Michel Pellanders - Mexico


Don Antonio has a temporary job overseeing the laying of a new water pipeline in his village. This enables him to work from home and yet have a steady, although temporary income. His ideal is to move to town and build a stone house for his wife and two young children there. Now and then he goes to Cancun to work as a bricklayer. A new life is beginning to take shape in his mind. He wants to learn to read and write well, maybe even to speak English.
Don Antonio wants to leave his small village in the heart of Yucatan. His dreams sometimes cause him to rebel. His small house is furnished with a cupboard, a pile of boxes, and two hammocks, but it is too hot to live there. In the backyard there's an open hut, roomy, cool, and run down. His son Arturo is naughty all day long, sometimes emptying a sack of flour over his head, dancing around with one foot in a sack of maize, dragging inside a chicken by the tail, or teasing the little pig.

From white clouds of dust odd fantastic cars appear; anything that has wheels can go, and many people jump on. The bus transports people and animals along wet roads and sand tracks, through mountainous areas and meadows. Driving across straight roads is like making time stand still. The bus rambles on. Between shoes grey with dust there are sacks and boxes. Plastic boots steam among restless feet. The light comes up slowly. The wet forests are closed, hiding small houses and sometimes even a complete village. Barefoot people carry their luggage wrapped in towels on their head. A man with sharply chiseled features jumps on the bus, and his son accompanies him with a machete on his hips. He is only half as big but is clearly his son. A woman with black braids sits down, a baby sleeping in a sling tied to her. A bag, a basket, a chicken, and another child are next to her. The bus goes along on its way.

The subway tubes under construction, filled with muddy water, look like a still life of transcendence and decay. Human refuse is pressed tight on all sides. A forgotten doll floats about with its legs in the air, next to a rocking horse. A dog and a pig are in a state of decomposition. Up above, on the edge, live people, within cardboard walls under a tin roof, and above them grow cactus or maize plants. The oldest buses can be seen in this district, patched until they fall apart completely. They create an impermeable cloud of sand where people are only shadows. There is no running water, no electricity, and garbage is never collected. On 12 December people go to church to pray to the holy virgin, the Virgen de Guadeloupe, for help. They beg her to improve Mexico's economy, and to help their family. Outside, a man tries to sell his magic, but today his price is too high and the Virgen is too close.

Text: Marion Hoekveld