At 7:15 a.m. seven of us left Los Barriles in Russett’s car and our truck to make the trip to Todos Santos. We were a group of 5 women and 2 men, all Canadian or U.S. gringos except Sylvia, a Costa Rican woman who lives here in Los Barriles. We stopped at the bakery in El Triunfo for coffee, then continued on to Todos Santos, a 2-hour drive away. We picked up Olivia, our “guide” for the day, then went to a local grocery store to purchase about $70 worth of food and basic household goods (soap, toilet paper, etc) to contribute to the women in whose homes we were to visit. We spent the next hour driving up a rough dirt road to the community of Horconcitas.
At 11:30 we arrived at the home of Amelia and Kayla. Their home is ringed by gorgeous vistas of the surrounding mountains, is lush with plants, trees and flowers, and is extremely basic by modern standards. Amelia and Kayla are a mother and daughter, ages 73 and mid-50s. One of Kayla’s sons lives just down the hill, a daughter lives near Todos Santos and works in the construction industry, and a 9-year-old grandson works as a fisherman(boy) in the town of El Pescadero near Todos Santos. Amelia and Kayla have lived alone in their home since Amelia’s husband died 6 years ago. Amelia was born and raised in this home, as was Kayla. Amelia’s grandfather first established the home 133 years ago and lived there all his life, dying 23 years ago at the age of 110. There are 2 stand-alone bedrooms with full-size walls built of concrete block, palapa-style roofs, and windows with shutters but no glass. The rest of the house is open with posts, palapa-style roofs and half-height or no walls. The only power source is a solar panel, slightly smaller than the one we have on our RV. It powers a couple of lights and a mixer/blender. We were told the government supplied them with the solar panel and that it has the capacity to power a TV, but they don’t own one. The photos will tell the rest of the story about the house and yard.
Shortly all 10 of us sat down to lunch with freshly made tortillas, the machaca and veggie mix, beans, and coffee or damiana tea. It was delicious!!! Well, actually Bob thought the coffee was awful. It was made by heating water over the fire with lots and lots of sugar added, then poured through a cotton sleeve over the coffee. Way too sweet! Throughout our meal, we asked questions, they told stories, and Olivia translated as needed. What a delightful time! Kayla wouldn’t let us do the dishes, so we retired to the living room to plow through bags of clothes several of the women in our group purchased at a garage sale in Los Barriles last weekend. Amelia and Kayla selected the items they thought they could use, and the remainder were re-bagged for distribution to 2 other households on our drive back down out of the mountains.
We were struck by the friendliness, open and sharing attitude, self-sufficiency and strength of these two women. They live an extraordinarily simple life by modern standards. They have a cistern fed by a stream for their water. They cook over open fire. They have an outhouse and modern, if simple, beds with sheets and blankets, furnishings and dishes, pots and pans. They have goats and cows. They make cheese once each year and roast their own coffee beans.
The day provided an extraordinary glimpse into the life of women who are not “just like us” in terms of how they live, but somehow managed to seem “just like us” in a remarkable number of ways. We joked around (including risqué references to fabric coffee cones that look like large condoms), laughed and hugged. Altogether it felt like a day of “connection” that is hard to come by when you’re just a tourist.