La Casa
By Mark McGrew

     A man’s home is his castle. We hear it all the time in the USA. But, in the USA, it’s not true. The police can come in your home any time they want with one phony reason after another. Every city in America has experienced the “No Knock Warrant,” and most if not all large cities have had police exercise their no knock warrant policy on the wrong house and shot and killed innocent law abiding people.
     In Mexico, 90% of the homes are owned outright, paid for, no mortgage. In America 70% of the homes are “owned” but with a mortgage to pay. So who owns your home? You, or the bankers?
     There are pros and cons to any system. I never say that Mexico is a perfect World. It is not. Neither is ours. But we are so constantly brainwashed to believe that America is a perfect World, that we fail to see the benefits in other cultures.
     I watched some police come to a man’s house in the city of Chihuahua. We were in a middle class neighborhood, which looks poor to us, but remember, those homes are all paid for, as well as their cars.
     The police wanted to arrest this man for something. His mother came to the door and told the police to go away and stop bothering the neighbors. Then the man came to the door, told them the same thing and the police refused to leave. The man fired a few shots at their cars, then explained again that they had no right to invade his home and endanger his neighbors. The crowd outside cheered him. After a while, the police realized they were wrong, apologized, asked the man to come to the police station the next time he was out and then they all left. That makes sense to me.
     The home must be protected. The home and family is the root and the bedrock of any civilization. It has always been that way all through history in all cultures.
     The homes in Mexico are small and efficient. Of course there are some fantastically beautiful mansions in any city in Mexico, but I am speaking about the homes of the average Mexican family. As a rule the houses are built of cement and brick, rocks, or cement blocks. The floors, walls and roof are all made of cemented material. The windows and doors are steel casement and protected with iron bars. They are fire proof, burglar proof and immune to most damages caused by nature. This form of construction either eliminates the need for hazard insurance or makes the premiums very small. Floors are covered in durable ceramic tiles, which are easy to clean and do not accumulate dirt, dust and bacteria as does carpeting.
     The bathroom is fully tiled and in that room is a drain in the floor, just like a shower drain. The purpose of this is to get rid of any water that is spilled from showering or bathing as well as to make it very simple and fast to give the bathroom a serious mopping when needed.
     The Mexican house is very clean inside, regardless of what you may see outside. They keep their homes clean, in an attempt to cut down on disease. It is a system based on necessity rather than trying to please their neighbors or guests. Although, when guests are due to visit, special cleaning efforts are made. This is done primarily to show respect for their guests and not to avoid embarrassment, which is the main reason that American women clean before company arrives.
     The roof is designed to get rid of any water accumulation by a system of pipes that stick out at roof level, hanging out about a foot or two. A lot of Americans, when they see this on a house, think it is an ornamental design to simulate rafters.
     Being built of cement and blocks, and built in row house fashion, sharing 1 to two-foot thick walls with their neighbors, the houses stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. However, if there is no heat in the house, it gets very cold. In the summer, if there is no ventilation and especially no cooling system, the house can turn into an oven.
     Inside the house the family is a tight knit unit. It is not unusual for brothers and sisters to sleep in the same room and even the same bed. In fact, most Mexicans think it is strange that we Americans are forced to sleep in a room all by ourselves in early childhood.
     Walls are painted in colorful hues of mostly earthy greens, blues and pinks.
     When we travel through Mexico we see small, wall to wall adobe houses. We think of the people living in them as being poor. But understand, the houses are paid for. They owe no one. Their cars are paid for. Their gas and electric utilities are much less than what we pay. Partly due to lower rates, and partly due to less usage. The food on their tables is fresh from the farm that day, and healthy.
     So, as you pass through the towns and villages of Mexico, don’t feel pity for the people who live in these small adobe houses. They live far better than their Middle Class counter-parts in America. And they are in a process of growth also, just as we are.

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