Waiting on the Jacarandas

March 2, 2023

Several people have remarked on it to me. By March last year, the jacaranda trees here had put on their usual splendid display of blue-violet flowers; this year, the flowers are absent. A half-dozen of them around the town have bloomed, while the rest are missing in action.

Jacaranda trees in bloom in Amatlan last year (2022).

Mexico more than much of the rest of North America is very dependent on the summer rainfall. Right now, the spring heat is upon us, and it will remain dry and hot until June. And since last year’s rainfall was adequate but not generous, presumably the flowering trees are unable to do much in 2023. Now, we wait for this year’s rains.

Any expat is always weighing options. We have chosen to be here, so we can choose to leave. Sometimes, we talk about where else we might go. The price of a truckload of water went up by a couple of hundred pesos since 2021, and there’s the perpetual threat that climate change will make central Mexico difficult to inhabit. The house I live in stores summer rainwater in a cistern, but last year’s supply ran out in mid-February. I paid for a tanker-load last week, and I might need to buy a second before the rains reappear.

Then, there’s concern over next year’s federal elections. President Lopez Obrador is trying to limit the power and activity of the National Electoral Institute (INE), which monitors election results. He is reminding people of his claim to have twice been robbed of the presidency in the early 2000s. Last weekend, close to half a million people demonstrated in Mexico City’s main square protesting this perceived grab at extending his power. He cannot legally run in 2024 for a second six-year term, but his designated successor, Claudia Sheinbaum, could become his front-person until 2030. 

(Where have I read this story before…?)

I am comfortable where I live. I know my neighbours, I know where facilities are in town, and I have access to two reasonably sized cities, each an hour away. The drug gangs, till now, have not moved into this municipality. The community is tight enough to resist them at the moment, but money can buy anything, if the gang leaders have patience. 

The future is always 100 per cent uncertain.

Behind any personal concerns, I also have concern for the people already here. Many own their own homes, and they have their families and their community. But as more and more outsiders come and build here (I plead guilty), the closeness of that community changes. The town of Tepoztlan had its Carnival last year, and everybody is complaining how wild and disorderly it was. Yes, the bars and the taco stands made a lot of money, but I’ve been hearing a lot about how much fun Carnival used to be. I can remember a different festival myself, a decade ago, when there was a more playful mood and fewer outsiders. 

No, I’m not giving up on Mexico. It has survived a great deal in its history and I still think it could hold together while a divided USA was arguing, fake-newsing, Alex Jones-ing and cross-accusing itself to pieces. And I was never a fan of winter weather anywhere else. Here, it’s a bit too warm today – 29 degrees C, or 84 F – but … I can handle that. 

Still, I keep looking at the huge jacaranda trees in the churchyard, which is a little below my home and not far away, and all I see is twigs. And I have to remember that things change, and then they change some more.

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