Welcome to México!
By Victoria Schmidt
Life and Death Along la Carretera
Recently we’ve taken up residence on a road that is lateral to la carretera. The carretera is an integral part of our daily life. The rumble of traffic has become a constant in our daily life. We haven’t yet been able to discern the day of the week by the amount of traffic, but we can tell when the traffic is normal, and when there is a slow down.
We can also tell when the cows across the other side of the carretera venture into the road. For some reason, this displeases the motorists. We also have horses nearby that occasionally slip their pens and decide to graze along the road.
Horns start blasting, and perhaps the drivers think that this will make the animal in question move out of their way. This is an ill-conceived notion as it only serves to frighten the animals and they do move, but more in a circular direction, keeping the road blocked. Then there are the drivers who will lie on their horn because traffic isn’t moving and they are so far back, they cannot see what the problem may be.
Inside the house, someone will say: “Oh, the cows have escaped again.” The best thing I’ve found is to drive slowly through the small herd and try not to scare them. But then, there is always someone who thinks that a horn is an answer to everything.
Entrance onto the carretera is not easy on this little street. The flowers hide our sight of the oncoming traffic. I try not to go that way anymore, especially when one day a display of five wreaths appeared…the Mexican way of marking the anniversary of an untimely death that has occurred at the road.
The other type of death along this road has been dogs and cats. The carcass of a dead dog lies barely along the side of the highway. I wonder how many cars, motorcycles, buses, bicycles and pedestrians pass by this poor animal each day, and yet it remains there. I don’t know whose job it is to clear the road, but my heart aches each time I see it there, and become even more paranoid about my dogs escaping the garage.
Besides the horns or claxons as the Mexicans call them, there are the sirens of the ambulances and the policia, along with the squawks of transito pulling over someone who has violated traffic regulations.
Trucks aren’t quiet either; especially those with air breaks or frenos. I never heard them before we moved to Mexico, and I don’t like their way of blasting through the air. Tanks are probably quieter.
I miss the sounds that are no longer a part of our daily life: the voices, laughter and music of our vecinos as they passed by our home in our old neighborhood. We don’t hear the serenade of the gas trucks, the melodies of the water trucks, the flute of the knife sharpener, or the call of fruit vendors. I especially miss the foot traffic by our front gate, and the quick chats with my friends as they pass by. Each place we have lived in Mexico has had its brightness and shade. Our new home is filled with plants and trees and space galore. We do not miss our old house. But we miss our neighborhood, our barrio. Until one moves on, it cannot be known how much of the neighborhood life had seeped into our hearts.
Column: Welcome to Mexico
Victoria Schmidt came to Mexico with her husband, in 2007. She is a graduate of Moorhead State University, Minnesota and graduated Cum Laude with a BA degree in Radio, Television and Film. At 23 she was hired at multi-national media corporation, where she worked 10 years as their Director for Operations and Finance. She then ran her own business consulting company. She has won multiple community service awards. Writing has been a passion of Victoria’s since Junior High. She has been active in the writing and publishing business for over 40 years and has been a columnist for the Ojo del Lago since 2008.