HEART OF MEXICO
By Dianne Solís
Some 3,000 years ago, in the Yucatan peninsula, bees held a perch so elevated in Maya culture they had their own god, Ah Mucen Cab.
Today, bees help tether modern Maya beekepers like David Carrillo and Raymundo Leal to the earth around the village of Tunkas, a town of contrasts carved from the greenest of jungles. But honey harvesting has a competing industry around here, migration.
Our Heart of Mexico team explored migration stories of indigenous Maya people, what keeps some tied to their lands and how leaving tears at the identity of others from the poor but gloriously color-drenched Tunkas.
The migrants seek work in the larger cities of Merida and Playa del Carmen on the peninsula, or as far as Anaheim, California and Carrollton, Texas. Industrious, like the bees, they struggle to provide for their families.
"Many recreate themselves, for better or for worse, in the dreamscape of America. Others find the strain on their sense of fatherhood, of motherhood, of family, immense. "
“They told us to hold hands and never let go,” recounts Betty Uicab, speaking of her crossing with her mother into the United States at the age of six.
It’s a refrain threading through all the Heart of Mexico tales of ordinary people caught in the extraordinary upheaval of migration. People do let go, and then try to recapture their families.
Betty came to the Dallas area and saturated herself in its trendy, consumer culture. Deportation yanked her into a very old, Mexican narrative: ni de aquí, ni de allá — not from here, not from there.
Some bond their families in weekend games of baseball in a team called Warriors on a fine field with cement bleachers built from migrant earnings. Others found they returned to face resentful families with little girls like Carolina and Lucely Madero asking tough questions.
Zenaido Parra, recognized as Tunkas’ first migrant, honored his dying wife Matilde’s last wish to be buried back home, but once the sad deed was complete he packed his suitcase for the journey out of Mexico.
Raul Borges cast himself into the migration cycle with his young wife, Lourdes, wondering if her husband would abandon their son as her husband’s father had done years back to his son.
Rosario Leon, a mother of seven known as La Madre de Los Texanos, regrets marching off to the Dallas area. The price was deportations, a divided family and tormented allegiances.
"Our teams gave migration and Maya culture an examination that both celebrates endurance, and drips with melancholy for what’s lost."
We hope you enjoy these rich tales by our storytellers from two countries as they unreel cinema deep in the Yucatan. Our teams gave migration and Maya culture an examination that both celebrates endurance, and drips with melancholy for what’s lost. Listen closely. You may even hear the buzz of the spirit of Mexico’s great scribe and ghost-chaser Juan Rulfo, author of Pedro Paramo.