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Penny For Your Thoughts

by

Ever get that slightly creepy feeling? Hairs prickle, you feel hot and chilled at the same time, your eyes almost water... something is warning your deepest instincts....

...The sub-tropics! God, but I'm ready to go. Mexico City is a happening place but ten days with my favorite girl out in Oaxaca sounds like just the thing I need to get my head back on my shoulders.
It's the mid-seventies, I've got a great girl not Miss Universe but she's pretty, fun, smart, and well, heck... I like her. We're both taking classes at the University of the Americas, and I get this great invite to join her and a bunch of student teachers for a week and a half in the villages near Tlaxiaco.
The project is sponsored by the University. For the past several years groups of student teachers have been visiting the rural towns in Oaxaca and surrounding states to teach basic Spanish skills to the mostly Nahuatl speaking villagers.
The trip out by bus was fantastic. Between singing old Mexican folk songs we talked about the work ahead of us. We were armed with text books written in Spanish and Nahuatl, full of enthusiasm and energy, ready to help spread the growth of knowledge. Before we left I spoke with other students who had been on similar trips. They all said the people were excited to learn and fun to work with. But there were some strange rumors too. Students disappearing, returning maimed. No one believed it.
... Oaxaca. Beautiful, wild countryside full of coffee plantations and sugar cane fields, rural land dotted with thatched-roof huts, quiet, friendly people. I was along mostly for the ride. My field of studies wasn't education, I'd been invited because there was extra room on the bus and to help share expenses.
The other students gathered up their gear and each headed off to a different town to begin setting up classrooms and teaching. Most of the teachers would live right in the villages for the ten day outing. I entertained myself in town, checking out the various sights and just taking it easy. We all were to meet back in the main plaza to catch the bus back to Mexico City. But not everyone made it.
The spread of knowledge is seen as a threat by some people. There is a school of thought, especially among the "haves," that it is best not to educate or inform others too much. With the spread of knowledge naturally comes the desire to want more, to improve ones life-style, to seek a more fulfilling existence. This is potentially dangerous to those already "in the know." Their position of power is jeopardized.
In Oaxaca in the seventies many student teachers were murdered by wealthy landowners who didn't want their village workers to have an education. They knew that once the coffee pickers and sugar cane cutters began reading of other places, other life-styles, the reality of their existence would change. They would no longer be willing to work for tokens to purchase food in the company store. They would realize that they had the power to improve their standard of living, they would no longer be as easily controlled. Some student teachers returned maimed, with ears missing. The message was clear. Keep what you know to yourself, we don't want the people hearing what you have to say...
Some odd rumors have been trickling in through the grapevine lately. There is talk among assorted dealers of the menace presented by El antiQuario. There is concern that trade secrets are being revealed, that confidential information on where to buy, or the dollar amount certain items command in international markets is being leaked to the wrong people. We've been told we should be shot for attempting to ruin the businesses of fine, upstanding dealers.
Yes, spreading knowledge does change things, it is an equalizer. As the places and people we buy from, and the different amounts items bring in other markets become more widely known, the number of sources for finding these pieces will increase. As people become aware that the old rickety pegged tables, the enormous mesquite troughs and forged iron gates that have been stored in the barn for years have value, the items naturally begin appearing in the marketplace. Will prices go up? Perhaps. Prices naturally rise and fall in a free market environment.
The truth is that as more people become involved in trading, more sources for both buying and selling develop. Your businesses are not being undermined by the spread of understanding of what currently has market desirability. Your businesses, and those with whom you deal, will only grow stronger and healthier with the spread of knowledge. One can not continually take without giving in return.
We sincerely hope to maintain both ears firmly attached to our head.

 

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