A Hardware Store Window | Mexico | Living in Mexico

A Hardware Store Window

Mexican hardware stores naturally cater to the particular needs of life here: Skil saws with blades for cutting wood and ordinary twist drills are uncommon because wood is not used to build houses. Saws and drills that cut stone, concrete, plaster and brick essential, as are small sledge hammers and cold chisels. People still build in stone, much as they have for hundreds of years. Tools are cruder, cheaper. Construction work is more primitive.

This was brought home to me as I looked into the window of a hardware store in Guadalajara.


Most prominent are the hunting rifles. Mexico's countryside is relatively untamed. Much land is still unfenced. Within a half-hour drive of the center of Guadalajara, you can be in a near-wilderness. People live closer to the land. Their rifles are not for sport; they are for providing food.

Displayed in the upper right corner are three sickles. Weed Whackers and lawn mowers are too expensive for most people. I see crews along the verges of highways cutting weeds with hand tools. The economic principle in Mexico is that machines are expensive; people are cheap.

On the lower right, we have the single most important plant-taming tools in Mexico: machetes. They're used for clearing brush and for cutting small firewood for cooking. They're also used for pruning and shaping plants, which gives Mexican gardens a somewhat rough-hewn look. Only the hedgerows of the English countryside, trimmed as they are with whirling chain flails, are more brutally kept in check.

Finally, the black shears at the lower left are for shearing sheep. There's no electricity out in the campo, you see.

While you probably can find all this stuff in an American Tru-Value Hardware Store, you won't find it featured in any displays. You'll likely have to ask where the machetes are, and your selection will be limited to a single model kept in the back somewhere.