It has been my original intention to remain in the village of Ajoya only long enough to arrange for a burro train to transport the medicines to the high country of the Sierra. But Nature has had her surprises waiting for me, and my friends back in Palo Alto have had theirs. The result has been that now, some eights weeks later, I am at last getting my small cavalcade in motion. But perhaps it is better this way, not only have I come to know and love the Pueblo of Ajoya, but by now each little village and rancho along the way has extended its invitation to me, and has offered to transport my cargo to the next. Already many villagers have come for medicines from as far away as Jocuixtita, Verano, and Caballo de Arriba (up to 40 miles by burro trail into the mountains). Wherever I go I know I will be welcome.
MISSING IMAGE: PIAXTLA AREA MAP
However, to be honest, it is not easy for me to leave Ajoya. In the relatively short time I have been here I have made friends with many, many of the villagers, I have been inside 60 of the 91 casas of the village, and have dined in nearly as many. When I arrived there was an enormous amount of sickness here. Although now there is noticeably less, there is still a fair share. This is to be expected in a village with over a thousand inhabitants, mostly children, and not a single “escusado” , where the drinking water comes from the river below, and where the average campesino, with 10 to 12 children, has a daily wage of l0 to 12 pesos (less than a dollar) with the result that many meals are composed of “puras tortillas,” without even frijoles to supplement the diet. Yet when I walk through the streets I am not aware of sickness. I am aware of friendliness, warmth, the enormous vitality of the people. I do not mean to say that the village is lacking in cruelty or in closed-mindedness. But never are these elements directed at me. I am loved here and cared for, as perhaps I have never been before. The people still have trouble in understanding why I give so much of my time and energy and medicines without asking for one centavo, and my explaining to them only increases their wonder. Yet in truth they have already given me far more than I would be able to repay in a life time. I am grateful to the villagers here for their acceptance of me, and to all those people back in the United States whose assistance has helped to make my project here possible.
The following report is in the form of a more or less chronological journal… in short, it is just as I wrote it, from day to day, or more accurately, from night to night, whenever I could snatch the time to write. Fortunately the nights are long, and in a village where there is no electricity and even coal-oil is a large expense, the villagers bed early. Fortunately, also, a girl named Ramona—about whom the town’s people like to kid me as being my “novia” —has made available to me a room and a kerosene lamp where I can work into the night. Thus “poco a poco” I have assembled this rough account. I regret that I have not had time to polish and rewrite, or even to round out the portrait of the village here, but every day has been filled with new events and discoveries which seem urgent to record, and now that I am leaving Ajoya it seems a good time to dispatch the first number, ready or not.
—David Werner (January 29, 1966)