As a fiction author I love to weave  unique cultural gems into the plot. Most of the time I draw on my own world travels and experiences living in Mexico and Central America.

In these Friday Fiesta posts I highlight cultural stories worth celebrating. The unique, the odd, the thought-provoking. Enjoy and share to make the world a little smaller today. 

The Charge: Fair Reporting. The Verdict: Acquitted

When Greek editor Kostas Vaxevanis published a list of Greek citizens hiding money in Swiss banks—remember, Greece is bankrupt and hoping the European Union will bail it out—he was arrested for violating Greek privacy laws. The list had been provided by the IMF but mysteriously “lost” for two years. According to the UK’s Guardian newspaper, “With tax avoidance widely blamed for the debt-stricken country’s inability to balance the books, the failure of successive governments to act on the list and crack down on tax evaders had raised suspicions that corrupt vested interests ran to the top of society. Vaxevanis was acquitted yesterday after a sensational trial.

Greece still faces tough times ahead but the acquittal means it can at least still hold up its head as the birthplace of democracy.

Global Eye Candy

The Guggenheim Museum has launched a new online platform, i.e. funky website, that focuses on the regional art and creativity of different parts of the world. It’s called the Guggenheim MAP Global Art Initiative and debuted with its first page/module (my word) on Southeast Asia. Modules for Latin America and Middle East/NorthAfrica are coming soon. The Southeast Asia module includes videos about the project, interviews with curators, photo essays about the places the museum has gone to discover curated content, and ties to an early 2013 exhibit in New York. The MAP term in the project name is a bit confusing but the website has a lot of interesting content. Of course, I’m really looking forward to the Latin America module.

 The Mohawk Games

I’m not an online gamer but at least know how popular this entertainment form has become. But apparently most games are built more for shoot ‘em up skill and fun than for cultural diversity. So it’s a matter of interest that the new Assassin’s Creed III is set in Revolutionary War times and includes a character named Connor Kenway who is half Mohawk, half English and voiced by Native American actor Noah Watts. It’s like the Last of the Mohican’s Hawkeye goes gaming. NPR takes a look at the cultural diversity angle of the story as well as profiling Watts, who is apparently the only Native American actor who wasn’t in the Twilight series.

This story caught my eye because I grew up in New York’s Mohawk Valley and one of my favorite books-turned-into-a-movie is Drums Along the Mohawk. So maybe it’s time to revisit my roots with some online games! Who knew?

The Prison Set

Postdoctoral fellow and journalist Alice Driver wrote this interesting and disturbing story of a trip to a prison outside Mexico City. The Reclusorio Sur prison houses many more inmates than it was designed for, with a nicer section formerly housing the narcos and the prison version of a slum housing transvestites. The prison’s medical center was sad, with doctors who earn little and displayed a nice disdain for their patients. Driver describes what she saw in powerful terms and the story is simply a gem.

Volleyball for Tajikistan

Here’s something you don’t see every day: The American Corner club in Qurghonteppa, Tajikistan set up a Facebook page to ask for donations to buy volleyball uniforms. They have established two teams for local teens and needed $1300 for uniforms. The page included a link to Paypal and actually achieved their goal.

Tajikistan is one of the poorest countries in the world and the page includes pictures of the teens, their dirt court, and their families. Girls often are not allowed to play sports there but a few will be on the teams and there’s a priceless picture of the girls in dresses holding volleyballs. Check out the page to follow the teams’ progress or donate.

Risk. Power. Corruption. Cartels. And Relationships. 



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