Nobody Home!


In village after village we´ve talked with young men who are home just for a month (for the holidays) from their work in the US. It seems everyone is working "on the other side," as they refer to it.

In Angahuan, the village of only 2000 people by the volcano Paricutín, 61-year-old Marcos told us about his 8-month work stint in Virginia, at a factory with 300 other folks from the same town. To enter the US he had to travel to Tijuana, walk a day and a night to cross over, then made his way to Madera, Californa, and got a cross-country ride to his minimum-wage job in Virginia. Of course he sent most of his $6.75/hour home to his wife and family. How´d he do that?

In small town Lázaro Cárdenas, Jalisco, 20-something Luis explained to us (in English) why the village was deserted and the roads were so pleasantly calm. Almost everyone had already left to go back to work after their holidays. A week earlier, he explained, the plaza, now empty, was filled with cars - there was no place to park.

In Cotija, a surprisingly upscale town in a very backcountry part of Michoacan, we were surprised to see lots and lots of nice, fancy newish cars cruising the plaza, many with those incredibly loud sound systems and hard rap music. We asked our host at the hotel: All the young men are home from working in the US. Then we started noticing the license plates: Georgia, NY, Florida, New Jersey.

We only have to ask the effects on both our culture and theirs of such wholesale transplantation of a generation to "the other side."