Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Study in Contrasts

A section of the new patio Jerry is building in the front/side of the house
Our neighbor Demetrio covering the conduit in the upstairs bathroom
Mael and Ismael (cousins) installing the new breaker box. Why do they seem so happy
about cutting a BIG hole in the wall?
Little Millie/Milagra on alert in the front yard. Hiding behind a bag of cement.

Diego is growing up...he considers a treat from Papi

Our life here lately has been a study in contrasts: as the long, humid summer season develops, the tourists here have always become scarce, and residents of our sleepy beach town learn to pace themselves,always wearing the ubiquitous "sweat cloth" over their shoulders and drinking lots of water. But this year, the slowdown was sudden, as the entire country of Mexico ground to a halt to combat the spread of H1N1 influenza. Schools, government offices, restaurants and all nonessential businesses were ordered closed for several weeks. No movies. No soccer matches. No church services in this Catholic country. Checkpoints were established at both Nayarit and Jalisco state borders, which we pass on our way to and from Vallarta. All cars were screened and passengers were questioned about their health status. Do you have a fever? Are you having any pain? Information was distributed by state health personnel wearing masks.

These extreme measures were effective: we never had a confirmed case of flu in our state of Nayarit and their were only two or three in Vallarta. Mexico has been applauded by international health authorities for containing the outbreak so well. But the Mexican people paid an enormous cost. From business owners like Carlos Slim who lost millions, to the ordinary working people who suddenly lost their incomes, all of Mexico is suffering. Cruise ships have stopped docking and airlines have stopped coming here. The streets of our tourist town are empty. The beach vendors, even the time-share salesmen, have given up.

But at our house, the air is filled with the sounds of hammers and chisels. Cement is being mixed and carried upstairs in huge buckets on the sturdy shoulders of our neighbor Demetrio. Our modest attempt to stimulate the local economy consists of re-wiring our entire house and continuing work on our upstairs addition, including - yippee! - electricity! The wiring is complete, the lights are installed and the plumbing is in place. The bathroom is tiled and the bathtub is where it is supposed to be at last. Because all construction in Mexico is cement and bricks, in order to lay electrical wires, grooves must first be chiseled, the conduit placed in the groove, the wire pulled through the conduit and the channels refilled with fresh cement.

At the same time, you can hear the sounds of "Como se llama?" and "Vivimos en Bucerias" and "Caminamos a la plaza cada dia." Four mornings a week, our friend Sean holds his Spanish classes on our patio. And in the midst of all this activity, we actually had a courageous and most welcome houseguest for a week.

I continue to find some time to paint and Jerry is busy laying bricks for the patio that will cover most of the front and side yards. Our papaya trees are heavy with fruit that is as sweet as honey and we have just harvested our first bananas. Diego and Millie are growing fast and delighting us each day.

It is becoming to warm to cook ambitiously, so last night, we enjoyed chorizo and carne asada (grilled beefsteak) tacos at our corner tacqueria, along with some wonderful fresh agua fresca made from guayabas (guava). We join friends at Tacos Itzel at least once a week for Alejandra's wonderful pollo enchiladas con mole. Justine continues to flourish in the warmth and serenity of Mexico and works with our friends Patricia and JoAnn at their bookstore.

Life continues to be unbelievably good for us while our friends and neighbors face a long and difficult summer. PLEASE consider a trip to Mexico: it is absolutely SAFE here and we need your company.


Jim Grant said...

OMGods, You just gave me an open invite to come see you ...Or did you mean it for other readers. Old farts like me get to audit classes at PSU so last year I took Art History, Existentialism,Film theory and a history class on Israel and Arab Conflict. This summer I took a class in photoshop...not a bad school year Life is good.
Jaime or Santiago

nopogayle said...

Hola! Recently found your site & enjoy it. I wish I'd seen it 2 years ago when I was last in Bucerias! We're going to MZT Jan/Feb 2010, so again we miss connecting. Looking for a retirement location in Mexico, transplanting (also) from Portland. What made you decide on Bucerias? nopogayle@comcast.net