Tag Archives: community in Mexico

Less than Satisfied with Community Spirit

The other day a lady came to the door about some lots in La Yacata.  Even though I’ve retired from active service, I still find myself called upon to advise.  Her sons looked surprisingly familiar.  In fact, they looked quite a bit like my nephew L.  Turns out, they are related.

My husband’s sister M. took up with DZ, brother of the woman at the door.  She had 3 children with him, although not his wife.  They met in Cerano and when DZ migrated to Nebraska, she followed him, leaving the wife and her children in Cerano.  My husband’s sister L. took up with LZ, brother of DZ and the woman at the door, although she was married with 2 children at the time.  Her third son L is the result of that liaison and he’s the spitting image of the boys at the door. So then L married her second husband and had another son but took up with the LZ and DZ’s sister’s husband C for a time.  She also managed to get the father MZ of LZ, DZ and the woman at the door, to sell her the lot on the corner in La Yacata. The property certificate was issued to her second husband’s mother, only it turns out that L was never legally married to the second husband since they married while she was still married to the first husband.  When second husband and L had a falling out, she kept the certificate.  Recently, the second husband has been coming around to try and sell the lot or give it in exchange for some money he owes–only he doesn’t have the certificate.  He tried to accuse me of making another certificate in L’s name, but I haven’t.  She’s never asked me to. I expect because L knows I wouldn’t authorize it without second husband’s mother’s signature.

Family issues aside–Ma.Z, the woman at the door proceeded to tell me her story of woe.  Her father MZ bought several lots in La Yacata and partitioned them off amongst his children.  She and her two sisters had lots just above us. Only RZ, one of the sisters and the wife of C, had taken all the original ownership certificates.  Most of the certificates had been returned to the dad MZ–all except for Lot #9.  And it was this lot that Ma.Z wanted to sell.  

I showed her the property registry.  Apparently, she had already sung this song to Super Prez because there was a notation to the effect that in the event someone comes forward with this certificate, the owner is Ma.Z.  I told her there wasn’t anything more I could do but gave her some free advice.  She could do one of two things–go to Ministerio Publico and have a demanda (lawsuit) drawn up against her sister RZ or offer to go miches (split the profit) on the selling price in an attempt to get RZ to agree to the sale.  She left rather less than satisfied.

Then I had another visitor.  This guy was an older gentleman and self-proclaimed corredor (which is someone who tries to sell lots to earn a small commission).  So he had this certificate that was made by Chuchi in an area that didn’t exist.  I told him this.  I also told him the certificate that he had in his hand was a copy, not the original.  He wanted me to give him another lot in exchange.  I said I couldn’t since every lot had an owner (or 2 or 3).  He then went on and on about how he knew the original owners and Chuchi.  I said he should talk to them then.  The president of the association is the son of the original owner.  Chuchi has lost his house due to shady deals and as far as I know, has several open demandas (lawsuit) against him. Furthermore, the person listed on the certificate knew that his certificate was invalid because I had talked to him about 2 years ago.  He could go to Ministerio Publico and have a demanda (lawsuit) drawn up against any of them.  He left rather less than satisfied.

And then there were the golden van people who have come several times.  First, the elderly lady wanted to know where her lots were.  I showed her in the community plan.  Then she wanted someone to clear them off.  I said my husband would clear and mark the boundaries of her lots but there was a fee for that.  They went away but came back a few weeks later saying that they had come several times looking for me.  I told them that I worked and wasn’t always at home.  She wanted to know when we were going to have a community meeting and start the next project.  At the last meeting, so long ago, we presented the costs for water, sewage, pavement, and electricity to the community.  Sewage would be the cheapest to obtain at $6,000 per lot.  She wanted to know when we would begin collecting for that.  I said that we could not begin another project until we paid for the lawyer and that cost was only $250 pesos per lot.  If the community couldn’t be bothered to pay that, why on earth would we start a new project?

Meanwhile, the kids in the van got out.  Puppy was laying in the shade under the truck. I told the people that he does bark, but won’t bite.  Puppy was already cranky because the horse guy’s horses were wandering around loose and encroaching on his territory.  The boy had a slingshot and the girl picked something that was in Puppy’s area, probably a rock.  So he went ballistic.  He charged the girl and growled at her.  I stepped between Puppy and the girl and called him off.  She hadn’t been bitten, just scared.  But then, the dad, who had been standing there the entire time, picked up a boulder and tried to bash Puppy’s head in.  I called him a name or two (in English because in times of high emotion my Spanish fails me) and told him to leave and not to return.  I also yelled at the old lady and told her to sell her lots and be done with it.  Perhaps not my finest moment.  They left less than satisfied.

While I’m on the topic of La Yacata–we’ve been the subject of quite a bit of negative gossip.  Apparently, someone said that my husband started the brush fire that burned the posts of the cholo borrachos’ (drunk cholos) lot. Of course, that isn’t true.  It’s actually quite inconvenient that someone set the fire since now there’s nothing left for our sheep/goat herd/flock to eat. Plus it spawned a smoldering fire in the pig poop which takes weeks to burn itself out and smells! Then someone else said that my husband had broken into their place and stolen stuff.  Again, this isn’t true.  He does tend to pick up things like old pots and discarded candlesticks when he’s out with the goats which he sells for fierro viejo (recycling) but never goes into a house to steal anything.  In fact, his presence is often a theft deterrent.  The other day we were out with the animals and a suspicious van came along.  The driver saw us and decided to go someplace else.  Who knows what sort of funny business it had in mind?

Anyway, my husband is quite put out about all the chisme (gossip).  I tried to tell him that it didn’t matter because he knew it wasn’t true and I knew it wasn’t true. He said that the neighbors threatened a demanda (lawsuit) against him.  Initially, I scoffed at that because he hadn’t done anything so what is there to sue over?  However, we are in Mexico and it’s guilty until proven innocent and how do you prove something that you haven’t done? Remember all those demandas I had to testify at (See Demanda 1, Demanda 2, Demanda 3)-all of them were bogus, but cost an arm and a leg to get it resolved. So perhaps I should be more concerned.  

I’m also concerned that the golden van people will come back and poison Puppy.  We’ve had a rash of mysterious chicken deaths this week.  They could have been poisoned.  It wouldn’t take much effort to lob some veneno (poison) over the walls into the backyard. There’s no conclusive proof though so I won’t be heading to Ministerio Publico to have a demanda (lawsuit) drawn up.  It leaves me less than satisfied.

being me


Filed under La Yacata Revolution

Good Fences make Good Neighbors–unless your neighbors steal them

La Yacata is not yet a full-fledged village, but it does have residents. And having residents besides us, we have neighbors.

So let me introduce you to my neighbors.

First, our oldest neighbor is Don A. He has been planting corn in this area for over 40 years, so feels like he owns the place. He and my husband have an ongoing “turf” war over planting and grazing areas in La Yacata. One particular quirk he has is that if Don A planted a terreno (lot) before, even if the property has changed hands, he continues to plant there. When the new owner tells him directly, usually with some sort of implicit threat, that he may not plant there, Don A sprays chemicals and kills not only his own crop but also poisons the grass that our animals eat surrounding it. No amount of talking to him about the harm of chemical pesticides has done any good. Recently, he himself was envenenado (poisoned) by his own sprayer and even after spending nearly two weeks near death, he was back at it as soon as he could walk, spraying gleefully about La Yacata.
He also is a big believer in veneno (poison) for stray dogs in the area (See 101 Perritos) and his decapitated poisoned chickens have killed numerous of our pets both cats and dogs.
We recently experienced hurricane aftermath storms in La Yacata and as a result had higher than normal rainfall in a very short period of time. Our backyard flooded, a good section of our crops on the hillside were knocked over and two chickens drowned in these rains. We counted ourselves lucky and went about cleaning up.

But not Don A. His most recent offense was destroying the banqueta (sidewalk) at the bottom of the hill to make an arroyo (gully) to try and divert the water runoff away from his house. Seriously, I can’t imagine how he thinks this will work. The sidewalk is about 4 feet higher than the land it surrounds and thus, with the exception of hurricane rains, acts as a dam to keep most of the water contained. Now that the floodgates have been hammered open, I expect he will have even more water in his house.

Don A has also started a business making charcoal.  He cuts down trees and makes this sort of enclosed mud and rock structure to convert the raw tree to charcoal.  He then totes it back to town on his tricycle for sale.

This structure contains the fire which converts the wood to charcoal.

This structure contains the fire which converts the wood to charcoal.

sheep farmer
Next, I’d like you to meet Bull Terrier, the neighbor opposite us on the next road. He started out with a herd of 20-30 borregas (sheep). Every day, he would follow them around as they rampaged fledgling trees, flowers, and crops in their quest for food. He had the gall to tell anyone that complained that our measly flock of 5 goats were causing all this damage, which just simply wasn’t the case.

Bull Terrier soon found that borregas (sheep) required too much maintenance (See Separating the Sheep and the Goats) and traded them for pigs. Pigs don’t have to be taken out to graze. Of course, pig poop is terribly smelly, but that doesn’t seem to faze him. The odor from his house is horrible.
Bull Terrier does like a tidy house though and every day takes out the trash. The only thing is, the trash tractor does not come to La Yacata for pick up. So what does he do with his trash? He throws it on the roof of the vacant house across the street.
pig farmer
Then there are the Pig guys. (See Miss Piggy didn’t bring home the bacon) After we ousted them from our backyard, they moved up the street to dirty someone else’s backyard. They continue to feed chicken intestines to their pigs, which makes pig poop the most lethal chemical gas in la Yacata, and throw chicken feathers wherever they have a mind. Piles of moldy chicken feathers smell to high heaven, just in case you never had the pleasure, and take longer than a plastic bag to disappear.

One of several piles of rotting chicken feathers in La Yacata.

One of several piles of rotting chicken feathers in La Yacata.

The pig guys have begun cutting down the mesquite trees with a chainsaw in La Yacata (on lots not belonging to them of course)–with the intention of selling it in town. Mesquite leña (wood) burns slowly and has a pleasant aroma making it ideal for cooking. Now, as La Yacata is a semi-arid region and no other trees grow here and the mesquite grows so slowly, this deforestation is likely to become a problem in the very near future. I am currently on a quest to see if I can get a picture of them at it to report it to the Departmento de Ecologia (Dept. of Ecology).

This guy just cruised right into La Yacata and started hacking away with his machete. He said it was because the trees looked

This guy just cruised right into La Yacata and started hacking away with his machete. He said it was because the trees looked “muy fea.”

Another neighbor up the hill and his truck loaded with green cut mesquite.

Another neighbor up the hill and his truck loaded with green cut mesquite.

The pig guys are also very confrontational. On more than one occasion, they have stumbled to our door to demand restitution for some plant or other than they claim our goats had trampled or eaten. The thing is, if it were our animals, we would take responsibility for these actions, however, it isn’t and being accused unjustly is enough to make anyone’s blood pressure go up.
Moving up the hill, there is the horse guy. He began his list of sins by obtaining a property certificate under false pretenses. As I am in charge of verifying ownership before certificates are printed for La Yacata, this was a problem left at my door. Even after repeated requests, he has not returned the certificate, although a new one has been given to the lawful owner. He also “owns” at least 3 other lots that he has not registered. Since it is also my job to maintain a current padron (owner list registry) this irks me.  (See Who owns What?)

One morning, we were awakened by some banging and went up to the roof to investigate. There was the horse guy, prying off laminas (corrugated sheet metal) off a structure we call la chueca (crooked) for obvious reasons. My husband hollered and he scurried away. Later when we went to tie up our animals to graze, we could see that 6 or 7 sheets had been removed. The owner of la chueca is over 80 years old and not able to get out to La Yacata much to keep an eye on his investment. But you better believe that once we see him again, we will report it.

The horse guy was also seen removing bricks by the wheelbarrow from a recent construction site, tying his horse in cornfields not his own and making off with grava (gravel) and sand. After all this, my husband still went to him when he wanted maquila (stud service) for Beauty. (See Beauty’s Babies) The horse guy had 3 good looking stallions that he had reportedly “bought” and my husband paid $1000 pesos for an hour’s rental. I objected because nothing the horse guy does is on the level, but my husband went ahead with the deal. A week after this transaction, the previous owners came to claim the horses for non-payment. The rumor is that the stallions had been “vaccinated” to temporarily not produce sperm. As the horse guy provided the maquila (stud service) for at least a half dozen yeguas (mares) in the area, the joke is on the owners now believing their mares to be pregnant, like us. (See Immunocontraception)

Our new next door neighbor is a relative of the pig guys and yep, you guessed it, plans to put pigs in his newly built structure. You can’t imagine how delighted I am about that! During construction, my husband lent him our portable tinaco (water storage tank) and allowed him to leave his cement on our lot under a roof—again against my advice. He did this with the hopes that the owner would give him the construction job, but he didn’t. The workers he did bring in were not the most savory sort, but I expect they came cheap. They left their tortilla bags and soda bottles littered about the place. So every evening, I would gather it all up and throw it in the owner’s lot. And every morning, he would give me a dirty look, but I persisted until he told his workers to pick up the trash. That will teach ’em!

Lest you think all friendly feel is lost in La Yacata, we have some good neighbors. El plomero, although not as reliable as one might like due to his drinking, has always been ready to help out when needed. J. Gpe. of the Lpz clan also has been a good neighbor. He is the owner of the lotes prestados (borrowed lots we share-crop) and offers pleasant conversation, advice, seed corn and a handshake when he visits. The borrega guy and the cow barn guy on the street behind us, aren’t as friendly, but we have never had occasion to complain about their actions. And of course, my suegro (father-in-law) lives up the hill, so we often meet up under one of the few remaining mesquite trees for a Sunday afternoon cookout.

Recently, a new family has moved into the house that was el profe’s. It’s too soon to say what sort of neighbors they will be, but I hope that our fence is deeply entrenched enough to make good neighbors.




Filed under La Yacata Revolution