Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mexico City, Things I Do Not Understand, by John Fry

Every time I come home from Mexico I struggle to find the right words to tell my friends and coworkers about life in Mexico. Part of the struggle is that I have trouble understanding it myself.

How do you explain that on one street is a nice Wal Mart that is as well stocked and as nice as or nicer than ones in the states and on another end of the street you may find people sitting on the sidewalk selling their wares.

How do you explain that Wal Mart sells their products at similar prices of those in the states but pays their cashiers $5.00 a day, yes $5.00 a day and if you make a mistake in the cash drawer it comes out of your pay.

Why is it that even though people are poor they are careful of their appearance and in a lot of cases dress and have a neater appearance than some of our young people in the states?

How do I explain the reason that Mexican people seem to be happy with little while we are so discontented with so much?

How do you explain a taco stand? They seem to be everywhere but contrary to our restaurants they consist of a portable stove, a tarp and a table or two. By the way I have learned to like tacos.

The streets and highways are hard to explain but a 2 lane street is often converted into a 4 lane highway and the intersections are one big mass of cars moving along like some large twisted maze of horns and metal.

One thing I have learned is that when walking if you need to cross a street, the best place to cross is just beyond a speed bump.

Social life is something that is hard to grasp as well. Why it is my son’s house always has people drifting in and out. Why is it that they love to socialize and are more social than in the States? Any event is worthy of a party and a birthday is a very big event no matter your age.

Life is very different in Mexico, in that it seems to have a different and more difficult pace. An interesting example of a different pace and way of life happened this past Monday.

I was asked to help build a pulpit along with 2 other men from the church. The plan was to leave at 9 a.m. from Rod’s house. Shortly before 9 we received a call that the men needed a van to bring the tools to the church. The big item was an old radial arm saw.

Unfortunately Rod is not able to drive his van on Monday, due to a plan to try to eliminate pollution. So we had to borrow a van from another church member. Ok, now we have a van to use, but how to pick it up? Well we walked until we found a bicycle taxi and the driver took us for the van. After picking up the van we drove another 10-15 minutes and over 15 – 20 speed bumps to pick up the men and tools. There we took out the back seat and loaded the tools. Now it is back to the house, because one of the men wanted his children to stay with Mayra. Then we went to the church to drop off the tools.

From there it is at least a 30-40 minute drive to pick up supplies at a version of Home Depot. However, there was no large parking lot or nice street. After several tries and near scrapes we came in an alley and parked inside a small enclosed lot. The store had a large variety of moldings and plywood crammed in narrow isles.

We spent close to 1 ½ hours in the store and after selecting our supplies, screws and plywood and having it cut into smaller sizes we headed back to the church. By the way screws are bought by number and not by the pound.

By this time it was past lunch and we had to stop at a roadside restaurant for some good food.

After that we stopped at a small street side store for sandpaper and glue. By the time we got to the church it was 3 pm. Then we had to put the saw back together and begin work.

We worked till 7 or so and then went back to the house for our evening meal which Mayra provided. Then it is back to pick up the seat and return the van. By 10 p.m. most of the bicycle taxis had left the street so Rod had to walk most of the way home.

The past week has once again reminded me how good I have it here and I trust it will help me to be more thankful for my blessings.

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