I need to introduce Pancho. It is fortuitous that he is the first man I met the evening I arrived in Sahuayo. I say that because as it turns out he is one of the wisest men I have ever met. Is he the smartest? Who is to say?

We can quickly size people up in the United States by how they dress, how they speak, what their profession is and come reasonably close to guessing how smart they are. Smart people are generally good money managers. Smart people are generally clever and witty. Smart people typically manage other people. Smart people are ambitious.

But how do you measure wisdom? Because it is quite possible to be wise and to have no money. It is quite possible for a wise man to have sacrificed money for something that was more important. Jesus was a poor man but he constantly confounded the educated leaders of the Temple with his wisdom.
It is said that George Washington became the first President of the United States reluctantly; that he did not want to rule or lead, but he put aside his personal desire to return to his home after the war in order to serve the nation that needed him.

Pancho is the diminutive for Francisco; as in Francisco ‘Pancho’ Villa. He is a trained lawyer but non-practicing. He owns a cantina which we both agree is a much more honorable profession. He is 48 years old and looks uncannily like the French actor Jean Reno; right down to the sad droopy eyes. He understands English better than he speaks it and he speaks it quite well. He must be part Sicilian because he knows if someone is telling the truth. He knows good and evil because he grew up in Michoacán with both as next door neighbors. 

Here are a few things that I’ve learned from him:

  • If a friend asks for help, there should be no money involved, only friendship.
  • A person comes to you and wants to make business – they have to have money to make business with.
  • Friends – ‘if you treat me well, I treat you well’
  • If you want to make business with me, I treat you bad ( I put on my business face)
  • Repay kindness with kindness (not money)
  • If you treat me bad  and I don’t want to treat you bad, I will ignore you
  • Business is a hard heart (but you can reward in ways other than money)
  • If the going rate is 400 pesos per week than you don’t pay 500
  • There is no charity in business


And last, a couple of comments about good and evil. I’ve concluded in talking to him that there is a very fine line in Michoacán between good and evil; you’re either one of the good guys or one of the bad guys – you can’t play on both teams down here. His advice to me from day one was – stay away from the bad guys. Don’t hang out at bad places. And don’t do bad things. Mexican’s are all horrible gossips and nothing you do or say will stay a secret.