If there’s a single personality trait that marks folks who don’t adapt well to living at Lake Chapala, it’s probably the latent (or overt) need to change and control. It’s an interesting phenomenon. People move here because they are enchanted with the old-world charm of the area. But by the time they’re settled, they are trying to organize committees, studies, groups, and programs to change almost everything—with assurances of inspections according to OSHA standards.
One early warning sign is a constant refrain outlining the problems of the area in sentences beginning with “Why don’t they,” as in ” “Why don’t they clean up the trash?” or ” “Why don’t they mow the roadsides?”
I sometimes think these folks would be thrilled if the villages were leveled and rebuilt to look like those “genuine, old-style” resort areas north of the border. With Disneyland and Dollywood as patterns, these 400-year-old towns could become bougainvillea-draped old mission-style enclaves. False adobe-like building facades would hide a series of malls, senior centers and discount chain stores.
Imagine…it would look like romantic old Mexico on the outside, but behind the façade would be gringolandia, complete with garbage disposals and trash compactors.
If the litany of foreigner discontent was distilled into the top 10 newcomer complaints, the most frequent complaint for changing Mexico to suit visitors would certainly be: “Why don’t they pave these cobblestone streets?”
Of course, our area’s cobblestone streets weren’t installed for the health benefits detailed in an Oregon Research Institute study a few years back.
The study monitored healthy older subjects who walked 30 minutes a day on China’s ancient rounded river rock paths. In four months, they showed measurable improvements in balance and mobility, and significantly lower blood pressure. The study was interesting, but far more fascinating was the response of expats who thought this was the only positive aspect of Mexico’s cobblestone streets.
Here is a typical “late-night style” top 10 list of the positive aspects of cobblestone streets:
10. There is an unending supply of cobblestones. Due to ancient volcanoes, the earth is full of perfect cobblestones.
9. Cobblestone paving is inexpensive, only a hammer and sand are required for installation.
8. When a street needs repair, the stones are removed, stacked on the sidewalk and then replaced
7. Cobblestones slow water rushing downhill toward the lake during heavy rains. On level streets, water soaks into the soil between the rocks.
6. No petroleum products are used and when the street is replaced, there is no used asphalt to dump, which taints the soil.
5. Cobblestones automatically slow traffic, reducing the number and severity of accidents.
4. Unlike streets paved with asphalt, cobblestones don’t break up or develop potholes from heavy rain.
3. Cobblestones are not slick when wet.
2. Cobblestone streets keep property taxes low. Tied for the #1 best reason to leave cobblestone streets in place at Lakeside are:
1. They work.
1. It’s not about us.