Bien metido en la vida del campo

Yes, I´m thinking in Spanish as mush as English now, I didnt know how to title this post in English, but I will try to restrict the text to one language!

So, it´s been a while since my last post, not that I havent had regular internet access, more that I´ve felt too in the middle of experiences to write about them. Today, I am waiting for my friend in a cyber cafe,where she is trying to send off a draft of her thesis, so it seemed like a good time to take a little while to pause and reflect.

We have been going to the village to work/ play witht he kids everyday. On Monday, Y and I decided to spend the night there, so we took our sleeping bags and asked one of the señoras for space on her floor... hospitality is as much a part of Mexican culture as it is of Indian culture, we knew that one or the other would gladly host us, especially since she and I have both lived in that village for two mnths each and know the people well enough. It was truly wonderful to have doen that, to spend a whole day and night being part of their lives again rather than just ocming in for a few hours a day, but it was also incredibly exhausting. From the moment we arrived to the moment we left, we did not have a single minute to ourselves... for the most part, we were constantly surrounded by children, ages 3 to 10, inventing one game after another. I had no idea how tiring it can be to be around 5-6 kids for 24 hours (they were all cousins, part of the extended family of the house we were staying at, and since it was raining hard, many of them decided to spend the night there).

It was also heart wrneching, actually sitting down with them and hearing their stories, equally with the kids as with the señoras. There are a lot of single mothers in the area, mostly abadoned by their husbands at a young age, and the woman who offered us her home was one of them. In general, talk to the señoras here, married or unmarried, and they all tell you "mejor sola" (better alone). Alcoholism and violence are so much a part of their lives here, they all genuinely seem to believe that even with all the hardships of raising children alone in a community that is already very poor, they are better off alone. Often, one doesnt even want to know the story behind the statement, with such decision do they make the statement.

That particular day, we also ended up talking a lot about migration to the USA: Many of the men from this village have migrated either to Mexico City or to the USA; some have been sent back several times and have attempted the migration again, some have been able to stay on, all the families have stories to tell abolut the difficulty of crossing the border and then the difficulty of living there. But what struck us more this time was the fact of how many little children had been left behind. In recent years, at least in this family, two of the women migrated, leaving behind young children. A 6 year old in the house we stayed in hasn´t seen his mother since he was a year old, when she crossed the frontera... he talks to her on the phone from time to time, but he really has nothing to say to her, doesnt even really register that she is his mother. His father abandoned the family a long time ago soon after this child was born, so he is now being brought up by his grandparents with money that his mother earns working as domestic help and sends to the village here. Many, many versions of this story exist in this community; almost every family has its own version of it. While one is grateful for the tight extended families that take care of the young children in these cases, the kidsare still often lonely in a way that breaks one´s heart. And I can´t even imagine how hard it must be for the mother to miss out entirely on her son´s childhood so that he could have a childhood.

By the time we left the next day, though, I couldnt believe I had actually spent two months living in that village... so exhausted was I from those 24 hours! Also realizing that, no matter what one wnats to belive, to suddenly be stripped of all the basic comforts one takes for granted no es nada facil. In general, I am completely comfortable there, but the one thing we couldn´t get used to even now was the absence of bathrooms... during the day they use the cornfields, which is fine, but at night these little brick structures they call baños but that are really breeding grounds for disease.

Still, it was a wonderful day. We were served simple but absolutely delicious food (handmade tortillas,eggs with salsa, and locally grown coffee), got to play with lots of wonderfully affectionate children, went berry picking, ate mangoes in the messiest way possible, got lost in the milpa, walked five people to one umbrella in the rain... and came home so fulfilled.

Today, L and I are in a different state.. we came here for a workshop on polinazadores... o, mas bien, she came here for aworkshop on polinizadores, I came here partly out of curiosty and partly because M, my program coordinator from 2007 and one of my closest friends in mexico, is supposed to be here as well and this might be the only part of this summer when our paths cross. Spent most of the day today in a room with about 10 farmers from 4 states, looking at powerpoint presentations of insects and specifically bees! Well, some preserved exhbits too... and learning how one could use the food chain that exists in nature to pollinate and eliminate pests rather than using chemical fertilizers. It´s quite fascinating, for example, a certain wasp is a parasite, but it´s a parasite of a certain worm that can cause the worst plague for corn... so introducing the right number of those wasps can help control the pests without any chemicals involved. It is all new to me, but I love hearing all of this as a discussion amongst the farmers (although the man giving the workshop has a PhD in entology and has done a lot of research on which plants work with which insects, including things like which sort of bee do we want to reproduce in order to prevent certain native plants from becming extinct)... even as I doubt I´d ever have much use for this specific information, especialy since it is tailored specifically to this region of Mexico, it is defnitely creating a whole new level of interest in the natural world and how it works. I do want to continue being involved, in some capacity or another, with rural grassroots movements such as these, and I also want my own organic edible garden someday!

OK, I have more to say about some fascinating ecologically sustainable constructions that I am learning about, but my hour at the cyber cafe is almost over, and I do not want to pay for another hour! So, next time!