs on the wing.
We're officially off the grid, both by choice and necessity, as there's no grid just here to connect to. It's a lot of work, and less a state of permanent eco-revolutionary awesomeness than the long slow piling up of days, buckets of water hauled and enough, or not enough, sunshine to reun the computer or the blender.
We're not purists by any means; Ibis, for the time being, has to work in Oaxaca City, driving back and forth regularly. For my part, I had a happy dream the other night about a place that was combination daycare-laundromat-coffee-shop-with-wireless, which about sums it up. And that's not even taking into account the huge carbon footprint our super-long-distance international courtship racked up.
Still, our hope is that all three of us, but especially Isaias, will find something--Something--different and worthwhile, living in a place where people who speak fluent Zapotec outnumber people with master's degrees about 50 to 1, where the knowledge of when to plant the corn takes precedence over the knowledge of how to connect to the Internet. Where twitter is a thing the birds do in the lime tree, in the carrizo, in the jacarandas.
So begins our story: it's about building a family with two languages, two cultures, two colors, about trying and failing and trying again to live sustainably, about growing into home. Here we go...