08 November 2011

The dogs don't bite. Not if you kick them first. He'd heard that some people kept dogs as friends, in their homes and fed them. But here, they just shredded trash and fought among themselves. They also loved to transfer bad things to people. Sometimes it was something fairly normal like fleas or lice, but occasionally it was rabies from a bite. Manuel had seen it before. Usually, when a rabid dog was noticed, the mayor of the village was notified. He was the only one with a gun. But once a rabid dog bit a little girl. Her mother was worried, but didn't know what to do. The girl's leg healed, but several months later, she got sick and Manuel had heard rumors that she'd died grotesquely. Death was normal to him though. Two of his own younger siblings had not lived to one year old. This was so common as to be almost expected, therefore neither of them had been named.

Manuel remembered one of them, the other had only been two years younger than himself and he'd heard about him from Tiwe, his older sister. The one he remembered was a girl, she'd been very vocal and active at the beginning, but had become sick from water. She then just wasted away silently. The smell is what he remembered most. Diarrhea. Death. He'd tried to spend most of his time out of doors, helping father in the field.

The corn was life. They ate it. They sold it. And they drank it. Without corn, nearly every small Raramuri village in the Copper Canyon would disappear. Only those along the railway would survive, due to tourism.

Manuel helped his father by building up berms of rocky soil against the newly sprouted corn. water was directed into the channel between these berms, if there was water. Some years the small creek all but dried up and they had to hope and pray for rain. Some years they went hungry.

I could keep writing about the basic life of the Tarahumara/Raramuri, but I feel it's a bit redundant. I'll return to Manuel at a later date. If you want to read more about them I can send you an essay I wrote in college.

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