In the past two weeks, since I returned to Guadalajara, I have been treasuring the amenities of living in a city once more. I write to the white noise of traffic. I hop on buses and the light rail as I go from place to place for meetings or activities. I pop into my Thursday evening salsa classes at the local light rail station, see a group dancing cumbia as I walk home on Friday night, and follow Cultura Guadalajara on Facebook to keep up to date on all of the cultural events that I can attend. I am certainly a city girl.
I feel eons away from rural Puebla, where I was living for the past two months. Which is understandable because the people in rural Puebla and even rural Jalisco often feel eons away from the cities. When I interviewed people who had struggled to encounter opportunities in the towns where they lived, and particularly those with skills from the US that they couldn’t use in rural Mexico, I asked “have you ever considered moving to the city?” A handful mentioned that they missed the city life they experienced in the US, they don’t have the support they need to move to the city and wouldn’t know where to start with finding a place to live and a job far away from their family networks.
But a greater majority said that they simply don’t like city life. They like seeing the stars, eating the food fresh from the fields, and having space to breath and walk. I miss those benefits of rural life, but wouldn’t trade them for the vibrancy of the city.
They cherish the fact that everyone in their small towns greets each other. I cherish the anonymity of walking around without everyone knowing I am the “gringita.”
They say that the city is too noisy. I found small towns far too noisy, starting with the 6:30am loudspeaker announcements that rung out with all of the town news all the way to the fireworks shot off late at night for any given celebration.
Many have told me that if they are going to migrate they would rather go to the US, however hard that journey is, than to a city in Mexico. Cities imply living the kind of stressful life that they experienced in the US, but without the added benefit of US salaries. Moreover, after so much turmoil and migration they don’t want to move their family again or separate themselves from their children again.
As I enjoy my life here in Guadalajara and am thankful to live in a city, I continue to think about my friends living in rural communities who are enjoying their life and are thankful that they live there. One place is not better than another, but simply different. In fact, so different that in some ways it does feel like the gap between rural towns and the cities is as wide as that between Mexico and the US.