Change Of Life in Mexico
By Bernie Suttle
The stagnant traffic eased onto the Chapala Highway and we were swept into a whirlpool of cars, trucks busses, cycles, and even pushcarts. Just as our 11-year-old Sebring was coming up to speed and moving into the center southbound lane, it shuddered, moaned and died.
Good God! Now what? Finally got it over to the side! Eventually our sick car was towed away and we were lucky enough to get a ride to our “Santuario” in Ajijic where we began to contemplate life without a car.
Originally, when we moved into our new home on the west side, we planned to live without a car. That plan was altered when we learned that a car came with the house. Soon we were getting many things done each day: trips to the village, Chapala, Guadalajara, often even to Wal-Mart, and ironically, to regular sessions at the gym - to stay fit. We went right back into the manic, California mode.
Now, with no other alternative, we are experiencing the “Mexican change of life” we had anticipated at the beginning – life without a car. We walk down to the Carretera, and then either ride the bus or walk to the pueblo. Lots of exercise now. No need for the Gym. Walking brings us deeper into the life of Mexico; the people never passing without “Buenos Dias” or “Buenas tardes,” depending on the hour, the neighborhoods, the landscape, the animals and even the insects.
To ride the bus, we stand at the side of the road. We wait for a bus and, when we see it coming, we stick out an arm. We are delighted when it stops. The smiling eyes of those already on the bus welcome us aboard. Sometimes a young man provides music, singing and playing a guitar. He collects tips from the appreciative at his departure.Passengers share seats, conversation, bundles and even children although it is not clear whether or not they have previously met. This is a community on wheels. At departure, each passenger gives a soft “gracias” to the driver. Where else does this happen?
We were attracted to Ajijic by its charm and the warmth of its people. The scenery and the weather here may be the best in the world, but the real value of being here is exposure to the people and their culture. We have discovered the magic key to enjoying the Graceful Mexican Life by walking and riding the bus.
We do like to see other people, like “Crusoe” finding “Friday,” as long as there are not too many of them and they are not too different from ourselves. The car is our “earth ship.” It protects us from “them” as we travel rapidly from here to there and back again. In our metal cocoon it seems that we are the only humans on the road. The other cars are driven not by humans but by ROAD HOGS, IDIOTS, SOB’S, BASTARDS or worse; hence, ROAD RAGE.
This manic pace to accomplish “things’ is facilitated by the automobile, so much so that we measure our value by how many things we can accomplish in one day. When we do this, we miss the Mexican Way where people have priority over scorecards and rules. We like the Mexican Way. We’re glad we have had a Mexican Change of Life.