Watch your step

THERE’S A street project right off the main plaza downtown that’s been going on since last autumn, which is a long time because the renovation is just two lengthy blocks.

This project interests me, and I take a stroll by there almost every weekday after sitting at a sidewalk table with my Kindle and a café Americano negro.

In the United States, it would have been done far faster, and the entire work site would be blocked off so pedestrians and gawkers like me could not walk all over the place.

Around the workmen. Hopping over wet cement.

Here, no effort is made to keep pedestrians out of the work area, and none of the workers sports a hard hat. The main reason the project is taking so long is that there is little mechanized about it. It’s strictly manual labor.

If a passerby trips on something, falls and busts his noodle, he should have watched where he was going. He does not sue the city. We are not litigious that way.

The work started last year with an extensive excavation. New sewer and water lines were buried deep as were electric cables and wires in fat orange conduits.

Part of the reason the project is taking so long is the detail work, primarily on the sidewalks.

I should have photographed some of the detail, but I didn’t. This is fine rock work that will last a century.

There is sunken lighting for a nice nighttime look.

About the only nod to modernity are wheelchair ramps.

This photo shows the area where most of the stone is being worked to make it usable. It was a rose garden outside the church/hospital to the left before the renovation began.

Big stones are cut to size by hammer and chisel.

The scenes of the first two photos are at the end of the block down thataway, the far side.

We don’t have the reams of rules and regulations here that are so prevalent above the Rio Bravo, rules and regs made necessary by lawyers and government meddling. No environmental impact study was required.

Bugs were just squashed.

Here, if you need something done you hire some guys and do it. There are always guys available, plenty of idle hands of men who never grasped the need for schooling.

Just around the corner from the renovation I noticed this sign outside a tiny pharmacy. Look what you can have done. (Excuse the photos’ blurry edges. I had the camera set for that effect, but I did not notice till later.)

You can measure your blood sugar and blood pressure, or get a pap test.

You can get a medical certificate, maybe to get out of class. A problem with your toenails? No sweat.

A wound will be bandaged, and if you need an injection, they’ll stick you with the appropriate needle.

And all will cost next to nothing, and no pricey doctor reference is needed, but a doctor is likely there. Just go in, pay a buck or two if you want some medical advice or a prescription.

Living here is easy. Even if renovating a street takes forever. It will last forever after it’s finished.

17 thoughts on “Watch your step

  1. Long live the common sense of Mexico and the stone street in your neck of the woods. I read quite often about American tourists doing crazy things and dying while visiting Mexico. If there isn’t a sign warning them, the perception seems to be it can’t be dangerous.


  2. Felipe, another great post! So enjoy learning about Mexico through your lens. The wife and I are hoping to make an exploratory trip to ‘gringolandia’ (aka Ajijic) in August. We hope to make it over your way some time soon too. Thus far, the only downside I see to Patzcuaro is the chilly winters. Regards, Troy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Troy. Mexico awaits you. However, “chilly winters” is putting lipstick on a pig’s face. Overnight freezes are common here in winter. We’re 7,200 feet above sea level. It does warm up considerably during the day, however. The critical issue is that there’s no central heating here, anywhere, so you have to bundle up. Fireplaces are common, but they really don’t do much unless you stand right in front of one. The area is not for the faint of heart.


      1. What one might consider “chilly” depends heavily on where one is from. If you’re from anywhere North-Central to Northeast in the USA, your winters there would barely qualify as winter.

        I recall when we first met in January 2007 that we were sitting outside at a cafe, wearing T-shirts. I have pictures to prove it, though one does show “F” wearing a light jacket, but unbuttoned. No gloves, no hat, no thermal underwear, no boots, no frozen snot in our noses, no snowdrifts, no ice, in fact, no sign of winter whatsoever. Heck, even the trees had leaves.

        But I guess this “freezing winter” meme is part of your long running initiative to keep gringos away from Pátzcuaro.

        Or is it?


        Kim G

        P.S. You could certainly build a house with sealed windows and central heat. After all, there are no intrusive government regulations banning it.


        1. Kim: You forget one major detail, and one I usually mention when I point out that it often freezes here overnight in winter. By the afternoons, it is quite nice. Temp differences of up to 40 degrees are common. It may be 30 at 6 a.m., but it’s gonna be 70 at 2 p.m.

          As for building a sealed home here, you could likely do it, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a builder who knew how to do it. And that home would stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. And your electric bills would be staggering.


          1. I didn’t forget the light overnight frost. It’s all part of my comment, e.g., basically no signs of winter. (In places with real winter, frost is common in fall and spring.)

            Why would a sealed house stick out like a sore thumb? You could seal your own house and it’d look the same, not to mention that it’s already invisible to the street.


            1. Kim: Of course, winters here do not approach what you are accustomed to in Boston. As for sealing houses, it would be very difficult. The construction process is totally different here.


  3. As you know, skilled workers are in short supply up here. There is a certain dignity in working with your hands to create something that lasts. I wish I recognized this long ago.

    When I was a lad, you felt you had to get a college degree (or it least your parents did)
    to make enough money for the “good life.” No more. A good welder makes great money, while many kids come out of college with $50k in student loan debt and are virtually unemployable.


    1. Ray: If there is dignity in working with your hands — and there surely is — then the dignity level in Mexico is sky-high. It’s impressive the things Mexicans, usually men, can do. It’s one of the many pluses to living here. That it’s not highly regarded in the U.S., and hasn’t been for a long time, is just one more, among many, serious problems you have up there.

      I was an electrician for a spell in New Orleans. It was fun. I liked it.


      1. I’m sure people said the same 100 years ago. But that didn’t mean there wasn’t room for improvement, and better lives because of it.


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