Members of Chavo’s family live part- or full-time in Agua Zarca, a rancho about 15 minutes from Atolinga. There are three different paths to get there. Either you go by car down a recently paved road (which traveled several times sitting on chairs in the back of his father’s Chevy), or you take an unpaved, rocky path leading to the paved road just outside Atolinga. The third way we took one evening as the sun set, begins on the second path, then forks off onto a trail, the second half of which is infested by mosquitoes due to the nearby polluted river. The movement back and forth between the two places seems a common pattern for families of the area and families who hail from this neck of the woods but live in the US; they may have one property or two, and return usually once a year to – often during the fiestas – to take care of land, renovations and relatives. Those of the family who permanently live in Atolinga inhabit a few houses and often visit the rancho; even though Chavo’s paternal grandparents still own their rancho there in Agua Zarca, the corral in back of the house is primarily used for Tía Maria’s dairy and queso fresco (fresh cheese) making.
Tia Maria and José live next to this property and across the street from Chavo’s parents’ house in Agua Zarca, which they look in on every once in a while, cleaning out the wasps or sweeping up dust and feathers from birds who have swooped down through the light shaft in the roof of the ceiling. Chavo lived in this house when he was a toddler ages 4-5, and went to the school across the way-- now painted electric green. I have a few pictures of the schoolyard because one afternoon Chavo and I climbed up on the painted brick wall surrounding it. On account of this unique perspective, we took photos up there of one rambling and one jogging cow, and two men on horseback. When I posted this last photo on my website, later a friend from Monmouth saw it and told me he knew one of the men in the photo. He asked me to visit his friend, a coach in Agua Zarca, and say hello. I'll surely do that on my next visit.
A few days later we played at the school volleyball as part of a team led by one of the younger men who permanently lived in Agua Zarca, Salvador, who came back from Monmouth about four years ago. Though I was the least competitive member of this team, the experience of playing in the schoolyard with the overgrown grass (school’s out!) as the sun became a darker and darker shade of mauve was not to be beat. I definitely plan to find out more about kids’ sports clubs in the area like this one.