Archive for August, 2009

Floating down the canals of Xochimilco

August 28, 2009

Mexico City 094cropped

Traffic jam Mexican style in Xochimilco. This is what we faced coming back from a lazy Wednesday afternoon on the floating garden. Along the way these boats are usually solicited by other boats selling food, music, toys, flowers and live plants. Right after Anita took this picture our man-on-pole made a right turn up a secluded tributary and avoid the traffic jam you see in this picture. Understand this was a Wednesday and I can’t imagine what these waters look like on a Mexican holiday. I guess the people that drive in Mexico City are used to this mad cluster. Mexican find comfort in crowds they tell me.

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Mexican Street Food

August 28, 2009

Mexico City 187cropped

Sushi comida japonesa stopped us in mid stride. It is the only sushi Japanese food stand I have seen and the cook Mexico City has thousands of small food stands that sell the usual eats. However this one looked vaguely part Asian. No, we didn’t stop for eats, it wasn’t open and the thought of eating raw fish in an outdoor food stall, well, our stomachs said don’t take the risk.

Fur and Fowl living together in harmony

August 27, 2009

Mexico City 098cropped

So we’re floating down a canal in Xochimilco in a trajinera (gondola)…actually we were being powered by a young boy of fifteen using a pole… when we came across these two. Looked like a photo opportunity to me.

The world image of San Miguel de Allende

August 4, 2009
La Parroquia -The image of San Miguel

La Parroquia -The image of San Miguel

We have lived in San Miguel for over a month and I have waited until the last day to collect my thoughts, observations and feelings before posting. Time changes perception, dulls the edges of the quick judgment. Some people have commented that they would like to read a comparison of SMA (San Miguel de Allende) and Lake Chapala. So be it.

 

The common misperception of people in SMA is the average person living Lakeside is an 80 year old, military retiree who hangs around in the plaza all day smoking cigarettes and drinking beer at night waiting for his Social Security check to come in.

 

SMA is (rightly so) designated a world heritage site. Ajijic is quant but the little fishing village hardly compares to SMA in historical and architectural splendor.

 

SMA seems to attract people from the US who have lived in a large metropolitan city like Manhattan or Boston. The cultural events are good and plenty. In the past month there has been: an International children’s choral festival, a classical guitar festival, an international festival of short cinema, among other things like theater, lectures, art openings, concerts in the Jardin, etc. The “Atencion” has a weekly pull out section of about 8 pages listing the weekly events many of which are free.. In comparison Lakeside tries but is still a distant second in cultural and arts events. Lakeside does have the only English speaking improvisational comedy troupe, Spanglish Imposition, check local listings for times and performances. (I know, a cheap plug)

 

The women in SMA dress up more and are more fashionable than Lakeside women (Hate me gals) The men? When did any retired guy in Mexico become fashion minded?

 

A taxi ride here cost 25 peso anywhere in the Centro. Outside Centro the rates are 30 peso. Lakeside., taxi rides are overpriced at $6 to $7 around town. Wow are we ripped off at Lakeside on taxi rides. It’s hard to believe, but drivers in SMA including taxi drivers will actually – – – you won’t believe this people of Jalisco – – – they will stop for you at street corners to let you walk across. They also take turn with other cars at intersections. It is astounding how polite the drivers are here.

 

The variety and value of restaurants Lakeside seems greater and the prices are slightly less than those in San Miguel.

 

Spanish is spoken here by staff in restaurants and gift shops much more so than at Lakeside.  In that respect SMA is still very Mexican. You see many more “gringos” running around Lakeside than SMA. The ratio of Mexican’s to English speaker in SMA is about 14 to 1, quite different than Chapala.

 

There are real art galleries here, as opposed to Lakeside where shops are more arts and crafts and people buy modern art that doesn’t have to be Mexican themed.

 

Real Estate. Both retirement communities have inflated housing prices and. people still persist in thinking the good old days of 2005 housing bubble are alive and well and they can command any price.  There are several houses Lakeside in the 1 million dollar range; here there are several houses in the Centro of SMA priced over $3 million dollars. One house I saw was $10,000 dollars a square foot  – – – Some sellers are living in an alternate reality.

 

People? I have to say people Lakeside seem friendlier. But we have more Canadians, and they are a friendly lot. They might say “eh,” pronounce words with a long “o” sound and be falsely accused of being cheap, but they are a levelheaded and practical group of people and we Americans are better off with them around.

 

The future:  The golden goose is being slowly killed. SMA’s stated population of 140,000 is misleading There are considerably more people if you count the communities in the greater area. With growth left unchecked, SMA will soon become an urban runaway nightmare. On the road west out of town toward Dolores Hidalgo there are several very large (and empty) housing developments. There is also a thirsty golf course. It begs the question: Where are all these people and that golf course going to get water, waste disposal, roads and the other amenities? I am told Mexican government planners in SMA are not concerned.  Manana is great as a lifestyle, bad as urban planning. Understand that there is enough land around SMA to accommodate a population of millions. The recession has slowed down the influx of expats to SMA and Lakeside, but when the US economy recovers and the rest of the baby boomers move down here, well…inset your own overcrowding nightmare. What’s that joke: It’s so crowded people don’t go there anymore. Lakeside, house construction is restricted by the lake and the mountains to a narrow strip of land. But then again, we only have one road going around the lake. The other problems facing SMA is air pollution and in both places the automobile. Cars are smothering both places. Our sleepy fishing village of Ajijic is a parking lot by 10 in the morning any day of the week. Try finding a parking space. In SMA Centro they have restricted parking on many streets and parking lots are all around. Mostly people walk for take taxis. How long before that is the only solution Lakeside? Like it or not, Mexicans and “gringos” cannot ALL have cars one these narrow streets. Maybe the Mexican government should restrict foreigners on visa to just one car per couple? I can hear the whining now. Like Mexico City, expect to see driving restrictions in a few years. It seems the only solution for the cancerous spread of the four wheeled polluting monster. 

 

All that being said, SMA and Lakeside are still beautiful and a paradise to live in.

 

Enough said, on to Mexico City. Viva Mexico!