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MEMORIES OF MY LIFE IN LAS MORAS

I’m very proud to have been born in an adobe hut in Las Moras, a ranch in Zacatecas, Mexico, where I also spent my childhood. I have many very fond memories from that yesterday. One of those is that when I turned 5, my Dad starting taking me to the field at the break of dawn to help him plant corn in the planting season or to harvest it in the harvesting season. When it was not the time to plant or harvest, we would tend to cattle. When we would return home after sunset, my Mom and my siblings would be waiting for us so that we could enjoy the delicious dinners that my Mom had prepared for us. 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 the day toiling under a very hot sun, I loved working in the field with him

When I turned 5, my Dad started taking me to the field everyday at the break of dawn in the planting season to help him plant corn. My Dad would carve out furrows with a plow that was pulled by a horse, and I, walking behind him, would toss the seeds into the burrows. Although we would toil under a very hot sun all day, I loved working in the field with my Dad. However, since I was very clumsy, I’m sure that sometimes I was more of a hindrance than help to my Dad.©

Solovino knew when Death was lurking about

When I was 8 years old, a Black, stray puppy that I named Solovino, wandered into our house and into my life. One day, Solovino, my Mom and I went to visit an uncle who was sick with cancer, people said. 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 doctor in Tlaltenango, the nearest town to Las Moras. That day, we returned home very happy from my uncle’s house because my Mom was sure that he was going to recover. According to her, he looked much better than when she had seen him a month before. At midnight, Solovino let out blood-curling howls. The following day, my uncle’s family told us that he had died at midnight. From then on, I realized that Solovino knew when Death was lurking about. Thereafter, whenever someone died in Las Moras, I would know it immediately because he would tell me.©

When Death was stalking me, Solovino saved my life twice

One morning, while Solovino and I were out collecting firewood, Solovino began to growl and became very nervous. Then, a coyote darted out from behind some shrubbery towards me. Solovino charged him like a bolt of lighting. After fighting with Solovino for a few minutes, the coyote ran off. As the weeks went by, Solovino changed from being cheerful and playful to fidgety and grouchy, and began to drool. Then, he disappeared. When I found him a few days later, he was dead. Since we had been inseparable, I didn’t understand why he left me. In time, I realized that he left me because he knew that while the rabies had been killing him, Death had been stalking me. I’ll never forget that Solovino saved my life twice and that he gave his life for mine.©

Finally, the “Big Deal” has arrived . . . at last

When one of my uncles was about to marry a girl from another ranch, he was going 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 path for the car to pass through. On the wedding day, as the car was approaching, me and all the people from Las Moras lined up along the new road to see the “big deal.” That was the first time that I saw a car.©

The time for bathing has arrived . . . oh well

There was no running water in Las Moras but there was a water well and a stream near our hut. In the rainy season, when the well and the stream would swell up, there was water for everything. But in the dry season, when the stream would dry up and the water in the well would recede, water from the well was used only for cooking. In the dry season, every so often, my Mom would fill up a tub with cold water from the well. With that water, my brothers and I had to bathe. Since I was the eldest, I was always the last one.©

Our family left Las Moras hoping to start a new life with a better future

In Las Moras, the men would work six days a week from sunup to sundown tending to their land or to their livestock. Those that didn’t have land or livestock, like my Dad, would toil as farmhands for others. Although they would “kill” themselves working, they would barely scrape by. Tired of working for a pittance, most of them, like my Dad, would go to El Norte every year to work for a season because in El Norte you could earn money by the handful without “killing” yourself, people said. Although at first they would all come and go, in time, most, like my Dad, would settle down in El Norte. In time, they would come for their families. The day came when my Dad took us to Tijuana where we lived for two years. Then, he brought us to El Monte, Ca., where he had already settled down, and where we started a new life.©

MEMORIES IN PICTURES OF LAS MORAS

  • The adobe hut where I was born and where I lived in my childhood, which was one of the happiest times of my life.

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

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

  • The water on the stream, where I used to play with my brothers, is drying up because the rainy season is ending.

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