A Note from Austin

Hey!! I love you guys so much and miss you more and more every day. I’m in the city for a day doing some research stuff and there’s INTERNET! I don’t have much time so I have to keep it brief, but next week is midterm so i will get a chance to call you.

I’m living in the most beautiful community in the world. That’s not an exaggeration either. The community is called Santa Maria Mixistlan and it’s a small fully indigenous Mixe pueblo lodged in the side of a dramatic mountain about 4 and a half hours outside of civilization. Just to give you an idea of how cut off it is, they don’t know what Facebook or google is, and have never been on the Internet.

The community is very rural and I’m one of the first white people to ever visit there so they were very nervous about me for the first few days, but since then I have fully integrated myself into the community and I couldn’t be happier. I hand wash my clothes, kill chickens, shit in a latrine, etc. Admittedly the culture shock was extreme and very difficult the first night but it passed quickly and I’m so happy here now. The local youth there love me and LOVE to play with the gymnastic rings I use to work out. We have 3 hours of structured interactions/ discussions with youth every weekday. Our “project” is the construction of a recycling/ trash disposal system that the whole community can use.

My host family is great, I eat home made tortillas every meal of the day, food is cooked in tin hits cooked over a fire. Almost everything they eat was picked or killed right there. I haven’t gotten sick either which is soooo great because other volunteers are really struggling.

Every day my partner Cesar and I hike to the top of the mountain to read and reflect for a few hours. The community is so isolated that they have maintained their simple lifestyle for the most part. The call themselves the community that was never conquered. Many wake up at 4am to take a bus to the city every day, and probably 10 percent of all males try to go to the United States for work. For everyone on the community Mixe is their first language. Where we are is strangely similar looking to the Andes. It’s breathtaking. Attached are some pics, but it’s impossible to actually understand how beautiful where I am actually is without seeing it firsthand.

The head project supervisor Mack is extremely well educated on Latin America studies/ immigration/ indigenous cultures and has given me TONS of readings on the subjects. I read all the time and I’m becoming very well versed on the subject matter. The community is an ideal place to research migration, many of the males that currently live their have been deported or failed to cross. Poverty and alcoholism are prevalent realities in the community, a full days work in the Campo pays less than 10 dollars. Still, they are all active, always smiling, and have more than enough despite their lack of money.

Attached are some pics. I love you guys so so much.