Leona Vicario, Mexico is a small town of around 10,000. That makes it just about the size of my home town. According to our trusty guide Rob, the Mayans have started moving to more modern small towns so that their children can go to government schools and learn Spanish. The native Mayan language is totally unrelated to Spanish and knowing only it means linguistic isolation from the rest of Mexico as well as the world at large. Leona Vicario has also just begun to look for tourist income and the residents are building a new palapa in the town center to serve as a visitor and craft center.
We stopped first at a small market area where we saw a small tortilla factory (the sign out front called it a tortileria). After we had a sample of their freshly produced wares we walked over to get some fresh squeezed orange juice from another vendor.
|Native Mayans are fairly short and Christian (in red hat) is a good head taller.|
Our route through the town took us down typical streets where people were going about their normal routines of hanging out laundry, shopping in the market, or escorting children home from school.
One of our stops was at the home of a young woodworker and his family. He constructed his two lathes out of spare parts and now turns out mortars and pestles, bowls, pots, and vases. His sons have started to help at an early age. We admired the work ethic, but with no child labor laws or OSHA regulation here, the homemade machinery has no protective coverings and noone wears eye goggles.
There were lots of kids everywhere we went and as usual they were curious, coy, and always cute.
With our town tour complete we piled back into our van and headed for a home-cooked Mayan meal at the Cenote Las Majarras. You don't know what a Cenote is? Well we'll tell you and show you in the next entry.