MY LIFE IN LAS MORAS

So many memories . . . some HAPPY and some SAD

I’m very proud to have been born in an adobe hut in Las Moras, a small ranch in Zacatecas, Mexico, where I also spent my childhood. I have many memories, some very beautiful and some very sad, of my life in Las Moras. The most beautiful memory that I have 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 back then, doesn’t need anything else to be happy. That’s why the years that I lived in Las Moras were some of the happiest years of my life.©

Although my dad and I would spend all day in the sun, I loved working in the field with him

When I was about 5 years old, my Dad started taking me to the field everyday at dawn, during the planting season, to help him plant corn. My Dad would carve out furrows with a plow that was being pulled by horse, and I, walking behind him, would toss the seeds into the burrows. Around noon, my mother would come by to bring us lunch which consisted of delicious, hot, and freshly-made bean burritos with red chile from the molcajete. After lunch, my Dad and I would walk the horse over to the nearest stream or pond so that he could drink his water for that day. Although we would work from sunup to sundown, under a very hot sun all day, I loved working in the field with my Dad. However, since I was somewhat clumsy, sometimes I was more of a hindrance than a help to him.©

My dog Solovino could sense when Death was lurking by

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 playful, loyal, and affectionate. One day, Solovino, my Mom and I went to visit one of my favorite uncles who lived nearby and who had been sick with cancer for a long time, people would say. Since there was no doctor in Las Moras, if anyone got sick he either got cured with home remedies or he died because almost no one had any money to go to the nearest doctor who was in Tlaltenango, a town that is half a day, on foot, from Las Moras. After visiting my uncle, we went home very happy because my Mom was sure that he was going to recover soon. According to her, he had looked much better than when she had seen him a month before. At midnight, Solovino let out blood-curling howls. Sadly, the next day, my uncle’s family notified us that he had died at midnight. From then on, I realized that Solovino could sense when Death was lurking nearby. Thereafter, every time that someone died in Las Moras, I would know it before anyone would tell me because Solovino’s howls had already announced it.©

When Death was stalking me, Solovino saved my life twice

One early morning, while Solovino and I were out collecting firewood for my Mom’s clay stove where she would cook simple but deliciously unforgettable meals, Solovino began to growl and became very tense. Then, a coyote rushed out from behind some trees and headed towards me. As soon as I saw him, I noticed that he was foaming at the mouth, and that he was looking at me as if he were looking at his breakfast. Solovino charged him like a bolt of lighting. After fighting for a few minutes, the coyote ran away, squealing and bleeding. Solovino ended up with only a few scratches. As the weeks went by, he became nervous, aggressive, and began to foam at the mouth. Then, all of the sudden, he disappeared. Weeks later, I found him. He was dead. As soon as I saw him, I started crying inconsolably. Since Solovino and I had been inseparable, for a long time after his death I held a grudge against him because he had left me. In time, I came to realize that he had left me because he had sensed that while Death had been killing him with the rabies, it had also been 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 shoes until we moved to Tijuana, where we lived for two years before we came to the U.S. But before I could ever get used to wearing shoes, I endured blisters for many years.©

The mail from El Norte has arrived . . . finally

In Las Moras, the men would work from sunup to sundown tending their land or their livestock. Those that didn’t have land or livestock, like my Dad, would toil as farmhands for others. My Mom, like all the women, would spend the day cooking and tending to other household chores. Even though everyone would work hard, they would just scrape by. Tired of working for a pittance, many men, like my Dad, would go to El Norte every year for a few months because they said that in El Norte they could earn money by the handful without working so hard. Although they would all come and go, in time, most, like my Dad, would stay over there. Back then, we were very poor but I didn’t feel it because we lived like all the other families. That poverty convinced my Dad to settle in El Norte, and to later bring us with him. One day I received a letter from a cousin in Los Angeles who had moved from Las Moras with his family to El Norte. His letter took a month to arrive because our post office was in Tlaltenango. If anyone from Las Moras wanted to mail anything out, he had to take it to town. If anyone wanted to mail anything to Las Moras, he had to send it to town. Whenever anyone from Las Moras went to town he would drop off mail from, and pick up mail for, the ranch. Sometimes, weeks would go by before anyone from Las Moras would go into town.©

The “big deal” has arrived . . . FINALLY

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 other uncles had brought from El Norte. Since there were no roads in Las Moras, 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 Las Moras, me, and all the people from Las Moras lined up along the car’s route 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 river near our hut. During the rainy season, when the well and the river 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. Every so often, during the dry season, my Mom would fill up a tub with very cold water from the well. With that water, my brothers and I had to bathe. Since I was the eldest, I was always the first one.©

MEMORIES IN PICTURES OF MY LIFE IN LAS MORAS

  • The hut where I was born and where I spent my childhood years, which were some of the happiest years of my life.

  • Growing corn seedlings behind the hut, like the ones my Dad and I used to plant, during the planting season.

  • The river near the hut after a heavy rain storm during the rainy season, when there was water for everything.

  • Water on the river, where I used to play with my brothers, is drying up because the rainy season is coming to an end.