© Matt Black, undated, A woman cooking, San Miguel Cuevas, Mexico

CLOUD STORIES / Part 2 of 2

In the Mixteca, one of the most impoverished regions in Mexico, migration to the United States has arrived like a storm. In a place so insular that pre-columbian languages like Mixteco, Trique, and Asmuzgos are still spoken more widely than Spanish, and where cars, electricity and indoor plumbing are recent introductions, if they exist at all, northern migration has emptied communities and transformed the lives of those left behind. Some villages have lost as much as 80% of their population to the north and have become little more than ghost towns, home to just a handful of old men, women and the left-behind children of migrants.

In San Miguel Cuevas - or Nuyuco, Face of the Mountain, in Mixteco - just 500 people out of 3000 remain. Its streets are largely empty, its fields stand deserted, its century-old way of life lies in shambles as families dissolve to the north, rending the social fabric of this traditional agrarian society. Old women raise grandchildren left behind by their mothers, teenage girls do the work of absent fathers, and old men sit alone, abandoned by their children. "I only think about dying," one 70 year old said, "my only worry is how my funeral will be." (more info and pictures here)

» read part 1