Sunday, July 18, 2010

The remote community of Pilateno

Pilateno is a small indigeneous community Nahuatl of about 800 inhabitants of which the half are kids and is situated in the middle of a beautiful valley of humid forest about 40mins by car from the town of Xilitla. Pilateno will be the place where I will spend the next 3 weeks working as a volunteer for an ecotourism project. The group of volunteer is formed by 5 girls: me, my sister Clary and her friend Virginia and 2 other girls from Barcelona (Claudia - 35 & Monica - 44). So far we went on quite well and we can organize each other without problems.

You have to imagine that the community of Pilateno is a village of mostly wooden houses spread all over the valley. Some family could afford more luxus and did build their house with cement and brakes. There is only one main road for the camioneta (private pick-ups which are the only public transportations for the locals to get out of the village) and the only way to reach the single houses is by footpath up and down the forest. In this village don`t exit sinks, showers and bathrooms. Toilets are situated a few metres away from the houses and they consist of a hole, a bucket with water to flush and a small bin for the used toilet paper. To wash clothes and to have a shower there are springs placed all over the village. Each family do also collect rain water from the house roof in big tall containers to wash dishes and for other general uses. Electricity was introduced in 2000 and some houses possess electric coffee and mais mill as well as stereo and TV.

The Indigeneous Host Family
Each volunteer will spend the first week of the workcamp experience by a local indigeneous family in order to get closer to the culture and slowly adapt to the new life-style as well as be part of the daily activities of each family member. My host family lives about 15 mins by foot from the centre of the village which is the "cooperativa" of Pilateno where the only mini shop and the meeting point of the community are situated. The area next to the mini shop (which is formed of 3 walls and a roof all made by hands by the locals) will become our dormitory or house for our 2nd and 3rd week.

The only way to reach the house of my host family is a very tight footpath through the deep green forest. The family is formed by the fairly young grand-parents Camerina (a lovely woman of 54 years) and his husband Thomas. They are both pentioned but still have a lot of work to do. Both very healthy and full of spirit with not a wrinckle in their face. In the house live their son Luis with his wife Lorenza (27) and the two little girls Ceiline (9) and the noty but adorable Anelise (4). The house has 2 bedrooms which are placed on the two opposite sides of the living room that includes kitchen and sitting room. The house is a ery simple house made of wood with a few fornitures; two double beds (the girls sleep each in one bed), one table, another table for various kitchen tools, four chairs (of which three are half broken) and a very simple fire-kitchen (see picture).

I slept in the bedroom of Camerina and Thomas (the grand-parents). My bed was placed next to their one and a provisory courtain was deviding the room into two. Thank God this time I didn´t have to sleep on the floor! Each volunteer received a foldable bed which will be used for the whole duration of the workcamp in Pilateno and it was far better than sleeping on hard soil.

Anxiousness of Insects in the Night
The good point was to sleep on a decent bed but the critical one was to be sleeping in a wooden house with an open section inbetween the walls and the roof and doesn´t have any proper doors. This means that any kinds of insects and bugs are welcome in the house unexpectively. I don`t have a mosquito-net and so my first night in the wooden house in the middle of the forest was a NIGHTMARE!! While I was preparing my bed with the 2 girsl I couldn`t stop looking around my self to check if any horrible animal was wondering around the house... and why have I ever done it?? I kept seeing little ugly creatures of any sizes and shapes appearing and disappearing from every corner and hole such as enormous spiders, cockroach, weird beetles and God knows what else! Hundreds of mosquitos and moths were flying around the house. While I was lieing in my bed I was horrified by being even touched by any of those animals and with my super tiny blanket (that I have stolen from the airplane of Iberia on the way here) I was trying to cover my self from head to feet. When Camerina switched off the light and everybody was in bed sleeping, I could hear millions of noises without knowing where they were coming from and especially how close to my bed they were. I tell you guys I was paralised! I couldn`t move a muscle and my body was like an extremely rigid wooden stick. Finally around maybe 3 or 4am I fall asleep and slept until 9:30am without getting up from the numerous singing gallos (cocks) in the night and in the morning. After this dreadful night I decided not to be too scared because at the end of the day these insects won`t be able to eat me anyway. The following 3 nights weren`t so stressful but still I didn`t feel 100% safe.

Shower and Clothes-Washing at the Spring or at the River
Initially it was kind of hard to get used to live without a sink to wash my teeth, my hands and my face. To live without a shower means never give a good clean to the body being sweaty half of the times and especially not having a proper toilet. Clothes-washing became here a new activity of my life with my local family. In one of the pic you can see the toilet in the middle of the trees. When I needed to go to the toilet in the middle of the night I would rather wait until the morning. There is NO WAY I would go out of the house with a light when it´s pitch black... you never know what could happen! In the other pic you can see el pozzo (the spring) where I would have my shower using a container to throw fresh water on my body and where I would wash my clothes by hands. Near el pozzo there are Lorenza (the mother) and her little girls Selina and lovely Aneliz.

1 comment:

  1. Volontariato = volontà, ma tanta anche! Impressive what you're doing there! And... you're completely crazy! No mosquito net? You couldn't buy any in Mexico City? Jesus Christ! I would have died! ;) I really, deeply admire you!