Today is the last day of Blog Action Day 2008 and I just heard about it so I have to write fast. The topic this year is poverty, something near and dear to my heart as I spend my days (and nights) here in Mexico City.
My husband and I had planned this move for 6 years, so that he could be with his family, and I thought I was ready. But the truth is that when we got here it was the poverty that put me into shock. Even moreso than the garbage – which is just an outgrowth of the poverty really.
I posted here last December about A Lesson in Economics when we bought a new refrigerator, but today is the perfect time to dig out my digital photo album. Here is a photo of a menu at a restaurant the equivalent of Denny’s. It shows chicken breast with mushrooms $83 pesos, breaded chicken filet with macaroni salad $91 pesos, and filet of fish in the style of Veracruz $91 pesos.
I know, you’re immediately calculating in your head “Well, that would be about $9 USD, that’s not so bad.” The trick is this – that $91 pesos is just a little over what an average Mexican working for minimum wage makes in one day. That’s right. The minimum wage here is $400 pesos per week – and they have to work six days in a week to get that, $80 pesos per day. And yet the prices in the metropolitan area are like what’s shown in this photo. Needless to say, not many of those folks eat at this restaurant.
I’m not saying there’s no money in Mexico – far from it. The restaurants are full. The malls are full. The cinemas are full. But there are no closed sewer systems anywhere and there are serious floods every year. The roads are a mess and commercial transportation runs at about 30% efficiency. Uncountable people live in shacks cobbled together from pieces of corrugated plastic and tarpaper. And little old ladies peddle home-made jello in plastic cups door to door just so they can eat a meat taco once a week, while they live on beans and rice the other 6 days.
Well, I have to run. My husband just got home and we’ve got errands to run now that the traffic has died down (it’s 8:30pm). I just had to put in my two cents on this topic and will try to blog more about it this week. Poverty is a complicated subject, but just because it’s complicated doesn’t mean we can’t try to understand it.