My Life in La Yacata–the video


Well, it took all summer and then all of September–but my son’s video about our life in Mexico is up!

If you haven’t already–click on the host’s page Growing Up Around the World and give it a “like”.  Heck, go ahead and comment if you want!

Or if you’d rather see it here–well go ahead!

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Filed under Uncategorized

Playing Tourist–Cuitzeo, Michoacan

We’ve been to Morelia on several occasions. We’ve gone to the National Migration Institute, only to be told we had to go to San Miguel de Allende for my legalization process. It’s another state you see, although only 45 minutes away. We’ve also gone to Morelia to have my son’s birth certificate and my marriage certificate translated by an official perito traductor, who unfortunately died before we had all our documentation officialized. We did find another perito traductor in San Miguel de Allende later on though and now we have one right here in Moroleon for all our legal issues.

So Morelia isn’t a new destination for us, but we normally have some official business to take care of and as a result, don’t take the time to play tourist. The other week we had the day off and decided to go just because. Although Morelia yet another city on the UNESCO World Heritage Site, my intentions were not so lofty.  I had the vague notion of finding a Wal-mart or maybe even a sporting goods store to buy some arrows for my son’s bow. It was so much effort just to get it that it was terribly disappointing that it came with only 2 arrows, one which hit a stone and cracked and the other which flew into the great beyond on the very first day.

That little cement barrier is all that separates you from the lake!

That little cement barrier is all that separates you from the lake!

We always take the libre (free) road rather than the cuota (toll) road not just because it saves us a few pesos. It’s a pleasant drive, although I imagine it could be a bit hair raising during inclement weather. But the sun was shining today.  One time, I was gazing out the window while driving through the lake and BAM–all of sudden a water snake took down a duck.  Just one more occasion that I find myself live on the discovery channel!

Cuitzeo, Michoacan

Cuitzeo, Michoacan

We drove through the picturesque town of Cuitzeo , also known as Cuitzeo porvenir, where all the business and houses are painted red and white. Just outside the town we stopped at a roadside restaurant Las Jacarandas for a morning buffet breakfast. We enjoyed our meals (I had a yummy fish something or other) and relaxed a bit while Marc Antonio Solis’s greatest hits played on the giant flatscreen TV.

Las Jacarandas roadside restaurant

Las Jacarandas roadside restaurant

Then off again. We arrived in Morelia only to discover that our normal route was closed because of the parade. We were about 5 minutes from Wal-mart when we were deviated. We spent the next 2 hours driving around Morelia. I kept insisting we weren’t lost, but I could not convince my husband. He started pulling on his goatee and transformed into Donald Duck. Never say that men don’t ask for directions. He pulled off the road every 10 minutes or so to confirm that we were on the right track.

We were never lost, just not on the road that we had intended to arrive at. We did finally pass a Wal-mart, but my husband had his face pressed up against the windshield at this point and I decided that it would be better for all concerned if we just went home. I wonder how we became so inept at city driving! I have driven through New York City and Washington DC during rush hour. How is it a little detour threw us for a loop? I think it might have to do with our overall confidence. So many things can and do happen while on the road in Mexico that the unexpected really takes it out of us. It was a disappointing trip to say the least. The next day off isn’t for awhile yet–maybe we’ll be able to work up the guts to try a new adventure.

Cuitzeo, Michoacan

Cuitzeo, Michoacan

I did convince my husband to stop in Cuitzeo on the trip back though. There were several ladies selling hand-woven baskets in the town center and I wanted to get a better look.  Fiber crafts are the most common local handicraft.  Baskets, floor mats and hats were displayed for my admiring gaze, all made from reeds from Lake Cuitzeo.

Daisies outside the church en el centro of Cuitzeo.

Daisies outside the church en el centro of Cuitzeo.

We bought some churros and fruit covered in powdered chile and walked around a bit before heading out again.  So honestly, our tourist day was spent in Cuitzeo rather than Morelia.  The name of the town comes from the Purepecha word “cuiseo” which means place of water containers. As the town is right next to Lake Cuitzeo, the second largest freshwater lake in Mexico, freshwater fish dishes are local specialties.  Cuitzeo has even been named as one of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos which is program designed by the Secretary of Tourism to promote tourism in non-traditional touristy areas.

 Santa María Magdalena monastery was built in 1550.

Santa María Magdalena monastery was built in 1550.

The Santa Magdalena monastery is the historical highlight of the town.  We didn’t make the effort to tour it, as you’ve seen one monastery, you’ve seen them all.  However, I was impressed with the church door in the town center.

church door

It’s now on my list of things to do to visit more of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos.  I think it will be better for my husband’s nerves too!


Filed under Mexican Cultural Stories, Tourist Sites in Mexico

La Llorona Returns


There have been a rash of horror movies made recently, even an animated cartoon, about the legend of La Llorona (The Weeping Woman). It seems a bit tawdry that this Mexican myth has been regulated to the same genre as The Nightmare on Elm Street and other such slasher movies.

As with any story, there are several versions of this legend. In one version, La Llorona roams the streets weeping for her children who have accidently drowned in the canals. In another version, the children of La Llorona are murdered by their father. In yet another version, La Llorona drowns her children herself in a fit of insanity when the father of the children, a Spaniard, abandoned the family and married another.


Most experts agree that the basis for the legend most likely comes from the goddess Cihuacoatl of Aztec mythology. She was one of several goddesses of motherhood and fertility and the mother of Mixcoatl.  Myth states that she abandoned her son at a crossroads, but often returned there searching for her lost son.


La Llorona, Cihuacoatl, or perhaps another aspect of the goddess in the form of Coatlicue, was reported to have appeared prior to the conquest of Tenochtitlan by Hernan Cortes. The Florentine Codex record her words as “Ay mis hijos! Ya se acerca la hora de irnos. Ay mis hijos! ¿a dónde os llevaré? (Oh, my children! It is nearly time to leave. Oh, my children! Where will I bring you?)


Some believe that La Llorona was actually La Malinche. La Malinche, whose given name was Malinalli, then Marina once baptised, served as interpreter and advisor to Hernan Cortes. She did have two children. Martin was the son of Cortes. Maria was the daughter of Juan Jaramillo. There is no evidence that Malinalli murdered her children. On the contrary, her children were forcibly taken from her when both men abandoned Malinalli to marry titled Spanish women.


The legend of La Llorona reappears in the 1700’s. In the colonial version, a young indigenous girl is abandoned by her Spanish lover. In an act of revenge, she drowns her children. When she recovers her senses and realizes what she has done, she drowns herself. She appears before the gates of Heaven where she is asked the whereabouts of her children. She is denied entrance and sent back to Earth to search for them, condemned to spend eternity trapped between the living and spirit world.


Some versions of the legend claim that La Llorona kidnaps children out at late at night and drowns them. She is said to appear in the late evenings near the rivers and lakes of Mexico City. Hearing the cry of La Llorona is said to be an omen of death.

The name most often given to La Llorona in most versions of the legend is Maria, which is fitting. Maria (Mary) had a son who was forcibly taken, tortured and executed by the state. (John 19) And Maria, in the form of the La Virgen de Guadalupe, is the embodiment of Mexico.


Today, La Llorona’s cry is heard again in Mexico. One year ago, September 26, 2014, Mexico, in a fit of insanity, murdered her children of Ayotzinapa. How long will she weep, searching for her children?

Ah mis hijos!

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Filed under Death and all its trappings, Mexican Cultural Stories, Safety and Security

Playing Tourist–Guanajuato, Guanajuato

Every now and then we have a chance between disasters to have a mini-vacation or two. Unfortunately, they never seem to be as relaxing as we would like.

Guanajuato, Guanajuato

Guanajuato, Guanajuato

Some time ago, we had some business to complete in Guanajuato, Guanajuato. Our business was done early and we had the whole day free. So we pulled over to this side-of-the-road tourist booth to get the grand tour. We followed the guy into town to a parking garage where we could leave the truck and hopped in a mini-van with about 10 other people, all Mexicans strangely enough.



Our first stop was the Museo Ex-Hacienda del Cochero built in the late 1600s. It seemed mild enough from the outside. However, we were in for a surprise. Our guide, dressed in monk robes, led us from a beautiful garden to the dungeon to see the devices the Spanish Inquisition used to torture infidels, indigenous, political dissenters and anybody else that was in need of torture.

Chained to the wall!

Chained to the wall!

We saw iron maidens, chastity belts, guillotines, garrotes, hanging cages, the rack, and even a person’s remains that had been walled up alive. Our guide explained that some of the mummified remains (I wasn’t sure here if these were really mummified remains or just props) were identifiable as witches because of the red skirt and artifacts they were buried with. There was even a graveyard in the back. I guess they had to put the bodies somewhere. All this torturing supposedly went on without the neighbors knowing anything about it for years due to the thickness of the stone walls.

The walls were 2-3 feet thick and kept the screams from bothering the neighbors.

The walls were 2-3 feet thick and kept the screams from bothering the neighbors.

So we were a bit creeped out by that, but surely the next stop would be better.

Yep, it's a real mummy.

Yep, it’s a real mummy.

Nope–we headed to the Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato. Yep, mummies. Lines and rows of naked, crumbling mummies. It seems between 1865 and 1958, the local government required relatives of interred patrons to pay a tax to provide maintenance for the tombs. Those who had no family members, or whose family members did not pay the tax were dug up. The grave diggers discovered that the bodies had been naturally mummified due to the unique soil composition of the area. They started charging a few pesos for entrance into the shed where the bodies were stored. Eventually, the present museum was constructed.

So basically, it was horrible. The clothes had been cut off most of the mummies to cut down on the stench–although most still had their shoes on. There was a horrible section of infant mummies and the mother and child buried together after dying in childbirth, and the woman whose final resting position gave rise to the speculation that she had been buried alive. And did I mention the rows of glass cases with the naked men and women left without a shred of dignity between them?

Outside the mine in Gto.

Outside the mine in Gto.

We hurried through that museum and waited outside with the tour van driver. Next stop, the San Ramon Boca Minas, silver mines where the Spanish exploited the indigenous men, women and children for private gain! By this time, we were out of money, so couldn’t go on the tour, which was a disappointment as it seemed the only one worth taking.

Outside the sweet shop.

Outside the sweet shop.

The tour van also took us to a regional sweet shop and an artesian store, which would have been more exciting for us if we had any funds to purchase anything. After all, each museum was about 35 pesos, plus the tip for the tour guide and the bus guide and the parking garage where we left the truck. It added up. We did take a picture or two though as mementos.



The driving tour also took us past the giant statue of El Pipila. This statue was in honor of Juan Jose de los Reyes Martinez Amaro. He was a miner who became a revolutionary hero when he carried a giant stone on his back to protect him from musket fire and used a tarred torch to set fire to the door of the granary known as the Alhondiga de Granaditas. Once the door was destroyed, the rebels entered the granary and killed every single man, woman and child who had taken refuge there. This occurred on September 28, 1810.


Alhondiga de Granaditas

We were also driven past said building where the blood from the massacre could still be seen as late as 1906 on the pillars and main staircase. The morbid history of this building did not end there. The revolutionary leaders Miguel Hidalgo, Ignacio Allende, Juan Aldama and Jose Mariano Jimenez were executed by the Spanish firing squad on July 30, 1811 and their heads hung on the four corners of the Alhondiga de Granaditas for 10 years, the time it took for Mexico to finally win its independence from Spain. In 1867, the Alhondiga de Granaditas was converted into a prison by the reigning French emperor Maximilian. It remained a prison until it was converted into a museum in 1958.

gto 1callejon

Thus ended the tour. This wasn’t the Guanajuato I remembered! I had visited the city as an exchange student some years ago and was charmed by the picturesque architecture and romantic stories like the Callejon del Beso. I even took the walking tour of the callejones (alleys) carrying a jug of sangria and listening to mariachis. After all, Guanajuato is a UNESCO World Heritage Site! I guess it just proves the truth that for every beauty there is an equally ugly underside.

Student singers

Student singers

Charming Gto.

Charming Gto.


Filed under Mexican Cultural Stories, Mexican Holidays, Tourist Sites in Mexico

Attending a quinceañera

My son and his group of galanes (young men).

My son and his group of galanes (young men).

My son was recently invited to his first quinceañera party. What a milestone! While my son was not a chambelan (one of the male escorts) at this particular event, I’m sure that it won’t be long before he is requested to act as one.

His invitation spawned a flurry of activity on my part. I had no idea what he should wear and the uncertainty of whether he should bring a gift or not. So I went asking about. Since he was not a chambelan, he wouldn’t need a formal suit, however church clothes would be appropriate. Well, he had grown out of his dress pants, so off to the store we went. We had to shop in the men’s section! Where did my little boy go? A pair of sensible black pants were purchased. Then he needed a shirt. After several options were discarded, he picked the black shirt with striped sleeves. I think it was a good buy because he’ll be able to change it up a bit for future quinceañera parties (wear a vest, tie, open over another shirt, etc). His school shoes and socks were just fine–but he did need a belt. So we spent about 500 pesos on his outfit alone. Then there was the gift, a simple necklace, and the gift bag–so another 100 pesos or so.

My beautiful niece in her quinceañera dress.

My beautiful niece in her quinceañera dress.

Traditionally, the quinceañera festival was a coming out event for Spanish young ladies. This custom was brought over to Mexico after the conquest and remains an intergral part of a Mexican girl’s life. The traditional quinceañera gathering would have been the first time she was presented formally to the community as a woman, not a child. Her chambelanes (escorts) would have been eligible young men of her social class from which she would choose from and marry within the year, more often than not. While it’s less common these days for girls to marry before they turn 16, brides of 17 or 18 are fairly common, especially in the more rural areas.

I’ve had the honor of attending a quinceañera here in Mexico and was amazed at the ritualization of the event. Of course, I attended with my mother-in-law and that made the event even more memorable as you will see.

The day of the quinceañera, there is a formal mass in the big church downtown. I’ve been in several houses where a wall-sized picture of the quinceañera before the altar is displayed. It’s quite a thing to behold. After the mass (and subsequent picture taking session) there is a social event usually hosted in a rented salon (hall). The wealthier the family, the more lavish the event.

The guests are invited to arrive before the quinceañera so that she and her “court” can make a grand entrance. The first dance after the entrance is between the quinceañera and her father. Much like a wedding reception, there is a symbolic of the passing of custody from father to the new “man” in her life as the father passes his daughter to her escort for the second dance. Following the escort dance, there are several other choreographed dances, performed by the belle of the ball and her court, before the floor is opened up to the general public. I was a bit surprised that the main song was Total Eclipse of the Heart. I wasn’t expecting an English theme song for such a traditional event, much less this particular one, which seemed to me inappropriate for the innocence of a young girl’s coming out party (although it happens to be one of my favorite songs ever). But whatever floats your boat I suppose.

While these dances are being performed, the invitees are being served food. The standard fare in our area is carnitas (fried pork) which is not one of my favorites. At the quinceañera that I attended, my mother-in-law asked for several plates to go. Then she had another waiter bring her plates for now. Before too long, she had a pile of food in front of her stacked nearly nose high. She was ready to leave before the dances were even finished, and she asked for a two-liter bottle of soda to go. Then of course, she needed a bag for all her foodstuff.

I was pretty embarassed by this point. I come from an area where the leftover food is left to the host, not divvided up in doggie bags among the guests. Oh, but it didn’t stop there. She snatched up the tortilla basket, napkin and all–AND the decorative centerpiece from the table. I guess my surprise (or horror) showed on my face because she told me matter-of-factly that the hostess told her she could have one of the decorations. I imagine the hostess meant after the party was over though. Then my mother-in-law asked if I wanted one, thinking maybe I was jealous. No thank you.

This seems to be a fairly common practice, as ill-mannered as it seemed to me. As we were leaving the party, I overhead several older ladies debating which adorno (decoration) they were going to take when they left. My sister-in-law L. also has a number of centerpieces she took as momentos of various quinceañera and wedding receptions littered about her house. As she doesn’t have any tables, they sit on the floor in the corners of various rooms, gathering dust.

I refused to help my mother-in-law with her stolen goods and walked on ahead of her in some attempt to distance myself from her and her ill gotten gains. I declined additional invitations she extended to accompany her to other events (well except for that party crashing Christmas posadas in December) after this.

My son had a far better time. He told me it was medium-fun. The music was loud. He danced with a girl. He received two compliments on his outfit (from girls) and was served a quarter glass of margarita, although the other boys were not. He thinks it’s because he has a moustache and the waiter thought him older than 13, which is probably true. They had tacos and were pretty good.

We picked him up at 11 pm, which was early for this type of event, but I reminded him he is only 13 and there is no reason he needed to be out later than that. I’m sure this is just the first of many such events in my son’s life!


Filed under Cultural Challenges, Mexican Holidays, Parenting Challenges and Cultural Norms

Nomination for Brotherhood of the World Award


I was nominated the other day for a blogging award. Yep, little old me. My son’s first comment was “Will there be a cash prize?” Nope. Nonetheless, I will pay it forward. I would like to thank My Heart of Mexico for the nomination. I’ve really appreciated her positive comments about our adventures aka disasters in Mexico.

The rules for the Brotherhood of the World Award awards

  • Thank the bloggers who nominated you and link back to them.
  • List the rules and display the badges on your blog.
  • Answer the questions.
  • Nominate other bloggers and notify them.
  • Come up with questions for them to answer.

Questions for the Brotherhood of the World Award

Who are your favorite authors?

I am a voracious, eclectic reader. I read everything I can get my hands on. Two books that have changed my life are:
I'm in Charge of Celebrations (Aladdin Picture Books)
This incredible children’s book inspired me to create the life I have now.
Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit   
This book inspired me to rethink my place in the world.

What are your favorite things to do and places to go in your city?

I don’t live in the city. I don’t live in a town. I don’t even live in what could be called a village. In the cluster of houses that form what could be called a neighborhood, my favorite thing to do is head up to the rooftop to “survey my kingdom.” It involves catching a breeze, watching the animals and daydreaming.

Share a funny story:

Actually, nothing comes to mind right now, which is pretty funny actually.

What is your favorite word?

Adventure. It’s all a matter of perspective.

How do you organize your blogging schedule?

I write when I have some time or have something important to say, then schedule the posts at regular intervals so as not to overwhelm my readers. (As if.)

What are your biggest dreams?

My biggest dream is to one day have solar electricity at our home.

What do you hope to accomplish with your blog?

The main reason I blog is to help other would-be Mexican residents to get an accurate picture of what life in rural Mexico is like. (See my Resource Page)

What was your original idea for your blog? Has it changed or have you stuck by it?

My original idea was to tell our stories so that my mom could read about my life here in Mexico. She does. I still tell my story for my mom, but now have a broader audience.

What are you most passionate about?

Injustice. “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”–Elie Wiesel

If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go and which 5 items would you pack in your suitcase?

If I could go anywhere tomorrow, I would go to the Monarch Butterfly Preserve in Michoacan, Mexico. I would take my camera and good walking shoes. I hope to make this trip in the near future.

Questions for nominees from My Heart of Mexico

  1. Why did you start your blog? I began my blog to tell our amazing stories.
  2. How do you find inspiration for your posts? My blog posts are all actual events. Like they say, the truth is stranger than fiction.
  3. What do you like most about blogging? I enjoy writing.
  4. What is your biggest challenge as a blogger? Time.
  5. What motivates you to keep blogging? There are always more stories to tell.
  6. What do you do in your free time? Free time? What’s that?
  7. Who is the most important person in your life? My son.
  8. What would the perfect day be like for you? There are no perfect days, only perfect moments.
  9. What is number one on your bucket list? Visiting the Monarch Butterfly Preserve in Michoacan, Mexico.
  10. What is a motto or quote you live by? Life is either daring adventure or nothing–Helen Keller
  11. What will you do when your blog makes it big? Have more adventures.

My nominees

Travel deep and wide

Raising 5 kids with disabilities and remaining sane

Un-adventures in Bolivia

My questions for my nominees

1. What unexpected blessings has writing a blog brought you?

2. Who would you want to read your blog that doesn’t?

3. What is your favorite blog post?

4. What blog post has received the most attention, positive or negative?

5. Are you currently working on a new project? What is it?

6. Is there something that you think your readers should know about you? What is it?


Filed under Carnival posts

Life in Mexico–from the perspective of my 13 year old son

Welcome to the September 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids Blogging

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have let their children take over writing and sharing.


Have you ever wondered what life is like for your children?  As an adult, I’ve come to accept the hardships and limitations of our life here in Mexico, although sometimes not as gracefully as I should.  When I read my son’s guest blog post, I had the opportunity to look at our life through his eyes.  I hope you enjoy his little contribution.

My life

by guest blogger WPFT.

La Yacata

I live in a small neighborhood called La Yacata. It’s called La Yacata because it has a small mountain of stones in the middle of it. There are like 7 families that live there and we are pretty much neighbors even though we live a mile away from each other. My grandpa and my uncle live up the hill from where we do.  It’s mostly trees and rocks and stuff. The roads are very badly paved. Most of my classmates and most of the people I meet think I live in a cave because we have no electricity. They don’t know how to survive that way. However, our living conditions are ok compared to some people because we are comfortable with the money we have, but we could still get more.

finished front

I’m in the second grade of middle school. I get up very early, at 5:30 am, and go to school until 1:40 pm. My grades are pretty good. I like math. I don’t like physics and art. There are 45 kids in my class. I would like if the school had grass on the fields so that it’s more comfortable and easier to play there. (See Why we chose to send our child to public school in Mexico)


After school is over, I walk to the school where my mom works and play on the computer awhile. I like to play Minecraft, Halo and Fable. I like to come to the school to play because we don’t have electricity at our house.

At 4:30 pm I go to soccer practice until 6:30 pm. During training, we run and jog. I train as a goalkeeper. The other kids make shots and I stop them. I play goalkeeper on two teams. The difference between the two teams is that one team is made up of 12- and 13-year-olds, and the other team are 15+-year-olds. I play with them even though I’m only 13. The little team is pretty good. We’re in third place on the ranking board.


After that, I go home to tend to the horses, goats, chickens and cats for about 2 hours. And let’s not forget about our dog Chokis. I give them water and feed them. I take the goats and horses out awhile so they can eat. The horses eat grass. The goats enjoy eating short grass and tree branches. With the goats, sometimes it’s very difficult to take care of them because they run around. There’s not a day that goes by that Chokis doesn’t go with me and the animals. Most of the time I listen to music while I’m out with the animals. I also like to read a book. When I bring them in, first I bring in the goats because if I bring in the horses first, the goats will run away. And then I go back and get the horses. After that, I give them water and feed them for the night. (See Our Family Hobby)

Enjoying a book on kindle!

Enjoying a book on kindle!

Then I read and go to bed, preparing myself for another day. Sometimes I play on my laptop when I take it home. I read with the flashlight in the night. I like to read adventure books. Sometimes I watch a movie on the portable DVD player. I like to watch comedy movies. I used to play on my phone, but now it has a tumor and I can only see one corner of the screen.  I have no idea when my mom is going to buy me a new one.  I wash my face a lot and then I go to bed.

Watching a movie on my DVD player.

Watching a movie on my DVD player.

On Saturdays, I go to the school where my mom works and use the computer and listen to music. I do a Portuguese course on DuoLingo and play Minecraft or watch YouTube videos. After that, I do my homework and take out the animals….again.


On Sundays, I go to wash clothes and then to my soccer game in the mornings. In the afternoons, I read a book and help my mom clean the house.

A picture of a younger me doing laundry!

A picture of a younger me doing laundry!

Sometimes my life is very boring because I have nothing to do or brothers or sisters to play with. Sometimes my mom is very annoying because she wants me to do boring stuff like write this blog post. My dad is very annoying because he makes me do stuff when I’m doing something else.

My life would be better if we had electricity and a fair amount of money and less animals because sometimes they are just too much for me to handle. Overall, life is medium-good but it could be better.

See it in video format!


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon September 8 with all the carnival links.)


Filed under Animal Husbandry, Carnival posts, Education, Homesteading, Parenting Challenges and Cultural Norms

Hate thy neighbor

Our lovely girl Shadow, grazing peaceably.

Our lovely girl Shadow, grazing peaceably.

Yesterday, someone injured our lovely lady Shadow. She and Joey were behind that house. While my son was just up the road with the goats, someone sliced Shadow’s leg, unclipped her rope and startled her so that she, Joey and Chokis the dog, bolted down the road to the main intersection. It was our good fortune that the neighbor, the cow barn guy, was coming to collect one of his cows and passed them on the road. He stopped to let me know and urged me to use my moto to catch up with them before they reached the highway. He even loaned my son a lasso since Shadow’s lasso was still tied to the mesquite. I pulled out the moto and my son hopped on behind. He had come a-running as soon as he realized the horses were gone, leaving the goats to fend for themselves.

At top speed, we raced down the road and found the three escapees under a tree off the road. My son walked back home with them. Joey was ornery as all get out, but Shadow had been injured. We put the horses back in their stalls and went in search of the goats, who had wandered up the hill. Seeing the gravity of the injury to Shadow’s leg, I determined that my husband should be notified immediately. Only, he had left his phone at the house. So I raced to his work to tell him and somehow or other he beat me home to take stock of the damage.

Shadow was injured in two places. One was a clean, deep gash all the way to the bone. The other was a jagged edge wound, like she got caught on some barbed wire. We won’t know if she has nerve damage until the wounds heal up, but she’s in a lot of pain right now.

This isn’t the first time one of our animals has been deliberately harmed.  Our poor, defenseless donkey Fiona was shot in the hind leg.  Our babies’ mama Beauty’s hoof was sliced nearly in half.  Countless dogs and cats have been poisoned. Makes you want to cry sometimes.

We suspect C as having done the deed this time. (See Buying a piece of heaven) There’s no proof of course. And really, there isn’t any valid reason, at least in our opinion, for him to have done so. Although he planted corn this year where my husband usually sharecrops (See Sharecropping) our horses have NEVER been in his corn. On the contrary, we have reason to complain about his pig farming. Every few days, another one of his pigs has died and he throws the corpse wherever where Chokis discovers the tasty morsel of raw bacon and hauls big sections of it down to our house and leaves it at the front door as a present. It’s disgusting! However, we haven’t called the Department of Ecologia yet.

Notice there is not a corn plant to be seen!

Notice there is not a corn plant to be seen!

This week we have also had a complaint from another neighbor. He claims that it was our horses that have been nibbling his corn. It simply isn’t true. Ever since our other neighbor’s horses were stolen last year, including Spirit one of Beauty’s babies, we have kept our horses close to home. They are either tied or within sight. When no one is there to mind them, they remain in their stalls. The neighbor’s reasoning is that our horses are the closest to his corn field. But we are by no means the only neighbors with horses.

Caught in the act!  These horses happily munching the corn crop belong to the horse guy!

Caught in the act! These horses happily munching the corn crop belong to the horse guy!

The horse guy, up the hill, has three horses, two of which are the same size and coloring as Joey and Shadow. Having heard hoof clopping late at night, we suspect that he may let his horses loose at night to graze. But again, we can’t prove anything.

He and the chicken feather guy were recently feuding. The chicken feather guy had a goat in with his pigs. The goat was not a happy goat and we could hear it bleating and bleating, probably because it was alone. One day, the goat disappeared. The horse guy accused my father-in-law of stealing the goat. The chicken feather guy went over to where my father-in-law keeps his goats to look for it. Boy, did that make my father-in-law mad. Not finding his goat there, the chicken feather guy scurried off, tail between his legs. If you think a 67-year-old man isn’t scary, you haven’t seen my father-in-law in the throes of righteous indignation with a machete in his hand.

So the suspect in the goat kidnapping fell back on the horse guy, who hotly denied it, of course. In retribution, the chicken feather guy set La Yacata on fire, destroying the grazing area of the horse guy’s horses. So now he lets them free graze.

The chicken feather guy and the horse guy outdo themselves as ladrones (thieves). Just last week, my son was bringing the goats home and came across the chicken feather guy loading various and sundry building material items into the back of his truck from the lot that belongs to the cholo boracho (drunk punk), another neighbor. I think perhaps cholo boracho is in jail at the moment, otherwise I don’t think the chicken feather guy would have had the guts to steal from him. When he saw my son, he covered his face as if he was suddenly unrecognizable. Feel free to take a moment to roll your eyes here.

The horse guy has been sighted making off with building materials wherever he may find them as well. He has tried to pin the thefts on us, after all, we live full-time in La Yacata, as that were evidence enough or something. For instance, the newest neighbors, recently returned from a 20-year stint in el Norte (the US), are constructing a cabaña (cabin) in La Yacata. Every week or so, something goes missing. The horse guy is very vocal about it being us. It isn’t. Having spent so long in the US, the newest neighbors have a fond prejudice for gringos and a belief in their overall honesty. So, as far as I know, they don’t believe us to have sticky fingers, but I could be wrong.

If “Justice in the life and conduct of the State is possible only as first it resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens.” –Plato, and the hearts and souls of La Yacata are representative of all of Mexico, it is no wonder that 43 students are still missing, that journalists and activists are murdered, and that the countryside is full of mass graves.

Well, as my husband says “El cantaro da muchos vueltas” (what goes around comes around)

I counter with “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:19) and Karma is sweet.

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Filed under Animal Husbandry, Cultural Challenges, Homesteading, La Yacata Revolution

Fighting for Flowers

flowering tree

Yesterday afternoon, I turned into the neighborhood where I live and came upon three men with machetes cutting down the flowering trees at the entrance. Without thought, I stopped and demanded to know what they were doing

The leader of the two said he was beautifying the neighborhood since the branches were low hanging and ugly. I asked if he had permission. I meant permission from the owner of the lot who borders the trees, although I suppose the trees were technically in the public thoroughfare. He thought I meant permission from the Departmento de Ecología (Department of ecology) since cutting green trees is a fine-able offense. He said he didn’t need permission to tidy up the place.

So I asked who he was. He said he was the owner of the trees–of course. I told him I didn’t believe him. As I am part of the community board of directors, I know nearly all of the people who own lots in the community. These three men were strangers to me. Not that my neighbors in La Yacata are any better.  (See Good Fences make good neighbors, unless your neighbor steals it) He told me that I should contact the town council and tell them to come and trim the trees in the neighborhood.

My Spanish failed me at this point. I wanted to say eloquently that the town council would not come and trim trees until after they installed water, sewer and electricity in our community. I wanted to say that cutting such beautiful trees is a crime against nature. I wanted to say that he was a lying piece of poop that really had some gall thinking I would believe his altruistic motives for cutting the trees when we both knew he would take and sell the leña (firewood) in town.

tree cutter

What I said was that I would take pictures and show them to the owner when he asks me who cut down his trees. So I did, not that it did much good. One man turned his back to me, the other partially covered his face. I thought maybe I could get some identification from the moto (motorcycle) that was parked there, but it didn’t have any license plates.

I remained on edge the rest of the afternoon and into the next day. I tried to go and see the president of the neighborhood, but he wasn’t in his office. So I sent an email with the pictures and an account of my interaction with the men. He wrote back and said that he would investigate the matter.

My husband scolded me afterward. I shouldn’t be going around taking picture of men with machetes. What was I thinking?

I have to admit to being impetuous at times. These men were destroying that which I enjoyed every day. The flowers on these trees and the scent they emit are my welcome home. How DARE they destroy that?

You see, that morning the mother of three of my students was shot and killed while heading to the gym. Last week, the father of a former student was kidnaped and is being held for ransom. Last month, someone in front of Waldo’s (a local discount store) was shot “accidently” by police officers. The month before that two transito (traffic) officers were shot and killed by “unknown” assailants. Not so very long ago, my nephew was taken and tortured by rival drug members. Before that, my mother-in-law was run down by a police vehicle and killed. And before that, my husband was kidnaped right in our own neighborhood.

Those are the local issues. Looking beyond the borders of my own town– Last month, 42 people and one police officer  were executed by the police just a few hours away in Michoacan. Last September, 43 students disappeared in Guerrero.  Mexico averages nearly 100 murders a day. In the past three years, more than 10,000 people have disappeared. Last week, a reporter and 4 female activists were tortured and murdered. Femicide is commonplace.

tree stump

And I can do NOTHING about any of these things. This place that I now call home is lawless, corrupt, and dying. The beauty that has existed for thousands of years is threatened by the unethical actions of man.

However, I could threaten the bejeesuz out of these three men. Maybe word will get out that a crazy “gringa” (white lady) lives in La Yacata that goes around hugging trees and dancing in the rain–someone these would-be wrongdoers should steer clear of. It’s a small, unrealistic hope. The truth is there is no enforceable consequence for their actions. They know it. I know it. The government knows it. The world knows it. But I have to try.

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Filed under La Yacata Revolution, Native fauna and flora, Safety and Security

Failing at your own business–Transcriptionist


Searching the online want ads I came across a transcriptionist job. I was looking for something to do when classes canceled now that my Business English course was finished. So I clicked on the link and completed the test. The idea of getting paid in US dollars really appealed to me, especially with the dollar at over 16 pesos.

The next day I received an email that said I qualified to become one of the transcriptionists for the company. They also had a need of translators Spanish to English, but I wasn’t sure my Spanish was up to the task. I knew my English was quite good, so I opted to stay with that.

There were a number of training videos to watch. And watch them I did. The whole process seemed a bit complicated, but I signed up for my first assignment anyway. The video reassured me that someone would always be available on Skype if I had any questions.

The email with the assignments was sent out at 6 pm eastern time with the assignments due by 4 pm the next day. Well, this presented somewhat of a problem. While I have computer and internet access, it typically is during the day since we have no electricity at our home in La Yacata. Then there was the one hour time difference to contend with. I checked in for my assignment at 8:15 am my time, only to find that my assignment had been classified as “abandoned.” I contacted the Skype person and she explained that it was because I needed to have verified my acceptance of the assignment by 9 am EST. She changed the classification and I downloaded the audio.

I moved the file into the Express Scribe Transcription program and began my work. The audio segment was a recorded focus group for Linkedin. For the most part, the recording was easily understandable. However, getting used to the Express Scribe program took some time. Before I knew it, it was time for my classes (See Saturday Classes) and I hadn’t really advanced much. After my classes, I set to work on it again, taking the time to transfer what I had finished to the Google document file. Again, my unfamiliarity of the procedure slowed me up. By the time I had the information transferred, it was nearly 3 pm my time, which meant I wouldn’t meet the 4 pm deadline.

I contacted the Skype on-call person again to tell her of my dilemma. I had only managed to get 12 minutes of a 30-minute audio clip finished. Boy, that was discouraging. I had spent more than 4 hours on it. She told me to mark the file with the “I need help” button and to stop working on it. I would get paid for my 12 minutes but the person who finished my assignment would get the remaining pay.

I thought maybe with practice I could get faster, so I was determined to try another assignment. Then I got sick and the days passed and I guess maybe I didn’t have the time after all. The problem was my schedule. I need to have a day or two to work on assignments since I can not devote my whole day to it. With the 4 pm deadline, there was just no way I was going to be able to finish. I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t going to work out. So much for mucha moolah.

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