Gringo in Guadalajara

A Holey Problem

One reason that local governments in the United States need to be very diligent with community upkeep is the ability that folks have to sue.  If there is a crack in the sidewalk or a manhole cover is missing and someone comes along and trips or falls, the government might be out millions of dollars.

The same powers are not invested in the citizenry here in Mexico and thereby governments are not required to have that same kind of diligence. Repairs will be made eventually, but it may be months before a government truck comes around to do the work.

This results in rather strange scenes for an American in Guadalajara, such as the preponderance of holes.  It's hard to say how these holes come about but within a one-mile distance of my house there are nearly a dozen holes of various sorts, all of which make me think of million dollar lawsuits whenever I happen to pass by.


This hole in the middle of the sidewalk is about 4 feet deep.
In the daytime, you can see it coming.  But at night?

Most of these are manholes where somehow the top has come off and is nowhere in sight.  Many are just a foot or two deep or are located in places where no one is very likely to walk.  But a good number are either right in the middle of a sidewalk or in crossings where someone might be hastily traversing a grassy median only to find themselves suddenly plunging downwards.  In a few cases, the holes are quite deep.  The worst example in this neighborhood is one that is about 8 feet deep and about 3 feet in diameter.  That is truly scary.

Neighbors often try to find creative ways to make the hole problem a little less dangerous.  They might put an old tire in the hole, or a bunch of sticks, a bright red flag --- anything to let people know that they are just a few feet aware from a rather unpleasant step.  In general though, because the hole coverings are so bulky, everyone is somewhat at the mercy of the government.  And it seems the government has more pressing problems to deal with.

So watch your step...