Saturday, December 20, 2008

Lost in the Yucatan

This is a portrait that I made of Don Miguel and his family in 1995. We met Don Miguel on one of our visits to the Yucatan in a tiny village just outside of Merida on the libre road between Merida and Cancun in maybe 1992 or 1993.

On the right-hand side of the road I saw a tiny church so of course we pulled off the road and bounced over the rutted path back to the church. It looked well tended while the hacienda ruins behind it did not. We got out of the car and walked past the dogs and chickens and into the little church which was little more than a chapel and then back out again and over to the ruins of the hacienda. It was a small hacienda with some portals. Most of the roof was missing but you could still see some of the "wall-paper-like" painting on the walls. I took some pictures of the hacienda. When we came back to the front of the hacienda we realized that there was henequen drying on lines strung across a field and then a shed where some men were tying and stacking the henequen.

We went back into the church and there was a man cleaning up in the church. Ned asked him if I could make some pictures in the church and he said yes. My camera was on the tripod and I shot some images and then we asked him if I could make a picture of him.

Over the next few years we stopped several times in this village and visited with Don Miguel and his family. One year they invited us to have comida with them during Day of the Dead. What I'm telling you is that we knew this village but on our recent trip to the Yucatan we could not find it. It was so small that it was not on any map. It was just a few houses on the side of the road where the hacienda was and a few more on the other side of the libre road. I don't think we ever even saw a name for the village. Still we knew it was between Kanasin and another small village that started with Pech??? and we found that village but not Don Miguel's village.

Everywhere we went in the Yucatan there has been so much widening of roads, building new roads, changing access roads that we were disoriented much of the time. In Tizimin, in Ticul, in Valladolid large parts of the town were torn up as new utility lines were being laid and new roads built. The old two narrow lane libre roads were widened and tied in to cuota roads. Overpasses were built to cross over the highways. And somewhere in these civic improvement projects Don Miguel and his village were lost in the Yucatan.


Islagringo said...

How sad! I know a lot of the changes on the libre road were a direct result of Wilma's devastation. Parts of that road were so far underwater that entire villages were lost, next to the road and in the surrounding areas. Just obliterated off the map. Maybe Don Miguel's village was one of these.

glorv1 said...

What a wonderful picture of Don Miguel and his family. So true to life. How sad that you could no longer find them. Merry Christmas Billie. Take care.

Steve Cotton said...

Billie -- I always enjoy your photographs -- and try to learn something new from each. But your commentary in this post is literally stunning. Thank you for helping to warm this snowy afternoon.

Nancy said...

I think this is another reason to always take the time to appreciate the moment.

I'm sure Don Miguel and his family are out there, enjoying their new location, and once in a while I imagine they wonder if people are wondering where they are.

And we are.