The hills of Tepehua, although unforgiving terrain to the eye, has wrapped its protective arms around the settlers from Mexico’s central valleys since they first set up their tents there. A million-dollar view of the largest natural lake in Mexico, it has served fishermen and farmers, and the men of the mountain turned to construction as the Barrio of Tepehua is totally based on volcanic rock. To some who are now going to see property on top of the hills and maybe seeing the area for the first time, it is a backward area in need of much infrastructure, including the availability of hookups into the 21st century luxuries which for many are everyday necessities. But to others, like this author, who has been involved in the growth of the area for 21 years, the change has been so rapid, people rose up and did what migrants do . . . created a new world.
It was inevitable that the neighbors to the North would get involved with the growth of the rural areas of Mexico, as people are always on the move. In slow motion people the world over are moving all the time, and each place they come to rest they leave some behind who stay and raise generations. In days of yore it would take years to go from point A to B, many days of walking and losing many to death through disease or violence along the way. Today you plan your migration route from your armchair and, depending on your destination, you can be there in one day. With a little more planning, you can take your whole house with you, pets and food supplies. Totally amazing. A wonder that in itself creates many problems in the country you choose to settle in.
In the case of war or hardship, when thousands are crossing the border at one time, the problem becomes distribution of people and the supply and demand of food, clothing and medical care. They come by walking/bus/train/air and it can take years of sorting through at the borders who goes and who stays. Formerly, it was natural selection. Most died along the way or could go no farther and put up a small settlement where the weak died and the strong gradually created outposts. Those were the days when life was short and tough.
It is an odd migration now to Tepehua. North Americans and Europeans are moving to the southern Americas to look for a place to retire in comfort as they find they are living longer and the younger people of their own terrain are pushing them out at a very active age. So they pack up and bring their retirement money and knowledge to share with their host country and for the Lakesiders they make an incredible team. Without that migration, Lakeside would not have seen the rapid growth it has.
Meanwhile, the Tepehua hills hide and protect its poor. They nestle in its folds still, progress pushing them farther and farther into its valleys, some without running water or toilets; most run electricity lines off a city that turns a blind eye. At night single bulbs light up in tiny shacks creating nativity scenes everywhere. Progress can create some hardships for those at the end of the food chain, but they also offer opportunity. It is up to them to take it. Opportunity always leaves some behind. Moonie1935@yahoo.com
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com