Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Mexico - A Beautiful Country Wracked with Problems

I've been writing a lot lately, for a website called Suite 101, another called Helium. And, of course, I've been blogging here. I've also been busy on a memoir. All this writing has put my head in a space where I take only casual notice of the external world. Yet, if I don't speak to real people from time to time, I'll go nuts.

With this in mind, on January 1, I went to a fantastic New Year's Day dinner. Ninety-three people filled my people quota for a while. Yesterday, which was Tuesday, but I thought it was Wednesday; I was off to a garden club party.

I rang the doorbell and Dora opened it, welcomed me, invited me in and said I could come back on Wednesday. We toured her garden. I'm sure she was inconvenienced but gracious. Although I missed the party, I got some great gardening tips.

On my way home from Dora's, I dropped into a restaurant for a coffee. I was served two pieces of sweet bread, and a cup of coffee. I explained I didn't want the sweet bread, only coffee. The waitress told me the cup of coffee would cost $22 pesos. I was shocked. "No, no $15 pesos es normal, no?" She gave me a lot of information as to why prices have gone up so much in Oaxaca. I've never experienced inflation like this before. Two years ago a cup of coffee was $12 pesos, now a cup of coffee is $22 pesos. And, the coffee is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

She was so well informed that I asked her if she was the owner. She told me that she was simply an employee, but she worked the cash register and many people were questioning the increases.

I think part of the reason inflation is so bad is because the Mexican peso has devalued. $3,000 pesos in July were worth $252.96 Canadian dollars. Now, $3,000 pesos are worth $227.48. People I know here are very excited at the perceived benefits of their American or Canadian dollars going farther, but there are two sides to each coin.

After I left the restaurant, I walked past Santo Domingo Cathedral. There were over one thousand ceramic figures in front of the cathedral and stretching down Calle de Alcala. Apparently the plan is to complete 2,501, which represents the number of men from one village that have had to go the United States in order to support their families. The artist is Alejandro Santiago.

Inflation, devaluation of the peso, emigration to the United States, this is a beautiful country that is wracked with problems.


Anonymous said...

My wife and I will be in Oaxaca from Jan 24 until Feb 20. How can we connect with your group?

Christina Gregoire said...

I agree with the inflation post. It's good for people from the states and from Canada, but I went to Buenos Aires a few years after their monetary collapse and it was a sad and frightening story. I feel sorry for Mexicans. I'm in favor of letting Mexicans into the US. I know that I would cross the border if I were in their shoes. However, the US should have a program that allows Mexican workers to cross legally (both ways) and give them legal work permits. Right now the whole thing is a farce. I feel sorry for the Mexican people. Hope it improves...but I don't know.

Oreen Scott said...

Hi Tina:

I've recently finished a book by Alan Tonelson called "The Race to the Bottom." Much of the relationship between the US and Mexico is written. Mexico is doing very well right now, low wages, poor enforced regulations and proximity to the US make it an ideal trading partner.

Mult-nationals set-up shop in Mexico - some pretty sophisticated things are now being manufactured in Mexico computers, televisions and automobiles.

Too long a story for a comment. I intend to write an article for Suite.

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