San Agustin Oapan, update

I’ve been in San Agustin Oapan, so I haven’t been able to answer emails or read your blog or for that matter read MR.  In the two years since my last visit, I noticed or heard of the following changes:

1. There are now ten Mormons in town, whereas previously there had been two.

2. Immediately upon arrival, I saw two Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking on doors.

3. About half the teenage girls wear jeans rather than traditional dress; two years ago the percentage of girls with jeans was zero.

4. There was no rain this summer and hardly any corn was harvested.  Forty years ago this would have meant starvation but now it is a mere fluctuation in real incomes.  People buy more food from stores, albeit at higher expense.  By the way, this is one reason why the Oapan corn farmers do not seem worried about the importation of U.S. corn under NAFTA.

5. There is a construction boom and arguably a housing bubble, financed by what can only be called subprime loans.

6. The municipal building has a new foundation made out of cement; previously the foundation of the municipal building was an old Aztec pyramid.  There is no remaining sign of the pyramid.

7. The town was celebrating the change in the "fiscál," an office very roughly analogous to our secretary of the treasury.  The celebration consists of a procession of fifty old women and a few old men carrying around a large plastic statue of a saint on their shoulders, singing traditional songs and carrying candles, with various peso bills stapled to the saint.

8. Thirty-five years ago the trip down to the main road involved an arduous climb and then descent, usually with burro, lasting six to eight hours.  Ten years ago the trip down to the main road involved a slow four hour drive (but only 25 km) on a dirt road.  Come February, when the paving of the road is finished, it will be a 70-minute drive to the nearest Wal-Mart.


I wish you had said that single-payer systems work by lowering spending, or by lowering utilization. Saying that they lower costs makes it sounds like they deliver the same level of services at lower cost. I don't think that's what you mean. It's not what I mean.

hi tyler,
we are planning a vacation to mexico and I wanted to see if you had any recommendations given your recent trip. we enjoy exploring/learning about indigenous people and culture, finding funky and good places to eat, and hiking/outdoorsy stuff as well as mexican history in general. have been to oaxaca city, puerto angel, san cristobal and palenque and loved it all.

any thoughts/recommendations on where to go next?

Mexican farmers in San Agustin Oapan are likely to worry little about U.S. corn imports not because of fluctuations in their own production, but because they grow a different and poorly substitutable corn variety. U.S. corn (aka yellow no. 2) is suitable mainly for feeding livestock and producing sweetener. In contrast, corn produced in rural Mexico is white, or often some other exotic variety, and serves as the primary ingredient in the tortilla staple.

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