We headed southeast on a highway going toward Maxcanu. Instead of entering Maxcanu, we turned off on a secondary road just beforehand and drove into another era. The road was one lane, just as all the State roads used to be, and just as before, when you encountered another vehicle, one of you had to pull off to the side and stop to let the other through. There wasn’t much traffic.
We turned down a minor road. A battered sign said “San Fernando” and the small village was adjacent to a ruined hacienda that is surely more stupendous in its current state than it ever could have been when it was new. There is so little of it left, that we were surprised to hear that the Owner, who lives in Merida, was trying to sell it.
Some of the local residents had moved into corners of the hacienda wreckage, which is unusual because villagers usually avoid the haciendas. However, in this case, the owner was engaged in kicking them out, having them destroy the lean-tos they had built, apparently wanting the place to look more pristine.
Perhaps the owner can picture the pool and gift shop here.
In all fairness, there us an unusually small, deteriorating Casa Principal a bit away from these structures. It is soundly locked. Perhaps it has a few intact rooms, but it is notably unnatractive.
Here is a part of the hacienda where an older woman lives.
This is one of those villages where it is hard to understand how anyone makes a living of any kind. I asked a woman whether there was a school there and she was vague. There is no medical facility – you have to go to Maxcanu. I’m trying to remember whether there were any vehicles in San Fernando. There are no stores, no businesses.
Further down this empty road was another, more contemporaray ruin, fenced off with barbed wire.
Another 15 minutes down this road we found a treasure of a village, which shall remain nameless. It was like the places we saw twenty-five years ago. People looked healthy and were smiling. There was a lot of pride in the houses, which some of the home-owners had made themselves. It’s amazing what a difference a few miles can make. I imagine it has a lot to do with ejidal laws and how they are bent, giving absentee “landlords” dominion over space that could be used to good advantage.
At this point, the editing function of iPhoto has ground to a halt, but I am putting in un-edited pictures anyway. I think some, like the one below, look kind of cool.
When I started seeing some of the magnificently made pole and thatch houses, I almost screamed. They haven’t been making these new since forever. Since “the hurricane” when many were destroyed all over the peninsula, about 99% of these lovely buildings, which know how to breathe, to absorb wind, and to keep bodies venilated, were replaced by those abominable concrete block houses, which “the government” slapped together quickly to provide people with shelter. It is highly unusual to come across a community where these skills are still being practiced.
The boy in the picture below is Miguel. His grandfather, standing shyly in back of him, made these walls himself.