Friday, October 13, 2006

Feeling Down and Out in Chacala

Guadalupe and her Abuela, visiting
Lupe's Mom, Miriam's, new restaurant on the beach road.
I have been feeling pretty grumpy and down in the dumps the last week or so. Actually since I came back from San Miguel de Allende, and found the solar power system had failed (no water in the house). And that a gringa neighbor had taken the ladder from this house (her housekeeper had my house key to water my plants with), and wouldn't return it for eight days. Leaving me with wasp and ant invasions I couldn't reach without the ladder.

And, of course, the permanent power is still in limbo. And the other gringo neighbor doesn't like the temporary power pole on the road in the front of their new little house. And keeps threatening the neighbor where I can power from with removing the pole. Which would leave me with no refrigerator, lights, or fans.Laura Sura's new cute little rental unit,
tucked behind the house where Sulima and Alejandro's family live,
just below the Bibliotecha. No natural light or cross-venilation,
being built by Laura's brother, Paco
It just feels cruddy to be here, except when I am hanging around with my local friends, or swmming, or gardening. I know I will start cheering up, but it sure is taking a long time.

I have been corresponding with a woman who has a wonderful blog about the plant life in tropical Panama. It's really very interesting, and her approach to understanding the plants is giving me lots of ideas.Street scene on the beach road.
There are almost no Mexican or gringo tourists in Chacala right now,
but many of the business owners keep hoping.
The following is from an email I wrote her this morning.

When I came to Mexico, and to Chacala, I had no clue how important living in a different culture would be to me. Or how life changing it has been in terms of my relating to other people, and my values. And how my interests and concerns and approach to life has changed. And how much my daily life would change.Berta's house, built for hen Mom (Dona Lupe) and Dad (Don Berto),
planning ahead for when thenext hurricane blows their beach house away
or the Feds revoke their beach lease and sell the land to a developer.

.Fernanda, daughter of Jorge and XXX, who have two other kids
and own, at least, Jorge's Deposito and phone office.
When I picked Mexico as the place I wanted to live, the decision was based on some quality of life issues: year-round gardening, to live near the ocean, and to be able to offer something to where-ever I lived. I didn't realize until much later how fortunate I am to live in a low-income, poor neighborhood, in a poor town, where people have been friendly and welcoming to me. And, having been here three years, people are used to me I guess. I wanted to be able to wear whatever, and do whatever, without having to deal with Amerika and the social and cultural values of well-off gringos. I didn't realize I would feel that way when I came here.A rental belonging (I think) who had two rentals next door.
Last year this place had no toilet or running, or (I think) electricity).
Maybe it does now. A family is living there now.
It's usually either empty to being living in by
bachelor construction guys working in Chacalilla.

I was so ignorant when I picked Mexico. I was just thinking about how I could afford to live a decent lifestyle in a comfortable climate. I didn't really consider the language issue, or cultural differences, and the issue of poverty in general. Or even my impact on people who live here. And that of other gringos coming here. They are usually full of "if they would only...", and " why don't they just....." after they have been in town for about three days. Big experts on Mexico.Pepe, Claudia, and Pepe's mom, Leonora, have a nice hardware/construction business going here in Chacala. The building was recently repainted, and the new living quarters upstairs are almost completed. Pepe said an architect helped with the design of the new unit (plus the 3rd floor laundry and teraza). And you can tell. There is good cross venilation and natural light in every space. Very nice and well-thought out layout on a strangely-shaped piece of land. Pepe is thinking ahead to building two rentals on the lot next door. And, amazingly, compared to most of the other new construction in Chacala, he is planning to include parking spaces.

Never thinking about the political impact of American policy of Mexico (supporting PRI for 70 years) or invading Mexico and taking California, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico, and parts of Nevada, Colorado, and Utah, in a huge illegal land grab.

I am thinking about moving. Either to somewhere else in Mexico, somewhere poorer, or to Central America. I think I am feeling braver than I was three years ago. And I know enough Spanish to get by, and I am curious about other places. Maybe cheaper places.A house across the street from the Primaria and basketball court.
Notice the Sky cable dish. $55USD a month.
When I first started looking for a place to live I visited Hawaii twice, but that was ridiculous. Expensive and there's a state that should have class-wars. Then I started looked up and down the coast of Mexico. And settled on Chacala.

Now, ......I don't know. I hate to leave the friendships and social support I have here, but more gringos are coming, and the rents are starting to skyrocket (with my help, actually) and I don't know that I can afford to stay here much longer. The first summer I was here I was the only gringo/a here for maybe four or five months. Then last summer there were two or three most of the summer, and this year, 4 or 5 most of the summer. And not people I really feel comfortable with, or with whom I share any values - at least that's how it seems to me.
Don Beto, father of Leovardo, Isreal, Beto, Rafael, another daugher,
and Berta (my favorite gardener). And maybe other children also.
I think San Miguel de Allende, and the Ugly American atmosphere there, really shocked me. And that's part of what I am struggling with. Not wanting to be like that, and not wanting to be around them either. I guess things will become clearer for me. Soon I hopeA Chacala house with an important purchase in front of it: a Jet-ski.

1 comment:

Jill said...

Central America is fun, obviously.