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This is the story of my experiences living as an ex-pat in Mexico since 2003. It's to culminate in a published book. With your help, I'll be editing, selecting a title, and cover art: a participatory project. Your comments encouraged!

Letters from Mexico


ExpatsBlog.com - Where Expats Blog

July 4, 2022

Eli Pig Sanctuary

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Meet Molly, the baby pig out of a total of six living at Eli Sancturay. Photo by author

Eli Pig Sanctuary is in a remote part of Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. It was founded by Janis, a Mexican, in 2019. She follows a vegan diet and believes that animals have personalities just as we do and should not be treated as resources.

It started when she acquired the land and found a horse living there who had a wounded leg that could not be healed. He was slated to be shot but she took him in.

The amazing story unfolds from that beginning. Read on and meet the pigs, their caretakers, and see how they came together to live in harmony.

The Timeline for Eli Sanctuary

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. These two greet you as you enter the Eli Sanctuary. Photo by author

May 2018: Janis got to know Eli, an injured horse she adopted while living in Santiago.

April 2019: Janis moves to San Andres and receives Pedro, the 1st pig, a baby. May 2019: Eli died.

August 2019: Pamela and Miley arrived.

September 2019: Janis moves with the animals in Cuaquihuac, the remote area where Eli Sanctuary was set up.

March 2020: Australia and Valentino join via activists after a pig truck overturned.

April 2021: Teresa came, but she refused her son, Pedro.

September 2021: Pedro died.

January 2022: Wolf arrived to partner with Janis in running the Sanctuary.

March 2022: The baby pig, Molly, cames with two sheep.

June 2022: The roof was installed on the cob constructed kitchen.

Building the Community's Infrastructure

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Entry way on the left (top in the mobile view). On the right (bottom for mobile) is a small building used as an office and living space. Photo by author

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Inviting signs on the way in, as seen on the wall of the building in the previous photo. Photo by author

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. The yard at Eli Sanctuary. Photo by author

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. The future pond. Photo by author

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Solar panel that powers the 'frig, lights, and computers. Photo by author

The Kitchen

When I visited the Eli Sanctuary, I saw three builders working on the cob kitchen. This project began in June of 2022 and progressed very rapidly. The construction method is called "cob." The mix used to make the walls is earth, straw, water, and the binding element is the juice extracted from a species of cactus.

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico.Builders finishing the roof of the cob constructed kitchen. Photo by author

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Upper right: the interior; Left: detail of the exterior cob wall; Bottom right: the kitchen was added to the other cinder block structure. Photo by author

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico.Wolf is showing the outhouse. The right wall is hay bales. Photo by author

Introducing the Stars of the Sanctuary: The Pigs

The non-human population of Eli Sanctuary includes three dogs, four cats, two sheep, and six pigs . They all have their particular and individual personality traits.

In this article, we focus on the pigs.

The male pigs came to the Sanctuary neutered. This was a problem for the females. Once, when they were in heat, they got very frisky with the males. Five hundred pounds of frisky pig is difficult to deal with, even for another pig. The result was a male with an injured leg. This was a learning experience for their caretakers. Now the males and females live in separate pens.

Like the other pigs, as you'll see in the videos below, Valentino likes to be scratched. But he has his limits and lets you know when he's had enough.

The baby, Molly, loves to pose for the camera, and she is very photogenic.

Let's take a look at them.

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico.Top: Pamela; Bottom, from left to right: Miley, Australia, Molly. Photo by author

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico.These lucky pigs got stroked by guests. Bottom right: Miley; other images: Pamela. Photo by author

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Molly, the baby. Photo by author

Let's see these guys in action with some videos.

The sanctuary has, in addition to the six pigs, two sheep, three cats, and three dogs. Janis is known in the neighborhood as an animal lover, so no doubt she will be getting more animals. Here are some photos of the other species:

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. The white sheep is Manolo, and the black one Ulysses. Photo by author

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Meet the cats in order, from the central one in the ball of fur,clockwise: Nicholas, Ema, and Chiki. Photo by author

Eli Sanctuary Caretakers

Janis, a Mexican, is the founder of Eli Sanctuary. She moved from Mexico City to Tepoztlán in 2016. In 2019, she moved onto the land where it is now. Wolf, originally from Austria, came to Tepoztlán at the bidding of his school friend and chum, Lukes. He met Janis and came to live at the Sanctuary in January of 2022.

They provided the workers and guests with a tasty meal.

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. The gang gathers for lunch. Wolf is on the right, and Janis to the left of him in the purple shirt. Photo by author

Here is an interview with them. To me it was very interesting to hear why they do this, and of their perspectives on veganism. Veganism is a philosophy, not simply a type of diet. It's a way of being in the world.

It's not easy to keep a sanctuary like Eli going. They need your help: volunteer labor and donations. Eli is a non-profit. If you are interested, or want more information, please check the Facebook page, or send Janis an email.

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico.The land is a remote wooded area on a hilltop. In the distance, you can barely make out the city of Cuernavaca. Photo by author

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Hibicus flower from a shrub growing on the property. Photo by author



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A post and videos and story after my own heart. Thank you for getting the vegan word out to your world of friends. How delightful! Wayne and I watched the videos, got the tour, and met the animals and their human caregivers. Lovely people. Great work!

---Mary Rives

Thanks, Mary, for your kind support and deep understanding. I am glad you enjoyed it.



A good heartfelt share, Mary.

---Keith Carlson


Very interesting.  Thanks for posting.

---Maria Espinosa