Galarza describes the setting and what it is like to live in a mountain village. An old man tells him, “the forest doesn’t belong to anyone, and it belongs to everyone.” How does Ernesto interpret this?

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In the book Barrio Boy, author Ernesto Galarza describes the culture of the rural mountain village of Jalcocotán, one of the oldest towns in the Mexican state of Nayarit. Ernesto Galarza writes his book as a first-person narrative in which he interacts with native townspeople and translates key phrases...

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In the book Barrio Boy, author Ernesto Galarza describes the culture of the rural mountain village of Jalcocotán, one of the oldest towns in the Mexican state of Nayarit. Ernesto Galarza writes his book as a first-person narrative in which he interacts with native townspeople and translates key phrases from these people’s conversations with the author. At one point, in a discussion of the local forests of the ancient settlement of Jalcocotán, Galarza notes that an old man described the forest as not belonging “to anyone” while simultaneously belonging “to everyone.” Ernesto Galarza recognizes that this comment originates from the traditional perspectives on land possession held by the jalcocotecanos, the inhabitants of Jalcocotán.

The jalcocotecanos held some vague notions of land boundaries within the forest but felt that all residents in Jalcocotán were each entitled to whatever resources they needed to retrieve from the forest, their source of nutritional sustenance and building materials. Focusing on cyclical interactions rather than set linear boundaries, the residents in Jalcocotán likewise gave back to the forest. Ernesto Galarza describes the village women preparing meals from butchered animals and leaving the entrails to be consumed by the turkey vultures that emerged from the forest.

In all, Galarza seems to interpret the words of the old man as an indication that the jalcocotecanos viewed all of nature as they viewed the forest. The jalcocotecanos believed in exchanges between members of nature. The humans interacted with each other in order to take what they needed from the forest, and they gave back to the forest as well.

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