Summer Wave in a Ghost Town

Summer Wave in a Ghost Town

By Carmen Rioja


The summer solstice brings us a heatwave, more rain, and days of fantastic landscapes with iridescent clouds and nuanced greens that cover the entire field. You have to get out of the city—out of the man’s cave, out of banal thoughts—and learn in nature, I told myself. And so, we organized a small outing on the road to Atotonilco in search of carpentry shops and old-fashioned ghost town-style shops.


We traveled several kilometers and saw many roof tiles, warehouses and sheds full of junk, interesting pieces of iron, quarry stone, or old wood. Sometimes a woodworking kitten or an old bathtub that had been converted into a pond is more surprising. On this occasion, the most impressive thing was to discover on one of the patios, a 3-meter-high cactus that seemed to open its thorns and stretch out to receive the drops of water from the sky.


That arid landscape of gray-dust huizaches where a month ago everything lay inert suddenly received a sign of a magic wand for transformation—summer storms.


As much as Father Luis Felipe Neri described it in the eighteenth century, “Atotonilco was, in its beginnings, like a wasteland, or desert, that only produced thorns. But our Merciful Sovereign God so that grace would abound, where guilt abounded, has made this desert an amen Parayso (sic).”


This has nothing to do with electoral times, which are the times of men, or with some religion, but with the four seasons; the cactus opens to receive and stretches looking for the light when it has grown under the branches of some huizache because it perceives that it is close to what it needs.


The right to grow and improve ourselves as individuals, to study, to educate ourselves, is one of the fundamental rights of human beings, adopted in the Political Constitution of the United States of Mexico in its third article. No one should renounce this right or be accused of selfishness for seeking its guarantee: Education will be based on unrestricted respect for the dignity of people, with a focus on human rights and substantive equality.


And in the International Charter of Human Rights of the United Nations, Article 26 says: “1. Everyone has the right to education…2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance, and friendship among all nations, racial, or religious groups, and shall further the activities of United Nations for the maintenance of peace.”


Peace—a fundamental right. Growing up free, with health protection, the right to a decent job, and the right to develop, seem easy to understand and achieve. We all agree. But the reality is much more complex. It surpasses fantasy and is more so in times of pandemic. Very few still have the fortune to enjoy all their rights, including those that the State is obliged to guarantee, such as the security and integrity of the person. However, this is not a reason to stop fighting together to make it so; there is no reason to be conformist. As long as we all help each other, we all improve. That is a rule of logic that does not require any political discourse.


In other parts of the country, Lacandon Maya communities propose to grow by weaving networks of support and citizen solidarity. Abandoned by all instances and lacking resources, they chose to embark on other lands to other worlds. They also build new ways of organizing on land, contributing to a progressive system of real and immediate well-being resulting from community union. And they out not to conquer the other, not to convince the other to be like them, but to find dialogue through the art of conversation. To ensure quality education together, they stretch out into the rain and grow; we need dialogue and respect for the right to socio-emotional development. The enjoyment of the cultural expression of all peoples and all the arts is the rain that feeds us.


Carmen Rioja is a Mexican artist who specializes in art restoration and creative workshops. She likes to write stories and poems and throw them in imaginary bottles into the sea. Carmen has published the books “La Muerte Niña” and “Rojo 43.”