Residents of Raíces, a small community in México state located on the lower slopes of one of Mexico’s highest peaks, are hoping for snowfall.
Snow, they say, would be better than the -8 C frosts they have been forced to endure this winter, including in recent days as cold front No. 23 brought below freezing temperatures to some parts of the country.
Almost 500 people — around 250 families — live in the small village set beneath the summit of Nevado de Toluca — a composite volcano — mostly in humble homes made from wood and sheetmetal.
In times of such weather extremes, firewood — being the primary means with which locals can warm their homes — is more valuable than ever.
However, if residents go out to collect it themselves, they run the risk of being arrested because taking loads of wood home is a crime. Instead, many families are forced pay between 800 and 1,000 pesos a week for a legal delivery.
One resident enduring a colder than normal winter is 70-year-old Ana María, a mother of 11.
More incredibly, according to a report in the newspaper El Universal, she has 103 grandchildren and 65 great-grandchildren.
However, while getting everyone together and huddling around for heat would seem like a good idea, it seems that Ana María’s large family is little more than cold comfort.
“The women are scattered around,” she said, adding that the men — presumably her sons and grandsons — are off harvesting potatoes, the main source of income in the area.
Another resident, Reyna de la Cruz, said that the freezing weather complicates her normal washing routine because she has to wait for the temperature to rise to at least 6 C before she can break the layer of ice on top of the water in her washing tub.
However, she said the biggest problems were getting sick and the lack of medical supplies in government-run clinics.
“. . . What’s the point going to a health center?” she asked.
“There’s no medicine anyway, the [México state] Governor Alfredo del Mazo came and said there was a supply but when we had to go they only gave us Naproxen; it’s better going to a private doctor,” she complained.
Still, de la Cruz was thankful that, unlike others, her family doesn’t have to pay for firewood because her father knows a place where they can collect it for free and presumably, without the fear of arrest.
“. . . It’s a complicated expense because it’s every week, it’s not easy to spend that amount,” she said of other families.
In addition, burning firewood can lead to having to pay an additional and perhaps even higher price.
Smoke inhalation is a health risk, especially for children and elderly adults, but with temperatures plunging so low, it’s likely a risk that residents can’t afford not to take.
Source: El Universal (sp)