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Posted by ZihuaRob from ( on miércoles, mayo 28, 2003 at 11:00:24 :

In Reply to: Info on your area, please posted by C.D. from (?) on miércoles, mayo 28, 2003 at 08:10:05 :

Hola C.D.,

Man, that's a tall order but let's see what we can do here...

First, you may want to browse through the Message Board Archives and see what catches your eye. That is where the real wealth of information about our area can be found. Then, if you haven't done so already, take a look through my Visitors Guide to the Area to get an idea of places and locat1ons as well as some of the better-known businesses.

Though Zihuatanejo and the surrounding area have grown, especially during the last ten years, much faster than its capacity to absorb all the newcomers and provide them with adequate services, it's still an oasis of tranquility and small-town familiarity and an excellent place to raise a family or simply escape from the madness and demands of modern city life.

Of course life here has its own peculiarities, especially for foreigners from "modern" societies. Relatively simple things like ordering telephone service can be a real challenge. Internet and telephone service are currently provided by the monopoly Telmex, and they are like an eccentric rich old auntie, doing things when and how they want, completely unresponsive to criticism or complaints. You get used to it. Electricity and gasoline seem to cost a fortune even though we are a petroleum-exporting country. Water flows up and out of drains in the streets instead of down them when it rains. Nothing appears to ever get done, and it seems there is a holiday about every other week or so.

It's enough to drive a person from a "modern society" stark raving mad and have them mumbling and swearing to themselves seemingly at nothing, often telling whomever they can that "that's not how we do things where I come from." You soon learn that those are counterproductive and meaningless complaints that fall on deaf ears. No one here appears to care how anything is done anywhere else, thus knowledge and progress must appear based on empirical and original local experience and solutions, not foreign ideas. If a politician can't get his picture in the paper over it, it probably ain't ever gonna happen. Welcome to the place where the only time they paint the streets is when a high-ranking public official or VIP comes to town, and then only those streets along the route to their lodging or wherever they are expected to visit.

Sometimes the hardest baggage to leave behind for people who come here from other places are their preconceptions and their prejudices, and that is where many would-be residents have the most difficulty adjusting, at least in the short term.

Politically we are going through a populist phase of our rejuvenated and blooming democracy, so there is some re-education going on as the people learn about just what happens when former opposition parties come into power and exactly how much weight their endless campaign promises to the mostly poor masses really carry. As in most developing countries, some things have to get worse before they get better. Since they couldn't get much worse, we hope we are experiencing a turnaround in the quality of services provided by our government at all levels, though it is evident that, so far, positive change has only begun at the federal level, and has yet to trickle down, much less erase caciquism and nepotism and the Mexican version of good-old-boyism, the roots of many social problems in this part of the country.

Living here often reminds me of the wild west. Sometimes it can appear lawless, often it appears untamed. But thank goodness for the wonderful ancient principles still held by a majority of the families. They are what has held this society together from since before the time of the Spanish Conquest and through countless trials and tribulations since then. Of course, modern media, especially TV, movies, music and fashion from the USA, are taking their toll on Mexican youth and culture. If it happens in L.A. then it will soon happen in Mexico City and then it is only a matter of time until it spreads into the more rural areas of the country. Makes us all wonder what the heck those people up there think they're doing! Why the heck are they worrying about Iraq, Afghanistan, Columbia or any part of the world while there is such a terrible problem festering right in their own back yard?

As in any vacation destination, more people arrive than leave every day, whether to seek a living, a dream, or to retire. The hardest thing about living here is watching the displacement of the relatively poor locals by wealthier people from other cities and countries. And to make matters worse, no matter how hard the locals try to help themselves and improve their standard of living, politics and desperation have created large subcommunities of squatters who have no or very little education, no real skills to contribute to the workforce, no money to pay taxes with, but who are the largest voice during elections as well as other times clamoring for and demanding services that the community can barely provide for itself. So instead of being able to improve our quality of life it seems as though the city planners continuously trade away any real progress to improve our well-being for votes from the extremely poor new arrivals, since that is how they win elections.

But most of what I describe is unnoticed by the majority of visitors or part-time residents in our area. Though politics and government appear hopelessly backwards and mired down in special interests, they seem to be easy enough to ignore by the majority of residents. People here live for the day, for the most part. The pursuit of happiness is one of the strongest driving forces in Mexico. "Poor but happy" is an old tried and true way of life here! As long as the sun shines, the wind blows, the fish swim, the birds fly, the flowers bloom, and the musicians sing... life is good! ;~)

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