A reporter recently visited the couple, Benito Hernandez and Santa Martha de la Cruz Villarreal, in their primitive desert home 50 miles south of Texas. Hernandez is a farmer who plants and collects the Candelilla plant used in making Candelilla wax.
He first saw this boulder 55 years ago, when he was 8, and decided to make it a home one day. Twenty years later he was able to secure rights to the land.
“I started coming here when I was 8 years old to visit the Candelilla (harvesting) fields, and I liked it here. I liked it and then I continued visiting every three to four months. I wasn’t married and I didn’t have a family yet, but I liked it and I had to keep coming to put my foot in (on the property) because lands here are won through claiming them,” Hernandez told the Hernandez told the International Business Times The home, made of sun-dried bricks and cement, has a dirt floor, a wood stove, and no plumbing. Electrical service is said to be unreliable. A nearby stream supplies fresh drinking water. In winter, though, the water source freezes over.
“It gets very cold here and we struggle to get food. We have to work hard here on the Candelilla (fields). That’s the only job we have. That’s what we live from,” said Hernandez.
The couple have seven children, six of whom are married and live nearby.