Tag Archives: living in rural Mexico

Unbelievable Residents

So things are picking up in La Yacata. I’d like to say that this is a good thing—but it’s not.

The other day a guy came to find out exactly where a lot was that he had bought. I told him that the certificate he had was not the current valid one and that he should get the new one (which is blue instead of cream) from the previous owner. He went back to the previous owner who said that he didn’t have it. When he came back to report,  I showed him a receipt for the new certificate in the papers that he had been given. I then realized that he couldn’t read. So I marked the receipt with an orange spot and told him he needed to go back to the previous owner, show him the receipt and get the new certificate. If the previous owner still refused, then he needed to get his money back because the previous owner had plans to resell the lot to someone else, making double the profit and leaving a mess for the new owners.  What do you know? The previous owner “found” the blue certificate. Now that all that was in order, the new owner decided that he wasn’t going to register the lot in his name because, you know, there’s a charge of a $100 pesos and all. And I’d saved him way more than that. Whatever.

The next big adventure with certificates began with the neighbors down below. The lady met me on my walk one morning and asked about getting a certificate changed because her sister had bought a house in La Yacata. Curious, I asked which house. Why, Chuchi’s house, of course. Now, Chuchi doesn’t have any houses in La Yacata. When I said that, she said the house on the corner. Oh–well, that house doesn’t belong to Chuchi but to the original owner. She showed me a certificate Chuchi had made. It was white (which means it’s the second round of certificates that Chuchi gave out) dated 2010, when Chuchi wasn’t the president of the association, made out to Chuchi, signed by Chuchi, and property rights ceded to the lady’s sister by Chuchi. I laughed and said this wasn’t a valid certificate. She said Chuchi said it was. I told her I’d take it to Super Prez, but that I really doubted he would legitimize it. I mentioned that if Chuchi were the owner he should have a contract from the original owner saying so, or receipts of payments. She said Chuchi didn’t pay for the lot but received it as payment for his services as “encargado” person in charge. Again, I said that he should have something from the original owner saying that.

Chuchi’s house, built with the ill-gotten gains filched from the community and on a lot he has no claim to.

A week or two later, I stopped by Super Prez’s office and saw another certificate made by Chuchi, signed by Chuchi and ceded by Chuchi, only this one was cream (meaning it was from the first batch of certificates) and had a date of 1998. Since the lady down the road hadn’t mentioned this to me, I supposed she dropped it off at the office herself as “proof” that Chuchi was the owner. While I was there, Super Prez called his secretary and I talked to him on the phone. He said he didn’t have any intention of validating that certificate because the property in question still belonged to his dad, furthermore, that lot was our backup plan to pay the lawyer with. We still owe most of the balance on the court case occasioned by Chuchi. Then he said that the person who Chuchi ceded the certificate to was his own wife. Well, since the lady down the road is his sister-in-law, that would make sense even though she presented the situation to me as if it were a different sister living in the US, not the one married to Chuchi.

Now the lady down the road isn’t speaking to me as if any of this is my fault. And this after I explained she needed a power inverter to use the car battery and then sent her along to the guy who sold us the solar setup to get her own. No good deed goes unpunished I suppose.

The chicken feather guy’s compound. Chickens, pigs, horses and cows!

Finally, there’s the chicken feather guy who you know is the bane of my existence. He evolved from chickens and pigs to cows and horses (sold for meat). Only as cows and horses eat more, he’s decided that he’d let them out all night to forage instead of buying more feed. Whatever crops were still alive despite the heat wave have now been devoured. Of course, the chicken feather guy puts his cows and horses back in his compound before anyone is up and around in La Yacata. So, naturally, it’s our new horse Lady that is the culprit even though she’s never untied or unsupervised.  

Then the other night I’m pretty sure the chicken feather guy was auditioning for a role on the Walking Dead because he certainly tried to recreate that scene where Neegan rolled a car into the compound with the radio blaring to attract zombies and Maggie had to run it over with a tractor. Too bad I don’t have a tractor.

He must have gone up and down our road 10 times with his radio at full volume playing that horrible banda music. Each time he passed our house, the automatic sensor light went on and he slowed down and backed up so that it went on again. I think he thought we were turning on our light to express our displeasure or something. Then he’d go past AGAIN and sit in his car, music blaring, in front of the neighbor’s for a bit, then circle around the block for more fun.

I asked my husband if he’d ticked the chicken feather guy off or something. He said that he didn’t think so since he hadn’t spoken to him in over a year. So the best guess is that someone, probably the horse guy, said that we had said something about him to somebody and this was his revenge.

I can’t wait to see what lies in store for us in La Yacata next!

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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.

IMG_20180405_094306

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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