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A Midwesterner moves to Mexico: A View From a Hammock

After ten months, I finally saw what most people travel to Mexico to see – a beach. Palm trees and sand castles. White caps and the sound of surf. Seafood and shells. Never enough sea glass. Almost always a hammock.   

The view from mine was gorgeous. Tall palms towered above, blocking most of the sun while still letting in the blue sky which was uninterrupted by clouds even in this rainy season. Mountains rose in every direction that I looked providing a feeling of a sanctuary. Native flora flourished in vibrant colors, making my own attempt at gardening with potted plants seem a failure.   

As I looked across the lagoon, I also saw a small town, charming in its own right, with cobblestone streets and thatched roof restaurants. Picturesque from a distance, but unquestionably poor on closer inspection and in comparison to the majestic resort behind me or the marina with yachts and high priced sailboats to my right. 

The beach across the lagoon was less well kept. The streets unswept. And as you walked farther inland, you found vacant lots with debris and run down houses.  

It happens a lot in Mexico. The distance between those who have and those who don’t is often short. Driving home from the mall, I’m approached by a man with a rolled blanket on his back asking for pesos. Walking into OXXO for an evening snack I’m met by a mother and her three young children selling plants from a wooden pushcart. It’s raining hard and they’ve taken refuge under the insufficient overhang of the store, but still go about their work.

We drive to a beach, through remarkable scenery, interrupted by areas of clear poverty, where houses at first appear uninhabitable until you see clothes on a line. We arrive at a resort, and across the lagoon there are people with the same view as the one from my hammock but with very different lives. 

The beauty of the beach is not lost on me as I laze in my hammock. But neither is the fact that it is not the whole story of Mexico.