Pichichi died last night in Barra de Potosi

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Escrito por Laura desde (AC5-Webproxy54.direcpc.com) el día martes, 07 de noviembre, 2006 a las 13:37:32 horas :

When all had settled in their homes quietly last night, the chapel bells began to ring intensely. How they can transmit the sudden sharpness of trouble and of grief is impressive! I felt fear and concern... and ran out the door into the street - the street that is the living room of the town.

Already it was full of neighbors coming to respond, knowing this was about an important change in the community and a need, about grief. Everyone responds to the bells ready to help - to participate in whatever way was needed.

I heard hard crying coming from my neighbor's house and I felt fear and sadness for Dona Emi as I went to her with other neighbors all entering the house. Who had died!? There's always the possibility of her fisherman husband being lost in the ocean... the crying was so sharp I worried for her daughters, her lawyer daughter, or the youngest already an outstanding special education teacher.

But it was Pichichi. His story is worth telling.

We felt his forehead and heart to make sure he was gone, children leaned in to observe the incredible mystery of the passing of life and the passing of Pichichi who was maybe the first lone fishermen to settle in La Barra in this recent century, certainly among the first of this generation of inhabitants of this magical place.

Dona Emi was collapsed crying. Those who know her can imagine the impact of seeing this remarkably strong woman whose father had died one year ago now sobbing doubled over near the tiny body of Pichichi lying on the rustic fisherman bed made of netting nailed to a frame. Neighbors filtered in, stroking his forehead tenderly. Someone mentioned candles. I went for some at my house and Dona Minga went for flowers.

Dona Sabina placed his face with such tenderness in a position of grace and covered him with a sheet. We placed the candles around the bed and by then somehow, the men had cleared out the entire area and filled it with chairs and already it was filled with townspeople ready to pass the night accompanying the journey of the soul of Pichichi in its journey... accompanying each other in this loss and this transition.

Someone had put the huge olla over the fire in the center of the circle of people... heating the coffee that would be offered to all during the night awake... the wake. All stared quietly at the fire, some talked, some mentioned stories about Pichichi and gaps were colored in. How did they all get there so fast? It seemed that in five minutes the whole town got out of bed and assembled, the bed of Pichichi was adorned with flowers and lit with candles and Dona Emi was ready to lead a prayer... a passionate prayer sung with the soulful grief of a daughter for the benefit of the soul of Pichichi... for his peace... for his memory.

Then the people settled in, the men grouped outside filling the street, inside there was an area where the teenagers sat together delighted in each others company sitting close, little kids ran around in their usual thrill to be able to be up late in an excitement ready to play with each other and be up all night but also sitting absorbed in the magic of the feeling. Death had occurred... they could touch Pichichi and did, marveling at what is this thing that is death - Pichichi lies still - gone now. They watch their adults be reverent, caring, responding as a community. I saw no fear or aversion only awe and sadness, tenderness, reverence, togetherness.

Pichichi was a kind of hermit. He had no family accept far away siblings he begged not to be sent to when he became very old. He had lived in the Coconut Orchard of La Barra de Potosi like a hermit in a little hut for as long as the oldest person here could remember. The village was his family. He was a storyteller and had no enemies. The children had told me his stories from when I first arrived.

Like the story of how he was visited in his solitude in the night in the middle of the Huerta by the Devil. But Pichiche had no fear of the devil because he was a good man even if he drank alot. He had no enemies. Since the Devil was there, Pichichi invited him to have a seat at the table and have dinner. So the Devil became a kind of friend and they played dominoes together.

From time to time the devil presented some temptation to Pichichi such as to do some wrong for which the Devil would give him a bunch of gold. But Pichichi would decline the offer as he was simply a good person and not interested in doing the wrong. So they continued to play dominoes and have dinner. The devil even refined the offer to give the children of La Barra a bunch of gold if Pichichi would do the wrong thing but he still declined telling the devil that the real welfare of the children wasn't the gold but his good example, so the devil gave up tempting him and just enjoyed the friendship.

Then they were joined by La Llorona the lovely and tormented ghost who wanders the night calling for her children. Pichichi put a place for her at the table also and they three would dine together throughout the years.

At the wake, I learned from my neighbor Yaremi that according to Pichichi, La Llorona became his girlfriend. That's what he told the children of Yaremi and their cousins who always called him Abuelo (grandfather).

I had actually thought that he was a relative of that family since when they recounted his stories (true events they assured me) but Yaremi told me that all the kids called him grandfather. He loved to tell them stories and who knows how the lines blurred between their imaginations and the true events in that huerta de coco where Pichichi lived for so many years in such a magical world. There are so many stories and with such beautiful messages al fin y al cabo... about what really matters... strength of character, love, the children, the beauty of this place in nature.

The people are still gathered at Dona Emi's as I write. Soon they'll begin to prepare to take him to our new cemetery where already is buried Dona Emi's father and a few others and where I too have my little place for when the day comes. I'll go over and join those who had stayed up all night. In a couple of hours it'll be time to carry him in his coffin as is the custom through the village streets ending at the chapel where Dona Sabina will say beautiful prayers and goodbyes for the part of the village - the men carrying his coffin will hold it and bow with it holding him... to the four directions, saying a formal goodbye to the village, the people and the lagoon. Then everyone will pile into a few trucks and go together to bury him.

Pichichi in his last days had finally become sometimes confused. Since he lived alone it was a problem and neighbors looked out for him. Mari, the wife of Jorge who takes care of the horses, used to take him food. She just took on that task seeing it was needed. When Pichichi became ill, the entire village had a meeting and collected the money to pay for his operation.

When he became more confused another meeting was called and someone suggested his family should be contacted. He refused that saying that the village was his home and his family. So it was and he continued here. But once the DIF came and took him to an old folks home in Zihua. They returned with him the very next day though saying that he cried the entire time and it broke their hearts too much. He cried to return to La Barra so they brought him back.

Then Dona Emi took him in and took care of him with loving tenderness. Dona Justina came everyday to wash his clothes, Mari continued to bring food until last night when the bells rang.

I asked Juani today... I said, I wonder if I will have someone to volunteer to care for me in that way if someday I wander confused far away from my birth family. Her eyes teared up and she said with her hands on her heart, "I will take care of you Dona Laura".

That's enough for me. Next to that, I care nothing for the possibility of making a killing in real estate speculation. Nothing buys that love but giving a place for reverence in the way you live respect and tenderness for a community and your physical place in nature, your neighbors and loved ones around you. It turns out that that's where real luxury lies. The way Pichichi died represents real luxury to me and it might not be bought with any amount of profit made by the buying and selling of land. But I digress... and it's time to go. In the meantime life goes on and here it's a little richer today for the caring evoked by the life of Pichichi.

Hasta pronto,

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