This pueblo of maybe 5000 people is not too awful far from where I live in Michoacán. And I just happened to hear about it weekend before last when I was visiting Emiliano Zapata, a pueblo on the other side of the valley.
I was standing out on the highway waiting for the bus and I struck up a chat with 5 local guys who were waiting for a different bus. One of the guys, Arturo invited me to come see him at his little village of Pueblo Viejo the following Sunday.
And that’s what I did yesterday. And seeings how Pajacuarán was just another 5 kilometers further down the road from Pueblo Viejo that’s where I decided to go first.
I’ve discovered many places in Mexico over the years. But these recent trips since I have been living here these past 4 years have turned into some of my favorites.
PS – We lived in S. Texas from ’77/’78 – ’89/’90 and we did the occasional border, beach, fishing excursions into Mexico but they were for fun and I learned very little.
In 1988 I made my first serious trip into Mexico, traveling some 1200 km. from Nuevo Laredo to Mexico City by train and then back again. Mexico had a lot of poverty then. I remember as the train made its way in the early morning hours through slum after slum of Mexico City, seeing families living in makeshift cardboard hovels lit by a single 40 watt bulb and wondering just when it was finally going to end.
I naively asked an elderly Mexican woman who was riding in the same sleeper car how anyone could live with such poverty? She had every right to call me a fool for the fool I was but instead told me how the poor didn’t know they were poor. How they had their fiestas, marriages, and celebrations and went on about their lives as if that was what living was all about.
It took me many years to fully understand what she said although in the meantime Mexico has changed a great deal. Education is now more readily available. Infrastructure has been upgraded as Mexico’s economy has improved. Banking maybe a short 20 years ago started to extend consumer credit. And the extreme poverty situation has all but vanished.
The extensive slums in Mexico City are no longer there and generally speaking everyone here who wants a roof over their head has one.
I personally don’t consider a man or family unduly put upon if they have a place to sleep, food on the table, clothes on their backs, and a TV to watch, to be poor. No matter however humble it all might be.
Is this man poor? Maybe to you but certainly not to me. He looks healthy and fit to me. And personally I rather be healthy and fit than fat, unhealthy, and rich any day. This fellow might not have spent a whole lot of time prioritizing these kind of things but I have. And I’d made the conscious decision to live a smaller lifestyle than toil and trouble working a stressful job in a society that has lost its collective way.