Mexican countryside

Mexican countryside

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Venting at Home






I arrived home last night from a six week stay in Mexico City in a very negative mood.  If you have been following this blog, you know that, even though I managed to do some of my usual travelogue posts, this trip was nothing like my usual stays in Mexico.   Although I cannot claim to have experienced the level of stress, grief and depression suffered by Alejandro and his family during the illness and loss of his mother, as an adopted member of the family, I definitely shared in those emotions.  I certainly am glad to have been there to lend moral support to the family, to help where I could, and to bond more closely with them.  But it was definitely not a happy trip.

I still love Mexico, and I plan to return in April.  However my view of the country was much affected by my frame of mind. 

First of all, the things that Alejando told me have left me with nothing but contempt for the public health care system in Mexico.  Yes, we gringos who travel and live in Mexico can take advantage of very affordable (for us), first rate, private medical facilities.  But from the experiences that Alejandro's mother endured, I can say that I would not send a dog to a public hospital in Mexico.  In early January, a few days before I arrived down there, Alejandro took his mother to the emergency room. In addition to her kidney disease which had been progressively getting worse, she was hemorrhaging.  This eighty year old lady sat in a chair in a cold hallway for ten hours waiting for a bed.  According to Alejandro, some people wait for days.  Several days after being admitted she developed a nasty bedsore because she had been left to lie in her own urine. It was an exceptionally cold January in Mexico, and hospital room was unheated.  Alejandro's mother was constantly suffering from the cold, but there were not enough blankets for everyone.  And family members were absolutely forbidden from bringing in blankets or warm clothing.  There were, I am sure, many dedicated and caring staff members, but they were so overworked that they could not properly care for everyone.  An insider told Alejandro not to file any complaints, because there were some "very bad people" in the hospital who would take it out on his mother.  It is no wonder that she wanted to return home to die.

I also noticed the damage from last September's earthquake more than on my previous trip.  There are many buildings which are still standing but which are damaged.  You notice these buildings... the businesses on the ground floor are shuttered, and offices or apartments above appear vacant, and vandals quickly move in and cover the structures with graffiti.  The government has yet to determine which structures need to demolished.  Five months after the quake, many people are living in limbo.  Their homes are still standing, but they don't know if they are habitable.

This summer there will be a presidential election in Mexico.  The current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, is nearing the end of his six year term and is dismally unpopular.  Peña Nieto is not allowed to run for a second term, but, even so, his political party, rotten with corruption, is facing well-deserved defeat.  The problem is that none of the other parties offer a good alternative.  The leader in the polls, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is a populist whom many fear will turn out to be a Mexican Hugo Chávez.

So it is that I return to the Disunited States of America, a nation headed by an incompetent, lying, egotistical, morally bankrupt, racist "pendejo"...  a country whose electoral system is being subverted by Russia...  a nation where young people are gunned down in their schools... where the NRA fills the coffers of politicians... and where right-wingers call students protesting gun violence puppets of the liberal media.  

Perhaps Alejandro was right when he joked that he and I should move to Switzerland, herd cows, and make cheese. 

12 comments:

  1. Thank you for your interesting posts, I look forward to and read them all. Having just got back to the UK after 10 days in Oaxaca/Huatulco/CDMX (about my 7-8th time in the country) I too felt some unexpected mixed emotions this time. I noticed the rampant commercialism/advertising and pollution (mainly cars) got to me quite a bit. The only areas that I felt this less were in attractive places frequented by affluent Mexicans and foreigners such as Condesa and Roma but they instead just felt like privileged bubbles and not real life. They have over gentrified and have lost something of what made them special, even only a couple of years ago. Lots of moneyed people afraid to look each other in the eye and everyone walking around with expensive pedigree dogs when so many lovely yet unfashionable mongrels need a good home. I also got sick of the sight of so much meat everywhere, especially when no one takes the time to consider how the animal lived and died. Also I got sick, and completely went off Mexican food! Given there is no shorter route to my heart than through my stomach this was the real kicker! The smell of corn and the sight of meat everywhere just made me feel permanently sick. These things never bothered me before, I thought Mexico to be the best country in the world. I guess we all change. Instinctively I feel like my next destination needs to be somewhere closer developmentally to the First World. I'm liking the look of Chile. I still plan to return to Mexico City but will leave it a few years. I hope you have a chance to reconcile your thoughts and don't give up on Mexico completely! Regards, Ben

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    1. I certainly have not given up on Mexico. I will be returning in April. (I have lost track of how many times I have been there, but it may be over 100.)

      What irritates me is that even though the country has made great strides (it is considered a developing economy and is a member of the G20) it still in some respects comes across as a third world country, largely as a result of its political corruption. The sorry state of the hospitals and earthquake relief would certainly improve if the politicians weren't lining their pockets!

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    2. P.S. And thank you for reading my blog!

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  2. As I often say, no where to run, no where to hide, and though I'm pulled by Canada. I'm of no use to it as a retired Senior. Oh, and then there's the Mr. and my grandchildren...

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    1. But how are your skills at making Swiss cheese? :-)

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  3. I have never spent any time in a Mexican hospital, but your comments in that arena do not surprise me at all. Also, I am sorry for yours and Alejandro's loss; at least (no small consolation, I know) his mom is no longer suffering.

    As for politics, AMLO, in his third time running, hopefully learned enough from his first two failed attempts to campaign towards the left but govern towards the center. I don't think his government (that is, if he wins - anything is possible) will be as far left as, say, the failed government of Venezuela.

    Hope you had good flights back to the states. I was able to get out of town for a few days myself; it was merely to the other side of Tennessee.

    Saludos!

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    1. Thanks, Scott.
      AMLO is currently leading in the polls, although the PAN candidate is getting closer. I hope you are right about him if he should be elected.
      The flights were typical... Interjet was very comfortable and pleasant... United was crammed to the gills.
      Saludos,
      Bill

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  4. I've read so many posts over the years from expats praising the Mexican health service. It's a fair point, when they are simply describing how much further the dollar will stretch in Mexico for retirees. But the same is true whenever you move to a country where the change in economy makes you a 1%er.

    Yet I read too many posts that indulge in a fantasy that the Mexican health system is in some way superior, full stop/ Failing to acknowledge that their dollars have in fact simply moved them up the ladder, to fairly lofty heights.

    And there are even some who brag about it. Which is childish, ignorant and only one step away from declaring that their daddy could beat up your daddy.

    I've experienced both sides of the health system, in Mexico City and Merida. Personally and as a friend or family member of the person needed help. Private care has been great for the smaller problems in life. On the other hand, I've seen quite a few people suffer lingering and painful deaths because the private system is prohibitively expensive and public system is slow, ineffective and limited.

    I plan to retire to Mexico one day. Where I hope to be a 1%er. But I'll acknowledge that fact and be eternally grateful for it.

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    1. I was talking the other day with a Mexican friend who lives in the U.S. She was not the least bit surprised by the horror stories I told her about the hospital where Alejandro's mother was. She said that she has never been a patient in a public hospital in Mexico, and would never wish to be. So apparently the dreadful care is not something limited to that particular hospital.

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    2. Still, in defence of what Mexico has to offer. It's better than it used to be. In that universal health care does now actually exist. Even if it isn't terribly good.

      One of the biggest weaknesses in Mexico's public health service is the UK's strongest points - drug prescriptions. The mother of a nephew-in-law was diagnosed with whatever cancer it was. It was potentially treatable. She got a prescription. The cost was so far beyond being affordable that it was pointless even trying to sell her house to raise the cash. She died no so long after. It's not an exceptional story. But yeah, it's great to hear the expats go on and on about how marvellous the Mexican health service is.

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    3. Another thing that amazingly is not covered is dialysis. It may be cheap by U.S. standards, but it is beyond the means of an ordinary Mexican family. When Alejandro said that his mom did not want dialysis, I said that I would help if it were a matter of cost. But he said that his mother did not want to go through that torture.

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