We just got back from another great trip to Michoacan, which is located right in the middle of Mexico. The town that Francico is from is called San Jose Huipana. It’s about 5000 feet above sea level, so the air is very dry and we always get bloody noses. It is situated at the base of large hills that aren’t quite big enough to be considered mountains. This is the view from high up in the hills looking down towards the town:
The hills are some of my favorite places to visit when we go to Huipana. The sky is always blue and the air is so fresh. A soft breeze cools us off from the hot sun. There’s not a noise to be heard other than the leaves or wheat rustling in the wind, or the occasional rooster crow from far below. I could spend all day there, but alas, there’s always too many things to do in a short trip.
One thing I always want to take the time to do is going to Santa Cruz (Holy Cross).
Many little towns have a Santa Cruz. There is an alter and usually three crosses. It is always up in the hills. It symbolizes the path Jesus had to walk to be crucified.
Most people in Huipana would be considered poor by American standards. Walking down the street, you can usually tell who has been to the United States based on how their house looks. The large, painted two-story house…the owner has probably been to the States. The small house with a tin roof…they’ve never been so fortunate.
Can you see the difference?
Most of the economy in Huipana revolves around farming…
…..or livestock. Many people, like my in-laws, have pigs behind the house.
Goats are seen often going through town on the way to the hills:
I’ve heard that Mexico is 40 years behind the United States, and when I’m in Huipana I believe that to be true. Most people live a very simple life, where the men work and the women stay home and take care of the kids and cook and clean. Most houses have the basics; a fridge, a stove, and a blender. Microwaves are common, toasters are rare. As far as I know, there’s not a single dishwasher in Huipana. Many women still have to wash clothes by hand. This is where my sister-in-law washes her clothes:
And if a home isn’t so fortunate to have a wash area out back, there’s another option:
This is the “Ojo de Agua”. There’s a natural spring where the water flows. The fenced in area is a “pool” built to hold excess water. The covered area is where women can go wash clothes…I spent more than a couple of afternoons there with my sister-in-law the first time we were in Huipana. The big long thing in the front is a troff for the livestock that pass by.
In the middle of town there’s a plaza in front of the church where the old men sit and play dominos. There’s butcher shops, little clothing stores, a tortilla shop, and even a little internet cafe. You say “adios” to everyone you pass on the street and in the evenings the families sit out front of the house while the kids play soccer or marbles in the street. What people here may be lacking in their wallet, they make up for with true happiness. Life in Mexico isn’t easy, but you don’t hear anyone complaining or looking for a hand-out. People don’t have much, but they always share what little they do have. Family is the most important thing here and children grow up to respect their elders and are expected to do their share to help out. Of course there are negatives, like the amount of candy that kids eat or the not uncommon smell of pigs, but those negatives are out-weighed by the good things. Taking a few days to slow down and remember what is really important is always a welcome change.
Spanish Words of the Day: