San Miguel Cajonos, Oaxaca. Mexico
It is much easier to tell people that I am from Mexico City than to tell them I am from Oaxaca or even say "San Miguel" - There are probably hundreds of towns in all of Mexico with the name of a very revered Archangel. Saying Mexico City then is much easier to explain and some will know of the city because of a layover there or trips in past times.
I was born in this town in 1965. (You do the math). A town high up in the Sierra Madre where the fog envelops the mountains from early in the morning and you are truly awoken by the far cry of roosters and dogs.
Modern times have arrived along with the dollar remittances from places as far as California, Minnesota and New York.Yet, the town still holds a tight grip on some people that year after year, documents or no documents, return to pay their homages to the Virgin or to San Miguel, who dutifully watches over his flock.
I lived here for only a short period of my life. From birth to about my 6th year of life. I remember many people along its muddy streets during the rainy season. Streets that are now covered with concrete but still get flooded with rain.
My father at the time was the only one of the siblings who did not emigrate to Mexico City like his brothers, perhaps because he was the only one who was married then and with kids. Eventually we'd all move to the big city to join my uncles.
While growing up there, I also remember trips to the fields of corn along with my grandfather or with other relatives. Harvest time required all family and extended family members to join in.
My first language is not Spanish but rather the indigenous Zapotec of which exist many variations even from one town to the next. I was introduced to Spanish when I began attending our local elementary school, General Ignacio Zaragoza. (Big building in center of picture). I still remember my first teacher and perhaps of many in mine and other generations. Don Bernabe Crisantos.
It's been many years since I left, not just there but also Mexico City where I truly grew up. Even though more than half my life has been spent here in the Estados Unidos, that pull still exists and whether it is through pictures or stories of others, I relieve my infancy with each word or Images from San Miguel Cajonos.
(Thanks to my cousin Fernando Zarate for the pictures of his recent trip.)