Meet Orelia Moreno!
Orelia Moreno Shares Life in an Ejido Family
Michocan, Mexico

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Water From the Mangera
It is easy for our family to receive water every day. My father and five of his neighbors

Her mother washes clothes with water from the "mangera."

connected a mangera (a thin plastic tube) from a manatila (water tank) up to our house. The mangera is 700 meters long (2,100 feet). It took them three weeks to connect this to our house. Now we don't have to pay for our water and it is easier for my father to hook up extra mangera to reach the animals in the barn. Of course if we want to take a hot bath, my mother has to use firewood to heat the water. I know we will always have water but it is the firewood that will not last forever.

Working on a Farm

My mother believes that people who live in the country are very strong because the type of daily work is a lot more difficult than in the city. My father has two hectares for planting his crops. We live on what is called an ejido, and this makes it easier for our relatives and neighbors to help my father with the different parts of farming. During this month of December, he needs to prepare the land by plowing the land under with a yunta (a team of oxen and a plow). This takes about eight days for two hectares. Our state of Michoacan is farther south than other states in Mexico, which makes it warmer and possible to work in the fields almost every month of the year. We prepare the soil in February and begin planting in March. In June throughout October we collect the maiz (corn) and usually have enough maiz for the next four months. We will use this for our meals only. During this time also my father goes to Angangueo to buy more seed for the next year. He has to buy 100 cortarones ("cartons" or kilograms) which when planted will last for one month of tortillas. Therefore he needs to buy a total of 400 cortarones and transport these with a neighbor's truck. My father also needs to purchase 50 bultos ("sacks" or 10 kilograms) of avono (fertilizer) and this is sometimes difficult as the price has goes up every year. He tells me, he can remember when farmers did not need to use any fertilizer.

A field of corn at the end of harvesting season.

A plow commonly used throughout farming communities in Mexico

Living Near the Butterfly Sancutuaries
We have to use four blankets for each person at night because it gets very cold in Cerro Prieto, especially during the winter months of December, January and February. One thousand people live in this ejido called Cerro Prieto. It has been 26 years since the ejidos have been here and only four years since Cerro Prieto has had tourists visit. Now they have started to build little shops for the tourists and there are guides throughout the butterfly sanctuary which is called Sierra Chinqua. My two older brothers Saul (13) and Victoreno (22) are working in the sanctuary to help our family with extra money during the season when we can't farm. Saul is too young to work as a guia (a guide) but he uses his horse to ride through the trails as a vijilante (a "watchman") and only goes to the sanctuary on the weekends. He actually prefers to work in school because all of his friends are there during the week. Victoreno does work as a guide and goes to the office at the entrance of Sierra Chinqua every day. After the week, they earn enough money so that our parents can pay for our daily living expenses.


Orelia and her parents Julio and Rosa Moreno

Suggestions for Discussion:
  • What types of daily of activities do you do that require electricity?
  • How many days have you ever been without electricity?
  • If you couldn't use electricity what other resources are available? Are these other resources more or less expensive? More or less difficult to obtain?
  • Estimate what percentage of the current world population uses electricity as the main source of energy on a daily basis.