We left Carrillo at 8:30 and arrived in Santa Elena around 11:30. Through Morelos, Tzucacab, Texax, Oxcutzcab, and Ticul. The mountains in this region are beautiful and the drive is always pleasant. Sunday even more so. Arriving at the Centro de Acopio there were about 10 members waiting for us. My focus for this visit was to get a pulse check on the state of the cooperative and their interest in bringing their product to market. The discussion on the project, between Manuel as the official voice for the cooperative, and I, centered on the events of the past 8 months. They still have no electricity and it’s the same story regarding the architect and the electrician having to do something and then something else in order for them to get it. So it’s been over a year that this centro has been open but no electricity to operate the machinery, which just sits there. And another honey season has passed. They want to leverage the federal government because of party politics. State funding has been non-existent and they expect it to be so for the next 5 years. It was also apparent that they are taking some steps to move forward but are hindered by access to communication technologies. Something we (I) have to work on is keeping in close contact with them but also pushing them to contact me or other asesores in appropriate moments. I am going to work out a plan for that and share it with them at our next meeting on Tuesday. Communication issues are compounded because of economics, access, and capacity. I have Manuel’s daughter’s email to communicate through her. This, however, has not worked so well with Raul’s daughter. We’ll see how this works out.
I left with the project of writing up a few options for the cooperative (and the Union) as business/identity models for getting their honey to market. Gaby was inspiring I am sure. We agree that this must be a business separate from the cooperatives themselves because of their organizational structures – they will become mired in the politics of different interests. To do this work it must be lighter and faster. It is different work. In addition, not all members are interested so in this sense it would be impossible to have this new business opportunity be approved by all members of all cooperatives. So there you have it.
Arriving in Mérida today, we already have several things lined up to deliver by the time we leave. Returning to Santa Elena and the meeting with the Union this week remind me how collaborative, long-term, and challenging (in a good way) these projects are. Personalities, attitudes, and politics come into play and are a driving force in the way the project is managed.
I am sitting now in the park in centro. The zocalo but it’s not called that here. A family from London is sitting beside me. Four boys and the oldest one is blind. This drunk kid walks by and trips over his white cane. Then he looks like he wants to pick a fight. I mean – come on. Is that any way to behave on a Sunday in the park? I walk around the park about 5 times and leave Gaby to her email. It’s one of the new wireless parks. It could be pleasant. A long time ago I passed the threshold of over-saturation of the handicrafts. It seems it is more and more junk no one needs that is being sold. When I have to search for something to buy… well. There’s not even kitsch. The Jarana dancing has started in front of the palacio. The sun is going down and it’s time for people to come out. Afternoon is just for tourists and vendors. It’s 40º and 110% humidity. And this Sunday seems like all the rest I’ve lived here. I wonder if I ever left.