Los Biatos y las Biatas

In the hours before dawn dairy farmers wake up to milk their cows. Black rubber boots blend into the night. They walk to the center of town as the sun is rising and offer their daily contribution to temperature-controlled, silver trucks of progress. All Friday’s are milk pay-days. Today, Thursday March 11th, a day before pay-day, there was a death in town. An older 70-year old man, Herney Martinez, committed suicide in Tacualtuzte. He was a biato, and followed Tacualtuzte tradition that values life-long unmarried virgins. Like nuns and priests, older generations maintain a life of celibacy free of all romantic thought.

Tonight there is a vigil. I’ve started to get to know people as I ask for space to hold meetings, spread invitations, put up posters, borrow keys and chairs. Tonight I will attend because I’ve started to link myself into little chains of the community. Now I know family members – aunts, cousins, nephews –  their stories, family lineage and in most cases, gossip-spread vaulted-secrets. I’m blending in, being assimilated and hooked into bonds and traditions.
We were going to invite the parents and guardians of Tacualtuzte to a meeting scheduled for Friday. Both the invitations and the meeting have become untimely.


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