Welcome to Mexico! – February 2010

Welcome to Mexico!

By Victoria Schmidt

Watch Your Step

 

There’s a joke around town that you can always tell who is a newcomer in Mexico by their injuries. The ankle braces, knee braces, arm splits and, of course, black eyes are dead give-aways. Most often these are injuries suffered by walking the infamous cobblestone streets, and uneven sidewalks. It doesn’t take long before someone takes a hard fall.

The walking wounded doesn’t often include Mexicans. They seem very adept and light on their feet. I watched a young woman rushing along the sidewalk and crossing the cobblestone street in her stilettos. “How can she do that?” I watch in amazement.

I can’t walk in stilettos period. I believe the Marquis de Sade invented them. Who but a cruel sadist would invent shoes that have toes that come to a sharp point, and place them on a three-inch platform forcing the woman’s toes to be pushed even harder into that infinitesimally small space? And then balance those shoes on a heel no larger than a head of a pin! And yet there is a Mexican beauty running in those stiletto heels on a cobblestone street.

Even in sandals, flip-flops and tennis shoes, expats seem to take frequent falls. Do we spend too much time looking skyward? Do we gaze at everything else but the ground we walk upon? Do our tri-focals blur the terrain? Of course, these falls must be kept in a category separate from those falls from resulting from the propensity for some of us to over-indulge. The terrain is difficult enough when we are stone cold sober!

I find the absolute most dangerous spot to be the tianguis. Maybe that’s because we spend too much time looking at the wares of all the various vendors. A good friend took a terrible fall at the tianguis just days before her son’s wedding. She was loaded down with purchases and fell right onto her face, requiring a few stitches by her eye socket. She showed up at the wedding with two black eyes, a puffy face, and bruises over her shoulders and side.

Sitting in Mexico isn’t safe either. Have you ever been sitting at LCS and had an avocado bonk you on the head? It’s happened. Another lesson learned: don’t sit under fruit trees.

But for me, the greatest culprit has not been the streets or sidewalks. Oh no. My downfall (pun intended) is the ubiquitous white plastic chairs. These insidious pre-manufactured molded plastic excuses for seating are everywhere feigning security, luring me. They pretend to offer me a moment of respite from my journey, or a seat to hold me while I enjoy lunch with my friends, or a place to rest while socializing at a party. But they feign security. For not once, not twice, but three times since I came to Mexico, these chairs have unceremoniously dumped me on my caboose!

I now know, that these chairs become dry, brittle and crack, that they need TLC but they don’t get it. Because they are nothing more than advertising for a beer distributor and are “borrowed” not owned, no one seems to inspect them. The many restaurateurs and perhaps even the distributorship itself just seem to wait until they break before rotating out bad or damaged chairs. Well! None of them are to be trusted—especially if you are a “person of substance.” After those three falls, I am very careful, and I often, when given a preference may chose to go to establishments that offer “real” chairs. I may even start keeping a folding chair in my van—just in case! I take my safety and comfort seriously: NO stiletto heels and NO white plastic chairs!

Ojo Del Lago
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