- Personal Stories & Opinions>
- The Contrast of the Rich & Poor in Latin America
Near the end of my first year in Mexico City, I remember sitting down by the Angel of Independence Statue.
And a sight that I had seen half a dozen times came within sight.
Where, while sitting down in front of the statue, some homeless or poor person would ask me for money or try to sell me candy.
At the literal exact moment, you could see a limousine riding around the statue with what looked like to be a bunch of teenage girls making noise by the windows.
I always assumed that they were celebrating the 15th birthday of some random chick since some Latinos do that and they always look young.
And it’s an interesting contrast, no?
In one second, some young girl is begging you for money.
Someone who likely grew up poor with little opportunity in life.
Then, in the next second, a limousine paid by dad of young teenagers around the same age are celebrating with all the money in the world to make someone’s birthday as nice as it can be.
Latin America has no shortage of contrasts with the wealthy and the poor being relatively close to each other.
More commonly on social media, you’ll see photos once in a blue moon of something similar.
Like in this video here.
A drone captured shocking footage of inequality in Mexico City and South Africa
Where you see a poor neighborhood on one side and a richer neighborhood right next to it.
However, we don’t need videos like that above to get a sense of the contrast.
When you live in Latin America, you might see it once in a while on the ground.
In Mexico City, I can think of a few examples that are not necessarily as extreme as the video above but are of what I’m talking about.
Let’s bring up some examples briefly.
Skipping Over Dead Bodies Close to Montevideo
As some of you might know, I moved to another part of Mexico City recently called Lindavista.
I happen to be very close to a street called Montevideo.
Before I moved to this part of town, a friend of mine named Blayde was warning me against it because “it’s so shit up there, man.”
Granted, Blayde thinks everything except Condesa is shit despite living in a non-touristy area by La Viga.
And, outside of Blayde, I remember posting a photo on Facebook not too long ago of Lindavista where some Canadian guy named Doug posted a comment about how “gritty” this part of the city is.
But you know what?
When I saw that comment, I was in the dining room eating some chicken flautas for lunch.
In order to get the flautas, I walked over to some nearby restaurant along Montevideo Avenue in Lindavista.
The path to the restaurant was not bad at all!
It looks fairly developed outside and it really is not a dangerous looking area!
After having moved here, I have genuinely wondered if the people who think negatively of the area are smoking crack?
Granted, to be fair, my tolerance for worse living conditions are a bit stronger than most gringos down here in my opinion.
That’s not me trying to “be tough” but, as I meet more gringos, I have genuinely started to think that I am out of touch with most gringos who live in Latin America.
But while where I live might not be so bad…
You could argue that areas very close to where I live are shit.
On my last birthday in September, I celebrated it with a chick I’ve been seeing called Jovi as you can read here.
And, as we walked to the metro bus to get to Insurgentes area for my birthday, she commented on “how nice this area looks.”
But keep in mind she only lives like 10 to 15 minutes walking distance from me in this area!
With that comment, she mentioned how the specific part of the area she lives in is much shittier.
Where, about a month before my birthday, she saw some random dead chick on the street she lives.
In which she walked out of her apartment that she lives at with her sister to get groceries…
And saw some random chick’s dead body just 30 seconds walking away from where they live.
That chick was murdered apparently and her body left there.
Suffice to say, despite living VERY close to each other, her specific part of this neighborhood isn’t as nice as mine.
When apartment hunting in this area, I was told by landlords to stay away from Indios Verdes (which is also very close by).
Is that area dangerous? I truly don’t know.
But, similar to Jovi, I’ll take their word on it.
Now, while Lindavista is on the northern end of the city, let’s move to the southern end.
Pedregal to Copilco
In the southern parts of Mexico City, you got Pedregal de Santo Domingo.
Now, being honest, basically all of Pedregal de Santo Domingo looks kinda bad to your average gringo with no experience in Latin America.
Hell, even Mexicans in Mexico City don’t like living there.
I don’t think it’s that bad of an area as I lived there for some odd months as you can read here.
But it does have more insecurity issues than other parts of the city.
Though not all of Pedregal is the same because, as you can read here, there’s some parts that are worse than others.
However, once you go slightly north of where Pedregal is, things do get nicer fast.
Before moving to Lindavista, I lived by Copilco metro station.
And Copilco metro station is literally like a 5 minute walk from where Pedregal begins.
Probably less than 5 mintues actually as it’s right on the border.
When you are by Copilco, the neighborhood actually looks nice enough.
If you walk just 15 minutes one direction, you’ll be by Insurgentes Sur Avenue that is a lot nicer looking as you can read here.
But, if you go the other direction, you’ll end up in Pedregal very quickly.
And I’ve done that walk a few times.
Though I don’t think Pedregal is THAT bad, you do see the change very quickly.
It does start to look sketchier very quickly.
There is another example that comes to mind though.
Both Sides of Cuatro Caminos
When I lived by Cuatro Caminos area of Mexico City, I was living on the side that is part of the Mexican city of Naucalpan in the State of Mexico.
My girlfriend at the time was living on the other side in Lomas de Sotelo.
But you get where this is going right?
When you exit the metro Cuatro Caminos going towards her side, it wasn’t like the city was noticeably better looking right away.
But give it about a 10 to 15 minute walk and you’ll see the nicer changes quickly enough.
Especially as you get closer to Lomas de Sotelo.
Whenever I was by her area, it genuinely did look like a much nicer area to live in than where I was.
Where, in my area, I got robbed by the police as you can see here and had other issues with the area and my apartment as you can read here.
Not to mention the difference in how nicer her street looked versus mine.
And we weren’t that far from each other.
Anyway, let’s wrap this up with one other example.
Is There a Doctor in the House?
I always find it funny how, at least from my experience, you got parts of Latin America that are named “doctores” but are seemingly almost always dangerous.
Why is that?
I always joked that it was because, in dangerous areas, you’d need “A DOCTOR” after getting shot for your belongings.
Reminds me of this joke about Martin Luther King Street in the US as you can see here.
Chris Rock MLK Blvd
Anyway, in Mexico City, you got nicer neighborhoods called Roma Norte and Roma Sur.
Relatively more touristy.
But, very close by, you got a place called Doctores.
Which, if you can guess by now, is seen as relatively more dangerous.
Being honest though, I have very limited to almost no experience with doctores.
I can only recall once, very briefly, stopping by the area.
Where I was simply taking a walk in my first year of Mexico City when I lived by Roma Norte area.
And I think I was by Avenida Cuauhtemoc area?
In which, after a lot of walking, I found myself entering an area that looked a little bit sketchier than what I liked.
To keep it short, I simply noticed that the area was looking rougher and rougher and I decided to turn around.
That’s literally my only experience with Doctores and it’s not much of an experience to be honest.
From other foreigners I’ve known, apparently Doctores just isn’t as nice of an area to be in.
I’ll trust their opinions on it since I don’t have a strong one myself outside of that brief experience.
But it’s an experience anyway that I feel represents a little bit of what I’m talking about in regards to how you have these areas or moments where you notice such a contrast between a wealthier area to a poorer one right next to each other.
Let’s wrap this up anyhow.
Anything to Add?
If I wanted to, I could’ve brought up some of the much sketchier areas you can find close to El Centro of CDMX.
But let’s wrap this up as this article is long enough anyhow.
I get this article anyway is entirely Mexico focused.
And not all of Latin America is Mexico obviously.
I entirely focused on Mexico City because it’s where I live now and could more easily bring up more recent examples.
Outside of Mexico City?
On top of my head, I can think of how you have the poorer neighborhoods in the hills relatively close to nicer areas in a Mexican city called Pachuca.
When I spent time in a Brazilian city called São Paulo, I saw the same thing in which there were a few moments where very quickly I encountered a rougher area close to a nicer area.
Same thing in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba!
When I lived there, I was working for an NGO in a much rougher looking neighborhood but I lived not too far from that neighborhood.
Despite the close proximity, where I lived was much nicer looking.
So on and so on.
Of course, these are all “on the ground stories.”
They simply don’t do as much justice as the aerial images you see in videos like this one here regarding the extreme inequalities of rich and poor being so close to each other in Latin America.
Wall of Shame Peru
In this sense, I can bring words to what I’m trying to convey but images really do much stronger work for this topic in my opinion.
Anyway, that’s all I got to say.
Got anything to add?
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Thanks for reading.