Saturday, January 19, 2008

Poverty in Mexico

Tuesday afternoon I went out to a neighborhood or colonia, Colonia Solidaridad, on the edge of the city. I was tagging along with some Americans who had sponsored a child through the Centro de Esperanza Infantil. They were visiting the child's home to meet the family and get a glimpse of the conditions the family lives in. The mother of the sponsored child met us at the Centro and we all hopped on a bus to their neighborhood.

We took a long bus ride, between 30 and 40 minutes, to reach Solidaridad. After disembarking we walked down a dirt road for a bit and then a small dirt path of switchbacks etched a bit perilously in the side of a steep hill. As we walked down the hill we passed the community wells (no running water), encountered more than a few chickens, and saw many houses made of corrugated tin, bricks and other materials thrown together to produce a shelter. The picture below is one I took in the colonia. A couple of the houses in the photo are constructed of cement which is quite a luxury.

The next picture is the street just above the home we visited. In many neighborhoods there are moto-taxis, like the one pictured, that service the colonias. Notice the house to the right of the moto-taxi, constructed of metal siding with a political poster left over from the elections in November. I wonder what the candidates promised to this particular colonia

When we arrived the family started cooking us some comida. We all crowded into the outdoor kitchen to watch the grandmother knead the corn flower to make tortillas. The kitchen is a separate room from the house to prevent the smoke from the cooking fire from inundating the living area.

I decided I needed to try to make a corn tortilla as I have never had the opportunity to do so over the traditional comal , basically the stove and the oven for the home. The grandmother, who is clearly the dominant force in the house, called me over to press the ball of flour into the flat tortilla.

I have just flattened out the ball of corn flour and I'm about to try to put the tortilla onto the cooking surface. This is where things start to go awry for me. My first attempt was disastrous, I slapped the tortilla down on the comal too hard and it was all wrinkly. The ladies thought I was hilarious, laughed at my attempt, and then told me to do it "mas suave" basically much more smoothly or gently. I never really got the hang of it...

After making the tortillas we sat down to a wonderful lunch, the family was really generous with their food. They went to the store and bought Coca Cola (very expensive for them) and also dragged a table and chairs up to the kitchen area for us to sit on. Not long after I finished my meal, Noelia, the youngest child, wanted to play so I obliged. We played caballo, I was the horse obviously, and she kept shouting "Corre! Corre!" (Run! Run!) and kicking me!

It was great fun and great exercise too but I finally had to tell Noelia I was tired. Old horses full of tortillas don't run very fast for very long.

This family is in some ways very lucky as their kids are all enrolled in school. They are very poor but having the ability to let all your kids attend school is a luxury cannot afford.


julie said...
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julie said...

It is so neat that you got to go to such a place and meet those people. It makes me thankful for what I have and ashamed that I do not thank the Lord more for what He has given me. Thanks for sharing your adventure, I plan to show my kids the pictures you posted. : )