Our third stop on Meseta de Cacaxtla today was Los Llanitos. (Links to blog post 1/Chicayota or blog post 2/Guillermo Prieto) By the time we got there we had already decided we had had a terrific day. And it only got better! What a gorgeous place this was, by far the most economically successful, and the people were so much fun!
What stood out for me right away were the stories of jaguar in the area. I do hope that some day I might get to see one!
Los Llanitos was so fancy, after our previous two stops, that it even had a little kiosk in the plaza in the center of town! Very charming.
Our hosts were all ready to serve us lunch. I fell in love with the setting. It reminded me of picnicking in a vineyard in Italy, with the bright colors and flowers.
Carlos’ wife had taken some of the organic tomatoes, sliced them, and added goat cheese, fresh-picked basil, olive oil and a bit of low-sodium soy sauce. OMG! We were in HEAVEN!!!!! I think I ate about ten tomatoes they were so good!
While we were munching, Maximiliano, the grandfather, started regaling us with stories of the pre-Hispanic artifacts he has found while tending his fields in Los Llanitos. The area, according to him, is home to the game of ulama; this town is where it originated, they say. Max brought out a couple of pottery figurines that he passed around to show us.
The figures had clear faces: eyes, nose and mouth, arms and legs. They seemed to be wearing shirts or tunics. They reminded me of the Chinese burial dolls, which I’ve also seen in Japan, as well as among some of the Pueblo Indians of the US Southwest.
Most fascinating to me, however, were what I first thought to be “angel wings” on the back of the dolls. Upon closer scrutiny, they seem to be the hands of other dolls. It would appear these dolls were part of a set or group of dolls, with one doll hugging the next.
As if after our big breakfast and all the tomatoes we might still be hungry, our hosts in Los Llanitos brought out some of the best tamales I’ve ever had. Organic beef, tomato, chile, and squash, in a thin wrap of corn masa.
But, no! That still wasn’t enough. There were homemade jamoncillos.
And my personal favorite, freshly baked empanadas de calabaza, pumpkin turnovers, made by one of the daughters in the family.
My new friend Consuelo lives in Mazatlán with her daughters. They are all three estilistas, beauticians who do manicures, makeup and hair styling. We hope to see them here again soon. She also has a son who was there for the winter holiday, Marcos. He is graduating soon as a biologist, from university in Ensenada, and will return to Los Llanitos to contribute to the local community.
The kids were really cute, but what really stood out for Greg and I were that the boys were sharpening knives for use in cockfighting or palenque. It seems they often hold cockfights in the backyard. I’ve seen men who love this, and I know families attend. I just didn’t realize that kids from such a young age raise chickens for fighting and get so excited about it.
After lunch we walked or drove over to the fields, passing some corrals along the way.
One of Consuelo’s brothers, Gustavo, had a deerskin cell phone holder on his belt.
Gustavo, Greg, and his brother and daughter really hit it off well. They insisted we come back to visit soon, and we have every intention of doing so. This is obviously a very hard-working, wholesome Mazatlán community that we would love to get to know better.
The fields on one side of the road are organic. Gustavo told us the produce is mostly sold to Mexico City or exported abroad. They had many different kinds of vegetables here, scallions and corn. Acres and acres of green.
We had to leave earlier than the rest of the group, so we missed visiting the dairy and the “biodigestor” (compost system?). As we drove out, however, a group of field workers asked if I’d take their photo. Here it is, folks.
One young man in particular wishes to send a special hello to all the young ladies on Facebook 😉
I’ll close with a beautiful shot that Greg took of some turkeys in the yard. It was a long and very wonderful day. Thank you, Martha, Gaby, and everyone else who helped make today happen. We are so happy to know you, and look forward to seeing you again soon and helping in any way we can to support you as you work to develop our area in environmentally respectful and sustainable ways.