Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wal Mart and the Hot Springs at San Juan Cosala

A giant Wal Mart supercenter opened in this area recently. They had a grand opening and traffic in town was jammed up all day. I hope this isn't the beginning of the end for the small town feel of Ajijic. I heard that they employed two thousand Mexican locals. That is good but the pay isn't.

I worry about the Mexicans who make their living from the outside markets. There is always someone standing on a street corner trying to sell something to the people passing by. A few days ago I was walking into town and a Mexican man tried to sell me a set of windshield wipers."Por su caro." he said. "No caro." I responded as I walked on past.

He looked at his friend and said, "Pobre American."

The Mexicans here are used to rich Americans and they drive cars. Maybe the sales man was surprised that I was walking. Also, it is about six months until the next rainy season. A very optimistic salesman.

Yesterday I went to the hot springs at San Juan Coasla. On the packed bus ride home I was the only Gringa. I don't often see Americans walking or riding buses. Maybe it has something to do with the average age of gringos here. I would guess that to be in the mid seventies.

It was another beautiful, sunny day yesterday. Not crowded at the hot springs. I was able to swim some laps and soak in the hot tubs.

There was a group of about a dozen Mexican women playing in the pool. An elderly Mexican man sat in a plastic lawn chair on the side of the pool next to them.

There is a round cement platform with a pole in the middle with a metal umbrella at the top of it. The women were sitting in a circle on the plactform watching one woman perform on the pole, They were singing songs and clapping their hands while the woman did a mock pole dance for them. Everyone was laughting and having a great time. Then she chose someone else to perform.

The women were middle aged, conservative looking, probably housewives and mothers. They would start out acting shy and embarrassed but as the singing got more racus they would strut their stuff, swinging around on the pole like strippers in Vagas. It was fun to watch.

The elderly man was having a great time too. Not learing, just enjoying the company of the women as they had fun expressing their sensuality. Mexican women are usually reserved in public and this was a treat to see them so relaxed and self expressive. I didn't see any children or husbands around and maybe that is why they felt freer. No expectations.....

I hope to make it to the hot springs often. I tried swimming in the public pool in Chalapa. It is large, maybe three times larger than the pool at San Juan Cosala but it is cold lake water. The bottom of the pool is even covered in slime. It is a beautiful place in the middle of a park with a view of the lake. I was the only one there except for the two men cleaning the pool. I knew why once I put my feet in the cold water. From now on I will spend the extra money and go out to the hot springs aat San Juan Cosala instead.

Lake Chapala Society

It was cool in the morning. Cool enough for me to put on a long sleeved cotton shirt over my tank top. Later in the afternoon I had to discard the shirt as it got hot. By mid afternoon it must have been eighty degrees in the sunshine. I wore my three quarter length pants because I was riding my bike in the morning to the Lake Chapala Society, referred to as LCS by the locals. It is in the heart of Ajijic, close to the lake. I moved to my casita because it is only a few blocks from the LCS which is the social center for the expatriate community. I joined and now I have a card so I can use their library, video library and attend their functions. The yearly fee is a little less than fifty dollars. Not bad for all the perks it offers. They are even going to have a Thanksgiving dinner on the grounds. I am looking forward to it.

There is an outdoor coffee shop on the grounds and a large garden. The fifty year old garden has two koi ponds and many places to sit and relax.

There are exercise classes in the garden, yoga, dancing, always something happening. But I like to just sit by one of the koi ponds, watch the butterflies, listen to the birds and the church bells. The church and the central plaza are only a few blocks away.

I have been in town a little over a month and I am beginning to recognize some of the faces. Many people come here every day to meet friends, take classes, get books or videos or just check out the bulletin board. LCS is the social hub for the foreign community.

I brought down art supplies, thinking I would paint or draw. So far I have done neither. But I am preparing to settle in for some serious art work. I have been preparing for fifteen years. One of these days I will get out those paints. For now, I just like to sit among the flowers and trees. Life is good. Lucky for me, no one is around to criticize me when I change my plans and decide to do nothing. One of the advantages of living alone.

The bike ride from my casita to LCS along the narrow cobblestone street is a bit bumpy. Those cobblestones can be hard on the body. Maybe that is why so many of the expatriates bring their cars down. I would rather not have one. I like walking and biking. It forces me to exercise. I have a lazy streak. I could just bask in the sunshine for hours like a giant sunflower. My desires are simple. I like the slow life here. But that is my choice.

I have met people who are on the go all the time. I have noticed that many of the expatriates here are older than I am which is a nice change for me. I am used to looking around a room and having the realization that I am the oldest one there. I think I could be happy growing old here. I don’t consider myself old yet. Age is in the eyes of the beholder. Right? This community is filled with active, vital, retirees. I admire them for their courage to step out of the mold and come to Mexico. I think I can learn a lot from them. If I can bring myself to go out and become a joiner…….But this sunshine feels so good. I don’t want to leave this beautiful garden.