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A Mid-day Mexican Stand Off

Is there anything more frustrating than sitting in traffic on a hot afternoon and not being able to move forward? OK, besides not having air conditioning as well. Last Thursday, I found myself for 40 minutes in a line of traffic that went nowhere for no reason that I could see. 

I waited patiently, called my meeting and said I was running late and didn’t know why traffic was stopped.  I thought, maybe a car accident like the frightening one the Tuesday before at the Walmart hazard intersection. Thank goodness there were no mortalities, but this stall was a mystery. People did the honk with no apparent resolution thing. My heart started pounding. Stuck in traffic is a panic button for me. Don’t ask, it just is. Then people started walking up towards the traffic light and returned.

They would tell people what was going on. My grasp of Spanish being what it is, didn’t give me the understanding necessary. So, I get out of the car, and gimped my way to see for myself, and right away I was able to figure out I was caught in the midst of a Mexican Stand Off. Now, I know stubborn. I’m Scottish, and I was married to a purebred German. And it is my considered opinion that there is nothing more irresolvable than a Mexican Stand Off. 

Now I was starting to have shortness of breath. Transito was there, the police were there, surely they would stop this demonstration for whatever it is about. They are the officials, right? They stood and watched. Finally, a woman talked to transito and explained she needed to get to the hospital for her heart. And magically, a number of protesters started to ask people to move their cars, and they made room for this woman to get to the hospital. I hope she was OK.

It was a long while later and ¼ tank of gas later that traffic began to flow. And days later I found that not only was the highway into Chapala but  Hildago into Chapala was also closed off, and traffic throughout the city was a mess.

But what was it all about? Well, I have it on good authority, street gossip… that the protesters were vendors from the Malecon and they were protesting a new government order to purchase a certain type of umbrella with a Chapala logo on it and they all had to buy it and display it or their vendor stall would be closed down.

OK. Government wants it to look better but doesn’t want to pay for it.  But the vendors, already having to deal with two bad years didn’t have the money right then and there to pay for it. And they were upset. More than a little upset. But I heard also from that same reliable source that the City decided they would pay for half and the vendors the other half, and I’ve been told the controversial additions were already on display. 

When I drove by the Chapala Malecon the other day, I didn’t see the umbrellas. But I was amazed by the number of satellite dishes on top of the tin units.

And I believe we were just getting a taste of what driving, walking and bike riding will be like during the next two years as the new renovation projection through Chapala’s main street and other streets such as Ramon Corona.  Well, at least they are going to repair the infrastructure which will help with the water problems of the future.

I love Chapala and lived there 11 of the first 15 years I’ve been in Mexico.  But I think I’ll be limiting my trips by car until their project is done. And if the resolution on the protest proves true, kudos to the city government for compromising.

CORRECTION: In the April Edition of El Ojo del Lago, the article entitled Slaying the Deer Slayers in Mexico: The Yaqui Experience should have read Submitted by Kelly Hayes Raitt, as it was not written by her but as stated in the first paragraph it was written by W. Dirk Raat. We apologize for the error.

Victoria Schmidt
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