This is the view of Patzcuaro Lake from Arocutian. The lake is very visibly receding and quite contaminated by erosion from the deforested hills. The native fish once famous in Patzcuaro, are now locally extinct.
Thursday was another immersion day. Lest you think these days were easy or comfortable, they were not. We were required to venture forth without our guides/interpreters to locate various institutions and people. This day we were given the names of two women who were willing to talk with us, the possibility of visiting the elementary school and a prearranged lunch & meeting with a family who made their living farming. First, we visited the school.
This is from the first grade classroom. Oh, how I missed Martin when surrounded by six-year-olds. They had the requisite missing teeth of 1st graders and unfettered enthusiasm mixed with a complete willingness to be engaged with complete (and no doubt strange) strangers. They would beg to have you take their photo then rush to your side to view the picture on the camera screen. Quite frankly, I loved being among them just to take in all their youth and brilliance. I was really beginning to miss my own family.
I see a confident young woman in this girl’s face.
We spoke with this woman for quite some time about her children and how immigration to the U.S. has impacted her life. Her husband spent eight years, off and on, in the U.S. during the 70’s and 80’s. It was just long enough to bring home the money they needed to build their home. She was grateful for that and he remained in Mexico when their home was complete. She gave birth to her last child at age 40 (same as myself). We enjoyed a laugh over the joys and trials of being older mothers of sons. She was also caring for the wife of one of her sons who is in Chicago. He left shortly after his wife gave birth to their second child. He hurt himself going over the border and can now only work intermittently. He sends money when he can. She hasn’t seen him in four years and he hasn’t seen his son. It made her very sad.
Ironically, I was unable to get pictures of the farmer & farm we visited. I used too much camera memory on the 1st graders! My “take homes” from this visit was the fact that these farmers were actively working to increase composting, they saved seed from open pollinated corn, planted and harvested by hand, used shared veterinary care, and rarely used tractors due to their expense and then typically this is shared equipment. The corn was delicious.