Ronald A. Barnett

My parents and I first came to Mexico in the early 1950s. In those days farmers still plowed the fields with oxen and the waters of Lake Chapala washed over top of the pier. My mother and I had always been interested in Mexican archaeology and history, my father in a warm, cheap place to retire when he ended his career in the Canadian Armed Forces. After that we made frequent trips back and forth between Canada and Mexico. We lived for a time at Ana Capri on the south shore of Lake Chapala, where my friend Salvador Cárdenas taught me how to fish for charales with the casting net. We first settled in Ajijic, where we lived for many years. We then bought a house at Roca Azul just outside of Jocotepec at the western end of Lake Chapala, where we have lived ever since. My father now spends most of his time in Canada with my brother for medical health reasons.

Over the years I have seen many changes in Mexico, some good, some not so good. Goods and services have improved, especially for foreign visitors and full-time residents, but Mexico has been losing some of the traditions and culture that brought us here in the first place. However, more than enough remains to keep me busy researching and writing about Mexico past and present.

During my years in Mexico I have come to know Mexico Desconocido (“Unknown Mexico”), the inner soul of Mexico, through my relationships with the Huichol Indians, the curanderos, the temascaleros, and others who continue to follow the old ways. I am familiar with many pre-Hispanic traditions and ceremonies that have continued to the present day. With Huichol friends I have attended the peyote fiesta at Las Guayabas in the Huichol Sierra and assisted as the “hombre de fuego” at the spiritual temascal or traditional sweat bath. Because of my background knowledge of pre-Hispanic sources I have, on occasions, been able to explain the origin of a ceremony or custom to those who actually practice it.

My articles on Mexico and other topics have appeared regularly in local publications since 1994. I am currently working on several research and writing projects: the pre-Hispanic concept of history (history from the viewpoint of the Maya, Aztecs, Mixtecs, and others), Mesoamerican religion from Olmec times to the present, and comparative epic poetry and saga (a worldwide survey and analysis of epic and heroic narrative from earliest times to the present).

I never found time to get married and raise a family. When I am not working on my research projects I run long distance on the bicycle path between Jocotepec and San Juan Cosalá. In Canada, I played the bagpipes at the competitions of the annual summer Highland Games. I have continued to play the bagpipes at special events here in Mexico.

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