A Balloon In Cactus
Old Friends Ask About Mexico
By Marge Van Ostrand
pair of old friends from New York dropped in to see me for a couple
of days. First thing I have to tell you is that we hadn’t seen
each other in over twenty years. Second thing is that they thought my
having lived in Mexico for four years while still maintaining a home
there, was the most interesting thing about me. And they’re right.
Before we even finished lunch here in
my cabin in the Las Padres National Forest, they just had to ask the
Big Question. No, it had nothing to do with how we looked, had we changed,
what had we been doing all that time, how were our kids, or anything
It was “What’s it like in
Mexico?” followed by “Weren’t you scared?” and
“Don’t they kidnap you there?”
In case anyone reading this publication
is wondering the same things, here’s what I told my friends: Mexico
is indescribably beautiful, but I’ll try to describe it anyway.
The flowers are more colorful, the gardens more divine, and the weather
more stable than anyplace else except maybe Heaven.
Well, okay, maybe Hawaii, too.
You can’t be lonely in Ajijic unless
you want to be, because the Lake Chapala Society is there to answer
questions and offer help. Besides, there’s more social life in
that little Village by the Lake than in New York City, if you want it.
You don’t have to speak Spanish,
though it would be respectful to Mexicans if you learned at least a
little. Spanish lessons are plentiful and made quite easy. Know how
wonderful it is when foreigners come to the U.S. and try hard to speak
English? It’s the same thing in reverse.
The toll roads are at least as good as
the highways and freeways in the U.S.A., and the roadside food and rest
stations are clean, attractive, and have grassy areas to walk your dog.
Or your husband, if he needs walking.
If your car breaks down, you don’t
have to wait longer than a couple of hours until a Green Angel comes
along. They will repair your vehicle if at all possible, at no charge
(except for parts).
Should you get a speeding ticket and a
policeman offers to take care of it for you, let him. It will save you
the time of going to court maybe that day or the next, and what do you
care if he uses the money you give to actually pay the ticket or feed
his family? Either way, you can be on your way.
You can buy anything in Ajijic you want
except a few things which you can get in Guadalajara. Lacking a car
or courage to drive a rental car to The Big City, you can get to Guadalajara
by taxi. If you take the same one I did and it’s raining, watch
the driver hang out the window swiping at the windshield with a red
rag because the wipers haven’t worked since 1955. This is better
Speaking of TV, you can get satellite
TV (large or small dish), and check out videos at the Lake Chapala Society
Video Library. Again, anything you have at home, you can get in Ajijic.
There are several excellent realtors to
help visitors find a house to rent until a decision is made to buy.
While the realtors are looking for a rental, you can stay at one of
the many fine small hotels in the area. My favorite has always been
La Nueva Posada, owned and operated by the Eager Family. I consider
this hotel to be one of the best anywhere in Mexico, Canada, or the
Mexican food in Mexico is so much better
than Mexican food in other countries that I can only attribute it to
fantastic cooking and fresh ingredients. As to the water, buy bottled
water which is available in the well stocked grocery stores in Ajijic
and is every bit as good as you can get at home. You can also have it
For hair and nails, there’s Yoly’s.
She’s the Chicago trained stylist/colorist whose talent can be
compared to anyone anywhere. Hers isn’t the only beauty shop,
but she’s the one I go to.
Banking is made simple by Aurora Michel,
of Operadora de Fondos Lloyd. And she has the best legs in town, too,
so if your husband insists on doing the banking, better watch out.
I have never been kidnaped and I don’t
know of anyone personally who has been. Danger lurks in big cities,
though, and wariness should be part of any visit to one, in any country.
In Ajijic, there are computer repair people,
people to help you with Mexican drivers’ licenses, FM 3s and other
paperwork, wonderful bakeries, restaurants, even a chicken emporium.
In short, you’ll want for nothing
in Me-xico, nothing at all.
Except perhaps to wonder why you didn’t
move there before.