Tag Archives: living in rural Mexico

Lady’s Arrival

My husband got it in his head that he wasn’t complete without a horse. Our last horse, Buttercup, had been traded for some of the sheep we currently have. Instead of making this purchase on his own, like he did with Alto, he decided to talk to my son and me about this possibility. The next day, he drove me to Jacales to see the horse he was thinking of buying. She was lovely but too thin for her height, which was considerable. The owner couldn’t say exactly how old she was, but she still had her baby beard, so we are estimating that she is under a year old.IMG_20180522_105910.jpgWe took Zombie girl and a new sheep my husband had traded one of the black boy twins for to the market in Purandaro to sell. We also took Mary but she didn’t weigh enough for her to be worth selling, so we brought her home again.IMG_20180523_093108.jpgMy husband asked two different guys with trucks that have high rails how much they would charge to go and get this horse in Jacales. One said $300 and the other said $400. Both were overpriced for the distance. Our own truck, which would get there and back on $200 pesos of gas, doesn’t have high sides and there was a risk the horse might jump out on the way and get injured.

My husband decided to investigate a road that runs from La Ordena to El Moral as a possible way to bring the horse to our house without being on such a large road since he was considering bringing it home with my son leading her on the motorcycle.

I’m always up for an adventure, so we were off to La Ordena. We asked an elderly lady with her umbrella if we were on the right road. Her eyebrows went sky-high.  Yes, this was the road, but she wouldn’t say if it were passable even by moto.  On we went. Just as we came to a fork in the road, we encountered a small herd of bulls. We pulled to the left crossroad and got out of their way. We had red shirts on and all. Well, my husband had on a red shirt, mine was sorta purple but I’m not sure what sort of color spectrum bulls have and wasn’t taking any chances.IMG_20180524_124722.jpgAfter they passed, we headed down this road that although rough, was still drivable until suddenly it wasn’t. Going just a little further was a mistake and we headed back the way we came in the blistering heat and no floppy hat for me. Halfway back, we ran into another cattle herd, a bit larger this time. My husband turned the moto around and we backtracked until we found some bushes we could hide in. You may laugh, but my husband has a healthy fear of bulls, having grown up in rural areas. While he felt confident that if he were charged, he could climb a mesquite tree, he wasn’t so sure about my mesquite climbing abilities.IMG_20180524_130414.jpgWe hid there for about 10 minutes until we were sure the coast was clear. My husband decided that he would not be bringing his new horse this way after all.

While we were waiting for my check to be deposited since the sheep sale was short of the $8000 asking price, I asked my husband what name he thought he’d give her. We’ve had Black Beauty, Spirit, Shadow, Joey, Alto and Buttercup to date. I suggested Lady. His response was “Black Lady, like Michone” (from the Walking Dead.) Umm, no. That’s not what I had in mind at ALL! I offered a few other suggestions, but Black Lady stuck.

Early Friday morning, he headed to get the guia (permit) to move the horse. Every year, my husband, who has a registered brand, adds an imaginary horse to his patente (registration). This new horse could, therefore, be registered as one of those horses without a problem since she came without papers or brand.

In the end, he decided to pay someone with a properly railed truck to bring Lady home. He cleared out Joey’s old stall and escorted his new pride and joy in. She seems to really like it with us but gets nervy when we out of sight while she is tied outside.IMG_20180527_081452.jpg Since the rainy season is fast approaching, we hope she’ll be able to fill out some on all the lush greenery found in La Yacata for those few months. I’m not sure exactly how my husband plans on feeding her in the dry season, so we’ll see how it goes. For now, he picks up an armful of freshly cut alfalfa every two days from a truck that cruises around town for $120 pesos per week.  He also gets a full back of corn leaves in exchange for a costal (feed bag) and 5 pesos from the guy who sells elotes (corn on the cob) from the back of his truck in town. Then we still have some dried alfalfa bales and a few dried corn bales which should keep Lady and the sheep happy until the heavens open up.IMG_20180523_153455.jpg

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A Day in the Life in rural Mexico State

Daisy shares a day in the life in a small town in the state of Mexico.

What is my typical day like? Well, it starts off pretty early in the morning, as I regularly get up around 4:30 am to teach Chinese students online. There are a million companies out there, some needing a degree, some not, but most paying between 15 and 25 dollars an hour. I am lucky enough (or unluckily enough, since those student loan payments are still a burden) to have a BA, but in addition, I got my TEFL off of Groupon for 39 dollars. I haven’t had it turned down once since most companies just want to be able to tell students (and their parents) that the teachers have a piece of paper.

But wait! What about me? Well, I have been living in rural Estado de Mexico–central highlands, altitude 8000 feet where I often wear sweaters in my house even in summer-close to Mexico City but quite countrified–for the last 8 years. My husband is Mexican and my two children (8 and 3) were born here. I never had a plan to move to Mexico but once life circumstances put me here, it was like I was made for it!

Compared to the families around me (a good proportion of whom I am related to by marriage) you might say my husband and I are a bit unconventional. I work from home, online teaching and WordPress support, while he is in charge of the kids. Since schools have a nasty habit of informing the parents the day before of some vital meeting or big project due, it’s nice to have someone not working. Plus, he made such a small amount of money for the long hours he worked, I worked really hard to convince him to leave his job and just do side projects when he was bored. It’s not always easy on his self-esteem since it he is the only stay at home dad most people have seen before, and it goes against the strictly defined gender roles of the area, but it works for us.

Working online has enabled me to really add to our creature comforts. There is nothing like the satisfaction of a hot shower, after taking bucket baths for several years. I used a contraption like this to heat our water; basically, electric coils wrapped around a block of wood. It is the same concept used to heat up water in an electric kettle, but it was a shock when I first saw it. It’s totally safe, you just have to remember to NEVER test the water by touching it!

As I mentioned, I get up early, work a few hours with the Chinese schools, then do some hours with another online ESL company that has daytime hours.. I try to not work from 12 to 3, since that is the main meal time in Mexico. I cook while he goes and picks up the kids. Then after we eat our main meal, I go back to work while he helps with homework and coaches his soccer teams. We don’t eat any processed foods, and I buy all our vegetables, meat, and fruit and local mercados (markets) or shops, not in the grocery store. It just seems fresher to me, and I like buying from the exact same person I have been buying from for the last 8 years, and knowing I am supporting that individual instead of a corporation.

If it is the weekend, you might catch us at a party that we can fully enjoy, knowing we helped pay for it. Cooperation is still alive and functioning in my area, where there is a great big circle of party love going around and around. I am proud to be asked to be the madrina (godmother) of the bouncy gym, tents, etc since these same people did the same for me when I had my daughter’s tres años presentation (3-year-old presentation). I only paid for the food!–which was still a lot, considering it was for 300 people! I know that some people have not had good luck with this sort of setup, but it works very well where I live–and I really think it strengthens the ties that bind the community together. When it works, it is a great deal–entertainment for the whole family, food, and drinks, for about 1500 pesos–the same amount you might spend at a semi fancy restaurant. I still consider myself lucky I landed in an area where people dance cumbia instead of grupero or norteño.

I often rage on expat pages because of their ignorance of how difficult life is for average Mexicans. I think that they have a Pollyannish attitude about corruption and crime, such as murders and kidnappings that can fall heavily on rural areas, but which don’t usually affect expats living in tourist areas.  Even though I am lucky enough not to live in a narco area, my house has been broken into several times here, and we have a big problem with assaults on buses. If you are a woman in an abusive relationship….good luck. I have seen several cases where the police refused to file charges, even with physical evidence of abuse. I think the issue is the impunity. Hardly any crimes are solved here, and people don’t feel they can rely on the police to help them. That is the big difference to me.  I think what happens with the Pollyanna folks that if you have everyone asking you constantly why you would go to such a dangerous place, you want to defend Mexico’s honor but if you are here, you want to defend the people who are suffering and not getting help from their government. Having said all that though, I feel quite safe and  I love that my children can play outside in a great big mob of 20 cousins with no supervision; I love that they can explore their independence by walking to the store alone (well, with 5 cousins in tow). Yes, we have tablets and TV, but the majority of their time is spent outside playing, which lines up perfectly with my beliefs about how to raise emotionally resilient and communicative children.

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The Return of the Zombies

To add to the desolate wasteland landscape currently found in La Yacata because of the scorched earth from clearing burns, someone dumped a dead donkey near the house. Being curious, my husband decided to check it out.  According to his forensic examination, the donkey showed signs of having been hit by a car. While he’s not positive, he thinks it might have been the same donkey that was plowing the area where we sometimes sharecrop. His report included the fact that the guys plowing got progressively drunker during the course of the day while plowing so it wouldn’t have been too hard for an improperly tied donkey to wander out into the road.

I’ve already mentioned that the road past La Yacata has become quite deadly.  It’s almost as if there is a game of points going on–10 points for the old guy on his bicycle, 20 for the guy on the donkey, 15 points for loose livestock, etc. Since my last update, there have been 3 more fatalities (not including this donkey).  One guy, heading to La Yacata to work with the borrega guy, was hit by a truck and dismembered. The guy driving the truck tried to bribe his way out of being held accountable, but the witnesses wouldn’t let him go until the police arrived and arrested him. Doesn’t change the fact that a man is dead though.

Anyway, back to the dead donkey.  It wasn’t there 12 hours before large wild dogs and coyotes found the carcass.  Every night, the two factions snarled and barked and yipped over their meal. Puppy was terrified.  Nary a sound did he make in response, which isn’t like him at all. Even on our daily walks, he didn’t linger but stayed right next to me, especially as we passed the inflated corpse.

Sure enough, all this commotion attracted the attention of zombies. Segue creepy music….The zombie babies have returned. Remember how the three zombie babies were sent to live with the neighbor who had a cow that could provide them with milk since our goats and sheep weren’t able to keep up with their voracious appetites?  Well, the neighbor decided it was high time they started foraging for themselves and brought them to the barn that borders our property. My husband saw them and negotiated for one of the zombie girls. She came back to live with us during some video filming and caused me some anxious moments. Puppy wasn’t happy at all.  It seems that zombie girl thinks she’s a pet and just won’t stay in the animal area. Twice now, she’s tried to eat Puppy’s food and he’s bitten her nose. My husband was furious but I pointed out that it was only natural that Puppy would defend his food dish from zombie invasion.

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A bit bigger, much healthier, but still UGLY!

The next to return was zombie boy.  He and Oreo bump heads for the honor of being head sheep boy, but I’m pretty sure Oreo is going to come out on top in the end.  The third of the zombie trio didn’t return, but I’m fine with just two zombies. 

 

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La Yacata Revolution

If you’ve been following me since the beginning, like my mom, my BFF, and my brother, well then you already know the story of how we came to be where we are.  But if not, you might be wondering why we live in the middle of nowhere with no electricity, sewer or water. Here’s the thing, we didn’t intend to live this sort of life.  It’s just how it all turned out. So we do what we can with what we have.

La Yacata may not seem like much during the dry season.  It’s bleak. I mean really bleak. Over the years, I have learned that its very barrenness sets the stage for the awe that is overwhelming in the rainy season. Like yin and yang.

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It has inspired in me a passionate possessiveness that makes me understand why people would defend their land with their lives and yet I know that I don’t own La Yacata, rather it owns me.

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There is a steadfastness, a timelessness.  These stones have stood here for countless generations. I am grounded. I am given a whole new perspective. I am set free.

 

Well, that’s enough of all that new-age hippie silliness. If you are still curious and how we came to be where we are, you can search through the early posts and peel back the layers of the story or you can pick up the compiled e-book version, La Yacata Revolution: How NOT to Buy a Piece of Heaven in Mexico, which is FREE for the next few days. It’s up to you.

la yacata revolution cover

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