Culture

If I Lived In One Of These 12 Mexican Towns With Strange Names I’d Move Immediately

Sometimes, it’s fun to take advantage of someone else’s inability to speak Spanish. It is a romance language after all. So when my mom would tell her white friends, “de nalga” instead of “de nada,” nobody noticed except us.

If you’re from any of these towns, we bet your non-Latino friends just nod and say, “Nice!” But we all know you’re from the land of the boogers. Here are the weirdest places in Mexico to say you’re from.

1. Villa Mocos

@MiPetitMadrid / Twitter

Everyone loves to talk about Villa Mocos, but it’s a myth! Maybe our moms were playing pranks on the gabachos, and it’s infiltrated our impressionable young minds. Don’t believe anyone who tells you they’re from Villa Mocos.

2. Las Nalga de Ventura, Guanajuato

@tioironhomie / Twitter

The full name is Rancho de Guadalupe (La Nalga de Ventura) which directly translates to Guadalupe’s Ranch (Fortune’s Butt). There are only 217 inhabitants that can say they’re from Ventura’s Butt.

3. Salsipuedes, Baja California

@ViewDownHere / Twitter

Pero, really, “leave if you can”. Apparently, the secluded beaches you might choose to relax on in Salsipuedes are often interrupted by major wave breaks. Surfers love to go and enjoy it y salsipuede.

4. Delicias, Chihuahua

@PaseaPerrosCom / Twitter

Literally translated to “Delights, Mexico,” this is what we’d expect to see. The city is the fourth most populated in the state of Chihuahua and is actually a major agricultural center. 

5. Comitán, Chiapas

@josielynn__v

Waiting for your friends or S.O. to commit already? Buy them a one way ticket to Comitán, which is translated to “Commit!” 

6. Ojo de Agua, Tecámac

@BricRealEstate / Twitter

How can you visualize el ojo de aqua? Through the eye of Mother Nature, it might be a spring. There’s no confirmation on how the town got its name, but it’s as good a hunch as any.

7. Aguascalientes, Mexico

@muratnebiayhan / Twitter

This state of Mexico directly translates to “Hot Waters.” It’s not because everyone is feeling like this frog, but because there are so many hot springs in the area. Still–“Hi, I’m from Hot Waters,” feels like a silly thing to say in English, and beautiful in Spanish.

8. Pachuca, Mexico

@Love99270707 / Twitter

There is no official consensus on how the coastal town got its name. It might have originated from the word pachoa, which means strait; pachoacan which means place of silver and gold; or patlachuican which means place of tears.

9. Paso del Macho, Veracruz

@luismartinulloa / Twitter

Directly translated to “Male’s Path,” apparently this municipality was named after the treacherous journey to enter the area. You needed mules or dudes to carry the load.

10. La Barca, Jalisco

@wfp_mozambique / Twitter

Originally named Santa Mónica de la Barca, it eventually just became known as La Barca. That’s like if your home town’s name was “The Boat.” This one is less weird than it is just straight unimaginative.

11. Cortazar, Guanajuato

@superpetmate1 / Twitter

Home of the best hair dressers in the world, Cortazar… okay just kidding. It was first known as San José de los Amoles, but for some reason, it became known as Cortazar, which means ‘to cut.’

12. Chihuahua, Mexico

@LunaPrincess / Twitter

Probably the most annoying place to be from if you’ve moved anywhere else in the world is Chihuahua, Mexico. To the rest of the world, it translates to “Tiny Dog, Mexico.”

At least nobody can be from Isla del Malpelo, Colombia.

@tiktokgrassi / Twitter

It’s just a deserted island that could only be used for climbing it’s barren rock and jumping into the ocean. It also promises for a bad hair day. Badhair Island is a favorite for scuba divers and scientists but that’s about it.

READ: 13 Super Affordable Cities In Latin America To Travel On A Budget

A Toxi-Tour Will Take Activists To Seven States In Mexico That Host The Country’s Most Polluted Spots

Things That Matter

A Toxi-Tour Will Take Activists To Seven States In Mexico That Host The Country’s Most Polluted Spots

ChilangoMX / Instagram

Like most countries that depend heavily on coal energy and on manufacturing to keep its productive wheels running, Mexico is deeply affected by the environmental damage that many industries cause. Added to local production, Mexico has also been the site of maquilas, factories set up by foreign investors who are lured by cheaper labour and by lax tax regimes, as well as by looser rules when it comes to environmental impact. Both industry and public opinion need to be better informed of the toxic hot spots in the country.

Mexico sits at an strategic political and commercial position, and industrial powerhouses such as the United States and Canada, whose companies have set shop in the other member of NAFTA, by far the most disadvantaged. 

The toxi-tour caravan will travel the country for ten days in total, December 2-11.

Participants include environmentalists and scientists from both Mexico and overseas. The objective is to raise awareness and to denounce the companies that cause most damage. Perhaps shaming is the first step towards change. Besides Mexicans, there are representatives from the United States, Europe and other Latin American Countries. 

The journey began in El Salto, Jalisco, where a polluted river has led to cancer and death.

Credit: Regeneración radio

In this site industrial pollution of the Santiago river has caused the death of more than a thousand people due to cancer and kidney failure. People from cities in the United States affected by pollution in places like Flint, Michigan, can surely relate. A river is generally a propeller for economic development and productive activity, as well as a source of an increasingly scarce commodity: water. However, this river is basically poisonous now and has brought death to those who live nearby. 

The caravan will visit sites were more than three million people have seen their health diminished by pollution.

Credit: Notimex

The rest of the Toxi-tour stops include Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato; Apaxco, México state; Atonilco de Tula, Hidalgo; Tlaxcala; Puebla; and Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz. The journey will conclude in Mexico City on December 11. As you may lmow, Mexico City is deeply affected by high levels of pollution. Its high altitude and the fact that it is nested in a valley make it prone to elevated pollution levels that have damaged the upper respiratory tract in millions of its inhabitants.

In the photo we can see the cement manufacturing plant of Apaxco, which releases fine particles that have caused upper respiratory tract issues for both the workers and the people living near the factory. Imagine breathing grainy, minuscule cement dust day in, day out. Another big issue is the unlawful disposal of waste in landfills which end up pumping chemicals into the soil and rendering it sterile. 

The organizers have a pretty clear idea of who is to blame for the environmental crisis in these places.

As Mexico Daily News reports: “The Toxi-Tour will “denounce United States, Canadian, German, French, Spanish and Mexican companies” that cause environmental damage, said Andrés Barreda, a representative of the National Assembly of Environmental Victims, which organized the caravan.”

Yes, Mexican companies share the blame, but the fact that Global North companies have caused physical damage to the land and people of a previously colonized nation brings back memories of colonial times and trauma. So for these companies the lives of Global South countries are less valuable? It would appear that is the case. This is afforded of course, by corrupt authorities. The caravan will also get political and will engage local community leaders and people that have been affected or displaced by industry.

As Mexico News Daily reports: “In Tlaxcala on Friday, caravan members will learn about the community proposal to clean up the Atoyac–Zahuapan river basin, while on Saturday they will visit contaminated areas of Puebla city and speak with locals who have been dispossessed of their communal lands.”

Mexican history is a history of dispossession, and environmental violence is another way in which those in power have decimated the productive capabilities and future survival of communities that live and die by a deep attachment to the land and nature. 

Schools In Mexico’s Yucatan Have Made Mayan Language Classes A Requirement And Here’s Why That Matters

Culture

Schools In Mexico’s Yucatan Have Made Mayan Language Classes A Requirement And Here’s Why That Matters

Child-Aid.org

Sometimes there are big, big steps towards inclusivity in Latin America, a region that is still defined by colonial structures in which the indigenous is frowned upon and often looked down at. Indigenous languages, for example, are always at a clear and present danger of becoming extinct due to the imposition of Spanish (or Castillian, as people who speak other languages in then  Iberian Peninsula call it) as the main language and often the only way to be part of the productive force. However, the southern state of Yucatan is taking a big step towards acknowledgement of the original owners of a land that was never ceded. 

Schools in Yucatan have taken an important step towards real cultural inclusion and diversity.

The State Congress of Yucatan has just made it mandatory to have Mayan language instruction in primary and secondary schools. This is a great step towards true inclusivity in a state that has long benefited from Mayan culture when it comes to tourism and areas such as culinary tradition and art. According to census data, more than 570,000 people in Yucatan speak Mayan, so areas of the state are actually fully bilingual.

The census authority in Mexico has pointed out that the prevalence of Spanish has affected the numbers of people speaking Mayan. “Nevertheless, it is important to point out that the percentage of people that speak Mayan in the state has been decreasing constantly and drastically in recent years,” the agency INEGI warned, as reported by Mexico Daily News.

Change will not come quick, however, as reported by the same outlet: “One reason for going slowly might be a shortage of teachers. Education authorities said in September there was a shortage of bilingual — Spanish and Mayan — teachers. The state said it would attempt to remedy the situation by introducing a “seed group” of 20 primary-level bilingual teachers who would pass their skills on to at least another 40 teachers in a process that would fan out and prepare more teachers to help meet Mayan instruction goals”. 

Mestizo Mexicans have a contradictory relationship to the country’s rich indigenous past.

There is no denying that there is a systematic and everyday racism in Mexican society. From government programs that inadvertently look down on indigenous Mexicans to the actual word of “indio” being used as an insult in everyday vernacular, there are manifestations of this type of discrimination on a constant basis and oftentimes people are not often aware.

This is no doubt part of the colonial heritage in Mexico, particularly when we consider that there was actually a caste system in place with Europeans at the top and indigenous people at the bottom. This discrimination is alive and well, and can be seen in different facets of Mexican society.

At the same time, however, institutionally ancient civilizations, particularly the Maya and the Aztec, are seen as the foundation of the country and a source of pride. The history of these groups is taught in schools and when Mexicans travel abroad usually the first thing they brag about is the glorious indigenous past and how the Spanish destroyed it all. There is a sense of nationalism emanating from the past glory of these civilizations. Sadly, this doesn’t always translate into how indigenous communities are treated. That is why including Maya in the curriculum is a BFD! 

The Maya were amazing scientists, poets and overall a very advanced civilizations compared to their European counterparts at the time.

The Maya civilization was not only advanced in the material aspects of life such as irrigation and construction, but they also reached a very sophisticated level of conceptualization. For example, their number system included the zero, a feat that might seem very simple and almost banal, but that requires a high level of abstraction and a very high level of mathematical intelligence. They also had a deep understanding of astronomy and the ways in which the stars and the Earth’s rotation affect crops and daily life. Hey, maybe we can learn something from them in these times of climate change crisis.