This February, we had the absolute honor of being able to travel to Mexico for the first time in 3 years with 4 farmers and 5 community members. We visited the mountainous regions around Zongolica and Cuatepec de Hinojosa with the hopes of getting to know the families of individuals that are working on our dairy farms and in other places of employment up here in Wisconsin & Minnesota. During our trip, we had so many heartwarming and heartbreaking conversations with families. As each family shared about their loved one that has been working far away, we got a little insight into the bittersweet feelings swirling around together: gratitude for what that job is doing for the family and longing for their family member that they miss immensely.

Carrie with Liz and family in Orizaba

One of the villages that we got the privilege of visiting was Tecpanzacualco. While we traversed a bumpy road up and down the mountain, one that was completed less than a decade ago and the first one that was more than a walking path to this village, a few people hopped in the back of our vehicle to catch a ride. We quickly related to our new passengers while they told us all about what they had been planting in the fields and we found out that they were relatives of people we knew up in Wisconsin. We ate breakfast with the family of siblings Clara and Rogelio, who are working on Stan’s farm in Western Wisconsin. Their parents paused to take a picture with us on the rooftop of their 3 story house after they proudly showed us what their daughter had built for them.

Claras House

We were also invited into the kitchen of Paola, who has had all of her 4 adult sons working up here at one point. While she told us about her sons, someone in our group asked her what life was like growing up. She shared about not having electricity until 25 or so years ago. When she was born, in the 1940s, her house was made purely of posts from local pine trees and the roof was large leaves from trees around there. She described to us how her mother used just a piece of wood for her to sleep in when she was a little baby while everyone else slept on the dirt floor. She was born right in that same house where she told us the stories of her upbringing, commenting not on a difficult childhood, but on how her life was very different and simple. She now has a cement floor, running water, electricity, beds, and several rooms.

Paola telling us her story