Sunday, February 19, 2012

Little Arroyo Seco starts to grow up

We returned home to Arroyo Seco late January this year, months later than normal, to find our sleepy little Mexican village not so sleepy anymore.

It’s like realizing your child is now a teenager. It’s with a lot of mixed emotions.

The big news?

After years of promises, the 3-kilometer road connecting us to the highway is on its way to being paved.

We arrived just after a big meeting on the beach to announce that the local municipality and the state had committed the funds to finally pave the road all the way to the beach.

I’m sure it has nothing to do with the state senator who built a beautiful beach home on Playa Grande last year.

Cattle still share the roads with cars and quads.
The locals are vibrating with excitement about a paved road --- no longer the washboard road that was the price of admission to our lovely little village on the coast.

And they are hopeful that their cars will last longer and that lots of land will start to sell again --- maybe even for more money --- after sales stalled with the U.S. economy several years ago.

But for the two of us gringos in town, it is with trepidation that we imagine the future here, of Americans and Canadians and Europeans ‘discovering’ Arroyo Seco, now that the road will signal a clear and easy path to the beach.

We are in Sayulita this weekend, the tiny little groovy surf beach where every meter is built, and we wonder, what will Arroyo Seco look like in two years? Five? Ten?

We’ve spotted a lot of subtle  –– and not so subtle –– changes already this season.

The municipal government workers are driving a brand-spanking new garbage truck to town, and two large dumpsters are on the beach. They look really nice and the vultures seem to be enjoying how much garbage is available without even having to cruise for lunch.

We are hoping the municipality actually starts to pick up the garbage too.

Coconut shrimp served on the beach.
Down at the beach we have three ---- yes, three! --- restaurants and the seafood is fabulous and fresh. Seriously fantastic. And one even serves sushi.

And weekly we have interrupted Russian MTV cameras filming surfing and other exotic events on the end of our beach during our rides on our Honda 4 wheel drive quad.

That’s when I knew for sure progress is heading our way, sooner rather than later.

Russian MTV cameras on Playa Grande
In the meantime, much remains the same.

The children still walk by our place about 8:30 every morning on their way to school. The mothers with the younger siblings pass by at 10 to bring the schoolchildren their lunch and sit with them while they eat. All the kids are home at 1:30 for the day.

Most of the teenagers are playing volleyball in the square at night, families are sitting in front of their homes for the evening conversations. But this year you can also spot some of the teens in the new internet café (gasp!), chatting on Facebook, of course.

We can still buy a chicken or vegetables from a neighbor’s place a block behind us who swings by our place on her bicycle later with the freshly killed and plucked chicken, the freshly picked squash or cilantro or tomatoes from their farm just outside of the village.

Later you can make an appointment with her for a pedicure for $75 pesos, the equivalent of maybe six dollars and change.

The tortoises are still laying their eggs on the beach, but rather than the locals digging them up to eat (for virility) or selling (for pesos), some of the locals are finally rescuing the eggs by digging them up and putting them into a more secure area on the beach to launch after a natural hatching.

The fun part for me this year is that my Spanish is finally sufficient enough to pass the time with my neighbors, and I go to town with a local girlfriend or two and we can converse enough to make jokes only other women would understand.

And that was really the goal when we made the decision to move here, to immerse ourselves in a village where we were forced to speak Spanish so that even this tired, old brain could learn another language. 

So we will watch progress march on through this village and in front of our home on this newly paved road, treasure the time we’ve had to get to know the people and the culture.

And we will see whether progress is for the best.


Larry and Pam Field said...

Welcome back you two. We were just wondering where you were. We understand your mixed feelings about "progress". We have seen changes in La Manz that for the most part are not likable. We'll plan a trip out your way in the next few weeks.

Jennifer Souza said...

Ah, paved roads. One day......

It sounds wonderful, your life there, and you acquisition of Spanish inspires me. I'm finally seeing progress with my Portuguese. (The progress has been there, I'm just now catching up with reality.)