January means a trip to the post office to renew our post office box. This year, the post office was giving out promotional material, and we were pleased to accept El Correo y El Cartero (a children’s activity book) and La Historia, El Valor y Los Valores del SEPOMEX (a historical book about the postal system in Mexico.)
I have to admit, I didn’t know much about the postal system in Mexico before reading these little gems. But now, I consider myself rather more informed. If you have a minute, I’d like to share a few of the highlights.
The word correo (mail) comes from the Latin currere, which means go fast or run (like the word correr in Spanish). And that’s exactly how the mail used to be delivered here in Mexico. In pre-conquest times, a select group of men was chosen in each community to act as the first mail delivery boys. They were educated in the Telpuchcalli, which was sort of like a school, with the final objective of being able to take messages or produce to their destinations. There were relay posts along the most common routes called techialoyan where messengers would wait. These early postal workers could run around 4 or 5 leagues per hour.
There were 4 types of these delivery men. The Paynanis which when translated meant “he that runs slightly” were the government messenger boys.
The Ycihuca titlantli were the forerunners of the express mail and carried urgent messages between places. Some of the Paynanis were also Ycihuca titlantlis.
The war messengers were called Tequihuatitlantis. These guys had to be sure that they were accurate in delivering the message as they were held hostage until a second messenger arrived, confirming the victory or defeat. If the first messenger had brought false information, he would be sacrificed.
The fourth messengers were called Tamemes and were the package delivery guys. Sometimes they also brought people like an escort or travel guide.
Once the Spanish arrived and took over, the mail service added the horse or buey (ox) and cart to speed up deliveries, although I’m not sure how much faster oxen would be.
Mailboxes were first used along the delivery routes in 1762. As far as I know, there is only one public mailbox in Moroleon. I don’t know that anyone uses it. It seems the general consensus is that it is safer to take your items directly to the post office and hand it to the clerk. Things have a way of disappearing here in Mexico.
The first Mexican postage stamp was issued August 1, 1856. It featured the image of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. In 1879, Mexico was included in the Universal Postal Union. El Dia del Cartero y el Empleado Postal (Postal Workers’ Day) was established on November 12, 1931.
The first zip codes weren’t created until 1981. Sepomex (Servicio Postal Mexicano) was founded in 1986. As with most agencies here in Mexico, the post office is under the jurisdiction of the federal government. In 2008, Sepomex became Correos de Mexico.
According to the booklet, there are now 32,466 zip codes, 1,492 offices, and 200,529 post office boxes which the post office officials use to imply that 96% of the total population of Mexico has access to mail service.
So if those figures are correct, and the government wouldn’t lie, then we must fall into the 4% of the total population that lacks postal service. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, January means renewing our post office box. This requires presenting identification and a water or electric bill. As La Yacata does not have water or electric, or street names hence the necessity of renting a P.O. box, we always borrow someone else’s. We’ve done this the past 3 years as we do with our other legal documents, like license plates and driver’s licenses. This year, that wasn’t good enough for the post office. The identification and the water bill did not have the same address, so it wasn’t acceptable. So we will no longer have a P.O. box. That will save us about $300 pesos per year.
What I don’t get is that if a demanda (lawsuit) could arrive at my door via the court delivery woman who uses La Yacata as a romantic rendezvous and taxi drivers know where to bring people who wish to speak with La Gringa de La Yacata, why can’t the post office deliver mail to my house?
Of course, it might be pure laziness. Most deliveries in Moroleon are via bike, although there are a few official motorcycles, undoubtedly reserved for the express service. La Yacata is just TOO far for postal workers to bike out and deliver a letter or package. It is nearly 2 km from the boundary of Moroleon, after all.
The little villages further up the road have a little room where all mail is delivered, and residents must stop and pick up their mail from there. Perhaps that’s what we need to establish in La Yacata. But getting residents to agree to anything is nearly impossible, so I doubt that the first post office in La Yacata will open in my lifetime.
Thus, if you have any intention of sending a care package our way, email me first and I’ll see if I can come up with an alternative method for delivery.