Saturday, March 28, 2015
going to pot
Tomatoes were not the only thing around here to feel the wrath of our recent rains.
Those are potholes. The day before it rained, they were not there. They are now.
The one-mile stretch of road that connects Barra de Navidad with Highway 200 -- the main north-south highway on Mexico's Pacific coast -- now looks worse than the teeth of a 19th century British sweets clerk. I could have taken that shot almost anywhere along the road.
Road repair here is a hit and miss proposition. Last November, the town was filled with dignitaries celebrating the 450th anniversary of the Spanish expedition to the Philippines that established Mexico as a central figure in the Spanish empire's globalization experiment.
Big wigs must be appalled at the sight of potholes. I can assume that because the local road crews were busy putting sand into the holes and covering them with a thin layer of tar before any of the sensitive-eyed dignitaries arrived. The equivalent of a temporary dental filling.
But out of sight here is often out of mind. When the rains hit, the holes evacuated the sand, and the water flow opened new caries.
I have been having a series of conversations recently with Mexicans and expatriates about several issues Barra de Navidad is facing. Almost all of the problems keep coming back to the topic of money.
Local government pleads poverty whenever something needs to be fixed. Like pothole-ridden roads.
It turns out there is a back story to most of these issues. With the roads, it is a rather sad one.
During the past few years, Barra de Navidad has constructed a running and bike path that parallels the road out to the highway. It is wide, two-laned (coming and going), constructed of brick.
Down the center of the lanes runs a line of street lamps that would shame most airport landing strips. At night, it looks as if 747s could perform touch and gos.
The money for the path came from the state of Jalisco. And, like most grant money, it came with conditions. It would be built only if our local government would pay for the maintenance.
Done and done said the local folk. After all, it has proven to be a very popular spot for tourists and nationals alike. And politicians are always pleased to see potential voters happy with their pet projects.
It turned out it was done and done because the local government merely moved the road maintenance budget to the running and bike path budget. The result is apparent. For some reason, filling potholes with good wishes does not keep the wheels aligned.
I have been told that the federal government has passed legislation requiring local governments to maintain separate accounts for dedicated funds. I think it applies only to federal funds. But the theory is better accounting will cure these budget moves.
I will believe that when I see it in operation.
Government in Mexico suffers from layers of problems. One law is not going to fix it.
I do know that the rain will keep reminding us that the emperor is not wearing any clothes; he may not even own any.