Hello ladies! Pardon my delay, I have been in the ejido in these past weeks and there is no internet, not even a cell phone signal. This seeming lack of technology is more than made up for with the amount of roaming pigs, cows, chickens, turkeys, and chickens. The ejido has been graciously open with me. At 5’4 I am actually tall compared to everyone else, so that – along with my lighter skin, nose ring, and ‘western’ clothes – make me stand out a tad. Despite this, people were very welcoming and gracious with what little they have. Instead of staying alone in the ‘comisaria’ (small community building), I accepted Doña Josefa’s invitation to stay with her and her family. All of the houses in the ejido are a mix between an old style utilizing material such as branches and palm and new style homes made of cinder blocks. These newer homes were introduced with a government aid program two years ago along with bathrooms. In many other, poorer places, people have no bathroom and are use to doing their business in the forest. As you can imagine, this is not the most sanitary method, and this – along with other sanitary issues – contributes to certain ailments. Fortunately there are small bathrooms now in the community; Doña Josefa’s is next door to her house, which is a small block room really. Within this room I hung my hammock, as did the other seven people of the family! Since hammocks are used instead of beds, they tend to save a lot of room. I have a hammock installed in my room in Austin; this makes me miss Mexico a little less.
The food eaten comes predominantly from the ‘milpa.’ These small fields are taken care of by the men where they mainly grow corn, bean and squash. This winning trio was used even by Mayans. Meat is a luxury. Only on special occasions is a chicken, turkey, cow, or pig killed. Although I have been a vegetarian for the past 8 years, I accepted whatever I was invited to eat. This included the aforementioned animals! I must confess, however, that the way in which they cook these is quite tasty. One of the meals that take advantage of two of the most abundant resources – bean and corn – is what they call p’iich in Maya. It is a mixture of corn, bean, and lard (from a recently killed pig of a neighbor). This mix is wrapped in banana leaves and then placed in the pib, which is ‘burial’ for food. Already heated rocks in the ground are covered with small wood pieces, the p’iich is places on top, leaves cover the food to form a ‘nest,’ sacks are placed over the leaves, and the dirt is placed on top. Food is cooked underground! In half an hour it is unearthed and ready to eat. I don’t think this would fly at your typical fast food spot in the States. It was quite tasty, especially when dipped in a fresh tomato sauce. Overall, the food in small communities is notoriously yummy. Perhaps because everything is fresh, organic and cooked in style. Unfortunately a lot of soda pop is consumed. This is true for the city as well. Coca Cola is somewhat of a Mexican staple in the cities. Since the ejido is so remote and uneasy to access, Coca Cola does not sell there, only Pepsi; and so several times a week the families consume Pepsi.
Besides this, the diet of fruits, veggies, legumes, and occasional meat is quite healthy.
I will be back to talk about other aspects of my experience and life in the ejido. For instance, the gardens – which are the focus of my research – are very beautiful and important in the community, however they are not perfect. I hope everyone is doing wonderful in beautiful Austin. Hasta pronto…Latinita en Yucatan signing out for now.