Posts Tagged With: poverty

Harlingen, Texas – Day 7

Mary is at home in California enjoying the holidays with her family. She has made her airline reservations to join me here at Harlingen, Texas on January 3, 2013.

The motorhome is parked at Tropic Winds RV Resort and is scheduled to be here until January 10th. While I await Mary’s arrival on the 3rd, I’ll be seeing some local attractions, performing repairs and preventative maintenance on both the motorhome and Bronco, plus thoroughly cleaning both vehicles.

A few days ago I drove the Bronco the about 12 miles to San Benito, Texas, the hometown of Baldemar Hurte aka as Freddy Fender. If you are not a long-time Country & Western Music fan, you might not even know the name of Freddy Fender. Deep in South Texas, the region, food, people and music are all called Tex-Mex. A delightful blend of Texas and Mexican cultures. Freddy Fender is probably the best known Tex-Mex singer of all time.

The Museums of San Benito house three different museums. Here’s the link…

As always you may left click upon an image to see an enlarged view and then click once again to see an even larger view…


I went there primarily to see the Freddy Fender Museum. As luck would have it, it was the only museum where photography was not allowed. It seems in the past someone took a photo, made a copy and tried to sell it at a local flea market. At least that’s the story I was  given by both volunteer docents…both cousins of Freddy Fender. They also showed me about 45 minutes of video and told me a lot about Freddy’s life like rising from abject poverty, to serving time in Louisiana’s Angola State Prison and to international stardom.

Here’s a few photos I did manage to get…





The reasons I like Freddy’s music is not only his voice, but he also typically switches from singing in English to singing in Spanish. Below are three links to YouTube videos.

The first is Wasted Days And Wasted Nights which launched him to international stardom…

The second is another huge hit of his…Before The Next Teardrop Falls…

And finally, my favorite…Secret Love…

Freddy died at age 69 in 2006. Here’s a Wikipedia informational link about Freddy’s life…

Visiting famous people’s home town is another joy of the full-time RVing lifestyle!

The red dot on the below map shows my approximate location in the State of Texas. You may double left-click the map to make it larger…


Enjoying 65-75 degree temperatures most of the year is a primary joy in the RVing lifestyle!

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”…Albert Einstein


If you have not checked out my Ramblin Man’s Photos Blog, you can do so by clicking this link…

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2012
For more information about my three books, click this link:

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When I’m home, I always have projects to do that take gobs of time. Or, I’m having gobs of fun. The next three weeks,  I’ll be having therapy for my hip three mornings a week plus other doctor’s appointments, and my blog may be quite sporadic. I wonder at times like this how our travel companions who were severely injured in the May 27th accident are faring? I’m back revisiting my 2006 trip to China, and, suffering embarrassment as I was reminded that I had blogged my China trip last year. I totally forgot. Maybe it was the bap in the head during the accident that made me forget.  In any case, UNESCO made this cemetery a place of interest because China has not allowed burials for over 200 years. All bodies by law must be cremated. This rare cemetery belongs to the minority Yi people, and we visit their nearby village.

The minority Yi living here are poor. The place is littered with garbage.

Raw sewage runs through the  town in these runnels. They have electricity now, fairly new for them.

The streets are narrow; the buildings show their layers of history from old to ancient.

The major crop for them is corn. They raise pigs and we see dogs and wonder if they are raised for meat rather than pets.

The people mostly ignore us or hide their curiosity.  Like most minority villages, they work together and share the work and the harvest.

And, like old China, women go to work in the fields with their babies on their backs.

We saw women and children and our group engaged them. The child with the mother in the blue sweater was scared of we big noses and ran away from us.

She managed to bring him close to us. Vicki told us, do not give these people money and turn them into beggars. But, here we see that a member of our group did it anyway, and the little boy in red has his hand outstretched for more. The Cemetery is a new UNESCO site and soon, these people will have a steady parade of tourists with money in hand. Handouts warp their way of life,  rather than enhance it.

The children seem quite happy and well fed.

Who are we to decide their lifestyle needs improving?  The minority people are allowed two babies per family.  The government handed out condoms and demonstrated them by slipping them on their fingers. On the next visit, they found condoms on fence posts, hanging in the windows and on bushes. The people thought they were magically going to work by having them around.

Superstition is handed down from generation to generation.  Some of the practices of the minority people in the region are pretty strange.  These Suni-Yi believe spider webs are good luck and will not break up a web. The Wah minority favor rat meat. In older times they lent their wives to friends, or two sisters were allowed to share one husband. Some Wah are still nomadic. Girls live in white tents. Any man can fornicate with her because she has to have a baby to prove that she is fertile before she can marry.  But, the tent is guarded by a dog and the man must fight off the dog with stones and fists. The government discourages these old rituals and practices with some success.

We leave the area thinking of the vast differences in culture there is in the same country without the influence of immigration as in our own melting pot of diverse cultures. We are truly stepping back in time, here.

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We leave Kunming on the bus headed for Guilin. On the way we stop at a poor Suni Yi village that  still functions much like it has for hundreds of years. It has been insulated from tourists until recently when the village and its cemetery were designated a UNESCO site. Most of the houses are ramshackle. Some have tin roofs, some have straw. Some keep pigs next to their houses.

Raw sewage runs into a ditch down the street; garbage is strewn on the ground everywhere.  You understand very quickly what life was like, and still is,  for some ethnic minorities in China.

The Suni Yi believe spider webs are good luck and they don’t remove them from doorways, alleys or houses.

The women work together to remove corn from the cobs. The crop is shared among the families. It appears to be the major crop in this area. Front right is the village adobe mixer.

They have many uses for the fibrous husks and don’t throw them out.

Clearly visible on this building, the many layers of time. On the right, is a slap dash repair. The center is from an earlier time. Above and on the left are different materials.

Here, too, you can see the different style of adobe bricks and stucco that went into repairs over the years.

Like all Chinese, they adore their children. During the enforced one child per family policy ethnic minority people are allowed two children per family. The Chinese government enforces this with ostracism. An unregistered child is shunned by neighbors; he cannot get work as an adult, no one is allowed to hire him.  His parents also suffer; they lose jobs and get punished in many, small ways. Farm people didn’t exactly have “jobs” like city people before collective farming. And now, collective farming  has been discontinued.   At one time they gave out free condoms and demonstrated them by showing how to use them by slipping  them on their fingers. So the farmers put the condoms on fence posts, tree branches and anything but their privates thinking they would work.
The people here are not used to big noses parading through their village and they are a bit shy. Vicki asked us not to give them money and turn them into beggars. But, you can see the dollar bill in this little boys hand. One of our group “forgot”.  It won’t be long before tourism will negatively and positively affect their  lives.

We barely give the above ground  cemetery a passing glance. It is unkempt and overgrown with weeds.

From past experiences,  UNESCO sites usually have some great beauty, but this site was chosen for its historical significance and rarity. Above ground cemeteries have not been allowed in China for several centuries. By law,  bodies must be cremated.

As we leave the village, this woman is headed for the fields with her child on her back. You can tell the dog has had recent puppies and we wonder…

Happy children play on the street. They don’t know they are poor when they get enough to eat, have loving parents, and adequate shelter.

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A bounty of Christmas catalogs wend their way to my mailbox. Retailers are hoping to have a better Christmas season this year than last. And, there are signs all around that the economy is picking up. I always loved the Christmas season, except for the shopping. Shopping for my kids was fine, but for siblings and various friends or special aunts and uncles, it became a chore. Its the type of gift that is hard to choose, something you can afford but still likely to please. A hassle, to put it mildly, especially when funds were short. When my kids were college age, they couldn’t afford buying for each other and we decided collectively to stop giving gifts. Instead we donated a set amount to charity. It turned into a form of freedom that we enjoyed so much, we’ve continued the process to this day, with one exception.  The new younger set, the grandchildren, that still have sugar plums in their heads, are still entitled to gifts. It was kind of fun to reveal to each other what charity we chose and why, no matter how meager the donation.
For several years we read poetry. One year the kids sang the rock song that annoyed me the most when they were growing up and I loved the tease. We know the best part of Christmas is family, sharing food, and each other.Which brings me back to the catalogs.

Our economy may be shaky, but this is still the land of plenty. Two charities stand out in my mind because they do so much for others. One is:
They are on the ground in every country, including America, for every disaster, for every kid who is hungry, finding solutions. And the other is Heifer International.
They make it simple to make a difference. Buy two chickens and supply plenty of eggs and protein for a family. A goat provides milk. A sheep, milk, meat and wool. Help dig a pond for  fishing and a couple of  ducks. Or buy fruit trees, a sack of seed, or life saving mosquito nets.  925 million people are hungry when they go to bed at night.
Heifer International is also partnering  with project POTICO, a NewPage paper manufacturer cooperating to save virgin rainforests.
You can find a very basic, very satisfying way to make a gift that counts.

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