Welcome to Mexico!
By Victoria Schmidt
Sitting at the Libramiento intersection to Walmart waiting for the light to change, I took a deep sigh. I closed my eyes and remembered what it was like there when I first came to Mexico. I remember driving over the crest of the hill on the Libramiento and taking in the beautiful panoramic vista of Lake Chapala. There was no Walmart to block the view. There was a field to my left; there was no mall there. That got me thinking about all the changes that have happened, gradually in the 13 years we’ve been here.
There’s a new hospital in Jocotepec, in San Antonio, and they are building one on the Libramiento. This is wonderful for all the people who live here. There are many more medical clinics and more medical options for treatments. Both allopathic and homeopathic. More places to get ultrasounds, and X-Rays, and even a CT scan without the mandatory pilgrimage to Guadalajara.
When we first moved to Mexico, there was really only one place available for senior or assisted living. Now there are many places available, and more have been planned.
There are more housing developments, new restaurants and an additional movie theatre. There was once only one acting theatre. Now we have a number of options.
All this growth and change has brought in business, brought in more residents, and more entertainment. But it has changed some of the things I hold dear about living here. I can remember a time when there was not so much traffic. When you could actually tell the difference between “high” season and “low” season, just from the amount of traffic. No more. It’s busy all the time. Parking has become a nightmare, especially for the disabled and elderly.
Rents are up. Way up. Too far up. What was once a nice rental at a nice Mexican price is now an expensive rental at a USA price. And the local people are having to move further up or out in order to afford housing. But that makes it more difficult for them to reach their employment. Are we crowding out the very people we came to share the Mexican experience?
Sometimes a trip out would yield some fantastic column fodder. Like the time when the pick-up in front of me was transporting a bull in the bed of their pick up. Oh my. I loved seeing the donkeys or burros on the street. The cows and horses at the side of the road grazing. Or rows of taco trucks, hand carts or “dusty” chicken places that once lined the roadside. Gone for another building. Condos and storefronts. I miss those unique food trucks and outdoor cafes.
It used to be a fairly sparse trip between Chapala and San Antonio, but now there are new businesses everywhere. And Riberas is becoming a happening place.
It is with mixed emotions that I welcome the new businesses. And I feel a great sadness as I watch the number of them turn over. Especially the eateries. Old friends select restaurants by saying, “Let’s go to that new place, you know, the one that used to be…”
The hotels are even feeling the bite with many people opening their homes to Airbnb, and the taxis aren’t happy with the Uber competition.
Of course, changes such as these take place wherever we chose to live. I moved here for the small town experience, as I was no longer happy with life in a supremely large city. It’s my hope that we can keep the intimate feeling and the culture here at Lakeside and it will continue to hold its charm.