This Thursday to Saturday I was on a program excursion to Yaxuná, a tiny little pueblito with under 100 families. Despite very little to no warning about the activities (purely manual labor) that we would do there, and the lack of preparation (packing clothes that could get ruined / bringing activities to do while it rained in the empty 100 square foot room that four of us occupied) that preceded the trip, it ended up being an almost-enjoyable experience and I’m definitely glad that I got to see the town.
Without dwelling on the bad aspects, here are some things that stood out to me:
- El idioma. The people of Yaxuná speak Maya more than they speak Spanish, and often only learn español en las escuelas.
- Las casas. The homes are all wood and straw huts with indoor and outdoor hammocks and tiny TVs. No beds. No bathrooms. Lots of people sitting together in every chair and stool working and eating and talking juntos.
- Los niños. Because Yaxuná is tiny and everybody knows everybody else, and because adults are working or spending time together all day and houses are so small and hot, children and babies play out alone on the streets. I realize this is more strange to me than most people because I’m from New York where even twelve-year-olds can’t always be alone outside, but Yaxuná is different from anything I’ve heard of in any state in the US. Babies as young as two years old were out on the streets at night with groups of other children ranging from eleven years old down. They didn’t cry or whine, just sat and watched and played with the other kids. It took a significant amount of self-restraint not to pick up a particularly cute red-pantsed baby boy and take him home.
- La música. From 5 in the morning to 11 at night, music mexicana blasts from every home and tiendita. People are singing, whistling, humming constantly.
- Los animales. Never have I ever seen more starving and sexually active animals in my life. Dogs, cats, roosters, chickens, and pigs all roam the streets and in and out of houses, often fornicating to create more starving and sexually active animals. I could count the ribs on most of the puppies I saw. Roosters start cacareo-ing around four in the morning, well before sunrise.
- El Centro Cultural. Yaxuná has a fairly new cultural center that is beautiful and is clearly a significant source of pride and community for the gente. That and the newly renovated LOL-HA cenote (does nobody else find this as funny as I do?) are both small attractions for tourists and other gringos to come contribute to their village.My trip to Yaxuná marked the beginning of many more viajes that I have scheduled almost back-to-back from now until I go back to New York. It’s nice to have a home base to come back to in Mérida where I can catch up on work and sleep and get really flippin’ excited for my other travels.
Next stop: Chiapas!