The move to a new homeland.
I can't say the government has been very helpful in finding these people a new place to go to. In fact , the government has actually done NOTHING in the 6 to 8 months the Huichols have been at Campamento to further that. But Yahweh continues to work His miracles for His people.
Pastor Dagoberto happened to come in contact with a young man named Abraham who happens to be the head honcho for the EJIDALES land for the reservoir basin above Aguamilpa in the adjoining state of Nayarit. This land is also inhabited by Huichols but comes under government law instead of reservation law as in their other location. Abraham is very young to have such responsibility, early thirties at the oldest, I would guess. I have his picture posted in the pics section. Abraham is a good man, a gentle man, softly spoken, with a big heart. I liked him a lot. Such patience. He had a hard time understanding the religious persecution issue, didn't make sense to him in this day and age, but said he would talk with the Ejidales council and see if they could find a spot for them. The Aguamilpa reservoir basin is huge, 50 miles long from one end to the other with many fingers branching out both sides. I consider it very sparcely populated because of the lack of flat land to occupy. Everything has steep banks. With but a couple exceptions, stick built shacks are all I see for houses. But it IS loaded with fish. It is one of the staples we ate there for the four days I was there this trip.
We had tortillas and beans for one meal and tortillas and boiled fish for another, tortillas and boiled potatoes for yet another, and tortillas and boiled eggs (which were the best I thought) for yet another. They eat two meals a day; one early morning and another late afternoon. Although I had extra junk food with me, I let myself experience firsthand how others live and ate what they ate. The women are very quick at making the tortillas. They use 2/3rds Maseca (corn flour with lime in it), and 1/3 Harina (wheat flour) and water; that's it. And they warm them up on a 55 gallon barrel lid over an open fire and they are really good. We also had tomatoes, onions and cilantro with them. And only tepid water from the spring to drink.
Interesting to note on this diet. There is very little feces produced. I normally go poop three times a day. I went one whole day there without going at all and only once a day the rest of the time. When I got home I took my blood pressure reading and it was 131/61 which is very very low for me. What do these guys know about diet that we don't? Hey, one of our members is supposedly 101 years old - doesn't look a day over 80, and HE beat me up the steep hill to the upper spring. That was rather humiliating.
Abraham came back from the council meeting and
said they could have a section of land at the upper end of the basin where there
was a spring and a
flat plateau for farming. It also has a river drainage basin with lots of rocks, gravel and sand for mortar and concrete, close access to the reservoir, is an excellent fishing area, has lots of wood for fires; and to me, after visiting the place for four days, is one of the most desirable pristine places of the whole area.
At first I wondered how they could just dump them
off in a place like that.
Steep, steep, steep. But they all seemed happy about it. Dagoberto says I should have seen where they came from before. I didn't have the "before" perspective, although I had been to their area. Anyway I wasn't impressed at first, but that changed over the course of the next four days. The potential for a thriving community there is great. My first concern was water. At 1231' , which is the elevation at the reservoir, it is hot there. Can't use the reservoir water without some serious filtration. A good filtration unit is one of our first priorities. There was supposed to be a spring there up the riverbed a ways. They dropped us off with one 5 gallon container of water for all thirteen of us and I was putting water down by the liter. We found the lower spring but only found stagnant pools of water. Then we started clearing away dead banana plants and mango leaves and found the muddiest place and started digging. I found one dribbler that filled my one liter bottle in about 5 minutes and the rest of the guys started working on a hole about 6 feet lower down and said they had a clear stream coming into it; sort of. After they bailed it all out, sure enough clear water was filling it back up. They set a 500' black plastic hose in it that went back to basecamp, but couldn't make the siphon work but were able to fill the 5 gallon plastic bottle with a scoop bottle. I tried to make the siphon work also but couldn't until I explored the whole route and discovered a down and up that had too much up in it. I squared that away and bingo we had water at basecamp; under pressure even.
Just had to be careful and not take too much at any one time to break the
siphon. Next morning the pool was dirty again. I established an outflow to
the small pool and it then cleared up again; we're talking a fragile ten to
twenty gallon pool here. The outflow looks like it is flowing about a liter
a minute which is good enough for drinking water and domestic purposes.
The downside is that the pool is on the edge of the stream that comes down with the gullywhumpers in another 3 months when rainy season starts. On our next trip we will encourage some river rock relocation so we can rechannel the main stream to hopefully bypass the spring pool.
Abraham, the Ejidale head honcho who got the
Huichols this piece of real
estate says the river doesn't get that big, but from the looks of the size of riverbed left, I would not conclude that. A thirty to fifty foot wide riverbed must have a good chunk of water that comes down it. And I've been in gullywhumpers in Guadalajara during rainy season driving down the streets two feet deep in water.
We hiked up to the upper spring a couple thousand feet higher, but can see
no flow it in, just a big puddle of water. We didn't take time to clean that one
out and establish a flow rate but will in a succeeding trip.
The upper spring's importance as well as the river itself which will flow during rainy season, relates to the plateau area, a flat area about 200 vertical feet above reservoir level, where they can grow a huge garden and plant trees and is the area where eventually they will establish most of their housing. There are plenty of small trees and dead wood all over the hillsides for many years of campfire building to come.
The reservoir is very warm, close to 78-80 degrees. It was interesting to
have such a large swimming pool 20' from my tent. AND, where the river
canyon dumps into the reservoir is a huge sand and gravel bar for all the
materials necessary to make slabs and rock walls. They just need cement and lime for mortar mix.
They kept talking about these Lobino and Mahri fish but the net they were using
wouldn't catch anything so Abraham told Dagoberto and I where to go in Tepic
to find this fisherman who makes these and we did that . This little 15 year
old kid walks out to knee deep water with it and throws this 8' net out ,
pulls it in and lo and behold 3 good sized smallmouthed bass are in it. Practically everytime he throws it out he catches either small mouthed bass or crappie. One of the crappie was a 2 pounder. Do you know how many people would pay good money to come sport fish here? The Huichols have a tourist business bigtime if they wanted to pursue it. One of the boats at the ramp at the dam had Americans in it with huge tackle boxes, expensive fishing poles, and patches all over their shirts and caps showing they were professional bass fisherman from the states. I spoke with them and they said this is one of THEE best bass lakes in Mexico. Not only does that relate to a good important protein element to the food supply for the Huichols, but a tourist income should they ever choose to pursue that.
Our next step is to get a latrine (outhouse ) established. That's not as easy
as it sounds because of Huichol tradition. Everyone likes to find a hole on their own where there is no smell. Outhouses smell. In other Huichol land, the government built them toilets and showers and they wouldn't use them. A starved dog or pig followed them out into the toolies where they went bathroom and cleaned up after them. Toilets are not traditional with these people; neither are showers when there is a river nearby. There is going to have to be some give and take here to keep the area pristine.
Next priority is a flat slab, like 16' x 32', for a single structure they can all get in under before raining season starts, down by the river camp, before ever pursuing packing stuff up to start work on the plateau.
The government , keep in mind this is election year here and they needed some attaboy stuff to get elected, has supposedly decided to ante up beans, rice, wheat flour, corn flour and sunflower seeds to no income people like these people so they don't starve. Our Huichol group made front page in the newspaper lately on this issue. Dagoberto is checking into the reality of this now, but it would certainly narrow down what we have had to provide to them, to now just things like oranges, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, potatoes, etc. until we can get the garden going there. There is no freezing there, so they should be able to garden 365 days a year.
But our primary need right now is two boats. A small one, like 10' to 12'
like a flat bottom Jon boat so they can fish close to where they are. And a
21' or larger with a good motor on it to go the 25 miles to the end of the reservoir where we bring food and materials in. The boat keepers there charge us $40US for one trip up and back which is a lot of dinero. But there are no roads anywhere within this basin; it is all travel by boat.
We still need donations; but now for things like
the boats, a good generator, a few power tools, roofing and construction
materials, cement, and maybe a deepwell submersible pump to pump water from the
reservoir to the plateau.
Reporting live from Mexico - see pics below
Hold your mouse arrow over the picture for the caption
page 7 pics