Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Family History and El Rancho

All my ranch pictures are at the beginning, so I´m going to start with that (yesterday). We met Cecilio and Guadalupe on Friday. Cecilio is Edgar´s dad´s second cousin. His grandpa (also Cecilio) was shot when he was in his early 30´s. Cecilio´s dad was his only child. Edgar did the temple work already for Cecilio Sr. This Cecilio lives on a ranch, Yerba Buena. They invited us to come today. Edgar´s dad was driving out that way yesterday, so we went yesterday. It was better because we didn´t have to get the kids out of school. Cecilio and Lupe were not expecting us, but they dropped everything, called their kids to come. They all live close-by and share an outdoor shower and toilet. The women got making tortillas. They grow the corn that they grind to make the maza for their tortillas and they make tortillas every day. They were the best tortillas I´ve ever had. Edgar´s dad took steak and Cecilio started a fire and started grilling it. They had beans and homemade salsa and their own homemade queso fresco--cheese. It was heavenly. They have cows and chickens and dogs and cats--there was even a dead lizard (the kind you eat, Edgar told me--who knew you eat lizards?) that the kids liked playing with. They live right by a river and they swim in it, only when it´s hot. We were dying--sweating like crazy. I touched the water. It was warmer than Boulder Creek on its hottest day. They let us swim, but only if I got the kids heads wet (to prevent coughing). I didn´t understand how those two were related, but Edgar told me just to do it. I didn´t put water on my own head, but I did the kids. The funny thing is, that last night, in bed, I kept coughing. None of the kids did.

We had a great time. We were there about 4 hours and they acted like they had nothing to do but entertain us. They were so kind and so self-sufficient! I was really impressed and told Lupe so. She said she can do a lot of things, but she never learned to read. Her grand-daughter was there. She´s only 16, but she quit school after 7th grade. I don´t know why. Their school there goes to 9th grade.

Swimming in the river. Until 15 years ago, they didn´t have electricty or plumbing. Lupe washed clothes and children in this river. She has 8 kids!

The dead lizard. (We didn´t eat it.)

Most of the family that was there.
Their living room--a little blurry. It´s full of Lupe´s handiwork. She gave me a table runner she´d just finished to remember her by. She is so kind.

We gals in the kitchen (though I had nothing to contribute to the meal).

Cows here.

Lupe was very concerned about the safety of the children.
Cecilio barbequing.

There are amazing flowers all around their house. I love this picture of Marcos.

The outside of the house.
We had a wonderful time there. I felt like I´d stepped back in time. All the ancestors I´ve been researching lived on ranches. Now I feel like I know what their lives were like (a little).

We have been on the go. Friday we ate at Edgar´s dad´s again. We ate fish (people are very strict about not eating meat on Fridays here). The fish was looking at me, but it tasted very good. We met Rafael´s second cousin, Cecilio, and his wife, María Guadalupe.
We also drove around the outskirts of El Grullo. We saw sugar cane fields. The kids loved it because Edgar let them sit in the back of the truck.

On Saturday we went to El Limón--the town where Edgar´s dad grew up and where I´ve found the most family history information. We started out at the cemetery. It was kind of disappointing. When I was at home I thought that if I could only be here where all these people are buried (I have copies of the death certificates saying they are buried here), maybe I could find out more about them--like when they were married and when they were born. I realize now I was thinking of the well-groomed and thorough cemeteries we visit on Memorial Day in the Salt Lake Valley.

Here (and I guess anywhere) the quality of the grave depends on several things--how long ago the person died, how much money the family had then and how much they have now. There are all extremes.
I was standing in the same place when I took these pictures. The above grave is a mini church. It has names on it. The one below has some bricks holding the tin down. There are no names.

About half the graves are unmarked and when we got there, Edgar told me that his dad had heard that some of the family had extricated (is that the right word?) some of the older dead family members to make room for new ones. I still can´t believe that would be true. I think folks here respect their dead more than that. I started on one end and Edgar started on the other. We were looking for his great-grandparents, some of their children who died, and maybe even his great-great grandparents. We found nothing. It was hot and humid. Our kids were hungry and tired. I felt defeated. We went to visit Edgar´s dad´s cousin--María del Refugio Cobián.

She was darling. She never married and she runs her own little shop in the town. She has cancer and has been pretty sick off and on for the last 6 years. She didn´t have much information for us, but she did remember her grandparetns. She said her grandpa was a grump, but that her grandma was a dear woman. I said, "Isn´t that always the way?" No offense to anyone intended. She said we should visit another woman (Rafael´s cousin on his mom´s side) who might know a lot.

This other cousin owns a store too. We went there, but she had gone to Guadalajara for the day. Her two sons were there. We told them who we were. I tried to buy chips and bananas for the kids, but they insisted on giving them to us for free. We´re cousins, after all. They directed us to their aunt--Edgar´s paternal grandma´s neice, Tía Trini. She was great. She has 10 kids and there were grandchildren all over the place. She made each of them come and shake our hands because we are their tíos. Our kids were outside playing with her grandkids. A aldy came buy selling something. She couldn´t see Edgar and me, but she talked to Tía Trini.

She said, "Who are these white kids?"

Tía Trini said, "Part of my family, that´s who."

"Well, why are they so white?"

"That´s just the way they are and they´re part of my family!"

She had valuable information for us. She told me where Edgar´s grandma was born. I hadn´t been able to find her. She said that the family had to move around a lot in those days because it was during the Mexican Revolution.

Next we went to the convent in El Limón to visit Rafael´s cousin, Elvira. She is a nun. I wasn´t sure if the kids could go in. The only convent I´ve been in was in Poland I didn´t have kids with me. The sister that opened the door was so kind and welcoming to our kids. She took us into a garden area. Edgar couldn´t remember Elvira´s name to ask for her, but I did. When she came, she looked confused.

She didn´t know us. Her mom is the last surviving child of her generation. She´s had a stroke and if not doing too well. Elvira takes care of her in the convent most of the time, but that day she was in Aútlan at the hospital. She told us she´d call when her mom is back so we could visit her. I told her I wanted to find out about her grandparents´birthdates. She told me she could go to the civil registry on Monday (yesterday) and get me copies of their birth certficates because they were registered in El Limón. She was such a dear woman, and seemed to be a pure, kind soul. The convent sells bread to make money. She gave the kids some. We were about to leave, and I asked her if she knew where her grandparents are buried in the cemetery. She did! She told us they are near where her sister is buried, so she knows. She said they are simple crosses, about in the middle of the upper section of the cemetery. I was so excited. We went back to the cemetery and looked and looked. There were a lot of unmarked crosses, or crosses where the writing has been worn off. The care-taker was there. He hasn´t worked there long, so he didn´t know where everything was. He was really old and he knew Edgar´s great-grandpa. He said he knows all his kids and grandkids too. He showed us one of Edgar´s great uncle´s graves. It was nice, but didn´t have a name anywhere. Weird. He didn´t know where Edgar´s great-grandparents are buried. We were all exhausted, hungrgy, sweaty, and really hot. Edgar promised me we´d return, and we came back to El Grullo.

A few other random pictures
¨Sunday night at the Plaza.

Another Tía. I don´t even remember her name.
Rubén and his finished homework. He obviously did the work himself. He was proud of it. I hope the teacher will be pleased. I saw another little one´s homework yesterday and it was obviously done by her mom.
Clean clothes! We finally broke down and paid to have our non-white clothes washed yesterday. It cost about $15 for three loads and we´re thrilled. After all, we are on vacation. Who has time for laundry?


Leigh said...

Oh, Olivia, I love love love reading your posts from Mexico! What a wonderful, trying, tiring, and fun experience. I will keep your family history search in my prayers.

Thelma said...

I love reading your posts. I miss you. I think I want to paint the entire inside of my house bright blue. I love those pictures! Good luck with your family history search. I'm glad you got your laundry washed off campus.

And your kids are adorable.

(and so are you)


Deseret Johnson said...

It's so nice to see the pictures and read about you. You always said Edgar was a city kid but he definitely has country roots. Today it is very snowy. School (in Wells, not ours) was cancelled. Hyrum sighed and said, "I wish Lili could be here to see this snow!" This is Marianne

Britta said...

I love your posts from Mexico. I'm impressed that you're keeping it updated along the way instead of waiting 'til you get home.
I can't wait to read more!
You're kids are so cute and growing up so fast.