Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.
I am mayordomo of a very small irrigation ditch. My position would be a curiosity to most people I take pleasure in conversing with in the city and would be to them probably of little more importance than the identity of the plant emerging at my feet. "Is it good for anything?" What good is it to be the mayordomo of the Acequia de la Jara? Very little. Possibly none. My salary is $100 a month for six or seven months.
What was once a position given to a respected elder in the old days - if there were old days, and perhaps these are still the old days here - is now foisted onto the old, the stay-at-homes, sometimes even the derelicts, or is occasionally coveted only by desperate young men in their early 20s who see in the modest salary the illusion, a road - somehow - to freedom and self-respect, an escape from the confines of this narrow valley. A job nobody much wants. But nonetheless a job, one of the few that a small community can give, often reluctantly, to one of its members.
No, by becoming mayordomo you do not become the Man, even if you are a gringo. You become something quite opposite. You become even more involved and entwined.
- Stanley Crawford, Mayordomo
Reprinted by permission of University of New Mexico Press, 800/249-7737.