unfinished buildings

Cait points out that in Greece you don’t have to pay property taxes on unfinished buildings, so no one ever bothers to finish them. Seems eminently reasonable to assume that the same effect is at work in Turkey and Mexico. How did travel writers ever get anything right, before blogs and wikiality?

Other factoids I wanted to write down somewhere: 80% of visitors to La Paz are domestic, and only 20% international. Our silvery girls are slightly exotic oddities, and every little Leo and Sebastian on the Malecon wants to come and play with them, so we’ve had tons of very amicable near-conversations with the other parents in their decent English and our bad Spanish.

That’s about to change, with Alaska and Delta flying direct to the microaeropuerto and with remote Playa Tecolote slated for development into the new Los Cabos. Come and see La Paz now, while it’s still middle-class and Mexican! That way you too can be the agents of change, transforming the very unspoiledness you came to admire.

We’re not the only ones. Per Wikipedia, average wages in La Paz are in the US$27 per day range, compared with $4 or less elsewhere in Mexico. People come here to work and remit money to their families, so population growth is stratospheric – I’ve seen estimates up to 25%, and nothing less than 10% (yes, that’s per annum, thank you Dad.) There’s a severe labor housing shortage. Unskilled workers build tar-paper shacks, but skilled workers can’t rent the rooms that property owners want to let to tourists. So planners are breaking ground on satellite cities. Yeah, in a desert on a faultline.

But what if it works, what if the satellite cities are dense green hives rather than awful sprawl, what if we find some way to live amicably alongside the tarantulas and whales? Mexico is nothing like as poor as I’d feared; in some ways it’s doing better than San Francisco. We need to put all these people somewhere. What if there’s a way to think about the future where change isn’t automatically for the worse?

As I get older I feel more and more like a redwood tree (or a saguaro cactus, for that matter): my children flicker around my feet like timelapse photography of ants eating fruit, and I am acutely conscious of the waves eating the cliffs away one grain of sand at a time. The city of peace and I are works in progress. This is a postcard from the unfinished building of Baja.

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