A reminder: You can click on the pictures to see them bigger.
We drove into La Gloria down a fairly smooth road from the main road to Perote. We knew where to turn because there was a bright new sign saying, La Gloria, 9 km. I suspect this was new so reporters could find their way. When we drove down the road, it didn't occur to me that it had been widened and smoothed It was a dirt road) for the hubbub that grew over it being thought of as "Ground Zero" of the flu epidemic because of the presence of the litte boy who was the first diagnosed case, but I think it must have been. There were remnants of road-making materials still lying on one side. Jim thought perhaps they were there to repair damage when the rains came...roads suffer terribly in the heavy downpours.
There were no reporters, no cameras, no media vans. But there was a bit of crowd at the center. Still present were public health trucks and a mobile kitchen from the state. I suspect these mobile kitchens are normally used for disasters.
Jim's photos of the outside and inside of the mobile kitchen.
I'm not sure how long the government had been providing these delicious-smelling meals, but I know it hadn't been longer than La Gloria's presence in the world news. I talked to a government representative who said indeed it was because of all that La Gloria had had to endure with being at the center of attention. Another woman said the government had never done it before. At least the trucks were there longer than the press. In the picture below, you can see people eating and lining up to eat. We were invited to join in. We felt it would be odd to do it. We weren't of the community. I guess I can't really explain our feelings, but it felt a bit like it would be cheating.
Below is a picture of the clinic on the main street in La Gloria. Granjas Carroll says it provides all health services for the community.
Perhaps part of the rejuvenation of La Gloria's appearance for the press (by the government of the state) was repainting (or painting) these statements on the sides of the elementary school buildings.
The values statement says that within the relationship among the director, teachers, support people, students and parents there ought to exist respect, tolerance, trust, responsibility, solidarity and fairness. While there is huge room for improvement in Mexican public schools (as there is in many countries, including the US), there is a striking difference between the US and Mexico. In the latter, responsibilities to family and community are stressed. Achievement is linked to doing well for family and community, not for oneself. Meeting these responsibilities seems ever-more elusive in times when people are forced to leave both to make a living.
(In addition to Mission and Values statements, on another wall there is a Vision statement: shades of Total Quality Improvement to which my clinic and I were subjected in the 1980s.)
In the park in front of the school, the main park, this sign hung. It shows the municipality of Perote including La Gloria and highlights all the road improvements the state government lays claim to. (Jim's picture) Notice it looks like the two most important towns in the area are Perote and La Gloria.
Now I have to add that one shouldn't be too cynical. Roads are being improved/constructed all over the state, including at the entrance to our own colonia. Texas does this, too, but on a much grander scale. No two lane roads for Texas!
We walked through the downtown and beyond. Three women joined us and asked who we were. We explained. They were eager to share information about La Gloria: not about Las Granjas Carroll anymore, but they wanted us to know that half the working population had to go to Mexico City to work -- they stay there during the week and come home on weekends, and that many were in the US. There was little work to be found in La Gloria.
We had noticed some towers toward the end of the street. They turned out to be towers of a ruined hacienda. We all walked towards it, the sand still blowing around us.
The next post: The Hacienda and a bit more.