The Heart of Mexico

Left Behind

Raymundo Leal has seen families torn apart by migration. He wants his son to grow up without the struggle that so many face here in Tunkas, Mexico, where 75% of the town migrate for work.

When Leal was two years old, his father left for the U.S. to find work. His mother followed and had two more children there while Leal, a young teen, was left behind to care for the family inheritance.

Leal's parents sent him everything he needed indulge his passion in soccer, compensating for their absence. He grew up watching the fatherless, kids like him, running after drugs, and imagined he might become one of them. Leal ran on the soccer field instead. As his confidence grew, so did his love of his hometown.

Leal embraced Tunkas and began building a strong life for himself on his father’s ranch. An active member of the community, he coaches kids in soccer and mentors adults in professional beekeeping. Leal is now a public servant in the municipal government, a perch he uses to actively encourage and build up his community, motivating others to do their part.

Once left behind, Leal is now building a home for his family and for his community. In a region where so many families are torn apart by migration, and so many people lose their bearings, Leal found his strong center and forged a personal story of stability and survival.


The Beekeeper

Ignacio Núñez lived in the United States for 15 years but returned home to the small town of Tunkás, Mexico, four years ago to care for his aging parents. Núñez left behind family and a dream in the U.S., but has since found solace in the ancient practice of beekeeping.  

Beekeeping is a way of life for maNy in Tunkás, a rural town of 3500 people in the Yucatan peninsula, where the indigenous Maya have used honey medicinally for generations. The Yucatan produces 17 percent of the honey in Mexico, with Tunkás alone producing 7 percent, according to local experts.

While others in Tunkás rely on distant jobs, which can disrupt families and distort the local economy - 40 percent migrate regionally or internationally for wages - beekeeping is one of the few industries that keeps residents in Tunkás and provides them with a livable wage.

Beekeeping is preserving Tunkás. It's also preserving Núñez.
This video was produced with the 2015 Heart of Mexico Project and the Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas. All rights reserved.