General observations on first visit to Mexico

Here are a few arbitrary observations on my first visit to Mexico.  They don’t seem to fit in elsewhere, or I neglected to note them way back:

  • The large majority of the vehicles here are standard transmission.  All the buses are standard, and have huge stick shift levers over to the transmission in the centre of the bus.  Even SUVs and large pickup trucks have standard transmissions.  Most of the automatic transmission vehicles I’ve seen are from outside Mexico.
  • There are a lot of stray dogs here.  Just hanging around in the street, eating out of garbage.  They do not threaten, they just flop in the street.  In fact, at night, they sometimes sleep in the middle of the street – probably because it’s a warm spot, or something like that.  
  • The people here are genuine and warm.  They are not pretentious about their lot in life.  They don’t look down on those who sell stuff on the beach, or do supposedly lesser jobs, or jobs that would be lesser in our culture.  Wow, they just do it, and don’t complain.  They don’t take our “no, gracious” personally, they just move on.  We could learn a lot from these people!
  • And speaking of jobs, they use a half dozen people for a job that would be done by two in Canada.  I think it’s their way to cope without welfare.  For the smallest little job, they have someone doing it.  This seems to be a good thing – it gives them something to do, dignity and self confidence.  Even for tough, difficult jobs that we would get a machine to do – like digging for a foundation or a pool, for instance – they get a bunch of guys with shovels and wheelbarrows to do it, wow!  And, I understand that the vast majority of building projects are done with concrete that is mixed by hand on site, wow!  Tough, tough people.
  • The roads here are, um, interesting.  The main roads are well paved.  The main streets are stones with pavement between them.  Pretty nice.  The side streets are not nice at all.  They are stones but with clay or packed sand between them.  The side streets are rough, an ankle sprain waiting to happen!  But, when they need repair, the boys just dump sand in the middle of the street and get out their shovels.  They dig up the stones they might need to dig up, put stones back in, pack sand or dirt or clay or whatever it is in around them, and walk away.  As a result, all of the vehicles here have rattles, squeaks and bad suspension, or so it seems.
  • I’ve heard that Mexicans are legendary for being laid back, slow and tardy.  Well, it’s not all true for sure – our cabs have always been right on time, our buses have driven like mad to keep some kind of schedule (not sure whose).  But overall, they don’t get fazed over anything.  As per my notes when I was parasailing, if they get worried, you should be worried.  But, as a result, the garbage piles up in the streets – because it seems, nobody worries about garbage.  Especially at the end of the street at the beach, there is garbage laying around, it smells awful – but the Mexican folks, in their laid back way, just walk right past.  Wow.
  • There are a lot of Canadians down here.  Like, we are talking, there can’t be many left up there in Canada!
  • Most houses are built as part of a walled-in compound.  Some are more isolated than others.  Dave’s observation was that you never know what’s behind the wall.  The wall can look awful and crumbling on the outside, but then one day you see the gate open to let a car in or out, and there’s a beautiful house inside.  On the other hand, some places seem to be better fortified than others.  The one shown below, for instance, I call “the embassy” because it has broken glass on top of the brick walls, and the walls that are made of wrought iron have outward facing “hooks”.  These are typically used to fortify diplomatic residences in other places in the world!

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