Welcome to Mexico!

By Victoria Schmidt

A Night on My Street


chapala-nocheStanding outside my house in the darkness of the early evening I await my ride. Yup, there I stand outside, in the dark, in Mexico all by myself. And I feel perfectly safe. When I did the same thing in my home in the United States, I waited inside a locked interior entrance, and wouldn’t go outside until the car pulled up. I didn’t feel safe there even though I was surrounded by a nice, quiet neighborhood. I knew a few of my neighbors. But I also know they were tucked into their homes behind at least two, if not three locked doors. But now I marvel at how comfortable I feel here.

Cars pass me, three policemen on bicycles pass me returning my wave. My neighbor across the street arrives home, rummages through his car, and then crosses the street into his home yelling a quick “Buenas Noches” at me as he ducks into his house. The lights go on and I could see his wife come into their small kitchen, and his son run into his arms as he’s scooped up and swirled in the air. I can’t help but see this, yet feel a little like a voyeur. It’s so heartwarming to see the love in that house. The family seems to spend most of their time upstairs. But they have no windows or doors in their upstairs; in fact, they have a curtain as a wall.

As the cool evening breeze surrounds me, I marvel at the fact that they live in such an open area. I look at my watch, wondering where my ride is. The father comes back out of the house, and starts wiping off his car, cleaning the windshield and the top of the car, as his wife busies herself in the kitchen, while their Chihuahua spring boards on their balcony.

A steady parade of foot traffic parades in front of me, people going home, kids with MP3 players plugged in the ears, but each person nodding or greeting me as they walk by. Some are total strangers, and some are the familiar faces of my neighbors. Two doors down my neighbor ends her conversation with a friend, turns and waves good night as she steps inside.

A neighbor next door to me passes me in his car. Someone has parked in his space. He keeps moving up the block. A short time later, returns, and this time, I wave him into the empty spot in front on me, which clearly said “no parking in service 24 hours.” My neighbors are very respectful of our parking space. I’ve never spoken to him before, but I tell him my car was is in the shop, so please, use the space. His tired eyes sparkle with relief as he parks.

Then I see a figure walking towards me, deliberate in his pace. He walks directly towards me. I take a breath, but then the streetlight bathes him in light and I discover it is a neighbor from further down the road. He greets me, and then asks if I am all right, is there a problem? I laughed and explain I am fine, just waiting for a ride, and we speak for a few minutes. I can’t get over the thought that he’s walked over a half block just to make sure I was OK. This just didn’t happen to me in the USA. Never. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 18 months. I lived in my home in the USA for 15 years.

My most favorite thing in Mexico: Mexicans!

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