Thursday, October 28, 2010

Looking for a pot of Gold? Perhaps a heart of Gold? Grandpa Pedro, Part 2

Don Pedro (centre) and his sister and brother - about 6 years ago
We all know legends about leprechauns and rainbows and pirates sailing the Caribbean in search of a hidden treasure, but have you ever met anyone who is really looking for hidden gold?  And I don't mean collectors who use metal detectors to find the next coin or artifact, I mean someone who really wants to find a real chest of gold and get rich from it.

Grandpa Pedro is one of those people.  He is authentically convinced that somewhere in the steep, narrow valley owns and lives in there is gold that was hidden during the Mexican Revolution, which began exactly 100 years ago.  Pockets of the revolution were still going on when he was born, but I guess by the time he was a child, legends of the recent Revolution and its upheaval were fresh in everyone's mind.  I can't comment on the plausibility of a rich estate owner coming to hide their gold in this very isolated  valley in the hills, but he is convinced that there is gold hidden there, and has searched all over for it.  From what I understand, many people in countryside areas used to hold similar hopes.

Grandpa Pedro's Work

My wife's grandfather is a very hardworking man.  As I said in the last post about him, from what I understand, there hasn't been a day in his life that he woke up later than 6 in the morning.  His entire life, he has raised animals - cows, chickens, turkeys, goats, pigs among others - and grown crops including corn, beans and squash (a tradition that seems to be as old as the western world itself, and shared by native people throughout North America.)  He also has an orchard of plums, peaches, guavas and a number of other fruit which I have never seen in Canada, I wouldn't be able name.

My wife remembers him making her swing in the trees of the orchard, which had the added thrill of swinging out over a steeper drop! (Pretty much everything there is a hillside.)  She spend most of her childhood summer vacations at the farm, and would climb up into the trees to eat the fruit.  These memories of the time with her grandpa are among her fondest.

He also cares for the home's water supply, which is captured from rainwater in the concrete cistern which I mentioned in the post about homes in this valley, or brought through a hose from a nearby stream.

A Young Pedro Lopez, During His Military Service
I remember on my first visit, I was determined to help him with some of his work, so I joined him to walk out to spring the water was fed into a hose.  I was entirely useless.  Any kind of job on that farm are jobs that people are never taught; they learn them as children watching and participating.  Having to deal with an adult who would need to be "taught" these things was probably just absurd to him.  (It's like making "mole," a very delicious and traditional dish - all the old ladies know how to do it, but they wouldn't be able to produce a recipe; it's something they learned growing up in that setting.)  But Grandpa Pedro didn't seem to be bothered, and simply went about his business fixing something that he had fixed a thousand times before, telling me some stories about the farm along the way.  Once when I asked how I could help, he just kept explaining whatever it was he was explaining and finished the job.  It didn't look difficult, but I'm sure experience made it look easier than it was.

I would love to go during harvest or seeding time some time to work with him, but I would probably have to be insistent in having him show me how to do it.  The unfortunate part is that he does all of this alone, and right now he's getting to old to finish it all by himself.  In our modern society, people retire 25 years younger than he is right now.

Grandpa Pedro's Family

Why does he do it all alone?  Something that struck me about the place, only at the end of my second visit, is that there are no young men.  There are children, there are women of all ages, and there are old men, but there are very few males between the ages of 15 and 60.

At the end of my second visit, my wife and I stopped by her great aunt's house.  Her grandson was there working on the house.  I chatted with him in English, because he had been in Texas for the last 2 years, and for 4 years before that.  He had come back to see his wife, his 2 year-old daughter who he had never seen before, and to do some work on the house.  He was heading back again in 2 months.  I can't confirm, but I guess his wife would have been expecting again by the time he left.  That is where the young men are; in Texas, California and other parts of the U.S., working.

The young women have their children back in the village.  The one's who are lucky, get cheques sent in the mail. The one's who are luckier (in their own perspective) get to join their husbands in the U.S.

(Meeting these people first hand, knowing their history, and seeing their homes, I realize that U.S. policy makers, conservative and liberals alike, are 100% disconnected with the reality of these people, and are therefore incompetent to solve the problem of illegal immigration, which WILL continue despite any wall, despite Arizona's new, strict measures.  But I'll save the political commentary for another post.)

One unfortunate young lady, a great niece of Granda Pedro, who used to live on his farm and take care of both the old men (her grandfather and great uncle), was abandoned by her husband.  Later she had 3 other children by other men, but never again managed to find a stable relationship.  From what I understand, this kind of situation happens all to often.

This second cousin of my wife and her four daughters, who were the only rays of youth on this farm, have now left and live in the town.  The wife of the other cousin - the young man who works in Texas - also left for town with her child, leaving the great aunt alone.  The great aunt, who couldn't take care of herself alone, moved down into the valley so her two brother could take care of her.  This is Grandpa Pedro's family now - his brother and his sister, all three of them getting up their in years.  So, the crop usually gets left at least partly unharvested, and it becomes more and more difficult for them to manage.

As I mentioned the last post, when I heard about the pleasure Grandpa Pedro had in buying a new turkey, and taking care of the recently hatched chicks, I can see that the joy of life hasn't left him.  I'm also amazed that he is putting the effort to care for his aging sister when he himself needs care, or at least help in getting the work done.  I'm amazed by how much passion he has for life at his age.

For the moment, that's all I have to write.  My wife could write a book, I'm sure.  And I'm sure I'll think of more with time.  In April, we want to go visit again.  We're both eager to go back.

1 comment:

  1. I love this story, It´s true, my most beautiful childhood memories are about my grandpa