24 May 2015

The Good and the Bad of Guadalajara

So, we only have a little more than 3 months left here in Guadalajara.  I'm used to moving all the time so the blog posts people are sharing right now about expat friends leaving in the summer don't really get me (because good real-life friends can stay good online friends and no one would ever accuse me of being all that friendly anyway).  But the blog posts about leaving a place you love?  Those get me because even though you can stay in touch with people online, you usually don't get to go back to a place you love.

Some online friends have been posting 5 good things and 5 bad things about the place they live and while I can think of many good things about Guadalajara, it's really hard to come up with five bad things.  So those are kind of wishy-washy.

The Good

1. Food.  That has to be first.  From amazing produce (even in January) to fresh tortillas everywhere to salsa and sopes and tacos and tamales and molcajete and tortas and lonches and chilaquiles and nieves de garrafa and frijoles and rajas and so much more, I would be happy eating here for the rest of my life. And anyplace with decent and affordable street markets is my friend.

2. The climate. The weather is nearly always lovely here.  I had feared it would be too hot for me all year, but the elevation keeps the temperature lower in the evening and morning and it's rare that I'm unhappy with the weather.  This hot season has been worse than the last and I haven't loved it, but it got a late start and you can count on the rain coming.  I can't complain about 2 bad months out of 24.  And sometimes I was even chilly in my house.

3. Medical care.  I wasn't expecting to need this, but I did and had two major events that would have been difficult to deal with in many countries.  But in Mexico?  No problem.  There's great medical care that cost a lot less than the US, even in the fancy hospital, and good food too.  I'm seriously considering doing LASIK before we go.

4. Things to do.  You really should never, ever be bored here.  That's mostly what this blog has been about for the last 20 months.

5. People and culture.  Yes, I know all the stereotypes of Mexicans in the US.  I know that the name itself is often used negatively.  But I didn't believe it before and it's completely ludicrous now.  I've lived in places with hospitable and generous people, certainly, but for people who are just plain old nice, Mexicans win.  And I've loved learning the culture and history of Mexico, both ancient and modern.  It never sucked me in as thoroughly the Middle East or Central Asia did, but I'll always love Mexico.

The Bad

1. Traffic.  Rush hour traffic isn't fun here.  But is it in any metro area with over 5 million people?  It's hard to put this one here because rush hour has almost never affected me anyway because it doesn't follow US hours and my husband's work schedule does.

2. Driving.  This is another wishy-washy one.  Certainly a lot of people here think the driving is shockingly bad, but I've never felt that.  I read once in a book that Mexicans move through crowds easily and with little trouble, and I generally feel that way about the driving.  Sure, there are people who do crazy things, but overall I feel like the drivers are polite and flexible here.  I'd rather be stuck in traffic here than in DC any day.

3. No English at church.  This was hard for my teenagers.

4. Relatively few expat teens.  Another hard one for my boys.

5. Cartel violence.  This has had almost no effect on us while we've been here, but there is potential that it could get worse.  If it did, it could become a huge negative for living in Guadalajara.  But for now, it's not a problem.

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