Notes from Mexico Trip- Johnny Monsarrat Mexico Trip

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 15TH, 1999 -- OAXACA & MITLA RUINS (CONT.)

We drive back. The dirt and gravel road is very dusty. Some of the houses don't use professional bricks -- just homemade adobe bricks of slightly irregular shapes. In Oaxaca, most villages have a high school, or if they don't, you can walk an hour to get to one. You pay 200 pesos a year and pay your own stationery & books. Farmers earn 5 pesos a day, so 200 is a lot!

Primary & secondary school is not so costly: 80 or 100 pesos a year. Most children have to move to the center of Oaxaca for college. Colleges are "free" but there's an annual payment??? I don't understand what Nicolas is saying.

In Chiapas, the rainy season is March to October. Then no rain Nov-Feb. We see green on the mountain rocks; it's lichen, which we didn't see higher up. There are animals grazing to the side of the road. There are black goats & brown goats grazing under the eye of a 10-yr-old boy with a filthy deep blue shirt. There's burning garbage strewn on the side of the road.

Tourism is mostly July, August, December, around Easter, and around the Day of the Dead. On the way back from Mitla, we slowly rediscover civilization and stop at the first restaurant that takes credit cards. It's scary to be eating this far out... flies in restaurant although clean otherwise.

They're using a bulldozer to build something; they're taking away the rubble from a demolished wing. I sit in the bathroom and choke on the dusty air, with bulldozer sounds right next to me on the other side of the wall. I imagine the headline: "Gringo Dies in Freak Bulldozer Accident" but fortunately the bathroom wall stays intact.

I ask my guide, what would Chiapas people think about the new biotech lab I'm planning to have in my book? He says they would think it OK because the lab is giving them money and helping with economic growth. People who work there would be having an experience they'd never had before: working for a big company. They'd be proud to have a job there.

But what about the hatred of people who don't have a job? Well, first the outsiders must "win over" the local people's trust. Give them money, fix up the church, or build a hospital or school. What if a company took over land that was farmland, charges high rent, and only offered minimum wage jobs, and did nothing for the town? That would make them angry, he says.

What if it turned out that the biology research was immoral? Different generations might fight, the older not liking it, and the younger just wanting the money. "caciques" = "rich people". Rich people will take care of the police. After all the rich are the "owners" of the community.

In Chiapas there are some collectives, where the land belongs to the community and they decide whether to sell it. Nicolas thinks that probably the Zapatistas wouldn't allow the government to set up a biotech lab.

There's a Mexican saying, "I'll be dreaming with you tonight", in other words, I'll be sharing your thoughts.

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