It’s the Little Things

by Judy King 20. July 2010 21:55

What is it that keeps me so totally enthralled with life in central Mexico? Of course it’s the climate, and it’s the advantageous economy which allows me to live better for less, but far overshadowing both of those things is the adventure of experiencing something new nearly every day of my life.

Where’s the adventure in my ordinary-looking life? It’s in the little things – the details – the ironic everyday experiences that  wry,  unusual, odd, thought provoking and touching when I stop to take a closer look.

Sometimes that means it’s the way things are done:

  • Workers mixing concrete  on the ground – like they’re making a giant pile of pie dough
  • The auto body guys who work in a nearby alley and produce perfection with hammers and an outdoor paint job
  • The guy who climbs trees barefooted and uses only a machete to trim out branches
  • Homemade ladders made from scrap lumber – not OSHA approved
  • Electrical entrances that would cause US builders, inspectors and fire marshals’ nightmares

sanchez More often it’s the people – just being people

Other times that’ means seeing wives riding “sidesaddle” on bikes with their husbands, great-grandfathers and their tiny progeny taking halting steps to the corner and back every afternoon, entire families sitting around a table and singing old Mexican songs, a small boy whispering a secret into an even  smaller girl’s ear, and the way local residents express their deeply-rooted faith and devotion.

There have been times when I’ve seen that seemingly endless connection of spirituality expressed in processions bearing images of patron saints or revered virgin figures.

I’ve seen the outward practice of religious beliefs in the elderly women who struggle with canes and walkers to walk to church every day for Mass every evening.

Most recently I spotted an example of that deep faith during the recent patio construction project. (You read about that endeavor – and how my simple job grew in to a big deal job in another recent post, “The Great Patio Project.”

Jose seemed to be the “new guy” in the crew. He was one of the mason’s helpers, an unusual position for a man of his age, and with his apparent health challenges. I wondered how effective he would be when I saw his  shuffling gait and the slight to moderate tremor in his hands.

As the days passed, I couldn’t help but keep noticing Jose – he had the biggest smile when he greeted me in the morning, the first  back after lunch, the one toting the extra big buckets of sand or rocks – he was determined to show that he was doing his share of the work, and more.

What  I couldn’t miss was  the cross he’d painted on the front of his straw hat. Whether it was a symbol of his faith or a sign of protection he wore it well  -- especially with this T-shirt with the words, “French Riviera” splashed across his chest.

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People, Places & Things of Lake Chapala

Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.


7/21/2010 11:58:30 AM #

I took an expensive old watch to the open air tianguis last week and entrusted it to the man who has replaced watch batteries for me many times (at 25p each). I had tried several times to get this watch fixed when I visited the States. No one could do it.

I picked up my watch today. It's running beautifully. The repair apparently was not exceptionally difficult for this Mexican jeweler. He told me it needed a new battery, cleaning and one small part replaced. I had been about ready to throw it out.

The cost of repair? $150p! I had spent more than that just to have other jeweler's look at it and tell me it couldn't be fixed.

Eileen Mexico |

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About Judy King

Judy King

Hi There — Welcome to my little corner of the world. I'm Judy King and I live in the centuries-old village of Ajijic on the north shore of Lake Chapala, Mexico's largest natural lake.

I've lived here full time since 1990, and... [ more ]

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