Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Truth About Mexico

Here is our friend Teo, the only Mexican member of our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.  He is the weaver who makes beautiful tapetas, or tapestries, which I have highlighted on this blog before.  He is a very sweet, gentle and kind man who represents, to me, what I love most about Mexico: its people.  Teo lived and worked as an agricultural worker in California for many years, traveling back and forth between Ajijic and California each year.  The work was back breaking and sometimes humiliating.  Once he found his life partner, Janice Kimball, an expat artist from Detroit, she convinced Teo that he could make a living with his amazing weavings.  They now live in Ajijic and own a joint Aztec Studio, where Janice sells her paintings, they sell tapetas designed by Janice and made by Teo, and now Teo's son, Francisco, also makes more modern tapetas which he sells as well.  They are a beautiful family making their living with their art and add so much to this Mexican-Gringo community.  This photo of Teo was taken a couple of weeks ago when Pixie and I hosted a pot luck lunch for our Fellowship in our back yard.  

Pixie left for Maine yesterday and arrived safely in Gray, Maine at the home of her sister, Liana.  She reports that she had to pay $8.00 for a lousy sandwich on Delta Airlines and arrived to mucho snow in Maine, but moderate temperatures in the 30's.  She will be in Maine for an indeterminite period, and I will be fending for myself for awhile.   

The title of this entry came from my reaction to some very bad publicity Mexico has been receiving the last few weeks, which I believe is unwarranted.  The LA Times 
reported a week or two ago that Drug Czar Barry McAfferty, among others, has warned that Mexico may become a failed state, similar to Afghanistan and Pakistan.  This analyis is based on three trends.  The Narco Gangs are proliferating, especially in the northern Mexican states near the US border, and over 5000 people were murdered last year in drug-related violence.  Although President Calderon hascommited Mexican troops  and federal police to fight this problem, these efforts seem to be increasing the violence.  Second, the oil reserves owned here by Pemex, the national oil company, are diminishing which, combined with lower oil prices, will decrease revenue substantially for Mexico in the next decade.  Finally, the economic recession in the US is drastically dimishing remittances from the US, a significant source of Mexican income.  All this is true.  Nevertheless, Mexico remains a vibrant democracy which demonstrated in 2006 that it could handle a close presidential election without violence.  I see evidence of government efforts to fight corruption and rebuild Mexico's infrastructure every day.  I am now able to read, with reasonable accuracy, Mexican newspapers which report political and cultural events regularly.  Mexico has problems; there is violence; and the future will be economically challenging.  Nevertheless, those of us who are living here by choice, as foreign nationals feel safe and secure here.  The US certainly struggles with violence and economic insecurity as well.  But in this culture, where people are used to surviving, despite long odds, there is an expectation that they will survive this too.  The peso is falling (as of today, 14.2 pesos to the dollar down from about 10.00), trade with the US is diminishing, and NAFTA continues to raise  the prices of tortillas and other corn and bean products here.  But the people are resiliant.    The less you have, the less problem is caused by an economic downturn.  

I received an email from one of the readers of this blog about a comment I made suggesting that I feel as though I may be running out of things to write about.  He suggested that I should continue to write about what it's like to simply live here, even something as simple as a trip to the grocery store, which, he said, would be interesting to him, because he does not live here.    Well, it may be a bit repetitive, but I will try to follow his advice.  So, in coming posts, I will revisit things like prices, availability of products, and healthcare here in Jalisco.  I just read in the local newspaper that Jalisco has the most number of scorpion stings in all of Mexico; the good news is I have yet to become a statistic!

We have sent for our South Dakota license plates.  Why, you may ask, did I do such a thing?  Because...our Maine plates have long ago expired.  We cannot register our car here becuase we did not buy it here.  (Don't ask, I do not know why.)  The only state which, apparently, will grant auto registration to non-residents is South Dakota.  (When we first got here I was astounded at how many people had migrated here from South Dakota,of all places!)   So, since we are planning a road trip back to Maine next summer, we have sent for our SD plates.  The total cost: only $63 USD.  Beats Maine!  So soon we'll be sporting Mount Rushmore on our car.  

I've been invited over for dinner tonight by our next door neighbors from Montreal, Ron and Pat. They are great friends and the best neighbors.  They have a key to our house and keep an eye on things when we are gone.  Ron taught me how to spray for scorpions and chlorinate the ajibe (undergrouond water tank).  Here's a photo of Ron and his dog, and Maggie's friend, Layla: 


I'll end this post with a photo I recently took of a marvelous mural painted of the goddess of the lake byJesus Lopez Vega, a local artist, at the Ajijic Cultural Center:

1 comment:

gdehart said...

Hi Bill,
I think of you and Pixie when I go see the bookmark for your blog on my "favorites" toolbar and when I hang the Christmas ornament you gave us at our open house.
I think each time to myself, "I really want to get back and read Bill's blog." This morning I took time from doing taxes and FAFSA to do just that.
I came across the entry where you question whether or not it is worth continuing the blog. I can only say for myself, anytime that I can read about a life lived deliberately and intentionally as you do, it is an inspiration for me---so I am glad to know you are posting and I can go anytime to check-in on that life.
Thank you!