CAROLINA AYALA—A Force of Nature
By I.M. Burnen
Living in the Midwest in the early 60’s I woke from a nap one warm June afternoon to discover the top two floors of my home had disappeared.That force of nature, the tornado, had visited me and I responded by immediately moving to London.
Not since then have I experienced such force, but a few weeks ago, there it was in my West Ajijic neighborhood. This time it had a name and face: Carolina Ayala!
Carolina and her husband Alex had retired from the Chicago area a few months earlier. Horrified by the basura and weeds at the entrance to the Villa Lucerna area off the carretera, Carolina took on the area, challenging the local habits and approaches to the surroundings. She walked house to house to discuss how the residents felt, gathered some supporters and some not.
More importantly, she fell to her knees and started the management of the detritus that had accumulated over the years in the area. She dug, and carried away brush and trash by the wheelbarrow load. She hired helpers to plant rows of blooming flora along the roadsides, utilizing donations from a few believers, hauled buckets of water in the middle of the afternoon and slowly transformed the area where she lives.
Setting an example by doing was amazing enough, but watching her interact with the locals was a step beyond. She approached everyone with any potential trash in their hands and explained why Mexico, her country and theirs, deserved better treatment.
She challenged children, adults and animals to change long-standing habits by not throwing or depositing trash at the side of the road, and she smiled while she did it.
The result is a transforming community, with many residents fascinated by Carolina, her work ethic, her determination and her ability to transform a messy area. This resulted in a more pleasant looking area and an increase in pride and commitment. There have been many who have now donated what they could-some large ones but more small, to be part of the changes. Local government has expressed interest even as Carolina continues to expand her work.
She is a true force of nature….and I’m so glad to have witnessed the transition.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com