I left Oaxaca Sunday morning via what is called here a "Suburban," basically the term for van travel. Along with ten others, I took the two hour trip to Huajuapan, then changed for another Suburban for the two-and-a-half-hour trip to Juxtlahuaca.
On the second leg of the trip, I was alone with the driver, a guy in his early twenties who had recently returned from working construction and restaurant jobs near Stockton, California. Working 15 hours a day, Rodrigo Quiros told me he was able to send about $1,000 a month back to his wife and three children. "In one year, where I am going to earn $50,000 pesos around here? Not even in two or three years," he said.
Juxtlahuaca is the kind of place where worlds collide. There are at least ten internet cafes. There are also dogs barking from rooftops and piles of watermelon in the street. I am definitely the only American in town.
With the help of my journalist friends in Oaxaca, I arrived in Juxtlahuaca with the cell phone number of the president municipal here (the equivalent of the mayor). I left a message, but didn´t speak to him directly. Hours later, already settled into my hotel room and watching CSI en español, a little boy knocks on my door. My uncle is waiting for you downstairs, he tells me.
Before I know it, I am sitting in the living room of Carlos Martinez´home, along with about 20 members of his extended family. The main topic of conversation is the size of Mexican families, as more and more cousins trickle into the room and Martinez jokes about the number of pregnant women in his family.
He offers to drive me around town in his red pickup truck, pointing out the number of businesses that line the street here, many still open at 9:00 p.m. on Easter Sunday. "Look, another business, and another and another," he says. It is remarkable, especially considering that this area is one of the biggest source of migrants to the United States. Of course, that is exactly why so many small businesses are thriving here. "All of this comes from the migrants," Martinez says. "If it weren´t for them, none of this would be here."
Outside what looks like a small arena in the center of town, we drive by a line of men in the street. They are waiting for a cock fight to begin. A savvy politician, Martinez tells me I should bring my camera. We get out of the pickup and approach the men, but they say the fight between roosters won´t start for another two hours. Sort of relieved, I head back to the hotel.