Traveling here in Mexico has been quite the eye-opening experience. I have seen two motorcyclists get hit by cars and unlike the US where people stop and exchange information, the people keep driving. Almost no one has the money to pay and this also plays into the high death rates on Mexican highways. If someone dies there is no legal action the family can take, but if they survive there is a possibility they could have to pay. Our culture professor at the institute here says that many times people would rather kill you in a crash then let you live… Needless to say we look all directions when crossing the street because the traffic does not follow the stop lights but there has still been one death in front of our school during our time here.
Three weekends ago we took a trip to the ocean in a 15 person van. The trip takes 7 hours on a road similar to Highway 12 between Idaho and Montana, except more curves, higher speeds, and large sections without pavement. This trip was rather comfortable compared to our trip to Hierve de Agua, where we rode in true Mexican style with 6 people in the cab of the truck, 6 people in the back, and 2 people hanging out the back. My seat was an old air filter and despite the dust we were all smiles while speaking with a local woman.
It is easy to ask “why” Mexico is the way it is, but those are the thoughts of a “guero” or a foreigner. The correct question is “why not”. In many ways I think Mexico is much more complicated than the U.S. and has much more history and culture than the U.S. and much of that culture still survives today. The clash between modern society and indigenous culture is evident every day in the city of Oaxaca.