Poverty-stricken Mexico is in distress. Dire economic conditions and worsening cartel violence has shaken the country to its core. But flowers can grow amidst weeds, and such a flower is blooming in the small coastal town of La Paz, where 10-year old Matilda Jimenez is making waves.
Young Matilda has launched a series of successful sea shell shops in and around La Paz catering to the tourist community there. Matilda walks the beaches collecting shells. She then cleans them up and decorates them for sale in her small seaside shops along the coast.
“She sells sea shells by the seashore,” said her mother. “The shells that she sells are sea shells.”
Tourists flock to the shops to purchase the decorative shells and meet the young entrepreneurial phenomenon whose reputation now extends outside of Mexico.”I feel so privileged to have met her and purchased the shells that she sells,” exclaimed a British tourist. “They’re sea shells.”
Matilda’s reputation does not solely revolve around her lucrative shell businesses, but also for her research.
“She’s an incredibly intelligent young girl,” noted her schoolteacher, Sr. Gomez. “She’s particularly fond of the natural sciences.”
Matilda won a national science fair last year for her study of woodchucks. Her report focused on how much wood a woodchuck could chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
“Her findings were conclusive,” stated Gomez. “He would chuck, he would, as much as he could, and chuck as much as a woodchuck would if a woodchuck could chuck wood.”
The woodchuck study earned Matilda a grant from the Mexican Department of Grants, which she plans to use to further her research in the field.
Young Matilda also has shown an interest in the legal system (or lack thereof in Mexico), as a result of witnessing daily injustices on the streets of La Paz; notably, the infamous case of American tourist Peter Piper, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the alleged theft of pickled peppers from a La Paz-based pepper farm.
The prosecution asserted that after trespassing onto the farm, Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers: “A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked,” stated prosecutor Esteban Chavez. The defense argued that if Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked? This defense was, unfortunately, to no avail, as Mr. Piper was given the maximum allowable sentence for such a crime.
Matilda visits with Mr. Piper frequently, bringing him decorative sea shells for his cell, and sharing with him her continued woodchuck research.
“She’s a truly remarkable young woman with an incredibly bright future ahead of her,” notes Piper. “Whether she ends up cleaning houses, hotels, selling chewing gum or giving birth to a child every 9 months, I have no doubt that she’s going to do it with vim and vigor.”