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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkMexico & Banderas Bay Area News 

Family Lives Under Rock in Desert of Coahuila, Mexico

January 25, 2013
For Benito Hernandez, his ideal home was not a villa or a fancy condo, but something completely different. Since he was 8 years old, he knew exactly where he wanted to live - under a rock in Coahuila, Mexico.

Coahuila, Mexico - For Benito Hernandez, his ideal home was not a mansion or a high-rise condo, but something different entirely. Since he was 8 years old, the farmer knew exactly where he wanted to make his home - under a rock in Coahuila, Mexico.

The 131-foot rock formation caught Hernandez's eye when he was just a boy working in the fields. Though it took him 20 years to legally own the land, Hernandez and his wife have turned the rock into a home, building a sun-dried brick house beneath the stone.

"I started coming here when I was 8 years old to visit the Candelilla fields and I liked it here," Hernandez said. "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 because that is how land is won here - through claiming it."

Located about fifty miles south of the US-Mexico border near San Jose de Piedras, the home is small, but it was spacious enough for Hernandez and his wife to raise 7 children, one of which still lives there. Though Hernandez installed a wood-burning stove, electricity is unreliable and the dwelling lacks a sewage system.

Hernandez makes a living by working off the land, planting and harvesting the Candelilla plant, which is used to make Candelilla wax, used largely in the chewing gum industry, cosmetics and medicine, and more than 20 other industries that depend on it.

The existence of this plant is was what attracted settlers to this region including Hernandez, whose parents and brothers started visiting the area 55-years ago. Hernandez found the large rock formation while still a young boy collecting the plants and it was then that he decided to make it his home.

He had to struggle to fend off others who wanted the land, as the location is coveted for its proximity to a mountain spring which supplies a source of cleaning drinking water. Although the family struggles to get by during the harsh winter months when temperatures drop below 32F and the spring water freezes over, Hernandez refuses to move to a more comfortable abode.

"It gets very cold here and we struggle to get food," Hernandez said. "We have to work hard and the Candelilla plant doesn't produce much wax during the wet and winter periods, but that's the only job we have. That's what we live from."

People living under rock formations or in caves in this day and age is not entirely unheard of. In October, a cave-dwelling man in El Paso, Texas, made waves after hikers reported that he jumped out of the cave in the nude and chased them away.