Wednesday, February 11, 2009

WEEK 2: Rural Homestay

This is the group at our rural homestay in Ixtlilco el Grande. We are pictured with Raul and Avilio who were our guides and directors for the week

This past week we spent four days and three nights in a rural town called Ixtlilco el Grande in the state of Morelos. Here we were partnered with another person in our class and assigned to a home. There were a wide variety of homes that students were placed in. Some lived with just grandparents, some lived with three generations of family, and others lived with only one person. Students had to become accustomed to many things including bucket bathing, lots of animals and bugs, less privacy, and eating all the time.

This week we focused on the topic of migration in the rural communities as well as how it has affected these communities. We heard many personal stories from many different generations including young men, older adults, and even families. They told of their struggles getting to the United States and then how they survived being there. Most went illegally using coyotes but others went on monthly work visas.

We visited sugar cane and fig fields as well as tomato greenhouses. We learned how the government has helped support these greenhouses to better the community. We also went to the local satellite junior high, the health clinic, and learned about helping programs in the community. We got tours of each place and were able to ask all sorts of questions.
Here is the group in front of the Satellite Junior High with the school director.

This is the group while on our
tour of the Sugar Cane Fields

We traveled to Tepalcingo, where the head of the Municipality is located. We were able to meet with people on the public works committee. They help with getting people passports to the U.S. if someone is sick or for a special occasion or vice versa. They also are involved in a lot of federally funded programs including ones for education, single mothers, and older adults.

We then traveled to an ex-Hacienda (former plantation) called Santa Cruz where we got to debrief about our time in Ixtlilco, as well as reflect on the things we learned. We discussed immigration with an activity where we were split into groups and had to create a web of either the consequences or causes of immigration. Surprisingly there were many similarities between the consequences and causes of immigration, like support for family.

During our stay at the ex-Hacienda we got to go see the Xochicalco pyramid ruins where we saw an observatory and many temples. The biggest temple we saw featured in the picture was called the Quetzalcoatl Pyramid or The Feathered Serpent. This temple was disassembled a hundred years ago piece by piece to look for an underground tunnel. None were found so it was then reassembled but they couldn’t quite put it all back together the same way they took it apart. It was built by the Olmeca-Xicallanca which was a small group of Mayan traders back in 620 A.D. We learned about sweat lodges, temples and how this group was so advanced in many areas of science.

This picture was taken on the Quetzalcoatl Pyramid
(The Temple of the Feathered Serpent)

After we returned to the ex-Hacienda from the ruins we had a bonfire where we made s’mores, sang songs, and told ghost stories. We packed up and left the Hacienda on Friday where we had a free weekend to do whatever we pleased.
Here are the roommates in our room at the ex-Hacienda before heading out to the bonfire to make s'mores

--By Anna Leafblad


  1. Hosting a homestay participant also allows the local family to earn some additional, needed income. Having low profitability, as it is, homestay can not be regarded as strictly commercial activity, but more of cross cultural exchange

  2. It seems that you enjoyed very much your travel to Mexico. I hope some day to go there. Thanks for sharing these memories with us.