Doña Meche and the people of Cofradía

Well, it’s nice and quiet here today. It is Constitution Day, a national holiday in Mexico, so I have the Hacienda all to myself. Yesterday I went to lunch with friends, walked around town and had a good time in general hanging out with friends. Today, I did my internet banking, laundry and am now working on this blog.

Cofradía de Suchitlan is a small village and most of the people are not well off. They work very hard and though they do not have much materially, they are wealthy in spirit. I have walked this village at all hours of the day and night, and have always felt safe. Everyone says hello (in Spanish, of course) and has a smile on their face when they greet you.

Families are very cohesive and care very much for each other. The children are very proud of their families, regardless of the physical condition of their homes, including the ones with dirt floors (mainly in the migrant camps of Quesería) or cement floors.  In the early morning as I walk down the streets I see the shop owners sweeping the sidewalks and street in front of their shops.

The children for whom we provide scholarships are very anxious to do well in school, graduate from high school and then university. As of 2014, we have graduated 45 students from university as doctors, nurses, engineers, lawyers and many other professions. These students have then gone on to help others obtain an education. The graduation rate from our scholarships is about 90% from high  school and about 90% from university – much better than the U.S.

On Saturday, as I was returning from my weekly treat at the cafetería just outside the village, I saw Doña Meche with her family in their residence, just a few yards away. She invited me to sit with them. It appeared to be a birthday celebration for a Grandma and everyone was very friendly and welcoming.

They offered me a snack of ham, cheese and crackers and laughed when I politely refused the hot sauce. I spoke for a while with the family and was gently corrected when I made a grammatical mistake, but was able to make myself understood.  I definitely could understand most of what was being said, but the speaking for me is coming along little by little.

That evening in the jardín (village square), there are some people who cook tacos and tortas (toasted sandwiches) on a big open grill. They cook the meat in a big pan right there, and one of the men is continually cutting up more of the meat. He does it so quickly that I fear he may one day cut himself, and then I will need to go back into nurse mode.

So – I had a delicious torta de res made of fried beef with lettuce, onions and mayonnaise on a toasted roll. Very delicious, and for a price of 23 pesos (the exchange rate has varied between 14-18 pesos per USD, so it was a little over $1).

I sat there eating while watching the children and dogs playing, but one little dog decided to sit attentively at my feet, waiting for me to drop some food. One woman beside me started a conversation, and we had a very pleasant chat. Before she went home, she told me where she lives and said I could practice my Spanish with her any time…

When people would hear that I was going to spend 6 months in Mexico, they would warn me that it is a dangerous country and they were concerned for my safety. My reply was that there are many unsafe places in the United States.  For those people who only know about this country from newspapers or politicians, or who have only visited the tourist areas, they are not getting a picture of the REAL Mexico.  The world is full of cities, towns and small villages just like Cofradía, inhabited by regular people just like you and just like me.  I would like to see more people volunteer with organizations like Project Amigo, step out of your comfort zone and learn to see people from other  countries and cultures as fellow human beings with families, hopes and dreams just like ours.



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