We just got back from our week long vacation/wedding attendance in Ixtapa, Mexico and we are trying to get back into the swing of things after taking the week off. While we had an incredible time, the poverty that we saw on the roads to and from the airport and into town really struck me as extreme. I feel kind of guilty about the fact that I flew in, spent a lot of money in a resort town, and flew out…without helping out much of the local economy. Sure, we all see images of poor neighborhoods in this country, but in Mexico the poor areas are way more downtrodden than any neighborhood in this country could probably be. If there is one thing that this vacation taught me, it is that there are so many people worse off than either I or anyone I know could ever be and that I really have nothing to complain about.
Of course, everything is relative…there are more job opportunities here in the United States along with more help available to those that need it. But still, to see people living in huts with no electricity, windows or probably even running water was difficult to swallow. We drove past kids playing baseball with a stick and some rocks, an old woman sitting in her hotel office that was falling down around her, and lots of broken down cars piled up in people’s front yards. Parts of Mexico, it seems, is a far cry from what we call “poverty” here in America.
I think what got to me the most was that here was a handful of resorts, all lined up on the beach, catering to people from other countries who had the money to fly on an airplane, stay at a four-star resort, spend as much money as they wanted on food and drink, and spend the day sitting poolside while some guy delivers margaritas right into our hand, all while surrounded by people struggling just to get by. And as much as I tried to not think about it, day after day it really bothered me that here we all were having the time of our lives while kids outside the resort area did not even have clean water to drink inside their home.
So while I pause to say that we did not have a good time (because we really did), it really did force me to think about my past and future financial state and think to myself – I will be OK, no matter what. I have options available to me – I can get a new job, I can buy a cheaper car, I can save so I can stop working one day. If something were to happen to me, my wife would be OK, as would almost any member of my family. Call it being blessed or whatever, but from now on I will think twice about complaining about the price of gasoline, a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, or the square footage of my house. It’s just not that big of an issue when you see how other people are really struggling to exist, never mind live a semi-comfortable life.