No place is perfect. No government not corrupt. No population without it’s problem children. Living in Mexico has been our most pleasant living experience so far, but it has its dark shadows too.
The first thing you will see when you cross the border and drive inland a bit is the extreme poverty that dots the desert landscape in this part of Mexico. Having not been in the country for 15 years, it was shocking to us to see the multitudes living on the fringes of survival. It scared the hell out of us actually! Could this be the result of the last 15 years of struggle for the Mexican economy? Was the rest of the country as ill affected? The answer was found to be a resounding NO as we traveled further towards our destination. However, it was clear that many in Mexico were suffering from extreme poverty.
And Tequis was not spared. In the shadows of the town that serves mostly wealthy Mexicans, there are barrios where children do not get enough to eat. There are also many who sell trinkets on the streets, or entertain cars at stoplights, or wash windows (with permission)for a few pesos. Travelers from South and Central America looking for work often ask for tasks they can perform for enough money to feed their families. It is heartbreaking. And the few times we have been without change or cash, it was difficult to turn them away. The Mexican culture responds by treating these people with respect, and utilizing their services when able. It is seen as a responsibility of every citizen to help those who are less fortunate. And thus you will see few “homeless” people. There are even shelters for non citizen travelers. Human rights is taken very seriously by the general population, and helping one on one is just the way it’s done here.
The next thing you will notice is the litter that accumulates along roads and in vacant fields. Discarded bottles are prevalent, and paper is thrown on the ground routinely. Tequis has full time employees that do nothing but clean up litter, so it is pristine in most areas where the tourists are to be found. Residential neighborhoods vary. Most landowners hire maintenance personnel to clean the streets outside their walls, but vacant lots are usually horrible! Luckily, most are behind walls.
I can’t talk about the ugly without talking about the experience of driving in Mexico. On most rural highways you will have little problem. On city streets, beware everyone. Motorcycles obey no laws. NONE! They will pass you in the same lane you are in, they will pull out in front of you, they will come around you at red lights to be first to go through the light. We have seen several involved in accidents where they usually end up under a large vehicle. Taxi drivers are almost just as bad. And so many in Tequis are tourists paying attention to everything but the road. In larger cities, a four lane highway becomes an 8 lane, no need for the white dividing lines. And stop signs are probably the biggest waste of highway funds, as no one pays attention to them. The best advice I can give is to be sure you have insurance coverage, and buckle up. Forget sightseeing and stay off the phone! Your eyes must remain on the road at all times!
Mexico still has some ancient customs and events that are very off putting. I am speaking of the bullfights and cockfights that are so popular among the locals. Churches haves cock fights to raise money for church maintenance. And bullfights are family entertainment for many. These type of events are easily avoided and that is exactly what we do.
Do these things seem like deal breakers? Not for us. The pleasures of living here far outweigh the down side. It is the people who make this place more desirable. We have met so many this year that have made us feel so welcome in this town. Finally we are becoming “locals”. I am always so proud to admit that I live in Tequis when I am asked where I am from. Today, on this first anniversary of our arrival, we feel like locals and members of the Mexican community here. And we want to say a big “gracias” to the community that has welcomed us.