MY LIFE IN LAS MORAS
So many memories . . . sad and happy
I’m very proud to have been born in an adobe hut in Las Moras, a ranch in Zacatecas, Mexico, where I also lived most of my childhood years. I have many memories, some very beautiful and some very sad, of my life in Las Moras. What I remember most is that when it was meal time, my Mom would always have freshly-cooked beans with warm, freshly-made tortillas with red chile from the molcajete [mortar and pestle] that tasted as though they were Heaven-sent. Moreover, I lived with my parents and with my siblings. A little boy, like I was then, doesn’t need anything else to be happy. That’s why the years that I lived in Las Moras were the happiest years of my life.©
Although I would spend all day working under a hot sun, I loved working in the field with my Dad
When I was 5 years old, my Dad started taking me to the field during the planting season to help him plant corn. My Dad would carve out furrows with a plow and I, walking behind him, had to toss one seed into the furrows for every step that I took. But during my first few weeks, instead of tossing one seed, sometimes I would throw handfuls at the small critters that would crawl out of the ground as the plow carved out the soil. At other times, I would scatter the seeds all over the place. As punishment, my Dad left me at home for the rest of that season. In the seasons that followed, I didn’t have to stay home anymore. Although we would work from dawn to dusk and under a very hot sun all day, I loved working in the field with my Dad. Nevertheless, since I was a little boy then, I’m sure that I was more of a hindrance than a help.©
My dog Solovino could sense when Death was on the prowl
When I was 8 years old, a small, stray black dog whom I named Solovino wandered into our house and into my life. He was affectionate, playful, loyal, and had a special sense. People in the ranch believed that dogs knew when Death was lurking about. One morning, my Mom, Solovino, and I went to visit one of my favorite uncles who lived nearby and who had been ill for a long time. Since there was no doctor in Las Moras, if anyone got sick, he either got cured with home remedies or he died because people didn’t have money to go to the doctor in Tlaltenango. That day, we returned home very happy because my Mom thought that my uncle was going to get well soon; she noticed that he looked better than when she had seen him a month before. At around midnight, Solovino let out blood-curling howls. The next day, we learned that my uncle had died at around midnight. A few days later, Solovino howled again. We later learned that someone had died at the same time that Solovino had begun to howl.©
When Death was stalking me, Solovino saved my life twice
One morning, while Solovino and I were out collecting firewood for my Mom, I realized that a coyote was seizing me up as if he were looking at his breakfast. Like a bolt of lighting, Solovino lunged at him. After fighting with Solovino for a few minutes, the coyote ran off squealing and bleeding. Solovino ended up with only a few scratches. As the weeks went by, he became nervous, grumpy, rowdy, and began to foam at the mouth. One day, he disappeared. After looking for him for more than two weeks, I found him. He was dead. As soon as I saw him, I started crying like the little boy that I was then. Since he and I had been inseparable, I held a grudge against him for a long time because he had abandoned me. In time, however, I came to realize that he had left me and had run off to die alone because he knew that the rabies that was killing him was Death itself who was stalking me. I’ll never forget that Solovino saved my life twice and that he gave his life for mine.©
Happy and fancy free going barefoot
I would usually walk around barefoot. However, when I had to look my “Sunday best,” I would wear huaraches that my Dad would buy in Tlaltenango. But I felt much more comfortable walking around barefoot. I didn’t start wearing dress shoes until we arrived in Tijuana, where we lived for about a year and a half before we came to the US. But before I could ever get used to wearing shoes, I endured corns and blisters for many years.©
The mail has arrived . . . at last
One day, I received a letter from a cousin in the US. He and his family had left the ranch and had gone to live in Los Angeles because people in the ranch believed that in El Norte one could earn money by the handful without having to work very hard. His letter took a month to arrive because our post office was in Tlaltenango. If anyone wanted to mail anything out of the ranch, it had to be taken to Tlaltenango. If anyone wanted to mail anything to the ranch, it had to be sent to Tlaltenango. Whenever anyone from the ranch went to Tlaltenango, he would stop by the post office to see if there was mail for the ranch. Sometimes, weeks would go by before anyone from the ranch would go to town.©
The “big deal” has arrived . . . at last
When one of my uncles was about to marry a girl from a neighboring ranch, he planned to bring his bride to Las Moras on the wedding day in a brand new car that another one of my uncles had brought from El Norte. Since there were no roads in the ranch, days before the wedding, people pitched in to clear out and to widen a foot trail so that the car could get through. On the wedding day, as the car was nearing the ranch, people from the ranch lined up along the car’s route because they all wanted to see the “big deal.” That was the first time that I ever saw a car.©
It’s time for a bath . . . oh well
We didn’t have any running water in Las Moras but there was a water well and a stream near our hut. During the rainy season, when the well and the stream would swell up, there was water for everything. But during the dry season, the river would dry up, and the water from the well was used only for cooking because its water level would sink. Every so often, during the dry season, my Mom would fill up a tub with water from the well. With that water, my brothers and I had to bathe. Since I was the oldest, I was always first.©
MEMORIES IN PICTURES OF MY LIFE IN LAS MORAS
The hut where I was born and where I lived most of my childhood years, which were the happiest years of my life.
Seedlings from the corn that my Dad and I would plant, growing behind our hut, in the planting season.
The river near our hut after a storm in the rainy season, when there was water for everything.
The river near our hut where I used to play with my brothers. The receding water marks the end of the rainy season.