Welcome to Mexico!
By Victoria Schmidt
Do you see?
As I drive through a wealthy fraccionamiento, I see a Mexican couple sorting through the trash accumulated on the corner for garbage pick up. The couple sort, pick and chose from the cast offs of the residences. Do you see?
On an early morning walk, I see an older Mexican woman stooped with rounded shoulders as she goes about her sunrise work, sweeping the streets of Chapala with a stiff broom.
An older man with one bad arm and one bad leg walks from Chapala to Ajijic and back at least once a day to collect recyclable cans. Do you see?
There is a steady stream of people walking back from the market with the daily purchase of vegetables for their daily meal, while there is one young woman who purchases diapers for her baby, one at a time. Do you notice?
A family of four sits on the curb, they are all young. They share a single orange. The young man assists me across the street, although I need no assistance. His eyes search my face and I see his exhausted mother, infant sister in his father’s arms as I dig out a coin. I see they have no home, no money, and no job.
As I run through my daily chores, I look around and see the signs of the poor here at Lakeside. There are many who stop me on the street and ask for work. Some ask for food, others ask for money. My heart breaks as I see the true need.
The value of the peso has decreased, we’ve all seen the prices go up in the stores, but it hits the Mexicans hardest of all. This time of year, we see children on the streets hawking the beans and vegetables that grow in their back yard.
I have a friend who takes two buses to get to her work, her job doesn’t pay much, and the tips she earns barely cover her bus fare. She works a full day cooking in a steaming hot kitchen, while we sit in the breeze and complain about the heat. Then she goes home to her seven children, and tries to feed them with her meager wages.
Driving the libramiento, I see a shanty with cloth for walls and people living there, cooking at an outdoor fire. Have you seen?
I ask if you see. Do you hear? I don’t hear many complaints. I don’t hear many complaints. These are people who accept their lot and try to get through it. And I see them share what little they have with their friends and their families. They are good to their children, and their faith is important.
I look to my own country of origin. I hear the complaining, the blaming, the finger pointing the violence and the rage. And I am ashamed. By comparison, even our poorest have so much more than the poor here. I read where Mexico printed a Forbes-like list of their richest 10 citizens, but they also printed a list of their poorest 10 citizens. It was one of the most humbling things I have ever seen.
Did you see?