Visiting Mexico is always a rewarding experience. This time the presidential elections made it even more interesting. Given the kind of news that appears in the US media, there is always some anxiety about what one can find upon arriving. The negative picture presented in terms of continuous violence may give the impression that there are bullets flying everywhere and you may end up like in an old western movie.
There was tension in the air, a lot of people complained about the elections results, and there is still discontent especially from the young people who expected a real change and that did not take place.
Meanwhile the children were enjoying their vacations and entire families were visiting the beaches, parks and archeological sites. Mexicans are very proud of their culture and traditions and that can be seen in daily life. Even though there is plenty of US influence, there are stores, movie theaters, and shopping malls and there are still people attending plenty of plazas in order to find fresh produce, and especially seasonal products. For example in Puebla there was a special offer for ‘Chiles en Nogada’. It is a delicacy that can only be made at this time of the year, because the pears, nuts and pomegranates can only be found during July-August and you do not find ‘Chiles en Nogada’ at the Walmart cafeteria.
The food selections are closely related to the rhythm of life. Families get together to prepare food and it is common to see the exchange of ‘platillos’, from one household to another. Even the children participate in getting the ingredients ready and seeing the grown ups both men and women caring about what is being prepared. There is a different pace of life. There is time to have a conversation, visit, and to take time to choose items as you shop.
I also saw plenty of work. There is a lot of construction going on. In places like Puebla and even the coastal cities, there are roads being constructed and also several parks in the cities. Places where exercise equipment painted with bright colors is used by adults and children throughout the day and even at night in the well guarded parks. People exercise, walk, bike, skate, walk their dogs and stop to talk to each other.
The streets and parks are clean everywhere because an extensive army of hired workers keeps the cities clean. That means jobs for many.
The image that I treasure most is of an old woman taking care of cleaning a neighborhood park. It was about nine in the morning, she had done most of her work, and was sitting under a tree’s shade, sipping her coffee and eating sweet bread. Another woman approached her and they were able to have a relaxed talk. What a blessing to be able to earn a living without having to leave life behind.
The first and most advanced world has lost that opportunity to enjoy life. The rat race to earn more in order to spend more does not leave space or time to be with others. I always come back from Mexico full of life, the kind of life that I wish many could have!
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