Who is a local?

Living on the South Shore of Lake Tahoe it could take a decade for someone to be considered a local – at least by people who had lived there longer than 10 years.

When a member of the public would speak at a meeting he or she would say how long they had lived in Tahoe. It was as though the longer the time, the more clout they were supposed to have. For me, it got to the point that the longer one had been in South Lake Tahoe, the less I cared to know what they thought. This is because there was so much screwed up in the area that he surely must then have been responsible in the first place or by default because he had all those years to make it better and didn’t.

Many of these self-proclaimed real locals fell into the status quo category; as in all change is bad, just leave it all alone.

Second homeowners – they were not a local by so many people’s definitions. It didn’t matter if they owned a place, paid taxes and lived like a local while they were there.

Listen to a tourist? That would never happen in Tahoe. So odd considering their numbers dwarf every other category, not to mention they are the economic engine. I’m not saying cater to the tourists, just listen to what they think could improve any area or what they have to say about the things that are working.

Everyone’s opinion matters. Historical and new perspectives are important to decision-making. They are important no matter the context.

In Todos Santos, instead of asking how long one has lived here (that’s the Tahoe question), the question among gringos is whether you live here full time. I have experienced zero judgment with the question or the answer. It appears to be a starting point to get to know someone. It has replaced the question of: What type of work do you do? (Most gringos in Todos Santos are retired.)

There are non-Mexicans who have lived in Baja California Sur for decades. Like so many places, they talk of the changes that have taken place. It’s matter of fact, not negative.

When I’m asked about full-time/part-time status I usually catch people off guard by saying: “I don’t know.” It’s my honest answer. I can stay at my sister’s place until it sells, or she may want me out sooner, or I may figure out my next move before then. Her new real estate agent says she’ll find me something in Todos Santos after this house sells. I smile. It’s liberating and daunting not knowing my next move.

But I digress.

What I have found in my seven months here is that people in Baja seem more accepting of people compared to the Tahoe crowd. People here are happy to have you around for however long it is. There seems to be no difference in status between renters, homeowners, part-timers, or full-timers. It’s refreshing.

It’s not just the expats who are welcoming; so are the Mexicans.

It would seem all communities could only benefit by being more accepting of people whether they are staying a weekend, months, years or a lifetime. As individuals we are often richer because of the people who enter our lives no matter the length of time.

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