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How Jacinto Ek Moo Developed His Work Ethic

Feb 10, 2008
From Campeche to Chetumal is maybe three hundred miles as the crow flies. By car it's maybe seven or eight hours depending on how one goes since there is no direct route. That's by car. Walking through the jungle is another story.

At 16 Moo had heard from a cousin that Hurricane Janet was so strong it had driven a caoba wood plank nearly halfway through a Zapote tree. On that pretext, he left from Campeche and planned to walk all the way through to Chetumal. This was the early 1950's.

Back then Quintana Roo wasn't even a state in Mexico and was considered pretty wide open. In the jungle the Maya ruled and no one entered their lands without permission. As Moo got to what is the present day town of Limones, he saw a Maya Indian on the trail ahead of him with a gun. As he turned to look behind him, he saw another Maya with a gun was following him.

Soon both surrounded him and motioned for him to keep going to their village deep in the jungle. There they took him to their small village church where they had him remove his hat and shoes and pointed their guns for him to sit down. They told him their leader or cacique would be coming soon to talk with him and he dare not move.

Moo had two options: if the cacique allowed him to go, he could leave by the small door on the left. If he moved or the cacique did not let him go, he would go out the door on the right, which was reserved for those going to the cemetery. Moo didn't move.

An hour or so later he saw the cacique enter the church and sit down in the front row. After several minutes he turned to Moo and asked him in Maya what he was doing there. Moo answered that he had heard about the hurricane and wanted to see for himself and maybe find some land he could work.

The cacique asked him what he could do. He replied tend to animals or work the fields...Maya style fields. Most of the Yucatan peninsula is rocky and the Maya plant between the rocks. The cacique told him to follow and he would speak to several men in the village.

Fortunately one of the men needed some fences mended and Moo found work. Moo's father had taught him that there is work everywhere and one just has to find it. Moo was a hard worker.

Moo said he never remembered a time when he didn't work. When he was not in school he would visit with relatives and each would teach him a different job and that way he could do a good many things. Many Mexican men leave home at a young age and set out on their own looking for work. The advantage of having many skills served these working wanderers well as they could go into almost any town and find work.

A number of these men ended up with businesses or ranches like Moo. Somehow the lessons they had learned at an early age served them very well.

A half century and 17 children later Moo sat by his roadside stand selling his coconuts. His farm is about four square kilometers along the national highway. He has a ranch house, a house by the side of the road and a house in Limones. He had a house in Chetumal but gave it to his oldest daughter so all his many grandchildren could stay there when they went to school.

Moo said because he was taught the value of work he never drank as getting drunk was not only a waste of time but a waste of the fruits of his labor. Instead of drinking his money away, he said, he would save it and when a neighbor wanted to sell their land he would buy it, if the price was right and the land a good piece. Over the years he built quite a ranch for himself.

Not bad for a 16 year old out seeking his fortune.

Moo is one of those that will never retire, just work less as they approach their final years. Unlike many first worlders that live stressed, fragmented lives and hate their work, Moo said he just felt better working until he went to bed. His work has been his life.

We bought some of his coconut plants to take back to our ranch as the hurricane knocked down a couple of ours. They will grow and we will remember the chat about work and life we had with Moo one hot day along the national highway near Bacalar.
About the Author
Jack D. Deal is the owner of Deal Business Consulting. Related articles may be found at http://www.jddeal.com and http://www.freeandinquiringmind.typepad.com
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