Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Indigenous towns and delicious sopes

Wow! What an amazing adventure this has already been, and we’re only a few weeks in. I think we are starting to get used to our new town, new home, friends and staff here in Cuernavaca. Our days are filled with classes and many excursions.  We were educated on two different indigenous villages this week that show signs of poverty in each village. The week started out with Susan Smith, a guest speaker from Atzin who spoke to us about the organization she has worked in for 17 years. Atzin has helped bring community education, health services and other mind and body building exercises into the village of Tlamacazapa in Guerrero, Mexico. 

We had the honor to visit the indigenous town of Amatlán on Tuesday. We were welcomed with a great meal of sopes, and then had a talk with Nacho, a community leader who spoke to us about his life living in the village.

Students in Amatlan

We had good company with friends and staff members and Nacho’s words of the past had a learning impact on all of us. He taught us about many aspects of the village, Mexican history, and indigenous cosmovision. Communal, ejidal and private property are the three types of land tenure that he spoke about.  Communal land is referred to as land that was never touched by the Spanish. Ejidal land is former hacienda land that was restituted to the people after the Mexican Revolution. He spoke in depth about private property and how it was an invention of oppression, which was another from of the reconquest. “We aren’t owners of the land, we are of the earth,” said Nacho. Being educated on the three types of land really gave us students a good lesson and different view on what it means to “own land,” which can also be tied in with human rights of the indigenous communities.

Nacho also told us that “the tortilla is the Eucharist we eat everyday, so that is why we sit in a circle to converse and share our stories.” Hearing him say this let helped me understand communication in a different way. Sitting in a circle is a way that represents the Christ and communality they have pride in. Nacho was a wonderful speaker and helped me understand the ways of indigenous villages in a different perspective.

Me with a sope!

The sopes we were served was a huge hit for the group. A sope is a corn tortilla with ridges topped with cheese, beans, and salsa. Many of us were exposed to them for the first time and think we can all agree that they are on the #1 list of foods we have tried while here in Mexico. The hospitality that we were presented with was wonderful and I think we all had a great experience.

-- Darian Peterson 


  1. Thanks for sharing so many details of your life and learning, Darian -- really helps bring the Mexican semester to life for those who can't be with you all.

  2. It's so interesting to hear about the perspective about land "ownership." It makes sense, really. The land has been here long before us and will be there long after we are gone. I wonder if this perspective correlates with the hospitality the students seems like an open minded community.

  3. Thanks for your comments! It is greatly appreciated. This trip and educational experience is so life altering. I love it

  4. I truly enjoyed your perspective, Darian! I had the opportunity to live abroad when I was a younger student. More than all the other things I learned, I was grateful for what I learned about myself. Immersion in a new culture is life altering. I am happy for all of you that you get the chance to broaden your base of understanding in this meaningful way.