I took a taxi tour with 3 other friends to see all of Zihuatanejo, the good the bad and the ugly. It was eye opening to say the least. The El Centro part of Zihuatanejo is flat, but a large part of the residential areas are on the steep hillsides. To access these areas you travel on very steep, winding roads that are narrow, have lots of speed bumps and pot holes the size of a Volkswagen. Some are paved, many are not. I was surprised to see there are a large contingent of small buses/vans called combi’s that service all the hillsides until you get to the parts that are stairs only.
As we started up the hills the houses were mostly cement and brick and appeared quite nice like in the town center. It was explained that this was the middle class, neither rich nor poor. Most owned their own homes. Most communities I’m familiar with at home, the higher on the hill the more exclusive and expensive the housing. Not so in Zihuatanejo, the higher on the hill the poorer you are with tickey tacky patched together wood and tarp and wire fencing shelters. We came to the area that was hit by a devastating fire a year or so ago, that wiped out 40-100 of these very rudimentary shelters that were home to these folks. They had very little and still lost it all. Some are just now rebuilding, but once again very rustic post and pole wood structure, some require a ladder to access their homes from the street as it is so steep. But the view is to die for, absolutely stunning. On happy note there is and has been a wonderful community outpouring that has and continues to help these families. Throughout these hillside communities are sprinkled tiny little churches and laundry stations where the women were enjoying each others company if not the work of washing clothes by hand.
But this was not the poorest region. We then moved on to the dump. If any of you have read John Irving’s “Avenue of Mysteries” you have heard about folks living and working in the dumps. It’s a bit unbelievable as the homes are about on a par with some of the worst homeless camps in the states, if that good. But there is a school there that is a very bright spot. Education is the only way out for these children for a better and more promising life. Other than the classrooms are
exceedingly rustic, inside it looks like any primary school. Colorful displays on the
walls and happy smiling children who are out going, friendly and eager to learn from dedicated teachers. Fortunately there is a group of Canadians who have taken this situation to heart and have built and furnish structures and help any way they can. As do many other local and visiting folks.
Visiting the schools at the dump is encouraged, especially if you bring school supplies, food or clothing. It helps to
spread the word of the need. We all dug deep into our pockets and left a small but heartfelt donation for food for their breakfast and lunch program. If you choose to just donate supplies for the families that live there, there is always someone set up at the Ecco Tianguis Saturday morning market to accept your donations.
Their living conditions are the worst I have ever seen. And the job their parents do for them to survive is unbelievable. I don’t think I ever really understood poverty until this day. Signing off KO