Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The Story Of Don Yeyo And His Nephew

As most of you know, we live on a dirt road about 7 km from the town square of Santiago.  Having lived here on this road for 20 years I slowly got to know the neighbors.  When we moved here in 2000, there was a small house close to the highway that was built by the owner.  Not much of a place, not well-constructed but Don Yeyo lived in it for many years with his wife.  His wife's sister lives next door, I call her an old crank who could give a rat's behind about anyone else.  I say that because even though that part of the road and water and sewage services, she has insisted, for the 20 years we have lived here, to do her family's laundry and discharge all the water onto the road.  She not alone, most people do that and it leaves huge potholes in the road.

Don Yeyo lived to the ripe old age of 98.  He had his quirks and most of them not so good.  He drank and when he did he mistreated his wife, only verbally as far as I know.  She was a sweet woman who would always wave to me.  She still lives around these parts but I haven't seen her for some time.  Like most people in small Mexican towns, they all look alike because of inter-marriage.  When I worked in Allende, a town of 10,000, there were five major last names that dominated the city registers.

Don Yeyo made his living in his older years with what we call an "estanquillo" or a very small store similar to the ones you see in SMA and Valle de Juarez that are actually a room in someone's house.  Don Yeyo didn't let anyone into his house.  He had an opening from the most exterior wall of the house with the front made out of wood with a door or window that opened upwards.  He would be there bright and early and sold what most people wanted; sodas, milk, eggs, tortillas, etc., basic foodstuffs.  Funny though, there is a convenience store less than 400 feet away on the highway but people came from all over.  Old habits never die.

The thing I remember most about Don Yeyo was his old Ranger pickup.  It had Texas plates and no one ever stopped him for not having it registered here.  Very common though, stay in a small town and off the highway and the local cops won't say anything.  Why you might ask?  "Todos somos primos" (we're all cousins).  One day I had walked up to the OXXO, it was a Sunday in fact because that is the only time I would ever go there and that would be to buy the Sunday paper.  He was in front of his rickety chain-link gate to his driveway honking madly.  His wife hadn't responded quickly enough for the old grump and as I got closer I could hear him screaming and calling her names.  The next thing I know he plowed right through the gate with the front of the truck. As he drove in, the gate bounced back and forth along the side of the truck several times.   

Let's move forward a few years and after Don Yeyo had passed, his wife stayed for a short period and moved to the other side of the highway.  His place lay empty for quite some time and then it was rented out but no one ever seemed to stay.  I'm sure the place never went for more than 1500 pesos which would be about $75 USD per month.  Then two years ago, his nephew moved in.  Word around here is he is a "chismoso" y "vicioso", a gossip and trouble maker.  The guy looks pretty shifty but very quiet.  I guess the worst kind.

I never paid him much mind.  I don't buy anything there, never have.  I know his business isn't registered, he pays no taxes, his plates on his truck were expired years ago (remember, todos somos primos), and he probably finished secondary so at least he knows how to read and write.  As a side note, we have a local from Veracruz that I hire once or twice year and I asked him this week to fill some of those infamous potholes.  I hadn't seen him, but he drinks beer with the worker across the street.  I asked the neighbor's worker and he gave me his cellphone number.  I said I would send a Whatapps and he told me I couldn't.  Why?  He never went to school and can't read or write.  The guy is young, maybe 32 years old.

Anyway, I had changed my daily exercise routine to our road to do laps of brisk walking or running.  Every morning the Don Yeyo's nephew is up early.  He opened his own estanquillo and his business has grown.  He sells pretty much the same stuff as his uncle but his routine is what irked me in the beginning of this new exercise routine.  I start out before 7 a.m. and he is just opening his window just like Don Yeyo.  He wheels out a "diablo" (two-wheeler) loaded with cut wood for fireplaces or cooking on leña (wood).  He sells four measly pieces for 40 pesos or $2 USD.  He hangs some used items he rummages from the Tuesday market.   Since the town market was closed because of Covid, they have opened one up in the hills where the police never go and if they do, well, they all chip in to get rid of them.  The items he throws over his fence are a few used women's handbags, a backpack or two, and his seasonal items that during the winter include old coats.  

After several weeks of watching his routine, I started to think about his life and mine.  I followed the rules, I paid my taxes and quite a bit since I had to file both here in Mexico and the U.S., have always bought from a legitimate business, pay my plates on our vehicles, insurance and the rest of all that stuff.  But when I go past his business after he opens, he's sitting out front with a "taza de barro" (a coffee mug made out of red clay), he reaches back into the window of his estanquilla and grabs a piece of pan dulce.  He crosses his legs as he sips from his cup of hot coffee, eats his bread and looks up at the trees in front of him slowly twisting his head back and forth wondering how things work in nature and marvels at the things that are most simple in life. 

Maybe I have been wrong all these years and his life is actually much more fulfilling than others like myself.  Food for thought.   Life is very, very short.


  1. Yep, but I would quickly get bored with a lifestyle like that.

  2. Back when I thru hiked the Appalachian Trail, lots of people criticized the way others “completed” their thru-hikes. More than half of hikers skip parts of the trail in my estimation. Others paid for a service to forward their packs so that they could walk unencumbered.

    Hike your own hike was always the response. It’s one of life lessons that I drew from the trail.

  3. I'm retired and not doing much these days due to virus. I do own my little bungalow home, an old truck 2002, pay my taxes, active in my community with volunteer work. If I didn't keep busy with housework, yardwork, or volunteering or reading, I think I'd go nuts. I travel some but I wouldn't want to do that either full time...I know because I have traveled quite a bit in my young years. Always nice to come home. I guess different strokes for different people.