Welcome to Mexico!
By Victoria Schmidt
Victor’s day starts before daybreak. Surrounded by dark, he slips out of the house to go to his first job of the day. It’s a simple job, one he inherited from his son: he walks dogs.
Then he reports to his day job, which starts at 7:00 a.m. It is a job he has held for 23 years. A job of manual labor, since his parents could never afford to put him through school; he never learned to read and can only write his own name. Even though he has a bad back, and has had surgery, he still works hard, does physical labor, and never complains; in fact his face is always covered with a smile reaching from ear-to-ear. After he concludes his day job, he goes on to yet another job. And on Sundays, he works as well at gardening jobs.
The USA workweek is based on 40 hours. Mexican Labor laws have a full-time job as Monday through Friday and a half-day on Saturday. So not only do they work--they work longer hours for less pay. In Jalisco minimum wage is $66.45 pesos per day, or at the exchange rate of the date of this writing, $3.68 USD/day.
I met Victor shortly after moving to Mexico. I came from the USA, and was followed by the voices of the uninformed and the bigoted. “All Mexicans are lazy. They will steal from you. It’s dangerous in Mexico.” Everything about Victor flies in the face of everything you still hear on the USA news.
Unlike many Mexican families, his is small with just two children. And he is so proud because by working all these jobs, he paid for the education of both his children. His son is now in college. His son will be a professional. His chest swells and his eyes sparkle whenever he talks about his son, while his daughter has given him a grandson to be proud of as well.
There is no limit to my admiration of Victor who came from such poverty. While he has had his trials and challenges, he has prevailed. I believe his riches are greater than those of “the 1%” in the United States.
I have another Mexican friend who came from a wealthier family. The oldest child of three, she went to college and has a degree in International Business. She worked while she was in college, and as a young entrepreneur she has started three businesses, all successful. Her days are filled from dusk to dawn filling the needs of these businesses. She is young, married, and successful. Her husband makes a good living. Yet they both work extremely hard. They have a difficult time carving out time for fun.
These are just a few of the people I find who don’t fit the media’s view of Mexico.
And after celebrating our ninth Christmas here in Mexico, I can also report that never have I felt fear. We’ve never been robbed and we live in town and our Mexican neighbors are all fine people and they help and look after us.
I carry great disdain towards the way the USA media paints Mexico. The people here are warm, polite, loving, family oriented and dependable. Lately, I hear many expats discussing that they feel safer in Mexico, than when they are in the USA. I concur. The last two times I was in the States, I had ugly things happen to me. Do I think Mexico is crime free? No. Do I think the USA is crime free? No. But I do wake up in Mexico every day safe and happy!