Sometimes on holidays or special days, often, actually, Jim and I go on excursions instead of going out to eat or buying each other gifts. We were, this Valentine's Day, in need of an excursion. They've become altogether too few and far between. So we got into the RAV 4 which is now seventeen years old and headed out with three of the dogs:Jocko the Afghano, Happy, the Mexican Brown Dog and Little Guy the salsiccia. We didn't quite know where we were headed at first, but by the time we got to the Crucero, the crossroads of the highway between Coatepec and Xico and the road that goes from our Colonia in one direction toTeocelo in the other we had settled on Barranca Grande which is down an escarpment about halfway between Teocelo and Cozautlan. Our whole area is lush with plant life pouring down steep slopes into narrow valleys and along rivers. Small (for the most part) towns climb hillsides, hug escarpments, roll over hillsides and nestle in basins.
This trip we followed the road to from Teocelo to Cosautlán to the Barranca Grande turn-off. The people of the area demonstrated to have it properly paved, but it still is only partly completed with sectionns (smallish) being fine, others still filled with deep potholes and still others in a rough state of incompletion so the trip which is about eighteen miles from our house takes over an hour.
On the map below, you can see our colonia as a weird red squiqqle above San Marcos de León.
The road from Teocelo (A) to Cosautlan (B) as you can see is extremely (to put it mildly) twisting.
The road to Barranca Grande splits off probably half way from Teocelo to Cosautlan. It hugs the side of a precipice and is marked with sharper, steeper turns than the road it leaves.
On the left, a view across the barranca from the top of the road next to the bus stop. On the right, capilla which stands at a sharp curve's bend.
And a cross on a rock on another curve.
El Río Pescados which flows through Barranca Grande seen on the right at a bit of a distance. This is a view of the river from the road down the escarpment.
On 9 September 2008 heavy rains caused a devastating rock and mud slide that severely damaged a large part of Barranca Grande in the state of Veracruz. Two people, including a three year old child, were killed and three were wounded. Below you can see the church, now abandoned and a school damaged by rocks and also abandoned. Five and a half years later, the town is still desolate since the government's aid entailed relocating the inhabitants to a nearby location they say is not susceptible to slides.
This house on the left is literally the only bright spot we saw. Most of the houses are small and unpainted
This is what's left of the village's health services. It's a sign urging men to use condoms not just to prevent unwanted pregnancies but to protect women's health.
You can just about see Jim on the other side of this foot bridge which crosses the river at the north end of the town. It connects with a trail in one direction and a pantheon or cemetery in another. After Jim explored a bit, we drove a bit further along the road which ended a bit further on the river and turned back. On our way back we came across a large crowd of people coming over the bridge following a celebration in the pantheon. A pickup and a station wagon were waiting to take some of them home. They were going to Barranca Nueva, the place higher up the escarpment where the government had resettled some of the victims of the landslide.
The government wanted to relocate everyone to Barranca Nueva in the community of Xixitla. It transferred 732 people, providing 203 houses for them. 149 people remained in Barranca Grande in 42 homes. There are currently no services in Barranca Grande and the town no longer exists in the minds and maps of officialdom.
The houses provided in Barranca Nueva are made of pressed cardboard, and indeed this type of construction has been used elsewhere with some success. But here people have not been happy. The cardboard gets mushy and soft in the often humid weather. Many of the people have worked with brick and mortar and are reconstructing their houses out of this sturdier material. In addition, large families were squeezed into tiny rooms. Fifteen of the relocated families ironically and unfortunately find themselves in possible danger from slides from a nearby quarry.
I don't know the status of the promised school, health clinic and Opportunidades (Progreso)buildings, but as of 2012 they didn't exist. There were some mobile classrooms.
The reason the people of Barranca Grande were encouraged to resettle seems at least as much because the previous governor contracted with the giant Brazilian dam-building company Odebrecht to build dams for electricity to be sold away from the area, including one which would flood Barranca Grande out of existence. One of the dams was to be in Jalcomulco, but as of today, the protests there led to it (hopefully) being cancelled with the company having to restore the areas it had damaged. This whole project is a probably destructive tangle which I may write about in the future.