Las mujeres

I had my first chance to actually enter the prison yesterday. I took little care packages for everyone. Not great presents, but I guess if you need it, it would be like a new car…Kotex, shampoo and soap.

There are 41 women of all ages. I learned that one has been there 20 years. She is the informal program director, and it was necessary to get her permission to interact with the women.

It reminded me of something from a Dickens novel. The women actually live there, and you can see how it becomes their life. There is a huge kitchen where they cook, and most of the women live together in a dormotorio.  I did see one woman in a locked cell, but she was allowed to come out and get her gift.

Today I am going back. I didn’t know there would be children living with their mothers in the jail, so I am going to take some coloring books. I think they go to school from there. It really is like Dickens.

The women also asked someone for gloves. It gets down to 30 at night, and there is no heat. The gloves are around 5 cents in the market, so I will get them some. But of course there isn’t heat in the house I am in either.

The rooms in the prison are built around an open courtyard, and when I got there, the women were mostly just sitting around. A couple were playing cards and two were making jewelry. They have a stand in the central market and two are able to go sell things, which is pretty amazing.

The women are pre-trial. But there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason for how long they are in there. One women told me she had been there two years. When I asked why it was so long, she answered it’s politico. But like everywhere, everything is political. The biggest surprise was a 10-day-old baby, literally wrapped in swaddling clothes.

The w0men were fun to be with. A few spoke a little English, and I spoke a little Spanish, so were were able to have a little conversation. I told them I’d be back tomorrow and they clapped.   Even I can be fun when you are in prison.

Christmas is celebrated here today. We will have school in the morning and then the big meal tonight.

Tomorrow I go to Momo for the dance of the devil. In some places they actually burn the devil in the street, but I’m not sure about Momotestenago.

I bought two blankets from a man and his wife, and in talking to them, found out they were from Momo; it is famous for woolen blankets colored with natural dyes from insects, plants, etc.

When I asked him if they had the diablo dances, he said yes and that he would come get me. So I’m off tomorrow with a stranger in a car to Momo. It doesn’t seem so weird when you are here. I have pictures, but I couldn’t get them to post for some reason.

This is an amazing place. I think it is like going back in time. But I am not a romantic, and I don’t think life is easy here. But it is a great place to visit on very little money. And learn a little Spanish while you are at it.


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