7 Maddening Things About SanCris Living
I’d hate for you to think I’ve had too much of the Mexican kool-aid, so I thought I better balance out my love letter from last week. As with anyplace, it ain’t all unicorns and rainbows, folks. A somewhat crabby post, but here goes; In no particular order, seven things that drive me mad in San Cristobal.
Can we just get with the program? It’s nearly impossible to consume responsibly when there is no outlet for recycling. After accumulating about 8 months worth of glass, plastic and aluminum, I had to figure out what to do with it and with no recycling center, I had to get a little creative. I found an educational center, called El Ingenio, that had posted a sign saying they were taking plastics to use in workshops and crafts with kids. For the glass, I asked around and posted on Facebook that I had about 100 glass bottles of various sizes and an acquaintance wrote back that she knew someone who was building an eco-hut with walls made from mud and bottles, so they came and picked them all up. And for the aluminum, every few days I hear someone announcing over a loudspeaker that they pickup large items with aluminum and I found them to hand over my small bag of cans. It’s a lot of effort, though…I’d rather we just got with the program! [I have seen recycling bins in Mexico’s larger cities and modern urban centers – but no sign of the trend moving to SanCris]
I’ll spare you a picture. You know what it looks like. In SanCris it can be found all over the sidewalks, sometimes perfectly hidden. With the street dogs I can try and understand but we often see pet owners walking their dogs who stop and do their business in the middle of a busy sidewalk and the owner just laughs and keeps walking. (insert homicidal thoughts here) I’ve complained about dog sh#t in other places around the world and I’m sure I’ll complain about it again.
No Courtesy for the Pedestrian
This one kills me and makes me momentarily grumpy, pretty much daily. The old, narrow cobblestoned streets of SanCris could be such a delight. When vehicles were more scarce, I’m sure walking in SanCris was much more pleasurable. But today, the narrow streets and even narrower (and uneven) sidewalks make something as simple as walking down the sidewalk a real challenge. It never fails that some idiot in a hummer or big truck grazes my head with their side mirrors as they pass through the streets that were obviously not built with over-sized vehicles in mind. If there is any water on the road, which is often when it rains or when the drainage system is overburdened, pedestrians are constantly splashed, sometimes from head to toe. Drivers don’t care. To them pedestrians are the lowest on the food chain and meant to be abused. Then there are the a-holes who park up on the sidewalk. Not only are they constantly damaging the sidewalks but they make it impossible to walk safely along the sidewalk. Vendors set up shop smack in the middle of the sidewalk and oftentimes people stop to chat with neighbors and instead of sharing the sidewalk with the passerby, they instead force pedestrians to cross the street or step out into traffic and walk around them.
Lines at the bank/ATM
With a little planning this one can be avoided but you have to be thinking ahead. Nearly every single employer in the entire state of Chiapas pays their employees on the 1st and 15th of the month. Since this is a very poor state with most families living paycheck to paycheck, the result is that every 1st and 15th of the month you have to be prepared to wait hours to get cash out of any bank in the city. Everybody and their mother gets in line to withdraw their earnings and make ends meet. In a place where online banking just hasn’t quite caught on, you’d think that some thoughtful employers would think to change their payroll dates to, let’s say, the 10th & the 25th, and alleviate some of this nonsense. But, no dice.
Internet is basically still in the dark ages in SanCris. While some neighborhoods are able to get 10MB speed, most of us can only get around 3-5MB speed. Compare this to Mexico City where 50MB is the basic package with fiber speeds available. The other hurdle in SanCris is that you have to get a phone line first, and the phone company only offers a certain number of phone lines per neighborhood or square block. So for example, last year when we moved to our current cabin, we tried to get setup with a phone/internet service and were told by Telmex that they weren’t putting in new lines in our neighborhood (Cuxtitali). Our options were to go on the waiting list until someone canceled (never going to happen) or share an existing line with a neighbor. So that’s what we’ve been doing and our measly 3MB speed is shared between two households. It works out ok, but some days I think our first dial up modem on the farm was faster.
Trash is a problem. More specifically, trash pickup is a problem. There are no alleys in SanCris so having a large dumpster out back is not an option. Some people opt to drive their trash to the landfill, but that is an even more maddening chore, as the landfill is difficult to get to and always overwhelming. So most residents know which day the trash truck passes by their street and haul their garbage out to the pickup corner. The problem is that because of the street dogs, leaving the trash unattended for more than a few minutes results in a big miss. So basically, people are expected to wait outside or by the door and be on call all morning long until the truck passes by. Not exactly conducive to the working folk or for anyone with a life to live. And then there are the naughty neighbors who despite repeated requests not to do so, decide to take their trash out the night before so they don’t have to be on-the-ready at 6am. This trash gets shredded to pieces by the street dogs and scattered all over. It’s annoying.
This is a funny one. In every house or apartment that is rented out, the appliances are mini-sized. Not dorm-room-mini, but not far behind. I would understand in the case of a tiny kitchen where there just isn’t space, but in most kitchens I’ve been in, space is not an issue. The small oven is hard to get used to. It’s hard to find cookie sheets that will fit and they come with only one rack. Plus, the broiler is way down on the bottom. While amusing, it drives me a little bit mad every time I have to get down on my hands and knees to broil chicken.
And with that, I’ll get off my soapbox. A few annoying things about living in this otherwise wonderful town. I’ll live.