A Visit to the Cerro Prieto Ejido
By Blake School Spanish Students
We took a half hour trip from Angangueo to the Cerro Prieto ejido. An ejido is a community whose land was granted to them by a government decree in the years after the Mexican revolution of 1911. There is very little work in these communities and the men need to take the four hour bus trip to Mexico City to find work.
Abel Martinez, the man that we interviewed, has six daughters and one son, who were all sick with colds, "la gripa". He explained to us that it is the coldest month of the year, and has caused a lot of sickness. The family cannot afford medicine for the kids so they give them medicinal herbs from their garden.
Mr. Martinez works in Mexico City as a brick layer for two weeks at a time. It is hard for him to find work even in Mexico City, a situation which is exaserbated bythe decreasing value of the peso. The family used to own animals, but an epidemic swept through the ejido and killed off most of the livestock. On their land they grow corn, radishes, and other vegetables, but only grow enough crops to support their family. This year the rains came later than usual which made life even harder.
The next family that we visited was a family of twelve, with children aging from 1 to 16. The husband is a bread maker in the community, so he does not have to commute to work. The mother was kind enough to show us their kitchen and bread oven. The bread room had a dirt floor and a small entrance way. The kitchen was dark and sooty because there was no ventilation for the wood stove. The mother had all of the ingredients for tortillas including corn that was soaking in a limestone solution to soften it. The oven is the only bread oven in the ejido, and is capable of baking 300 loaves each day. They also had two pigs, one horse, and several dogs and roosters.
A popular drink in the ejido is pulque, which is an alcoholic drink derived from the maguey cactus. Our guide explained to us that there is a large problem with alcoholism. It is hoped that the work available in the Cerro Chincua sanctuary may help alleviate this problem somewhat.
Another family with whom we spoke was in their cornfield. The man was cutting up wood while the woman was filling up buckets with water. They explained to us that their drinking water comes from a mountain spring three to five kilometers away from each house. Each family has a hose that travels down the mountain to their house.