Welcome to Mexico!
By Victoria Schmidt
Sidewalk repairs had today’s traffic in a snarl. I diverted my route and took the libramiento. I don’t drive it that often, and I was surprised to see all the construction projects on libramiento. I remember from 12 years ago when we moved to Mexico; then, the largest project we saw was the fraccionamiento El Dorado. They had just completed their first model unit. Now the Radisson in progress.
Other buildings seemed to have popped up overnight. When we moved here, there was no mall; there was no Wal-Mart to block the view of Lake Chapala as we crested the hill. I don’t remember if the Pemex (now Amoco) station was there yet or not. It seems several new fraccs have been built more are in construction. Rumor has it there will be a hospital there soon.
I began to reflect on how I used to feel driving the libramiento and appreciating the land and all of the wild life. I miss that. I believe that we are experiencing growing pains. There is so much traffic now that I can no longer tell the difference between high season and low season. I see construction booming to take care of the ever-increasing housing needs. And there are new businesses sprouting up to answer the needs of the people retiring here. I wonder. Are we helping or hurting the culture of Mexico?
We are helping to create more jobs. But are we Anglicizing our community? There wasn’t a Wal-Mart here 12 years ago. No Subway, no AT&T, Dominos, Auto Zone, well, you get the idea. Mexico has been warm and welcoming, but are we being good stewards of the Mexican culture? We do bring a lot of people who do a lot of charity work, and that is a blessing, but the need never seems to end. Bless all of the people who serve.
When most of us first arrived, we tried to “teach” the Mexicans our ways because we think our ways are better. Maybe some are. Or maybe some just don’t belong here.
I have a friend who is in her 30th year here. She tells me of the time when you had to walk to the square to use the long distance phone. I mean the only phone. Home service was almost unheard of. She loved the Lakeside of those times, and is now moving to another country to live where she believes it is a simpler lifestyle. It’s just too modern here.
With the world right now becoming more frazzled, and the issue of racism returning to the forefront, I begin to look at white entitlement. I sometimes feel ashamed when I see how rude and impatient we are as a race. In a world that is rethinking stands on immigration, I am an immigrant and I live as a minority for the first time in my life. I see things differently. I am so very grateful to live in a culture that has been more accepting of me than my own culture was in the USA. My eyes and my heart were flung wide open when I moved to Mexico and found the love of the people, their love of each other. The true difficulties they face daily, with humor and grace I have seldom seen elsewhere.
Each day I learn something new about Mexico. I’ve grown to love it more and hope I can show to this wonderful culture how much I truly appreciate all they have taught me.
Column: Editor’s Page
Victoria Schmidt came to Mexico with her husband, in 2007. She is a graduate of Moorhead State University, Minnesota and graduated Cum Laude with a BA degree in Radio, Television and Film. At 23 she was hired at multi-national media corporation, where she worked 10 years as their Director for Operations and Finance. She then ran her own business consulting company. She has won multiple community service awards. Writing has been a passion of Victoria’s since Junior High. She has been active in the writing and publishing business for over 40 years and has been a columnist for the Ojo del Lago since 2008.