Means....women with eggs, yes indeed. And it is the name of a women's cooperative in our area now with branches in several small communities. In a shared area, community members with some volunteer help build chicken coops for maybe forty or fifty gallinas who also have a fair amount of open space in which to hunt and peck as chickens do. The eggs produced are not truly organic because among other things the chickens are vaccinated against disease and the land is not certified organic, a process which makes it impossible for many small-scale producers to become organic producers. The hens are called criollos: they are varied breeds but proven to be survivors in our area. They are grown without hormones or other additives and they eat wheat, corn, grass, leaves and bugs -- some of which they find as they hunt and peck. No industrial feed is used. The eggs are quite delicious and are now sold in a large number of stores from here to Mexico City.
The latest project is in Matlalapa, the next-to-the-last town on one of the roads going up the slopes of Perote. I've posted about it before here and here. Below you can see Matlalapa towards the upper left hand corner on the map. You can see where we live in the lower right corner. The distance between our house to Matlalapa is maybe ten miles or twelve miles. Very roughly.
Our instructions were to find a woman named Doña Lucia who could show us the way to the project.
Below is a picture of sheep on the road to her house which is behind the shed whose roof you can see.
We walked down to her house where she welcomed us warmly and then accompanied us with her granddaughter, who was about ten, the rest of the way. Somewhere in a previous post I think I mentioned that Kayeko, a Japanese volunteer who lived with our friend Doña Gloria in Xico commuted daily by bus from Xico to Matlalapa. We had the vague notion that she labored in a couple of small greenhouses in which people were experimenting with growing tomatoes. I imagined her the only Japanese person in Matlalapa. But we were wrong. Matlalapa is the site of an extensive but unobtrusive community development project sponsored by Japan. which has brought a new elementary school staffed in part by the Japanese and a bunch of community education projects, including a computer literacy project for women, in addition to the nursery for growing tomatoes which are big round ones, not the normal pseudo-romano tomatoes which are the norm in markets and supermarkets alike (tomatoes are another whole topic). The first time we drove up to Matlalapa a number of years ago, I had the feeling we were the first foreigners people had seen. This time we were hardly noticed.
Doña Lucia's granddaughter knew Kayeko and had had her as a teacher for a number of subjects. She liked Kayeko and enjoyed having someone so different to learn from. She didn't have a clear idea about where Japan was, so I explained what I knew. She shook her head at the idea that a whole country could fit on an island.
The site is on the main road next to the government-sponsored community store. These stores, always white blue and dark pink, sell basic food products like beans at reduced prices in small communities. They also sell basic medicines. The proprietors can add some other products as well, including popcorn, which we bought here in Ursulo Galván at our local community store.
The construction of the chicken coop is under the watchful eye of a volunteer from a Baha'i group who lives in Coatepec. She brought some other Baha'i with her, but the main work is in the hands of the people from Matlalapa. Below you see construction under way.
The idea is to keep everything simple and easy to maintain. With roosts, this little house apparently will have room for forty gallinas.
Since school is out, people bring their kids with them. Doña Lucia's granddaughter had been designated the unofficial teacher, and here you can see her with a a few boys who are drawing.
We were invited to eat with everyone in the building immediately behind the community store. We had chicken soup with big pieces of chicken, tortillas and orange drink.
Everything had been cooked on the stove you see in the picture below. It is a simple and inexpensive one which is very good because it has a chimney to eliminate smoke and it gets warm enough all over to warm the room in the winter. The woman who cooked said they had become common in the area. I don't know if it consumes a lot of wood or not.
Mujeres con huevos is a wonderful project and still growing. We would really like to get a project started here in Colonia Ursulo Galván. My neighbor is soliciting names of women who might be interested. Of course, help is always needed, especially for things like tools and nails and materials to get individual efforts off the ground.