Welcome to Mexico!

By Victoria Schmidt

Why I Stay


Lake-Chapala-JaliscoSometimes my friends North of the Border hear about things that happen in Mexico and ask me “Why do you stay there?” They cannot seem to see beyond the flashy news stories and the headlines that highlight the ugly side of Mexico. How can one describe the beauty and culture of Mexico to those who have never experienced it? 

They have experienced Mexicans North of the Border, but they are ex-patriots just as we are. They try to fit in, learn the language, and try to find others of their culture so they don’t miss home quite as much. People North of the Border are much less understanding of their dilemma than the Mexicans are here with us.

I stay because of the respect and pride of the Mexican people. For the most part they respect their elders and don’t stuff them away as they age; they help their families. They worry about their children, they worry about the bad influences of the gang members, they live in a poor economy and live on next to nothing, but they are proud and a happy people.

I stay because the weather is wonderful and it is beautiful here year round. I stay because I love my maid.  In the past week, we’ve had a number of “China accidents.”  I lost two teapot lids and a cup handle. She repaired these three-dimensional puzzles of broken china completely. 

Where I volunteer, I couldn’t ask for a hard working, dedicated and more ethical staff.

I stay because when my back trouble returned this winter,  I sent a text to my Mexican friend, and within 15 minutes, her daughter had moved in to take care of both my husband and me. 

I stay because when something terrible happened to a friend of mine, the Chapala police came to my home and personally told me when they arrested the perpetrator.

I stay because I know my neighbors by sight and they are always there to help. We are the only gringos in our neighborhood, but they don’t treat us differently, they always smile, ask how we are, volunteer help and wish us well. 

I stay because nobody knows how to throw a party better than Mexicans.  They know how to enjoy themselves and they celebrate life. They seldom look at the difficulties they have, they love their families, and their special occasions and their friends.

My friends tell me about the dangers of Mexico, and I tell them of the dangers of the USA. While there, I lived in a nice community, but there were still robberies in our neighborhood.  My son’s car was broken into in our own driveway. The citizens kept to themselves, were not always friendly and were always in a hurry. A year or so ago, I compared murders in Jalisco, Mexico to the Twin Cities. In the same year, the Twin Cities where I had lived, with a much smaller population, had a larger murder rate than Jalisco, which has the second largest city in Mexico.  Since Sandy Hook, there have been 44 school shootings killing 28 and wounding 37. (Washington Post.) According to the Timeline of Worldwide School and Mass Shootings Gun-related tragedies in the U.S. and around the world, there have been no school shootings in Mexico.  But Canada, and the USA suffer these tragedies.

I stay because I do feel safe.  I love where I live, and I love my neighbors, and I love the people of Mexico. I am at home here. I would not live anywhere else. Why would I?


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