May and early June are the hottest, driest months—the roughest time for campesinos.
These are the last days to clear fields and fix fencing before the rains come. It also means that while celebrating the various fiestas this month, some farmers watched livestock die from lack of water. “Soup costs more than meat balls” is the traditional dicho.
May tends to astonish the office- and city-bound. From air-conditioned vehicles they squint in disbelief at subsistence farmers climbing mountainsides distantly surrounding Guadalajara to cut and burn off stubborn brush, repairing fences of stone and barbed wire laced with thorned scrub.
The temporada de la sequia in the Jalisco highlands traditionally lasts until the full-moon celebration of San Antonio de Padua, June 13. In farming communities the welcome aguaceros add fervor to San Antonio celebrations, which like most of Mexico’s fiestas, are agricultural in origin.
In the region southwest of Guadalajara where my friends and I sweat, digging post holes and stretching wire, there have been no hoped-for early showers to relieve the glaring heat ricocheting from the clay-and-rock mountainsides.