These last two days of meetings, besides providing the setting for some stimulating and productive discussions about the interreligious movement among the presenters at the Encuentro, also afforded us the opportunity to get to know each other better and a bit more casually.
I was glad, for instance, to be able to spend some time this morning talking with Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, who lives in
Indeed, the Sikhs’ generosity extended beyond the walls of the Barcelona Forum, where the Parliament was held. One of the more troubling issues surrounding that event was the eviction and displacement of several thousand people – mostly poor, tenement-dwelling immigrants and squatters – and the razing of their homes to pave the way for the various commercial buildings (hotels, convention center, concert hall, etc.) to be used by the Forum. Police barricades were deployed in an attempt to keep the remaining 'riff-raff' out of sight of Forum attendees and tourists, and when word about the langar spread throughout the city, and some of
I also had a conversation this morning with Jorge Manzano, a Jesuit priest who teaches philosophy at the
After our closing meeting, and lunch, I said my farewells all around and went back to my room to finish the last bit of packing before leaving for
As it turned out, because I’d changed my plans so late, there had been no room for me in the van taking other presenters to the airport, so instead the Encuentro furnished me with a private car (a brand-new BMW, no less) and driver, so I had a very comfortable and leisurely ride to catch my plane. At the airport, I ran into Joseph Prabhu, another of my colleagues on the Parliament’s board and a professor of philosophy and comparative religion at
As we lifted over El Cerro de la Silla, I mused a little on the events and experiences of the previous days, and on the new friendships I’d made during my stay in
The approach to
I was met at the airport by Natris Branwen, a very friendly and solicitous Mexican pagan whom I’ve known for several years through the Internet. Natris is on the staff of CIDEHUM (the Circle for Humanistic Studies), a Gestalt therapy training institute, and when she heard that I was going to be in México, invited me to come to El DF to give a talk on paganism at their center. I helped Joseph to get a cab to the university where he was staying (getting on the right cab in Mexico City is quite important, not only to ensure that you arrive at your destination directly, but also safely…), and exchanged phone numbers and talked about possibly attending each other’s talks. Then Natris and her friend Raquel took me to my hotel, which was just a couple of blocks away from the Zócalo, the huge square at the very heart of the old part of the city.
The Hotel Catedral is small and modest, particularly in contrast to the place where I stayed in
We had dinner at the hotel restaurant, where we were joined by Sara and Carlos, the couple who founded and direct CIDEHUM. I had a very nice mole poblano de guajolote (guajolote is the common term for ‘turkey’ in México, and yes, it carries the same derogatory connotation here that the English word has in the States…), and we talked about plans for the next day. We decided that they’d pick me up fairly early for a trip to