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‘That’s why I bring flowers’

from the Editors  |  Issue: November | December 2017

Oaxaca earthquake brings out the best in us


Old woman of 86 years

Old woman of 86 years who lost everything, even her niece and still went to buy flowers for her own.


We had hardly been in San Mateo del Mar for about 10 minutes when a small, old lady came up to us carrying a small bundle of white flowers. She asked us to please accompany her to her house. We were there to take a cargo of relief to the victims of the great earthquake that struck Oaxaca and to take a photographic record of what happened and although we expected bad news, the truth is that never is prepared for a landscape so bleak, sad and where you still feel the scent of fear in the air.

The lady took us to a small door that could barely be seen under a fallen tree. “Enter, she said. We walked into a cracked clay courtyard as we followed her a few meters into the back, asking her if she would allow us to take photos, she said: Yes.

When we managed to cross the courtyard we witnessed a scene without equal. Approximately 4 meters of block fence had fallen on its patio, evidently crushing the lady’s belongings. Some tree trunks protruded from the ground under the fallen everyday objects and the rubble.

“There …” she said and pointed to a bundle of removed blocks, dirt, garbage and a palm roof that had collapsed leaving a space of about 30 centimeters from the ground. “There my niece died”. Then she embraced me and began to mourn with a strength as extraordinary as her anguish. “I’m 86 years old, she was a girl,” she repeated. “That’s why I bring flowers”.

I did not know where I got the strength to not fade at that moment. The only certainty I have is that All Oaxaca will need the strength of an old woman of 86 years who lost everything, even her niece and still went to buy flowers for her own.

It’s not fiction. It is real. It’s San Mateo del Mar, Oaxaca.

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