Blemishes on the Magical City

The only paradise is paradise lost.

Marcel Proust, Le Temps retrouvé

jan11 007At midnight on New Year’s Eve, being on a hill and having a second-floor apartment, I had a great view of the fireworks in el Centro from my living room. Unlike in the U.S.A. where there is usually only the authorized display, one could see fireworks across the horizon, high on opposite hills as well as down in the lower colonias. This was not just white bursts or white streaking whistlers, but broad arching red and green chrysanthemums as well.

When I woke in the morning there was a hot air balloon touring the city. It felt a little like the magic kingdom.

But there is unhappiness afoot. McDonald’s (yes, that McDonald’s) hopes to open a franchise here. Expats and locals are concerned about 1) it being located within the historic district and 2) it being located anywhere in San Miguel. There is much discussion on an electronic bulletin board that many expats read.

There’s also discussion of two more serious matters. Several kilns for brick manufacturing are located in the southern end of San Miguel. On many days the wind prevails from the south and fumes from the exhaust stacks drift over populated areas. At issue is the materials that the kilns use for fuel. As one writer describes it:

… a year later … I learned of the brick ovens on the hill behind Mega [a box store located in the southern end of town] and the fact, almost incomprehensible, that the city was actually selling plastic waste, old tires, and even computer parts to these people to burn in their brick ovens.

Just yesterday El Presidente Mauricio Trejo Pureco, the mayor (alcade) of San Miguel, announced that the plant must switch to a less polluting fuel or close. Another person posted

The last administration tried to close them, and were met with rocks. Police were met with rocks in [colonia] San Antonio several years ago, someone was shot and killed.

The second issue is that of a canal which runs through town. Another writer posted:

The open sewage canal is another huge issue and affecting the health of many as per doctors including cardiologist Dr. Jorge Alvares de la Cadena Silla and Pulmonologist Dr. Francisco González Juárez or several other GP’s. If one thinks [this is] not an issue I suggest you [sic] take a picnic down to the intersection of Hidalgo and La Luz. Or take a nice stroll following the sewage canal from there to beyond the main bus terminal. Enjoy the smell and air-borne e-coli.

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