These are three of the workers on the house down the street. They love having their pictures taken, so I made copies for them and dropped them by last week. They loved looking at themselves and were busy teasing each other about the way they looked. You can see in the background that the brick walls have now been covered by cement.
This is election time in Mexico, with midterm elections scheduled for July 5. Instead of using lots of paper signs, as in the US, the politicians here paint their campaign advertisements on the sides of buildings, more environmentall-friendly. Here are two examples:
Both signs are for the presidente (mayor) of the municipality of Chapala, which includes Riberas, the subdivision where we live. On the left is the sign for the PAN candidate. The PAN party is the party of President Calderon, now in power. The sign on the right is for the PRI candidate. PRI is the party which ruled Mexico for 70 years. It was considered corrupt and undemocratic. This 70 year rule ended in 2000 with the election of PAN candidate Vicente Fox. Surprisingly, the PRD party, the ultra left-wing party which almost won the presidency in 2006, is very weak, at least in this area. The PAN party is considered conservative and pro-business, and is popular in Jalisco.
Speaking of painted walls, here's a photo of the beautiful new mural being painted in Chapala on a retaining wall erected to keep the road clear of rock and mud during the rainy season. Murals are a common type of artistic expression throughout Mexico, in the spirit of famous muralists Rivera and Orasco:
Since there is such a large English-speaking North American presence here at Lake Chapala and, to some degree, in Guadalajara, The Guadalajara Reporter, an English language newspaper reporting news from Western Mexico, including Guadalajara and Lake Chapala, is very popular. To give you a sense of what's news this week, I will detail a few of the main stories from this week's edition.
1. The headline this week is about the spread of the seasonal dengue fever. This is an illness in tropical areas spread by mosquitos. Most dengue fever is temporarily debilitating, but not fatal. But the hemorrhagic variety is fatal. The most recent numbers for Jalisco for the year are 131 cases, including 11 cases of the hemorrhagic variety. Coastal areas have more cases because of their higher heat and humidity, I assume. The article goes on to describe Jalisco's efforts to use pesticides to reduce mosquito breeding, and warning people, particularly in the rural areas, about protecting themselves from mosquito bites. We have a friend here who, several years ago suffered a long bout of the non-hemorrhagic dengue.
2. Another front page story concerned the drug corruption problem. The federal government swept across the neighboring state of Michoacan last week and arrested 10 mayors and 18 other government officials of aiding a drug cartel, La Familia. The officials were from all three major political parties, and were intended to demonstrate President Calderon's determination to follow drug corruption wherever it leads, even into his own party. I think this shows progress, but also demonstrates how serious political corruption is in Mexico.
3. Another front-page story is about Chapala's new trash separation program to facilitate recycling. As of June 1, local residents will need to separate their trash into three categories: organic matter, inorganic matter, and sanitary waste. The inorganic matter will further be divided into recyclable materials. The sanitary waste category is necessary because most Mexican households deposit toilet paper and other sanitary waste into trash containers rather than flush it down the toilet. Recycling has been slow to take hold in Mexico, but there is increasing emphasis here on all types of environmental efforts.
4. An article inside the paper is about Guadalajara's efforts to design and construct an athlete's village for the 2011 Pan American Games, which it is hosting. The Pan American Games are like the Olympics, but for the Western Hemisphere. It is not as well known in the US (although it does send athletes), but it is huge in Latin America. The village is being built to house 5000 athletes in downtown Guadalajara. They will begin work by October 5 of this year.
5. Another interesting piece is about the efforts of eighty-five 10th graders at a school in Guadalajara to spread awareness of the Darfur tragedy. One student is quoted as saying, "We think the issue of Darfur is more important than Michael Jackson's skin problems." Sounds like they could provide a few lessons to the American media as well!
6. Finally, there is an interesting piece about a thermal river spa near Guadalajara. Thermal river? Yes, Rio Caliente is fed by thermal springs warmed by underlying volcanic magma. The article highlights a business started in this rural setting to provide massage and other natural healing services to people who can either stay at the spa or come for the day. I went to the web site, www.riocaliente.com, and found it interesting but a bit pricey!
Pixie and I are getting ready to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary on June 9. Wow. Time does fly! We are going to be taking a two-day trip to Colima, south of here in the State of Colima, and the home a two famous volcanoes, next weekend. I will post some photos and information about Colima in the next entry.