Ilya Oaxaca Week 3
This week has given us a great opportunity to explore Oaxaca beyond the city limits (by shadowing at Lomas de San Jacincto as well as our 2 night trip to San Miguel Peras).
Coming back from San Miguel, I had a different perspective on the city. Living in Oaxaca City entitles one to many benefits that are often not visible (from urban infrastructure like roads, water networks, stable electricity to a high school education and easy access to the worldwide news).
From what I’ve seen in San Miguel, many of the health and well being barriers were directly related to the lack of easy access (i.e. paved road). Living in a small town, isolated by the “crumpled paper” terrain, San Miguel residents have direct issues in accessing healthcare. One memorable example was from our conversation at Pensamiento, from which we learned that there are no psychologists in the region (thus, one must traverse to Hospital Civil to acquire mental health care). In reality, I believe that people would rather neglect their need of care (especially something like mental health care) rather than go through burden of accessing it in Oaxaca City. Travel to the city seemed to be justified by an absolute necessity (urgent health needs that in no way can be addressed locally).
I looked at the map of San Miguel (which is a mere 30 mile distance away from Oaxaca City), and the two roads that lead to it. Westbound beyond San Miguel, there are no major cities or towns – which made me realize that it may be decades before the road will be paved. Thus, the town may continue its isolated, nearly self-supported existence – with little change to the lifestyle of its’ residents (the only ones induced majorly by the grassroots efforts).
During our two days in San Miguel, we had a chance to visit many homes. I was very surprised to see a significant economic disparity in such a small town. San Miguel seems to be a very homogenous society with very similar lifestyles and yet diverse economic opportunities. Some people have their family members earn in the US, while others master a skill to make a living. Everyone finds their way to gain resources – but not everyone succeeds to the same extent – which – I speculate – could be one of the reasons that some people did not see the community as united and integral.
There are many assumptions we can derive from the immense amount of information, experience that we had in the 2 days. I would’ve loved to get to know the people further because with every day I learned and observed new details that often radically changed my perception and understanding of the local community and Oaxacan society in general.