The town of Juluchuca has about 500 residents, most of whom belong to the same four families. As part of the design process for Playa Viva, we interviewed the local community to learn about their dreams and aspirations, their memories of the place, how the town has changed, and the challenges facing them today.
We were surprised to be joined by two of the town's elders -- a woman of 98 years of age and her 114 year old mother. We had no way to confirm their ages except by their extensive knowledge of local history. It is interesting to note that at the time of the Aztecs, the town of Juluchuca was known as Xolochiuhyan, which can be translated to "Place of Elders." Perhaps longevity is a key characteristic of the people of this area.
Many members of the local community recalled a time before the main highway from Acapulco cut through town, when the men would work in the salt fields in the morning and in the afternoon, the women would come out to greet the men as they all walked back from the salt fields as a group. Many pined for these simpler times when the labor was communal and the fruits of their labor were shared by all. Today, economic activity is more individualistic, breaking down community ties and shared responsibility.
Today, the people of Juluchuca lament the loss of their community's youth, many of whom go to "el norte" (the north) to find work, sending money home to their relatives. This trend has meant zero population growth over the last 20-30 years. The people of Juluchuca are excited by the prospect of local economic opportunities that can help the community to strengthen and thrive.
We also plan to participate in many of the towns' traditions. On Christmas Day, all the families take their leftovers from Christmas Dinner and go down to the beach for a big community picnic. We plan to host this event in Playa Viva bringing town and resort together for a large Christmas Day meal.
At least 50% of the construction team will be comprised of people from the community of Juluchuca. Many townspeople have already started small businesses in support of the development. One industrious villager has started a nursery providing plants and trees for the restoration and regeneration of the preserve. Many others are participating in volunteer projects including our recycling program, which is designed to reduce the burning of trash.