I promised not to get political and only write about fun, light things in this blog. It turns out I can’t, really. I’ve been splitting my time between Tlapanala and the town where I stay Cholula. Tlapanala has 1800 people. I also went to visit this other village that has 600 people called Ayotlicha. As I visited families and talk to children I kept realizing how lucky and spoiled I am. I now this sounds cliche and I didn’t want to talk about this in this blog, because I sometimes feel researchers can underestimate the people they are studying. I try not to “feel bad about the people, but listen to them and understand their needs, their wants and their dreams. It also turns out I can’t. I can’t “not feel bad”. I can’t be neutral.
One house, 10 people. The ground is made of dirt, there are chickens, dogs, cows, sheep all together sometimes in one house (because the house is small they are sometimes inside the house) . The animals make the house extremely dirty. There is a newborn baby, a 3 year-old, a 10-year-old, a 13-year-old all sleeping in the same room as their parents. The grandmother sometimes sleeps on the floor to make room for the newborn. There are no doors, only curtains for rooms and bathroom. The grandmother at age 81 works all day, carries wood, participates in a recycling group and goes to the field to plant corn. The kids go to school for a few hours, after that they are back in the house, cleaning, cooking, feeding the animals, listening to music. The boys re out in the field, the girls as young as 8 wash clothes, cook, cares for the newborn. Because the family has animals, they always have a lot to eat and the children are well-fed.
The reason I felt bad wasn’t because of their situation, was because it is an extremely hard life. The concept of hard life kept coming to my head. It looks hard, it feels hard. It is physical work 24 hours a day, very little sleep, extremely hot weather and very little money. When I say hard I mean, you work work work work and for over 30 years your money doesn’t increase, you don’t have savings and you still can’t pay a good doctor for you or your children.
As I was visiting this family, they shared their food with me, they told the little 3 year-old not to eat the watermelon, because it was for me, they made fried peanuts (A LOT) so I could take some home for my own family in Brazil. As I was sitting there with them, this tiny scorpion climbed my hand and when I realized it I totally freaked out. It scared me because I had heard of stories of people in the town that were very sick because of these scorpions. Every single one in the family had been bitten by one. And the grandmother explained to me: that’s just how life is.
Seeing children and grandparents working that hard and being stuck in the cycle of this hard work that never ends was what got to me. What if your dreams are different? The 13-year-old wants to go to the US. She says in the US you can save money and got to a good school and get a good job.
There is no Saturday and Sunday to take off or to travel somewhere, or to go to a park and play. The concept of leisure is different to say the least.
I’ve always had vacations, I’ve never had to do any type of physical work these guys were doing and I don’t have to worry about scorpions in my house.