I’m grumpy

October 19, 2012

If you know me or have been reading my blog for a while you know I love Mazatlán and have been very happy living here for the last five years. In general I am a happy person and see the world in a positive light. So when I’m grumpy, you know that something is up.

You may have read my posts about the new Tourist Corridor in Centro – lots of new sidewalks, street pavers, lighting, and benches. It looks pretty good now although the process was dirty and painful for those of us who tried to walk or drive in Centro this summer.

Since the project was completed, I have been waiting and waiting for the traffic revisions needed during construction to be changed back to the way they were. It hasn’t happened. Well, at least it hasn’t happened for Calle Belisario Dominguez between Zaragoza and 21 de Marzo.

In the past, busses only used Belisario Dominguez when there was a traffic revision for Carnaval, a marathon, or a parade. The rest of the time it is a very busy thoroughfare through town but only for normal traffic. This is a historic street in Centro – formerly called Calle Principal, and it is home to some of the most historic houses in town, too.

In the past, busses on Zaragoza would turn South either on Serdan or on Guillermo Nelson. Some would turn onto Belisario Dominguez at 21 de Marzo. Now it seems they are all being directed down Belisario Dominguez. Guillermo Nelson is three blocks East of Belisario Dominguez and is closer to the main mercado, lots of shopping, the post office, government offices and the cathedral. Pretty much everyone who gets off a bus on Belisario heads East on foot to these destinations.

So that I’m not accused of being a totally NIMBY person… (that stands for Not In My Back Yard) these five blocks have one clinic (with an ambulance) and two schools – Collegio Valladolid and Primaria Augustina Ramirez. Agustina Ramirez runs two shifts of students – primaria in the morning until 1 pm and older kids in the afternoon from 2 to 8 pm.

Last year it was nice to see the city caring about the welfare of these children as they came and installed speed bumps in front of each of the schools to slow traffic and also installed clearly marked painted crosswalks.

I have taken bus counts during two periods this week: from 9:30 to 10:30 am on Tuesday 20 busses drove down the street (1 every 3 minutes) and on Wednesday from 3 to 4 pm there were 26 – which is almost one ever other minute. That’s a lot! Multiply 23 busses an hour times 16 hours (even thought many go all night) that means 368 busses per day! That’s a lot!

Aside from these schools and the clinic, the street is primarily residential. Most of us find parking challenging (I almost cried today as cars and busses kept crowding by as I attempted to parallel park…) and the water delivery trucks and trucks that deliver to the tiendas nearby all find it aggravating, I’m sure. Today I went over to Guillermo Nelson and it is empty! Grrr!

But no matter the inconvenience there’s the issue of the kids. How can they possibly hear their lessons with so much additional and noisy traffic? What about their safety, and the safety of their parents as they drive or walk to bring them and pick them up? It will be dark when they come and go to school soon, and it will be a miracle if someone isn’t hurt.

I have written several letters to the city and asked for advice from long time Mazatlecans. I haven’t received a response from the city yet, but I’m not giving up. There’s absolutely no reason that these busses can’t go back to their previous routes. It just takes someone of authority to make the decision and implement it.

I will continue my effort to approach the city and will continue talking to my neighbors, too. It’s times like this that I wish I had put more effort into my studies as my Spanish is only at an intermediate level which makes some of these conversations challenging.

I know the longer this goes without being changed the more unlikely it is to be changed. No one wants to see kids get hurt, and in my opinion it is almost inevitable with these conditions.

Below is a video from a couple of days ago around 1:30 when most of the little ones have left the school and the bigger kids are arriving. It truly gives you the idea of the how much traffic there is here, both on foot and by vehicles. Ya basta!

More about Nancy

I'm Nancy, a US expat living in Mazatlán, México.

    1. The way I see it you have several options. First option is to tie a rope from one end of the street to the other and post someone to collect 5 pesos for each vehicle that passes.
      We see a few of those on our back roads around Patzcuaro.
      The second option is to get yourself a dozen or so students, and have them block the street up the block from you.
      We all know that the police and government do absolutely nothing to interfere with student manifestations, so you can collect a small commission on what they are able to collect in this new traffic guidance system…
      There may be other options I have not thought of….
      Good Luck!

      1. Tancho, You always have a unique viewpoint!

        Lise, That red truck is an auriga – there are bench seats in the back and they’re great for up to about 10 people to travel in. I know there’s a chance I’ll have to just live with it but still I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t try!

    1. Wow, the video totally took me back to Mexico! The sounds, sights, I could almost smell the diesel. The tension when that red truck (were they selling something to the kids) was holding up the bus was palpable.

      Good luck in your quest to get things returned to the way they were. I think if you get some allies on your street, maybe even the school, it would help. I hate to be pessimistic but I know of others who have had to learn to live with this type of situation. I do wonder if there is some reason (bigwig on the other street?) that it is being kept this way?

    1. All good advice from above.

      I would say, get the neighbors together (with the goal of safety for the kids being thee issue), appoint a spokesperson (preferably Mexican but with as many foreigners as possible in attendance) and:
      1 Schedule a meeting with the Presidente and show up in mass
      2 If they will not schedule a meeting with you, show up in mass anyway, organized, peaceful, articulate, and patient. Stage out front until he comes to talk to you.

      Bring the video and present it as best as you can. Bring signed petitions if you can. Bring the entire school, if you can, or at least a gaggle of school kids in uniform.

      Talk to Cruz Roja about the dangers for the kids, speak at their consejo. . .

      Talk to the parish priest about the dangers for the kids and ask him to announce the safety issue at mass on Sunday.

      Politely stir up as much you-know-what as possible and be relentless. It IS very possible some big shot lives on the other street.

      Just showed my housekeeper the video and she said talk to the bus companies and see if they’ll change the routes. She said to organize the mothers of the kids in the school and get them stirred up.

      Suerte, Nance.

    1. I would suggest rather then write letters, that you GO to the city. We have an International Relations Dept here and they are very open to helping ex-pats. I also suggest you take that video.
      The two times I have gone to see a department head, literally, within a day the situation was corrected.
      One was a deep trench near where the primary school children walked up the hill. I took photos of this dangerous thing to the city and found someone who spoke English and they told the department head.
      Second was street lights out, that no matter how many times I called, nothing happened. So I took photos, went to the city and voila, fixed the next day.
      Try it – hope it works. You can always find someone to interpret for you – always!
      Good luck

      1. Marilyn & Babs – Thank you so much. You both have great ideas. My idea with this blog post is to get people talking and when I go speak to my neighbors I can give them the link to the video. I need to talk first to the school principals, I think.

    1. I think that Barbara has a very good point. It is very easy to ignore a letter, but more difficult to ignore someone standing in front of you with a video. It also wouldn’t hurt to ask someone from cruz roja if they are having problems. Maybe someone from there would go with you and that would add credulity to your claim and also solve the translation problem.

    1. I would definitely get the school involved with this because the safety of children should always be a primary motivation. And talk to the bus company(ies?). Maybe it is as simple as someone forgot to tell the bus drivers that they are now allowed to drive on the other street.

    1. That is a lot!!

      Don’t give up, I think it is just that someone somewhere never signed off on getting things back to the way they were. So you have to keep pushing and incorporate some of the above ideas. Good luck and keep us posted on any changes.

    1. Hola Nancy!

      That would make me grumpy too! Mexicans in general seem to be much more tolerant of noise and traffic than we gringos, one of the challenges of being/living here. Since I don’t live here yet, I can’t really offer any comments about solutions. But given the Mexican constitution’s ban on foreigners being involved in politics, I’d be VERY careful about organizing demonstrations, etc. You probably need to find some Mexicans who can be the public face of this effort or you run the risk (perhaps small) of being deported.

      I like Tancho’s suggestion. Very Mexican, and likely to at least get people talking about things.

      Also, as a last note, I find that Mexicans are very very very reluctant to complain about anything. Here, if the power goes out, the water stops running, or something similar, and no one calls CFE or CONAGUA or does anything. I’m constantly having this discussion with F. “If the power goes out and no one calls, how does CFE even know it’s out? If they don’t know it’s out, how are they going to fix it?”

      Maybe you could get a Mexican to hand out leaflets to parents as they pick up/drop off their kids advising them to call or write city hall.

      Best of luck,

      Kim G
      DF, México
      Where we find this kind of thing annoying too, but are going back in a few days.

      1. Hi Everyone, Thanks so much for all the suggestions. I think Kim hit the nail on the head with regard to Mexicans being reluctant to complain about things – and that’s why I knew I had to step up to get the ball rolling. But I really would love a parent or Mexican resident to spearhead this…

        I never had any intention of demonstrating or anything like that. My first plan was to find out who exactly to direct our complaints to and then to go around the neighborhood giving people the name and contact info and asking them to make contact individually. I also hoped that some parents would get together regarding this issue.

        But an update – I tweeted and emailed a link to my post to a number of people connected to the city government and one (who has been helpful before when I was on the warpath against graffiti) responded and said he would talk to the mayor and the bus alliance people next week. So I am going to take a deep breath and give him time to have his conversations. Fingers crossed!

        1. ALSO – 67 views of the video so far so that can only be good….

    1. Mexicans like to complain a lot, The D.F has always a demonstration going on. We are sometimes too slow for starting though. Probably microbuses find better the “new” route because of the kids (and their parents) that may take the “micro”. I am completely sure that if some parents complain buses will change their route. Sometimes there are in each school a so called “Asociación de Padres de Familia” (a group of parents) that may get involved too.


      1. A bit of an update: I have made an amiga in the neighborhood and we are going to put together a petition to present to the mayor together. I have a couple of other things going too (one in the government and one at one of the schools) so one way or the other I believe we’ll get some action in the next week or two. Cross your fingers!

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