Thursday, August 7, 2003

It is still the "Wild West" south of the border (
Annette and I found this article to be a fascinating, albeit horrific, story of rural justice and mercy a la mexicana. We have visited marginalized rural communities like this and heard stories of protestant churches being bulldozed, family land being stolen at gun point and other atrocities.

Not all of Mexico is like this - far from it. We really love our life in Mexico. But as Annette says "Our host country is both first world and third world. It all depends on how much money you have." The city we live in has all the conveniences of any modern city of the world. And you can enjoy those conveniences if you have the mean$.

Just to give you an idea of what that cost is, according to an official international index, the cost of living in Mexico City over the last year has been between 12% and 32% higher than the average cost of living in the U.S. Gasoline here is over $3/gallon nationally, eggs are about $1.25 per dozen, a movie rental is $3.50 cents, a gallon of milk is $3.20, a standard pair of tennis shoes cost between $65 and $175, and any new car or computer is between 28% and 33% more expensive than in the United States. We just had a colleagues visiting us from Barcelona, Spain and he'd hoped to buy some clothing here since Barcelona is rather expensive. He left empty handed and astounded at how expensive everything is here.

But then there's manual labor, which is not a highly valued commodity. Yesterday we had a painter come to our house. We've been living here five and a half years and the walls were getting grungy looking. Salvador, the painter, was recommended, showed up on time, finished the job in 9 hours and charged me $30 dollars. According to some, "me vio con cara de gringo" which roughly translated means "he saw my gringo face and raised the price". But if I think it's a good deal and Salvador thinks its a good deal... it seems like a classic win-win situation to me :-)

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